Robert Calvert

> part IV <

> from Sonic Assassination to the Dead End <

...welcome to part IV of this complicated story - your patience is appreciated...

- the last stop was PARIS - followed by a short break and some more outstanding recordings for their next album named PXR5 - that shouldn't see the light of day for a while as....alas, the tension grew again.
The reasons leading to the first half-split of this line-up are quite unclear. Brock and Calvert stated they wanted to play at free festivals and other venues the other members did not want to - though this seems hardly to be a point for such a radical step -and is also denied by the other members.
Whatever the reasons were - Brock and Calvert formed a splinter group which was recruited from members of the North-Devon based band 'Ark': Harvey Bainbridge on bass, Martin Griffin on drums and Paul Hayles on keyboards. This band performed under another Hawkwind alias:

> The Sonic Assassins <
- an alias which was often used by the press refering to Hawkwind -

The Sonic Assassinsdid a prestigious gig at Barnstaple's Queens Hall, Christmas eve 1977, that has also been recorded - and has been described by Brock as 'a gem of a gig'.
Though Calvert offered to pull out of the gig, due to the feeling he was heading into one of his manic phases again, he finally showed up after Harvey Bainbridge managed to talk him into it.

Calvert appeared onstage in his notorious battledress and injected his current obsession on World-War I into a glorious, highly intense piece of improvisation: Over the Top - that also became part of the Sonic Assassin's release.

The conflicts among the current HW members, indicated by the forming of The Sonic Assassins, developed their full destructive effect during the '78 US Tour.
The biggest blow hit the band halfway through the tour: Simon House - who's brilliant work on keyboards and violin made up a quintessential part of the band's sound at the time - opted to leave the band to accompany David Bowie on his world tour.
Paul Hayles from the Sonic Assassins stepped in but couldn't really replace House's virtuosity.

The effect on the band when Simon House left - in my opinion this marked the end of the band as a band. - R. Calvert

Being amputated on the musical side, additional strain was again put upon the other members by Calvert:  
"When we did the US-tour Bob was on a real downer, and the tour became a disaster. He just stood there on stage, doing nothing and brought everyone else down with him. It was terrible.
Paul Kantner from the Jefferson Airplane came to see us and said it was just like a shell of a band. Next day I sold my guitar. There'd been this guy who wanted to buy it. I was totally depressed. I walked offstage and said: "You still want this guitar? It's yours". He gave me 100 dollars for it.
- D. Brock

Even Paul Hayles, who only did half the tour was walking on his nerve's ends...
"When he returned, he was completely spaced out of his brain. Soon afterwards he took his wife and moved to France." 
- H. Bainbridge

Well, everyone has his view on this period of time - HERE is what Paul Hayles himself has to say about his time with the Sonic Assassins and Hawkwind.

On March 25th, the last performance of this
(already crippled) line-up took place in San Francisco -

- than the band dismantled itself - again...

...and again, it was NOT the real living end...

Another short break followed...
...and Calvert and Brock revived their spirits and together they forged another formation to keep their shared vision of the band going.

"The final split is being made now, leaving myself and Dave Brock at the helm and in control of the situation which is in my and Daves opinion that we've gone back to an earlier point in Hawkwind's development in terms of actual presentation of ideals but a bigger step ahead in musical terms. The band we've got now is musically very flexible and sophisticated

but is also willing to play free festivals still - go anywhere, play anywhere, Nothern Irleland, Southern Ireland - do everything that Hawkwind is supposed to do and hasn't done for a long time. So far Hawkwind has almost been a worker's cooperative - which I am afraid it isn't now - it's more a management and workers situation - or a leader and back-up team." - R. Calvert; Dec. '78

Due to some some legal complications with former members they
changed the band's name from HAWKWIND to


- which was another HAWKWIND - pseudonym created by the band many years ago.
The HAWKLORDS were more or less identical with The Sonic Assassins - only Steve Swindells (from 'Pilot') took over on keyboards and synths.
Brock and Calvert delievered another collection of powerful compositions for the first Hawklords album:


Calvert's ironical skepticism and fascination for new technologies (and aviation) again became the subjects of various songs.

The HAWKLORDS' songs developed the music even further into the New Wave and Industrial direction. A song like 25 Years On could have well been part of a DEVO set and PSI POWER would have gone down well with any 'New Wave' audience at the time.
But the STIGMA problem remained - the HAWKLORDS were HAWKWIND - consequently they could be nothing but old acid-heads to the oh so open-minded british music papers...
- at least for the bigger part of the press they remained the old hippies - no matter how far ahead they were musically, no matter what concepts they developed - that other bands were succesful with, only years later...

The cover design, done by the famous 'Hipgnosis' company, features some austere industrial-like photos of mostly faceless human(oids) - placed in sterile surroundings; captivated in bandages and strange poses of pseudo-scientific rituals.

