Nik Turner Interview
January 10, 2000

by Santtu Laakso

From Aural Innovations #12 (September 2000)

Nik with Dark Sun

Santtu: So, what have you been doing lately?

Nik: I've been doing some recording with my band. I'm trying to finish an album, Kubano Kickasso, by Nik Turner's Fantastic Allstars. It's sort of Afro-Cuban, sort of Dance, Latin Rave sort of music. You know, a bit spacey, quite modern sound, and using some drum loops and different samples and stuff like that. And I've been busking, as well. I've been busking on the streets in Cardiff!

Santtu: Yeah. Is it cold there, right now?

Nik: It wasn't too bad, no. I was busking there on Christmas Eve, and it was actually quite cold, but I found quite a warm place to stand, so it's quite all right, and I had a little party when I'm busking. I just play, I play alto saxophone and a tambourine on my foot. I just play all sorts of dance tunes and pop tunes and the Pink Panther and stuff like that, you know...

Santtu: Have you been playing the theme from the Simpsons?

Nik: I have been playing it a little bit, yeah. I get a lot of requests for it from the kids, you know, everybody wants to hear the Simpsons. And stuff like that, it's good, yeah. And, I've also been doing gigs with my band. We played a big New Years Eve event in Bristol, in the city centre, in front of 50,000 people, or something like that.

Santtu: 50,000?

Nik: Oh yeah, heh heh, it's quite a lot... They said they had a hundred and twenty thousand all together there, and the thing's going all over the place, you know, but we were on this really big, we were on the main stage there, and we played from eleven o'clock till midnight, to one minute before midnight, and then they had Big Ben and a lot of fireworks, and the sort of twelve o'clock chimes of the Big Ben. And they had fireworks and then we played Old Lang Shine, which is a traditional Scottish song, that they'd played on New Years Eve, and everybody joins hands and dances around. Then we turned into a Reggae dance, and we sort of played that for about ten minutes. We had to get everybody dancing in the city.

Santtu: Oh, must have been great!

Nik: Yeah, it was great. I've been doing other gigs as well. I haven't been doing very much writing, or any sort of solo projects. I'm working on writing some songs and stuff like that, and haven't really done very much lately. But it's an ongoing thing, you know, like that book Kalevala, you know. I read books like that, and I get ideas from them really. I just thought, what a great idea for a song! You know, I read a story yesterday called The Song Competition or something like that. The battle of the Songs or something like that, and the lyrics, the way they are written, they make quite a nice rap, or quite a nice song. Oh yeah, different things.

Santtu: And you also went to the USA and... earlier?

Nik: Yes, I went to... There was this Hawkwind fan based festival called Strange Daze. It was happening in Ohio. I think it was this year. I went out to play that, and while I was there I did two other concerts. I did one concert in Chicago, two days before the festival, then I played at the festival with my own band in the America. I've got an American band that I play with, they're called Farflung. They're some of the guys that used to be in Pressurehed, and they probably still are in Pressurehed, but I played with them, including a guy called Steve Taylor, who plays guitar. He called me the other day saying he's going to Australia with Hawkwind, playing bass.

Santtu: So, when is the Fantastic Allstars Cubano Kickasso album coming out? Do you have any idea?

Nik: Well, I don't know really. I hope in probably about two month's time, I think. I want to finish it as quickly as I can, because this is going to be a bit like an ongoing thing you know.

Santtu: Yeah... I know.

Nik: When you're financing them yourselves, and you're doing it slowly, and then you sort of think, Oh, I could do this, I could do that, it's not going to cost that much more money, but it's all time, really, you know, and I'm just thinking, perhaps I should give myself a deadline, then put it out. And then work on something new.

Santtu: You're going to release it on your own, or?

Nik: I think so, yeah, on my own label, yeah. NIKT records, and through EBS, I think, I'm doing it with their distribution. I don't know if that's Plastichead, or somebody, or who ever their distributor is, Roadrunner.

Santtu: What was it like to play with Dave and Hawkwind?

Nik: Oh, it was actually quite good, really. I phoned... I mean, it's all typical really, I phoned them up, and they asked me to do a couple of gigs with them, and I said I thought I was going to do all of the gigs. Then it turns out they want me to do two of the gigs, and then I phoned up the agent, and said oh, I'm only doing two of the gigs, and he said oh, we thought you're doing the whole tour! I didn't mind, that's all right. The last two dates that I played at the Coliseum in St. Hostel, which is in Cornwall, and the Tredfield Hall in Croydon, which is by London, and they were both very enjoyable gigs. And the people liked it as well, it was, you know, all very well accepted by people, and very good houses, packed houses.

Santtu: Yeah, that's great. Harvey was also with you, and was Simon House also...?

