One of pioneering UK space-rock band Hawkwind's founding members, Nik Turner, is out touring behind his new release, Space Gypsy, which features members of his former band and features the track "Fallen Angel STS-51-L",
He wrote or co-wrote some of the band's biggest songs from "Brainstorm" to "Master of the Universe" and had a major hand in the band's innovative Space Rituals Tour and the subsequent The Space Ritual Alive in Liverpool and London double album.
The Space Ritual show attempted to create a full audio-visual experience built around the fantasy of traveling through time and space.
Now Turner is bringing his version of the show to the U.S. shores to hopefully recreate the magic, "I helped to choreograph the original Space Ritual. I performed and recited some poetry. I felt it held the thing together in some way. When it was devised Robert (Calvert, Hawkwind frontman and lyricist) used to have nervous breakdowns every eighteen months according to his mother at least. At the time I was helping him and he was helping me but when he ended up having to go into the hospital I ended up choreographing the show with Barney Bubbles (graphic artist). Barney built the whole thing around the astrological signs of all of the members of the band and used the corresponding colors to those signs in the light show. Then we built the whole thing on the music of the spheres which was quite fabulous and focused on the tones of the planets."
Turner went on to share that he hopes they have kept that essence and are perpetuating the feeling of that original show, "It's always an enjoyable thing to try and repeat that experience naturally. We're enjoying this tour. The Space Gypsy album is out and doing well and we're playing a couple of songs from the album on this tour. It's going very well. We started off a few days ago doing a show in Oakland at a record shop. That was an experience! Then we headed to the next venue in Eureka and it was really quite a small bar but the place was absolutely jammed with people! It was really exciting. It was really a sort of cathartic experience; a really lovely, lovely experience for everybody.
He explained that, "We're actually sort of doing a budget tour by trying to find places to stay so we don't have to stay in hotels. We haven't really got much money so people have been very accommodating towards us. We played in Portland last night and the promoter arranged some accommodations for us out in the woods in the late night. We're just heading out on our way now. It was really lovely and a great venue and the people who put us up were great. They fed us and nothing was too much. It was part of a festival in Portland that our agent was putting on and there were four bands playing last night and we had a great crowd. Everybody loved it. We are really trying to capture the spirit of what Hawkwind was all about. I mean it's a big tour but it's going well so far and I'm out with a great bunch of people on the road."
It is widely known that Turner and Hawkwind's Dave Brock, the only remaining founding member of the space-rock outfit, have had their disputes over the years and according to Turner there is a lot of misinformation about the band and about him out there, "All I'm trying to do is portray the spirit of what Hawkwind was about and what it represents to me really. It's about peace and love and harmony and people doing amazing things. It's about getting everybody to have a great time. I feel really good about this tour and I'm very happy to be over here doing this tour and happy to make ourselves available to people. I talk to people, kiss all the girls and have my photograph taken! I'm very privileged to be able to come to America and play for people and raise their spirits. I mean everybody keeps smiling at each other! I'm looking forward to the rest of the tour."
Turner says that the band is having a great time spending time with their fans and that it is great that so many people have been so welcoming.
He says that one of the best parts about the tour has been when people come up to him and say they saw him play here in the seventies and later in the early nineties, "They tell me how they never got over it! They're really excited and I think it's fantastic. I did two tours in the nineties here; one in the summer and one in the winter. They were both very interesting and exciting. I was wearing wacky makeup and costumes. I mean I've straightened out a bit now, now I wear a silver suit! I think I feel like an alien really. It's quite a lot of fun. It's nice to see such a nice reaction to it."
Turner says he is just happy to be able to play anywhere and take his music to the people, "It's all about spreading the word of love and understanding. It's all about health and happiness."
After the tour wraps up, the band will be heading over to Europe for some shows and then Turner will be looking to work on stuff with all of the other bands that he is involved with.
As for the Space Gypsy album, Turner really enjoyed being able to work with a number of guests including fellow Hawkwind alumnus, Simon House, "The way things are now with web files you can record anywhere without being in the same room. You can have people all over the world working on an album together. I did some recording for William Shatner's album. I met with him eventually though but I'm on another sort of jazz fusion album that's being put together for me and there is a lot of people working on it with me. It's a great experience."
Turner loves the idea of working creatively with others and says he loves to encourage younger artists to be themselves and be creative.
He also spoke about how the Space Gypsy album was a true collaborative effort on the whole band's part, "What I like about this album is the diversity of it. I love the fact that everybody in the band had something to do with it. I like to create a situation of reciprocity with everyone I work with. I drew ideas from a lot of different people and I had some ideas for songs that I felt strongly about as well. I like to do thing with a little bit of heart and soul. One of the songs I did was about the Mayans and mythology because I'm fascinated by them. I find it very stimulating because I think ancient civilizations have a lot of knowledge that we still don't have. Even as a child I was fascinated by Greek mythology. My life is just a continuation of that really; that germ of inquisitiveness and curiosity. I wrote these songs in the spirit of how I think Hawkwind should have gone. I think it worked out very interestingly and satisfactorily."
Turner was very clear when asked what he'd like to say to his fans, "Please come to one of my shows and have a good time. Come and say hello to me. I'm very happy to meet everybody. I feel like the whole spiritual experience is a healing thing. I want people to come and be heard and be healed while I'm healing myself. We'll heal each other! We'll give each other the magic power of healing!"
Tickets for the show are $10 in advance and $12 at the door.