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Sounds, 21 July 1984 - Steve Keaton

"I'VE been told to be on my best behaviour tonight!" declares Dave Brock, Hawkwind's tattered mentor, in a vaguely slurred mumble.

"That's why they've given us this bloody great bottle of booze! " His wizened fingers indicate a near empty magnum of champagne.

"Yeah it's to keep us quiet" confirms Huw Lloyd Langton. The two laughed together like drains.

Over the past fifteen years the Hawks have become a national institution. Their indefatigable enthusiasm for kitsch SF pomp and eccentric live verve has earned them a legion of astoundingly loyal fans. They're one of the few constants in an ever-changing whirl(d) of fads 'n' fashions. My school days live on in their shadow. The legend is nothing short of daunting.

Brock's whiskered mug regards me with unexplained mirth. But then with his synch pop, three years In the making, solo epic, 'Earthed To The Ground' doing great guns in the independent charts and the 10" mini Hawkwind album 'Independent Daze' set to do similar business I guess he has plenty to be pleased about. Both LP's are clearly more edible than last year's live effort 'Zones'. That was an unkempt, ratsass bootleg of an album which should never have seen the light of day.

Naturally Dave Brock disagrees. "We put that out because the fans wanted it! " he says cheerfully. "They demanded that we release it! Our fans like live albums! "

But where was it recorded? The sleeve gives nothing away...

Huw: "I can't tell you because of contractual reasons. it's a secret! "

"it was great! " declares Brock. "The idea was to do the opposite to Space Ritual, it was an Earth Ritual. It was all about coming back to the planet and getting involved with the Earth spirits."

All sounds pretty cosmic to me. As usual Brock designed the show.

"Generally I come up with a lot of ideas and take them to John Perrin (of Liquid Len and the Lensmen). He'll try and make them workable. We bounce ideas off each other and it all sort of comes together. "

IT WAS an event that marked the long awaited return to Midgard of a considerably more active Hawkwind.

"We did absolutely nuthin' last year" admits Brock. "Just a couple of gigs, one of which was a bike gig at Cricket St Thomas. It was very successful. The thing was run by MAG, the motorcycle action group and it pulled around 5000 bikers. There were no bad scenes either! The geezer that organised it was a little wary at first but it turned out to be a complete success. We all really enjoyed it - in fact it was one of the best festivals we've done. A f***in' sight better than Castle Donington anyway! " He gives a whiskery grimace of disgust.

"I'll never play there again! We were asked to headline at Reading but we turned it down. We're not going to play any more big rock festivals. "

Huw: "Gigs like Donington are a waste of time. Anybody that pays a tenner to get in, three quid to park and three quid for a programme needs their head examining. You can't play because you're too busy dodging plastic containers and mud bombs..,"

Brock: "God, what a load of rankers. I'd have liked to have gotten hold of them and punched their heads in ! " He gives an exasperated sigh.

"It happens every year. But we don't have to play places like that. A much better answer is to do gigs like a bike festival. That way everybody has a good time. Lots of nice custom bikes to look at, lots of nice drugs to do "

Huw: "We've just played Stonehenge again, this time to 30,000 people. It was great, if a little chaotic. The place was so vast we couldn't even find the stage. Luckily there was no bad scenes, not like last time we played it when a few of the Angels went down there, the Windsor chapter with their machetes and stuff. A lot of people went down with guns because the Windsors had caused so much trouble before. But that's the way it goes, I suppose"

So who, apart from the odd Angel, turns up to a Hawk gig these days? Surely there's no great psychedelic army taking to the streets again?

Brock: "No, I don't think so. The audience has really changed over the years. 'Nowdays people come to see us with their kids. And youngsters turn up because their parents have our records! We get that kind of scene, it's quite nice actually. We also get people who know us purely through our science fiction contacts. They're not the usual rock fan at all. They come and enjoy us in their own way. I think as long as you're not into out 'n' out funk you'll enjoy us. There's something for everyone"

"Do you remember the old Arthur Brown shows?" asks Brock. Of course I don't!

"Well, it's the same kind of thing. Arthur Brown could guarantee a good show, real loony chaos. People would go and see him because they'd know something would be going on. it's the same with us. Some of the scenes, man, that have happened to us on stage are just unbelievable. When we played the Rainbow, Calvert and Moorcock were having a fight on the side of the stage, y'know, actually brawling. I was looking across to cue them and I saw this huge fight going on! Yep, it's always entertaining"

SO HOW does it feel to have become an institution?

Brock: "It doesn't matter to us at all. We just carry on regardless. All we want to do is put on a good show and enjoy ourselves. That's the prime objective. We don't make a lot of money out of this. We're not fantastically rich or anything. Most of our money goes straight back into shows. "

Huw: "Or other people's pockets."

Brock: "Or other ventures, " He shrugs his shoulders

Similar Indifference is shown to the press. Which is not surprising considering that they've spent the best part of a decade down the critical pan.

"We have our ups and downs" muses Huw stoically.

"We don't expect to be liked all the time. Anyway, anti-press isn't so bad. If you get slagged off all the time the fans love you. The thing is though that we don't get any girls! They're put off by what they read. When Martin Griffin was in the band we got a few..."

Brock : " But they were all prostitutes." The two guffaw loudly.

(GuIp.) Did you ever realise back in '68 that the Lords would last so long?

Brock: "No never. I mean, we just live from year to year, and we can never believe that it's going to continue. Like I said, the object of the game is to enjoy yourself. lf for some reason we don't give 100% then we're really brought down. It's at times like that it's hard to believe how long we've lasted."

Huw : "I think a lot of it is down to the fans. They're really avid. In fact, we get around 200 letters a week! People will write in if they don't like what we're doing. They review our albums! We get all kinds of feedback. If we didn't get that kind of response we'd spent our whole life thinking that we are wonderful, and that would be a disaster"

Brock: "The fans are great. I get letters from people who can't start the day without listening to a Hawkind album ! Can you imagine that. We're just about to release a video called Night Of The Hawk, it was a gig recorded at Ipswich. And that's going to be followed by a video of the Stonehenge gig. That should be really something!"

"That's always been one of our major beefs over the years," moans Huw.

"We have never been able to do a proper video. Whichever company we were signed to they'd never want to sink a few quid into a decent video. That's ludicrous considering how visual we are. I could never understand it. If you've a big management company who're on the case then you're laughing. We manage ourselves, and it's like anarchy! "

Huw: "Everytime we build something up, we tend to pull it straight down again. You should see some of our American tour posters! You wouldn't believe them. We've had all the top line bands supporting us, Quo, Genesis. But we're still here. It must be due to our loony attitude. We've never been able to float along like the Floyd. I think the only reason we've managed to stay together at all is because of the fans. The following is so strong"

Brock: "Yeah we're just a street level band"

The legend meanders on.