We’ve recently been very much honoured to make the acquaintance of Nik Turner, most famous for fronting space-rock band, Hawkwind. We found him to be both fascinating and inspirational, and, to be frank, are quite in awe of him and what he’s achieved. Here’s our interview with Nik.
EP: You’ve done so many amazing things, what has been the highlight so far for you?
NT: I think it’s hard to beat recording flute music inside the Great Pyramid of Cheops in Cairo, Egypt in 1976, basing my playing on the inspiration of the Science Fictional interpretation of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, or Pyramid Texts, then turning it into an album, produced by Steve Hillage, then a stage show, directed by Barney Bubbles, and then a touring show, with a group of performers who were ever changing, magic, and marvellous.
EP: You spent 10 years fronting Hawkwind, what do you think helped the band stay together for so long?
NT: There is still a band calling itself ‘Hawkwind’, which is doing gigs I believe, though I have not experienced them, but it is not what the band was about when I was in it. In my opinion, and for my part, what helped the band stay together for me, was not feeling involved in the politics, and the feeling we were all part of the band, ie., faith and respect for the other band members.
EP: You like to involve yourself in all aspects of the bands you work with, why do you feel this is important?
NT: I feel the need to have control of my creative situation, and am happy to perform all the necessary functions required of being in a band, so that the band may function satisfactorily, and for everyone in it to be happy, and all on a very low budget.
EP: What advice would you give to young musicians starting out in their career? What are your top 3 dos and don’ts?
NT: To be able to play your musical instrument competently, whether it be your voice, or other instrument.
To get on with the other people in your band, respect them, and work as a team.
To trust one another with respect, and have a similar vision.
EP: In your experience, is it good to diversify?
NT: I play for my own satisfaction, and like to enjoy myself. I like a musical challenge and enjoy good music. I like to have a good time and feel that, if I am enjoying myself, the audience will enjoy themselves too. Relatively the same people come to my performances, no matter what music I’m playing.
EP: What music do you listen to?
NT: I listen to a lot of jazz, currently a lot of Miles Davis, ‘Bitches Brew’ era, I like to listen to music I can learn from. I like Classical music and opera, have sung opera on occasions.
EP: You’ve worked with some legendary people, is there anyone you’ve not yet worked with and would like to?
NT: A lot of them are dead, but I do like Wayne Shorter, the saxophonist, Lady Gaga, Pink, Stevie Wonder, Courtney Pine, Snoop Dogg.
EP: You have a new album coming out, “Space Fusion Odyssey”, due to be released in July. Talk us through that.
NT: My record Company in USA, Cleopatra Records, suggested I did some recording with Billy Sherwood [Yes’ front-man], for his solo album, which I did, then this lead to recording with William Shatner on one of his albums, and then an invitation to record a solo album, Nik Turner’s ‘Space Gypsy’ with a band which they chose, guys from the UK Subs, Nicky Garrett, guitar, Jason Willer, drums, and Jeff Piccinini, bassist from Chelsea, and Producer Jurgen Engler [Die Krupps], on guitar and synthesizer. The album did very well, great reviews, compared very favourably with Hawkwind. Then I was invited to do a Jazz-Fusion album, featuring Billy Cobham, the world-class drummer, Chris Poland, [Megadeth guitarist], Steve Hillage and Gilli Smith, [Gong], Robbie Krieger, [Doors], John Etheridge, [Soft Machine], John Wienserli, [Amon Duul], and many more. I look forward to the full album.
EP: What projects do you have lined up for the future?
NT: I have recorded an album last year in USA, of free jazz, ‘Flame Tree’, which Cleopatra Records are releasing, the guitarist in the band is involved in organising SeaProg, a Progressive Rock Festival in Seattle, on Aug 7-9 which the band will play at, where we will play a selection of Flame Tree, Hawkwind, [songs I wrote], Inner City Unit, Nik Turner’s Hawkwind, [my USA band], Nik Turner’s Space Fusion Odyssey, [the new album]. I am doing a US tour in November, I have an autobiographical book coming out soon, and I may do a Book Tour also.
In the meantime I am organising gigs in Britain and Europe, for my bands, New Space Ritual, Space Gypsy, Inner City Unit, Outriders of Apocalypse, [music show based on Mayan Mythology] I am working on an album for Black Widow Records in Italy, with underground San Francisco guitar hero, Helios Creed, [Chrome], ‘Space is the Place’ based on origins of Mankind, and an album with Ginger Baker. Am also working on another album with Billy Cobham and the rest of the guys, also am working on a filmed biography, things just keep coming my way, I can’t sit down.
EP: Can you sum up your philosophy of life in one sentence?
NT: Music is a healing and harmonising thing, we are here to heal one another, raise the spirits, spread brotherly love and awareness, we are here to serve.