Nik: Yeah, they were both on the London dates, they were not in Cornwall. But they had done some other dates on the tour as well.

Santtu: Okay. Has anything been confirmed about the Hawks reunion tour/album this year? I mean, with Lemmy, or?

Nik: Yeah, well... I spoke to Doug Smith, he's sort of involved in organising it, and I spoke to him, and he said they are trying to sort it out with the agency and the promoter, because they wanna get Motörhead as well to be playing the next day at same venue, I think. So, I think Hawkwind are playing one day, and then Motörhead the next, or the other way around, you know, Motörhead first and Hawkwind the next. And the both of the gigs are done by the same agency, I think, and it's just a question of sorting that out, and the promoters are doing that, so it's definitely happening, as far as I know, in March. It's just a question of when, and whence they've sorted out the legalities, and everybody is happy, really. I think that will be with Lemmy, and Dave and Simon House and myself and... I mean, maybe with everybody that's ever been in the band, as well, you know. I think that probably then that will be the nucleus and maybe, I'm not really sure, 'cause Richard Chadwick's playing in the band in the moment. I mean, he could play drums, I guess, although I personally would prefer if Terry Ollis was playing drums, you know.

Santtu: Have you seen him lately?

Nik: I saw him in summer. No, I saw him not this summer, the summer before. I saw him at a festival called the Green Gathering, and he was with a girl who was singing, and she plays guitar. She's got a really nice voice, she's his girlfriend, now. And he told me he's been playing in bands. He's been playing in a lot of different bands, and he plays in a blues band, and a jazz band, and lots of different things he's been doing, and it all sounded very good, really. He's quite professional about it, and quite serious about playing, so that's why I think he would be a good drummer, really. 'Cause he's the original drummer, and... And we're trying to get everybody that's ever been in the band on it as well. And then to record it, and then, also maybe to make a new album as well, all studio material, a studio album.

Santtu: So, do you have any other space rock projects in the pipeline? Or is it just Hawkwind and...?

Nik: Well, it's my own band, which is sort of developing into that direction a bit, really, you know. I'd like my band to be... We play space jazz! Hahaha! And maybe with Latin rhythms, and then we can be like all part of the story that I've been writing about, hmm, about my band, the music that we play having come from another planet, where the gravity is so heavy that you risk sinking into the ground unless you jump up and down all the time!

Santtu: You seem to be very interested in science fiction, who's your favourite writer?

Nik: God, I haven't really read a lot. I like Arthur C. Clark, and I like Isaac Asimov, I've read some. I like Michael Moorcock, but he sort of does some science fiction, and some fantasy, and some realism, and some sort of speculation, romantic fiction. So, a lot of that's very interesting.

Santtu: Or can you name any good sci-fi movies, then?

Nik: Well, I liked Matrix. I thought it was really interesting, you know, I've seen it quite a few times. My Kids have seen it twenty times, I think, now that they've got a video of it.

Santtu: I still haven't seen it!

Nik: They just watch it all the time. I see quite a lot of science fiction movies, you know. I saw... I mean, I really like this Terminator series, they're really good, but I saw Armageddon and I didn't think that was very good, you know. I thought it was stupid.

Santtu: I agree.

Nik: I saw Capricorn One, I thought it's very good.

Santtu: Oh, I haven't seen that.

Nik: It's about a Mars rocket that's under financed, and all the preparations are made for these astronauts to go to Mars, and just at the last moment, just about ten seconds before takeoff, they take all the guys off the rocket ship, and let it takeoff without them, and people think they're still in it, and they take them all into this film studio in Nevada, and then they film them landing on Mars! Heheheh!

Santtu: Oh shit!

Nik: And I think it's supposed to be a true story! That was quite interesting. And, I mean I see generally, I see most of the sci-fi movies that come out, 'cause I take my kids to them, you know, it's good excuse! Taking the children to see Men in Black, and Mars Attacks, all that sort of thing, and Independence Day.

Santtu: How about some older movies, how about something from the sixties or seventies? Anything?

Nik: Well, I liked all those sort of a, Harry Ha..., what's his name, Ray Harryhausen, sort of a animations he did, all these Jason and the Argonauts, and sort of a lot of science fiction... Japanese sort of animated science fiction films, stuff like that. And I like The Day The Earth Stood Still. I think that was a really good film. And I remember seeing a lot of science fiction when I was a teenager, things like When Worlds Collide...

Santtu: In the fifties...

