We’re here with Mr Dibs from Hawkwind at the Shepherds Bush Empire… Hows the tour going?
It’s alright yeah, Falmouth was great last week, and then we did Bournemouth last night, really nice gig, really good venue, really full house, well up for it crowd and there was a buzz on stage…
And you’ve got America coming up…
Yea we have got America coming up, it’s looming extremely quickly. I need to go home to check on my allotments! – space rock horticulture you see!
Hawkwind have always played live haven’t they? Every year..
Yea, I think its the best way! Records are OK, but Hawkwind have always been a live band and this particular generation of Hawkwind is no exception to the rule.
So is this the longest serving line up as well?
Yep, there’s just been a bit of role shifting and adapting really, the only change is just adding Fred, the core of it’s been, well, I joined properly in 2007…
So did you know the band before you joined Hawkwind?
Yea, I’m a life long fan – 30 something years… basically when me and my mate Martin started Krel, we just kept sending tapes to Dave.. and eventually he said ‘come and do a support’ so we did a mini tour in 1991 and then we got a phone call and we got the Electric Tepee tour, so that’s basically how we got in. Then I turned up at Whitby Drac fest in 1997, ligging it, Richard put his head out of the bus and says ‘ere Dave, Dibs can drive the bus!’… So basically I got snared in and ended up roadie-ing for 10 years and finally just stepped in when the need was there.
There’s a lot more space rock bands about I’ve noticed recently…
There is a lot of space rock bands yea… Hawkwind has influenced people like Peter Hook of Joy Division, Manni from Stone Roses, all that kind of indie and punk generation, so its not just space rock, its influenced all these other bands.
We’re discovering a lot that are sounding more like Hawkwind themselves, for example Pre-Med..
Yeah we know Pre-Med, we know Danny Faulkner he’s a friend of the band. I think pretty much they’re at the top of that pile without a doubt.
We’ve had a question put forward from Electric Cake Salad, they want to know when they can support Hawkwind!?
Oh yea I know I get messages off Robert all the time! We have an extremely long list of people that want to support us, and we try and get through them all.. like for Hawkfest, we get probably about 600 cds and we listen to every one, everybody gets 3 tracks and then we put them into a ‘definitely’ a ‘maybe’ and a ‘definitely not’ pile and sometimes we have to be a bit vicious…
So when are you writing for the next album?
Ah Dave’s constant, Dave never stops, it’s unbelievable you know. Every week we go down and there’s something new on his machine.
Is it a collaborative thing when you’re writing new albums?
We write at home on our macs and we take the bones to the studio and throw it out there and sometimes it bites and sometimes it doesn’t. I’ve probably got enough for a couple of solo albums that hasn’t been put through but I’m never disappointed.. I’ve done a good song its just not a Hawkwind song – I could put it out as a Spacehead or Krel song maybe, it just doesn’t quite work as a Hawkwind thing.
So what are the older ones like to work with, they seem pretty crazy!
Richards brilliant, Richards the glue of the band. He keeps the tempers down and he’s known Dave for so long. Tims quite a character, we take the mick out of him quite a lot and he puts up with it. Freds as easy going as you like, and Dave’s Dave, he’s the captain! You know, he will stand aloof he will stand a bit in the background but he’ll step back and he’ll let us go. He’s quite clever and he always picks the right people for the band.
He doesn’t like to be the front man does he?
No, I don’t think he ever really has been, he’s always been happier when there’s someone else and over the years he’s been pushing me more and more to the front, its taken a bit of getting used to.. Its not wearing a guitar that’s a major thing to get used to coz it’s like a shield having a guitar on! Falmouth was the first time I’d ever taken the mic off the stand and walked away from the stand.
What’s the smallest gig Hawkwind’s ever done? Smallest amount of people.
There’s never been an empty hall whilst I’ve been working with the band. We could have taken Hawkfest the way The Levellers did with Beautiful Days but we like it the way it is. It’s a nice little family event. We get all our favourite bands, all our favourite people, don’t have to have fences, everyone looks after each other, coz it is small enough to run like that.
How long does the band think it will carry on for?
Well Dave’s just turned 72, but the thing is, they’ll keep going as long as its comfortable. I’m only 49, now I’m in the band it’s a bit more cosy than being the roadie, but that’s just the way that the jobs go. With the elder stateman of the band, it just needs to be comfortable for him, comfortable, rested and well fed and he’ll keep going.
So many bands get to a certain age and they just sort of fade out..
Well the problem with a lot of the old bands, apart from the ones that got massive, a lot of the 70’s bands stopped, they split up, and once they’d stopped, and put on the middle aged spread when they’ve come back they’ve found it really difficult.
Especially to carry on touring and stuff..
One thing is they’re not getting into the venues they’re used to playing – that must be difficult on the ego as such, and the other thing is, its gruelling having to play the mid-range venues and circuits and they’re having to do a lot of gigs to get the money in. But with Dave, because he’s carried it on relentlessly through the ups and downs, he’s always kept it going and that’s why we can still command the crowds, that’s why we can still play the same venues. It’s never stopped, it’s never split up. There’s people that think it has, (‘oh, are they still going?’) especially since we’ve done the Warrior On The Edge Of Time stuff… Once Warrior On The Edge Of Time was done and reissued, it was like we should tour it. We’ve avoided the classic album thing religiously because there’s only 3 songs off it that we don’t do anyway so what’s the point and that’s always been the attitude, why do that? The reason a lot of 70s bands do it is because they’re coming back and it gives them that boost.
And it introduces that music to people..
When it finally came to it we thought well, OK then we’ll make it a special occasion because it is such a special album to all the fans, we’ll do it. But we won’t copy it note for note.. I went to see The Mission and it was note for note and I just thought what’s the fucking point. This is Hawkwind now, so it should sound like Hawkwind now doing the Warrior On The Edge Of Time.
How do you decide which songs are the ones to play from such a large back catalogue?
Well I like the Calvert stuff so I tend to put the Calvert stuff forward. Dave’s very good at ‘lets see how that works’ playing the end of a song and into the beginning of another song and then if that doesn’t work then we try it another way. And ‘I remember when we played that in the 70’s it was too slow so lets speed it up a bit’ – things like that. It’s generally a collective thing. There’s so many songs but we’re always trying to get new stuff in as well coz we dont want it just to be always old Hawkwind stuff.
I can finish on that – this is Hawkwind now – do not panic!
Thanks a million for chatting to us – very nice to meet you!
Good to meet you beyond the ether.
Good luck with the rest of the tour – enjoy America massively!
I’m looking forward to that yea!
All photographs courtesy of Melvyn Vincent