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Hawkwind

Interviewed by Mark Johnson

Interview with Mr. Dibs of Hawkwind from 2010

MSJ:

So the first question is the origin of the band’s name. Please set the record straight.

 Well there is the old story that it was derived from the nickname of Nik Turner. He is said to have had a habit of clearing his throat (hawking) as well as excessive flatulence (wind). There is also another story that it came from the winded flight of the hawk. A Native American wind, named after the flight of hawks in the mountains. So there you have it.

MSJ:

OK, now why the title “Blood of the Earth?”

This one is much deeper. It deals with the four elements of the earth. Earth, wind, fire, and water. All of the plates of the earth, (land), are moving around the lava, (fire), which flows under the earth. The air is flowing as wind, changing things around the globe. Water is constantly flowing and shaping much of the earth. Besides much of the earth is water. All of these elements influence and change the earth and form the overall “blood” flow of the earth. Many of these elements have a negative effect upon the earth and are adding to the negative changes we as humans are adding to the overall “blood flow.”

MSJ:

Which is your favorite track to play off Blood of the Earth?

“Prometheus,” that song catches the imagination of most of the band - the story of the ancient Greek God who brought fire to Man. It has all the classic elements of a great Hawkwind song. We have added more to bring it up to date. We experimented with looping on that song and enjoyed adding to the song to make it sound more epic.

“Sentinel” is another which most of the band likes. The idea that mankind has ruined the earth of the future. Most of mankind has left but those who are still here go underground for protection. It’s the sentinels who have to come out and check the state of the earth each day to see if it is habitable again.

MSJ:

Tell us about the process of re-working some of the songs on this album.

We play these re-worked songs in our new live sets. It’s interesting to see how fans react to the reworking of the songs. “Sweet Obsession” is one of them. Already a great epic song, but we have added to it to make it even better. The modern vocaling is different and brings the song up to date. We use an Ableton which allows us to bring the sound of over 300 synthesizers from one box. The new loops and sounds we have added bring more dimension to the song and give it a new vibe.

MSJ:

Tell us what it was like during the Charisma Label era.

This may have been one of the best peaks for the band. There was a good songwriting partnership. I was 17 year s old when I first heard the band and it was amazing. That whole, dark grey skies of Britain time, during the difficult 70s, made this era so classic and different than anything before, or which has since followed.

MSJ:

What inspires you guys?

Scientific fiction. Not science fantasy. There is a difference. The real facts – not fantasy that effect the earth in real ways. There is so much change going on right now as we have and continue to make a mess of things on this planet. Writing songs about what is affecting us right now every day in the world is more important than fantasy. We have always written and sung about the urban guerrilla revolution in general. This life exists on the edge of the normal way of life for most, but for some of us it has been a normal part of our lives for a long time. So experiencing this edgy side of normal inspires us to write about our experiences as they play out with others on the global stage.

MSJ:

How do you write an album together as a band?

We all get in the same room together and begin to jam some of the new ideas we have and record the ones we like. We don’t ever write anything down, or say “lets get together to write some lyrics” before we start. We all come in with ideas and just jam together. Then we begin to fiddle with all of the sounds on the Ableton and other computers. We sometimes use the Ableton during live shows because it allows the band to add sounds to the live presentation. You can call up different sounds and add as we feel a part of the song needs something.

I get riffs in my head either by hearing other sounds or music or dreaming up something original. We all agree on what we are going to record as part of the song. We all have to feel it or we will not agree to add sounds. We jam and play around with different sounds and versions of riffs until we feel that it is just right.

MSJ:

You guys have organized Hawkfest. Tell the American audiences a little about the genesis of that project and who are your headliners this year?

The idea came out of the way concerts and festivals used to be organized in Britain during the 70s. Usually you didn’t use a promoter. Bands just decided to get together and share the stage at a local spot that everyone had been playing. There were thousands of these across Britain back in the 70s. There were low entry fees, not much promotion and the most important part was the feeling of family. We tried to recreate that feeling with Hawkfest. It’s more like a small show for close friends and family. We usually only get about 1,000 people that attend the fest out on the Isle of Wight.

The show is scheduled from August 27 – 29th this year. This year is the 40th anniversary of Hawkwind’s performance at the famous 1970 Isles of White Festival. So you can expect allot of celebrations and fun to commemorate the event. The event is more than just music with several vendors, and side shows taking place during the three day event. Tipis are available for rent and there will be plenty of camping spots available. A Planet Rock Bar with an open mic, carnival games like: coconut shy, archery, hoopla, the can game, ball in the bucket, juvenile strikers, and swing boats will also be available.

The headliners will be the Technicians of Spaceship Hawkwind, (made up of some of the members of Hawkwind), Dick Taylor and the Hillmans, Prime Sinister from France, Krankschaft, (Robert Calvert’s band), and Alan J Bound from Germany. We receive hundreds of promo CDs from bands who wish to play Hawkfest each year, but we like to give new bands a chance at exposure they might not get anywhere else.

MSJ:

Do you plan a tour of the USA to support Blood of the Earth?

We are in serious negations right now, to bring the tour to North America around March 2011. We plan to start in Canada and then do the West Coast of the USA and work our way back East. It is not easy these days with all the red tape to bring a tour over to the States.
MSJ:

If you could play anywhere, and money was no object, where would you like to play?

For me, I would like to play at the pyramids in South America, Mexico or Egypt. Maybe somewhere epic like Machu Picchu.
MSJ:

Kind of like Pink Floyd in Pompeii?

 Yes exactly. Make it epic if you’re gonna do it.

MSJ:

Is there anything you’d like to say or something the band has always wanted to state but haven’t had the opportunity?

We really want to tour the world and especially find our fans in the USA and North America.

Right now we’re really focused and looking forward to this show in France. It’s a medieval carnival atmosphere in a place where the Knights Templar used to gather. So that is pretty exciting right now. Then Hawfest and the 40th anniversary celebration. Gonna be an exciting end to summer.

Originally published at Prognaut.com

MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.
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