Nik: Yeah, lots of... Some of them really good and some really crap, you know. Ex... Rocket ship...ohm.. Ex... Expedition Moon, or something like that, sort of heavy, European film with Evil Bartok, and people like that, really. Duff, really. And... And I remember another really brilliant science fiction movie, I thought, what was it exact... Oh, you realised Solaris! That's great, really brilliant, and, well, Blade Runner, that's really brilliant. And... there was this really good science... About a moon... about rocket ship going to another planet. I can't remember what that was called. I've really seen all those, like Forbidden Planet, that's really good, you know. They are... I just remember some from my teenage years, when I used to go to alot science fiction movies then as well. There's one of them that was particularly good, I can't remember what it was called. I think it was Expedition Moon.

Santtu: That's from the fifties?

Nik: Yeah, they are all from like the fifties, you know. I mean, I suppose a lot of them, maybe Ed Wood produced them, or something like that, you know, I'm not really that up on Ed Wood stuff, except what's in Plan 9 From Outer Space I think is Ed Wood, isn't it? Totally wacky, stupid sort of film, possibly the worst film ever made!

Santtu: Yeah, it's funny in a way...

Nik: Yeah, it is quite interesting! Sort of expressionistic really, a bit like Cabinet of Doctor Galigary. Weird.

Santtu: So, what other kinds of books do you read? I mean... Okay, you said you don't read that much science fiction.

Nik: I've been reading... I read books about mythology, I read books about... I mean, for instance, I've read the book Celestial Prophesies, which is about enlightenment, really, you know, awareness. I'm reading a book at the moment called Of Water And Spirit, I think it's called, by this African guy Whom Alidoma, who was brought up in a tribe 'till he was four, and then he was kidnapped by the Jesuit priests, and taken to the monastery for fifteen years, and educated by them, and talked French, and he forgot his own language, and then he escaped, and he's always in touch with his grandfather all the time who's died when he was young. 'Cause he was in touch... They say that small children are in touch with their...

Santtu: Forefathers.

Nik: Forefathers, yeah, ancestors, and so the old people, so the grandfather is in touch with the ancestors, and so was the small boy, he spent a lot of time with his grandfather, who told him lots of traditional stories and wisdom of that tribe. And when he escaped from the Jesuits and came back to his tribe, and he couldn't speak their language anymore, and he could hardly recognise them, and he had to be initiated back in to the tribe. Stuff like that, that's what I'm reading at the moment. That's why I'm... I mean... The trouble is, I read about ten books at the same time, you know, I just read bits of them. I'm reading an anthology of science fiction with stories like I, Robot, and, you know, stuff by Isaac Asimov and people like that in it. It's supposed to be a classic. It's got The Day of the Triffids and, you know, stuff like that. And, gossip, I've got a lot of books, I can't remember what I'm reading. I just got these piles of books really, all different subjects, you know. Some science fiction, some mythology, some spirituality, some sort of speculation, and then I like gangster novels, as well. Like Raymond Chandler.

Santtu: So, hmm, were you inspired by any groups or artists when you started playing sax and flute and...?

Nik: Well, I was inspired by Charlie Parker, and Roland Kirk, you know, both... Well, Roland Kirk played flute a lot, and he's very instrumental and very influential amongst modern flute players, 'cause he had a very individual style. He's blind, black guy. You know about Roland Kirk?

Santtu: No, I don't think so.

Nik: Well, he's fantastic. He's sort of... I met him once, and I wanted him to go to a concert I was playing to, so he could come and play it, you know. It was when I put the Sphynx album out. I did a concert at the Roundhouse, I think, in London, and I asked him to come and play too, but he didn't come.

Santtu: Oh, too bad.

Nik: Yeah. But he would play like, two saxophones at the same time, or three, and a flute in his nose, and stuff like that. And he played the flute, singing at the same time, you know, so he was sort of playing the tubes, singing the tubes playing, you know, and he sort of developed this sort of style, you know. And he just played things in such a different way, and he was really influential which is why everybody copies him. And he played the circular breathing, you know, he played solos that lasted for ten minutes without breathing. And, I suppose some artists... I suppose I'm into Picasso and, you know, sort of surrealism, and I was into lot of these things, you know, pre-Raphaelites, and art noveau, surrealism, expressionism, and German expressionists, pre-war German expressionists, and Frans Grass, and, I don't know, lots of different people. I never went into art, I never studied art, but I was very interested in it. My family's quite artistic, you know. My mother used to play the piano, and she did pottery, and my aunt was a painter, and my uncle played the clarinet, and my brother played the trumpet, and you know, my other aunt is an actress, she's in the Royal Shakespeare company, you know, so we got theatre, and cinema, and all this sort of stuff in my family. My grandfather used to make movies. He used to get everybody in the family into films! Hahaha! And he used to do theatre shows, these sort of run-around theatre shows, and that sort of thing, you know, we had all this stuff going around. It's all inspirational, really, because it sort of exposed me to a lot of different music, and ideas, I guess.

