Listen to Sontaag's frenzied version of Hawkwind classic Silver Machine

(Image credit: Kevin Nixon/Julie Cunnah)

New York and London-based rock collective Sontaag have released a cover of Hawkwind's 1972 top ten hit Silver Machine. The release is the band's first since their self-titled debut album in 2014.  

For Silver Machine, core members Richard Sontaag  (guitars and keyboards) and Ian Fortnam (vocals and guitar) have been joined by Killing Joke's Youth on bass, former Adam And The Ants and Bow Wow Wow drummer Dave Barbarossa, and ex-Hawkwind legend Nik Turner on saxophone. 

"Hawkwind were punk-proof," says Fortnam. "Even in '77, Richard and I would jam on Silver Machine. Hawkwind were the UK's counter-cultural underground incarnate. I discovered them in that narrow space between Bolan and Bowie, simultaneous to Alice, in the summer of '72. Astral explorers. Eyes aflame with psychedelic visions. The people your parents dreaded you becoming. The coolest band alive. 

"Silver Machine was Hawkwind's magnum opus, a spiralling maelstrom of riff-driven brilliance. Who wouldn't want to cover it? Four years ago I found myself spirited to Nik Turner's place in Wales, where we spoke of the Great Pyramid, orgone accumulators, space rituals, hallucinogenics, sonic generators, woodwind and Hawkwind. 

"Before we parted, I gave him a copy of the first Sontaag album and the seeds of the Silver Machine project were sown. Obviously, the very best material deserves the very best band, so calls were made to maestro Youth and Dave Barbarossa (the dream rhythm section) and here we are."

"Ian's been pestering me to do a Hawkwind cover since way back when," adds Sontaag. "The coolest kid in our school, he was often seen walking around with the Doremi Faso Latido LP under his arm between classes. 

"But our Silver Machine came about in an unexpected way. I was alone in the studio late one night, and noticed that the guys had strung up a microphone from the ceiling. I put all the amps in a circle around it - which is really bad technique - and went round each one, blasting out Silver Machine on different instruments. 

"That was the most fun I have ever had in a studio - and some of it even made it on to the final track."

Silver Machine was produced by Sontaag and mixed by Youth, while electronic music pioneers The Orb have provided the Imaginarium Translucent JellyFish Dub remix

Both tracks are out today on all reputable streaming platforms, including iTunes and Spotify

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.