Still captaining the good ship Hawkwind at the grand old age of 81, Dave Brock and the band hit the road last month to promote The Future Never Waits, their thirty-fifth studio album.
With two more shows set for the summer – Hawkwind play Hall for Cornwall in Truro on June 16, and Chepstow Castle in Monmouthshire, Wales, on August 28 – the indefatigable Brock tells Classic Rock what's in store.
There’s been a steady flow of music for the past few years, with two Hawkwind albums, another as the Hawkwind Light Orchestra, the double live album We Are Looking In On You, and the beautiful box Days Of The Underground that revisited the era of 1977-79.
Actually there’s another on the way, a ten-disc collection of studio and live recordings from the late 1970s.
That’s some impressive productivity.
[Announces with a theatrical flourish] It’s a Hawkwind surge in my elder age. What on earth does it mean? Can I retire to Hawaii?
Maybe in a little while. But the question stands; most bands struggle to release an album a year.
Maybe they can’t write as quickly as we do [laughs]. We’ve already got another one ready.
The Future Never Waits is a mostly instrumental and ambient collection. For example, They Are So Easily Distracted sounds a bit like lounge music.
You are right, it does. That track started off being inspired by the Holodomor, a famine started by the Russians that killed a million and a half Ukrainians. This was back in the 1930s. So this [current war] is not a new thing. But the song started out too jolly, so in the end we made it darker.
Another track, The Beginning, paints a bleak futurist picture, with ‘carbon-based humans’ having been ‘phased out’, a few kept in captivity ‘to be released back into the wild when it is deemed safe to do so’.
All of these things we comment on are going on now. How many adverts do you see on the telly about saving up for your cremation? It’s happening!
Rama (The Prophecy) is more like ‘traditional’ Hawkwind, were there such a thing.
Yes, that’s true. The song asks: is there going to be another messiah who comes down to save the world? Well, I’m here! Does nobody realise it’s me?!
Can you talk us through a typical day on the band’s farm in Devon?
That’s hard, because it’s not really a working farm. In fact we have five Ukrainians living with us. Their husbands are fighting on the frontline. But that’s another story. Lots of my daily life involves chopping up wood, feeding the horse, and of course we grow our own veg.
Are you planning to play a decent number of the new tunes?
Yes we are, though of course we have to play the old favourites. Just like you I expect, I’ve been to too many concerts where the audience starts shifting in its seats when there are too many new numbers. It’s all about striking the right balance.
You turn eighty-two in August and you’re still touring. Is touring still fun?
Sometimes. It all depends on where we’re going. We did enjoy a festival we did recently up in Morecambe. At an Italian one we did, the place we stayed in in Milan was called The Emotional Hotel, with all of these themed rooms. Ours was Moroccan. Some rooms had handcuffs. That was interesting [laughs].
You must be pretty sick of being asked whether you are ever going to retire, but the question stands. Do you have any plans to?
I do wish I could go backwards in time instead of forwards. I’ve started to get cramp in my fingers because we play for two hours. I spoke to John Etheridge [guitarist with Soft Machine] about it. Arthur Brown agrees with me that the older you get, the more bodily problems start to arise. But no, while it stays fun I don’t plan on stopping.