Santtu: So, how about during the seventies, when you were in Hawkwind, what bands did you like?

Nik: Well, I liked John Coltrane still, you know, then, but I used to listen to Jimi Hendrix, and Iron Butterfly, and quite a lot of electric... electronicy sort of American bands. Fifty Foot Hose...

Santtu: Oh yeah, I know!

Nik: ...And White Noise, which is an English... David... What his name is... Lots of different stuff like that. Pop, sort of country type, you know, Steve Miller, and all those sort of San Francisco bands as well, you know. Quicksilver and Jefferson Airplane, and the Grateful Dead, and all those... All those sort of bands, and Electric Flag, Chicago Transit Authority. And, what's that other band I liked then... Blood Sweat and Tears. You know, I mean, I like good rock music, really, but I tended to really like stuff with brass in it. I'd get more into that, really. 'Cause it sort of verges on jazz, really, and funk as well, and I like James Brown and stuff like that.

Santtu: So if you weren't a musician, how would you support yourself and your family? Any idea?

Nik: Well, I mean, I did study engineering, so I might've been doing that, although that's not really what I'd like to be doing. I guess I probably might like to be designing musical instruments than rather than sort of, you know, designing ships or machinery.

Santtu: Okay. So, you used to work in this circus before Hawkwind.

Nik: Yeah, I had been doing that.

Santtu: Would you like to tell something about it?

Nik: Well, it was a rock' n 'roll circus, really, it was a sort of in 1967 in Holland. There was a great big marquee that held about two or three thousand people, and we had... I mean I got involved in it when I was living in Amsterdam, and some friends of mine were involved in running it, and they invited me to work on it, and I wasn't playing music there, I was actually putting up the circus tent and working in the bar, and stuff like that. So I did that for a summer, really. Living in a back of a truck, or, you know, living in caravans, you see.

Santtu: Dave was playing there, wasn't he?

Nik: Well, they had lots of bands playing there, they got bands from Amsterdam, 'cause we go around all these sort of provincial towns, but they'd have bands from Amsterdam coming out to play, and Dave's band was one of the bands that were playing in it, you know, The Famous Cure.

Santtu: Did you know him earlier?

Nik: No, I didn't know him. That's where I met Dave, really. We met in there, and we sort of kept in touch. When he went back to England, I stayed in Holland, and then I went to, I think I went to Berlin after that, or the next year, or something like that, and spent the winter in Berlin. I met all these sort of free jazz musicians.

Santtu: You were playing with them already, or...? Were you playing in Berlin?

Nik: I didn't play with them, no. I did play the saxophone, but I didn't play with them, I just met them, and hung out with them a lot, and used to go to jazz clubs with them, and we used to get stoned together, and, you know, used to go to... It was all psychedelia then, you know, so... I met the Tangerine Dream, you know, Edgar Froese. I used to go to this night club, and then I would meet the people who ran it, and, I mean they sort of thought I was pretty groovy, I guess, and they sort of took me to some other place that they were going to, and met with all these musicians and stuff like that, you know.

Santtu: Yeah, I see.

Nik: So, I was sort of hanging out with these guys from the Tangerine Dream just to do that association, and then I met Amon Düül as well, just going to a gig in a squat, Karl Untz I think they called it. This was sort of a number one squat in Berlin at the time. And I met all these different musicians, and sort of underground people, you know, taking LSD and, I wasn't taking LSD particularly, I was sort of around, but it was quite nice because they sort of, you know, were really sociable towards me, and if they were going somewhere, they invited me to go with them, so I'd go to a party, or something like that. And I used to go to sort of jazz... They had the Blue Note, jazz club, in Berlin, which is where Eric Dolphy used to play, and stuff like that. And I used to go hang out there with them, and they always used to play all this really wild, weird, wacky music, hahahahaha! So, that was quite an inspiration for me...

Santtu: Yeah, must have been!

Nik: So, as a result of that, and, you know, meeting... having kept in touch with Dave, and then he was getting his other band together, and I was sort of involved with that, and I'd been inspired by this sort of free jazz thing, I thought I would like to play free jazz in a rock band, you know. That was what Hawkwind was for me, really. I had the opportunity to do that.

Santtu: Okay. So, what else had you been doing for a living, except playing and the circus thing and...

Nik: Well, I did ... I worked as an engineer for a short time. I went on a ship into Australia and back, one trip, and I was an engineer on a big passenger ship, and it was quite good, but there was so much drinking, and I really loathe that, you know, people were drunk all the time, and I just got bored with it, you know. It was all right for a couple of weeks, but after that, they were still going on, all the time, and I got bored with that. And I also worked for London transport, that's the bus company in London, and in the development office, and was sort of, just testing buses, really. Other than that, I've worked for myself. I used to live in a seaside town, and I used to work there, have a business selling buckets and spades and some hats and some glasses. But I used to... same time I was selling psychedelic posters as well, and sort of incense, and all sorts of psychedelic things, as well. I've just done a lot of crappy jobs as well, you know, labouring, and working as a car park attendant, hahaha. Working on the beach selling deckchairs, and lots of, sort of, you know, crap jobs like that.

Santtu: Yeah, you had your own record company in the eighties.

Nik: Yeah, well I was running a record label, and managing the band, and playing in the band, and driving the van for the band, and mostly the equipment was mine, and I was getting the gigs for the band, because I had built a name, so, you know, it was a foot in the door, or something like that, for the band, so, that was quite good. And I also worked... I was musical director for a circus, as well, for a bit, for a season. You know, a big, proper circus in London, in the park.

Santtu: When was that? Nik: It was probably about 1984 or '85, or '83. Something around that time. That was interesting. It was interesting learning other sorts of music, really, you know. Playing circus music, you know. Daadadadaadadadadadadadadada daddadadadadadaddadaadaa daddadadadadadaddadaadaa, all that, you know, it's great fun, really!

Santtu: In the beginning, I mean with Hawkwind, were you really high on acid all the time, in the beginning?

Nik: Well, yeah, I think so, yeah. Probably.

Santtu: It must have been quite chaotic!

Nik: Yeah, well, in a way it could seem to be, but I don't think it was, really. You know, I'm one of these people... hmm... pardon me... I don't let drugs get in the way of taking care of business, really, if you know what I mean?

Santtu: I see, yeah...

Nik: I'd rather make sure that everything is covered, and proper, and in its place, and together before I relax. And, you know, I mean I don't really sort of ever take lots of drugs. Drugs represent relaxation to me, they don't represent an occupation, or... Do you know what I mean?

Santtu: Umm, I see.

Nik: I don't... I've never had any problem about them, really, myself, in that respect. I've never been involved in drugs, or felt the need to become involved in drugs, or dealt them, or had any involvement with them other than very superficial. And I've never... I mean friends of mine have become very involved in drugs, and a lot of them had died, and I think they missed the point, really, you know. The drugs are something like, they are spin-off from being musically creative, and achieving some sort of creative kind of satisfaction. They shouldn't be a distraction from all that. So, I don't see drugs as being anything else than, you know, a recreational thing, which you don't get involved in, you know. You might participate in it, but you don't become a slave to the drugs. That's what a lot of people do.

Santtu: So, how important were drugs to the music of Hawkwind?

Nik: Well, I think maybe drugs were a sort of a theatrical direction, or something that the audiences were able to identify with.

Santtu: Because they were high!

Nik: Yeah, we were playing to an audience that were, you know, probably, I mean there was like an alternative audience of people, plus they were taking drugs, I guess. You know, and so in a way, I mean, if you take away the drugs, you wouldn't make that much difference, really. It's just that in a way it gave everybody a sort of common, sort of thing they were into. I mean, people weren't all into taking heroin, or cocaine, or anything else, they were all taking LSD. I'd say everybody was taking LSD, some people were taking speed, but they were on sort of another trip. And I think the people were taking LSD at a time when there was no evidence that there was any danger about taking LSD, and it wasn't sort of something... I mean, it was almost something that was illegal, because the government wanted to control it, not because they thought it was harmful, particularly. It was just, you know, antisocial, really. There was so many people taking LSD, and they're saying: oh, I don't wanna join the army. No, I don't wanna pay taxes. Why should I pay for this government, they're shitting on me, you know. And they make aware in that respect, so in a way, sort of, you know, people would, this alternative society was taking LSD, and it was almost like opening their eyes to sort of realities they weren't aware of. And I suppose if you have a whole group of people doing it, just like the Grateful Dead would in America, you know, they'd have The Electric Koolaid Acid Test, you know, when everybody got high on acid, and the band would as well, and they'd all sort of... It's like a sort of spiritual communion, really. You know, everybody's sort of on the same trip, and have, you know, getting high together. There's no sort of negative aspects to it. It's all sort of very positive and progressive.

Santtu: Yeah. So, do you have any idea, what would the music of Hawkwind be like without, let's say, acid, or any drugs?

Nik: Well, it's quite interesting that you say that, because, I mean I read this article in Mojo magazine, in which Lemmy said: oh, Hawkwind was not a, we were not a peace and love band, we were always on speed. Lemmy was on speed, DikMik was on speed, and I don't know who else he said was on what, but he obviously had a very different view from the band that I had! Because I thought Hawkwind were very much a sort of a peace and love band. That was what I would... That was my view of it, and as far as I was concerned, that was also the view of quite a lot of people that were involved with the band, and they were involved with the band because it was like that. You know, they weren't involved with the band because it was a bunch of speed freaks, well that was obviously what Lemmy saw it as, because he and DikMik were speed freaks. But people like Barney Bubbles, who was a creative director of the band, who created a lot of the imagery, and a presentation, stage presentation, and the public image of the band, I mean, he was very spiritual guy, who saw the band as, you know, a peace and love band. You know, so I just find it a bit difficult to see what Lemmy means, really, because he got into the band because the band was like it was, he didn't make the band into something that he wanted it to be. He was actually only in the band about two years. It's obviously a very different band to the way that I saw it, or how Dave saw it, or probably many of the people that came to see the band, and probably most of the people that made the band successful, sort of, you know what I mean? I thought it was a bit weird, really, isn't it? How people see things like that. Because... what was your question?

Santtu: Oh, where was I? What kind of music would you have been doing without drugs?

Nik: Oh, probably very similar music, because, I mean I think I got involved in listening to people like Stockhousen, and very interested in electronic, accessible electronic music, I mean, I did listen to sort of John Gage, and stuff like that, as well as Philip Glass, I think. But I found a lot of that music really hard to take, really, I mean, I knew people that played that sort of music, sort of what we called squeaky doh, or squeaky gate music, I think, in school, in classical circles, there is all that sort of expressionist sort of music. I find a lot a bit hard to take, really, but I do find a lot of it, in music concrete very interesting. The ideas are very interesting, but I like dance music very much, So I would say that the band would probably be, or would probably have been very similar without drugs, I mean it might not have stayed together for so long, but I think that perhaps it wouldn't have been successful, as well, on a commercial level, 'cause I think Hawkwind's success was created, because the band had a very strong grassroots following, of the people that lived on the street, that were, you know, underground, or whatever you might call them. I suppose people that were in the underground, identified with Hawkwind, because Hawkwind was a bit like them. It was very accessible music, it was very simple, but quite effective. Very sort of, lot of very trancey sort of music. And I think without drugs, I think the band would still have had a lot of appeal, because there was quite an imaginative side from the drugs, it was sort of quite introspective, and spiritual, and sort of spacey as well, you know, sort of science fictional overtones.

Santtu: Bob Calvert was an old friend of yours?

Nik: Robert Calvert, yeah, was a friend, an old friend of mine, and I think his involvement with the band was just by virtue of what he was into. You know, you can't say... it's difficult to say, well, would Robert Calvert have been into science fiction, if he hadn't taken LSD, or if he hadn't taken speed, or morphine or whatever else he might have taken. I mean it's all very speculative, that sort of thing, but he was involved with the band because he was a friend of mine, and he had a lot of crazy ideas, so in a way, he sort of gave the band the sort of science fictional direction, as did Michael Moorcock. He would give it a sort of sword and sorcery direction as well. So, you could say that we would still have had all these influences, and there's no reason then, why it shouldn't have been just as successful, because there still was all these people that were into those sort of things. I mean, you've got lots of science fiction enthusiasts who've never taken drugs in their lives, you know, just purely imaginative people.

Santtu: I see. So, you have met some very interesting people during the years. Anybody special, that would come to mind?

Nik: Well, I've met a few people. I was a very good friend of Michael Moorcock, which I still am. He's actually a very interesting guy. But in the seventies, when I was in America, I met Timothy Leary. I visited him in Vacouville psychiatric prison where he was being held by the American government basically about his views on LSD really. But they arrested him on spurious charges of being part of the Black, the White Panthers, or the Black Panthers. Black Panthers, was it?

Santtu: Yeah.

Nik: I don't know. And they arrested him on, sort of, for possession of two seeds of marijuana, I think, somewhere, you know, and put him in a psychiatric prison of an unlimited, sort of section, sort of thing, so he was in... When I visited him, he had his hands chained to his waist, you know, just to inconvenience him really, but making out they did it so he didn't hurt himself, which was all total bullshit.

Santtu: So, he wasn't mentally ill?

Nik: No, not at all. No, no, he was very sane guy. I sort of had quite long conversations with him about the elements, really. About elemental... Atomic numbers and stuff like this, you know. Chemistry, you know. 'Cause he likened the human race to sort of, you know, particles of chemistry. Chemical particles, each one with a different... Everyone was presented by a different element, you know, a chemical element with a different atomic number, and sorting different numbers, molecules, hahahaha... So, it was a bit like DNA sort of thing, really, because I've read a book about DNA which he'd written. That is quite interesting. But yeah, people, who else did I meet? I mean, I met people like the Jefferson Airplane band. Went around to their house, and had tea with them when they were rehearsing. And I met Jerry Garcia. I met the guys from the Grateful Dead. I mean I met lots of different bands you know. You do sort of come into contact with them. Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart, Doctor John. Randy California from Spirit. Lots of bands. There's a painter called Felix Depolski that I thought was quite an interesting guy. He's not alive now, but he's like a grandmaster painter, you know, in Britain, he's a Polish guy. He's got all sort of paintings on the walls of Buckingham Palace and stuff like this. People like him. I don't know, I missed out on meeting quite a lot of people, hahahahaha! I just missed Jimi Hendrix, he died the next day, I think, or something like that. Oh, I can't remember.

Santtu: Okay. So, how was it like to tour over the UK and Europe and US in the seventies?

Nik: It was very exciting, and I enjoyed it. I found it a bit of a strain in some respects, I was sort of doing a lot of meditation and stuff like that at the time, you know, to keep myself straight. And I was drinking quite a lot as well, at the time, and I just found that a bit boring, really, drinking. I was glad when I stopped doing it. When I was in America, I think the last tour I did in America was in Eugene, and I met this guy from the band called The Seeds, Sky Saxon, you know, he was a total trip, he's sort of a terrible character, sort of a junkie, sort of a casualty, really. But also at the gig was this guitarist from Canned Heat, who's name is Henry Fasten, I think he's dead now, actually. He died recently. He was a really great guy. I really enjoyed him.

Santtu: How about now, is it any different? Okay, you haven't been touring, not any massive tours over USA, but some gigs, anyway, in the Europe with the Moor, and...

Nik: Oh, well, I mean, what I was doing in the seventies with Hawkwind, was very much more high profile. We had a lot of publicity, we had a record company that was probably sponsoring us to do certain things, and we're getting lots of press for the band, and we would get quite a lot audiences. But doing tours with the Moor, where you're working with agents that aren't very powerful, probably, haven't got a lot of clout, and haven't got very much money, big budget or something like that, everything's very much more low key, so we do a gig in a club that holds a hundred people, or something like that, and there might be fifty people there, or something, you know. I mean, I just enjoy it. I still enjoy it, you know, even if it's not huge crowds, it's not particularly the huge crowds I enjoy. You know, what you, what I find, anyway, is that I enjoy the fact that there's a huge crowd, because it means that I'm successful, and I can afford to do it, whilst, you know, if you have small crowds, it still is enjoyable, but you don't have the fact that you'll get financial reward, and you can afford to do it again, you know, and that is a problem in certain respects. It's not free to tour, you know, it costs money to tour, so you need some sort of financial success in order to be able to afford to do it. So there's that sort of thing about it, but then, having said that, it doesn't bother me that I'm not staying in big hotels, or anything else like that, you know, I don't care. I'm not, hahaha, I'm not that bothered about that sort of thing. I like things to be much more real, and much more sort of communicative level, really.

Santtu: Okay. So, you used to have this punk, or whatever, band, this Inner City Unit, in the eighties. Would you say it was your band, or were you just like one of the other members?

Nik: No, it was my band, really. It's my... It was a sort of a result of the Sphynx band, which I had, which was another of my bands, I suppose, 'cause it was my name, and my ideas, and my, I wrote most of the songs. But the Inner City Unit band was a sort of spin-off from that. It was basically formed with some of the musicians that I was working with in Sphynx. And then we got together, and wrote a lot of songs. On a creative level it was a whole band, really, although I wrote quite a lot of the songs myself, but it was pretty open to everyone to contribute material that they wanted to. It's just as well as all the other songs, I mean, we played a couple of Hawkwind songs, as well.

Santtu: You were organising some free festivals at Stonehenge at some point?

Nik: Yeah, I was involved in that. I used to set up my stage there. I had this pyramid stage that I had built when I was doing the Sphynx show, which I had constructed to go around all the festivals. So I used to take that to Stonehenge every year and put it up. A bit like the main stage, a big pyramid!

Santtu: What was it made of?

Nik: That's aluminium, and canvas on the top of it, with a little scaffolding, really. It was all designed it particular dimensions, exactly the same dimensions as the Great Pyramid.

Santtu: Do you still have it?

Nik: Ah, I actually haven't got it. A friend of mine borrowed it some time ago and hasn't given it back to me, so I'll have to try and retrieve it, and I'm sort of getting on that pace. But I used to put the stage up there, and I used to manage the stage quite a lot. Just the sort of, you know, make sure bands went on and off and stuff like this. And I was involved in that side of it, and playing there with quite a lot of bands, on that stage, and in other places around Stonehenge, and lots of other places to play.

Santtu: What does Stonehenge mean to you?

Nik: Well, it means quite a lot, really. It's a very spiritual place, and it's a very ancient place, and nobody knows how it was built. It was sort of built out of these megalithic stones, these monoliths. And they all came from a long way away, so nobody knows how they got there, either, you know. It's a bit like the Great Pyramids, or that sort of thing. But at the end, it's actually a very spiritual gathering place, and they used to have these wild orgies and festivals there, in ancient times. And it's also possibly a solar calendar, a temple, and there's a lot of very symbolic sort of stuff around Stonehenge, which is sort of zodiacs, and stuff like this, you know, the signs of the zodiac in the ground. And there's a lot of stuff like that all around Stonehenge. So they used to, sort of, have these very wild orgies, and I think that's what it was, the gathering of all the tribes, and that's what it was when we were there as well, as having been there, you know, two thousand, three thousand years ago. Yeah, it's quite a spiritual and powerful place, really.

Santtu: Do you consider yourself as a successful musician?

Nik: Yeah, I think so. Yeah. I mean, only in as much as I had some... I think I had creative satisfaction for what I do. I don't really consider myself particularly materialistically successful, 'cause I'm still hard up, you know, I haven't got a lot of money. I'm still driving a car that's a wreck, and still, you know, going busking 'cause I need to pay my phone bill, you know, and things like that. But then if I can go busking, in say Cardiff, I went busking when they had the rugby world championship finals on with France and Australia, and I was there busking, and I could have like fifty people all dancing to what I was playing, with a saxophone and a tambourine, and I can earn 450 pounds in a day, just playing my saxophone. Well, on one level, that's quite a lot of success! Hahahahah...

Santtu: Has your music ever brought you a lot of cash?

Nik: Has it ever brought me a lot cash? I mean, music hasn't really ever brought me very much cash. I suppose when we... When I was in Hawkwind in the seventies, and we were sort of successful with Silver Machine, I was probably doing all right. I was probably getting two hundred pounds a week, you know, that's what I was getting, regularly, rather than a big lump of money, and then maybe I was getting a record royalty of, you know, a thousand or two thousand pounds every six months, you know, which was from record sales. So, I suppose the money I was getting, two hundred pounds a week, was the fact that we were doing tours, where we were earning loads of money.

Santtu: So, what's the best thing about being a musician?

Nik: Well, I think the creative satisfaction you get from communicating enjoyment to people, and getting a positive reaction from people. Playing dance music is quite good, because you get positive reactions from people, and people are enjoying themselves, and you are helping them to enjoy themselves. So I find that the most satisfying thing, really. You know, communication with people. And I think because music is, I think it's a very spiritual thing. I think it's a healing force really. I think music is a healing medium, and I think it has to be enjoyable, you know, has to be fun.

Santtu: So, how long do you think you'll keep on rocking and continuing your career as a musician?

Nik: I don't know really. I can't really put a time limit on it! I suppose it depends on how long I'll live really, or how, you know, if I had a terrible accident, I suppose I'd stop playing the saxophone perhaps, if I wasn't any longer capable of doing it. But, you know, at the end of the day, I've been involved in the music business for quite a lot of time. I'd like to remain involved in the music business, but in a nice way, you know. I'd like to be one of the nice guys! I don't wanna be one of the assholes, you know! So I'd like to help musicians, and maybe to do production as well, and carry on playing as much as I can. I don't see any reason to stop. I could probably get a proper job! Hahahahhah!

Santtu: So, you live on a farm in Wales, would you mind telling something about it, and your normal, everyday life?

Nik: We have these festivals there, sometimes. My girlfriend has sort of African, Celtic festivals there in the summer time. We've got a bit of land, so we can have a big marquee and a few people camping there, and stuff like that. We have these African/Celtic things, we have people doing workshops in African culture, dancing, drumming, singing, and the same in Celtic things, you know. And, that's what happens there, that's the only thing we do there. I mean, I've got a few caravans that people rent from me, and we've got kids there, I take the kids to school in the morning, pick them up at night, half the time, not always, sometimes. So I get up at seven o'clock every morning, usually, I have a routine, you know, hahahaha... All that sort of thing, I do some rehearsal, perhaps. I've got a studio there, do a bit of recordings sometimes. Yeah, that's more or less what I do, really. I don't go out a lot, I go to parties, and if I'm playing, I'll go to a party, otherwise I won't go to a party, 'cause there's no live music I won't go much to see, you know. I'll go to live music parties and I play. Well, I don't drink, so I get bored hanging around parties where everybody's trying to get drunk, you know, so...

Santtu: Okay. Is there anything you would like to say to the Finnish fans, or the fans in general?

Nik: Yeah, buy my records! Hahahaha! Learn to play a musical instrument, get a band together, spread the spiritual, healing force of music.

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