Hawklords - live'78 - photo: M. Lawrence

The stage show and design for the tour in 1978 went equally futuristic ways.
It was based on Calvert's idea of a fictitiuous industrial mega-trust:

Pan Transcendental Industries

> complete with a detailed megalomanic philosophy - that was outlined in the tour-programme - which in fact looked like a (strange) company's record - and gave no indication to any kind of band or concert.

> LISTEN   to the voice of Pantranscendental Industries Inc. <
> "In recent times, Pan Transcendental Industries Inc., realising the fundamental problems of twentieth century man, have started to implement our next 25 year plan. Using our extensive resources we intend to celebrate a Utopia unprecedented in history. Our true ambition is to create
- a Heaven totally fabricated by man -

The entire concept of Hawklords' PAN TRANCENDENTAL INDUSTRIES is far too complex to be presented here.
However, it's a truly visionary must-read piece - so, click HERE for an extensive presentation of PTI Inc. - incl. the texts from the tourbook, images, animations, sounds...

The show included actors, projections and an eloborate industrial stage design by Hawkwind's favorite stage and design team Liquid Len and Barney Bubbles.
The live performances got a bit heavier than the studio recordings - filled with an enormous amount of energy.

Read an extensive article / interview with Calvert and Moorcock from Nov. 1978.

> See some shots from Hawklords/1978 period / live and promo-shots - HERE
> See some photos from the Hawklords gig at the Leicester De Montford Hall, 1978 - exclusive and so far unpublished shots by Peter Zabulis - HERE

Hawklords Live

The following tour - though commercially and conceptually a success - brought back the old complications. An increasing conflict arose between Calvert and Martin Griffin.

Calvert was really freaking out. He was suffering from a persecution complex.
He thought everyone was against him.

- D. Brock

"By the end of the tour it was obvious that the chemistry wans't very good.
Maybe it was unusual for Calvert to have another extrovert in the band.'

- M. Griffin

...and this resulted in yet another sacking - Martin Griffin had to pack his drum-kit..

  PXR5 A last offshoot from this troublesome -
but highly fruitful period was the release of PXR5.
These were the last recordings performed by the same line-up that did the QUARK... album. But after their split the album got shelved in favour of the new HAWKLORDS project.
Though PXR5 doesn't have the same musical consistency as QUARK... it is another outstanding document of this line up's musical variety and innovative style - ranging from the heavy, almost industrial-like punkish-paranoid Death Trap to
Adrian Shaw's more lighthearted Jack of Shadows.

And again Calvert's occupation for new technologies and their social impacts is marking the strongest influence - like in the haunting and driving Robot (in which he quotes Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics) and in the wonderful, melodic High Rise - based on J.G. Ballard's novel by the same name.
The song addresses the de-humanizing effects of being gathered in an architectural structure - or rather life-form: the sky-scraper -- the perfect symbol for man's inability to overcome certain killer-instincts - all this wrapped into an even more disconcerting melodic and poetical beauty.

Themes like urban alienation became in fact some of the major subjects of up-coming New-Wave bands like Joy Division a. o. - not to mention that even bands of today don't seem to care much about the effects of new technologies, robots, etc. - Calvert's lyrics are still ahead of their time - in regards to its subjects AND lyrical quality.

Calvert on PXR5:
"We were committed by our label to make an album at the end of last year - and we found that we've made an album that we really didn't wanted to make - QUARK... is an album that we wanted to make - and the end result was pretty much what Dave and I intended it to sound like. PXR5 wasn't as good as QUARK... - it wasn't in the same direction - it was back in another direction we didn't want to go in."

Listening to PXR5 it is difficult to imagine why both Calvert and Brock were so displeased with an album that features a handful of the band's best songs ever recorded - and is still even better than the Hawklords album.
But - as you've read on these pages - the main problems were EGO-problems and eventually it were those high-explosive ego's that produced these outstanding sounds - AND brought this collaboration to an early end.

> LISTEN to Calvert in his own words
on the overall spirit during those 4 years:

"There was a lot of backbiting going on. I remember times when an awful lot of plotting went on to bring down various key-figures, myself included. It was quite often like a complex of cross-plotting.
Certainly enough to feed the average paranoid mind with enough material to send it right over the edge - a lot of back-stabbing - but also 'good human comradeship' - and a lot of good humour.
- I can't say that I regret any time I spent in that area at all."

Considering all this - those 4 years were not that short - and highly productive they were, after all.
I don't think there is a likelihood that I will ever perform with a band called Hawkwind again, unless it's a reforming of what I consider the best line-up of the band, which was in the days of the QUARK, STRANGENESS AND CHARM album."
- and he never did - except from some rare guest- appearances at Hawkwind gigs.

Dave Brock and Robert Calvert
certainly brought the best out of each other during those 4 years.
After the final split Hawkwind musical direction changed dramatically - after some time, however, they did release a number of good records again - but - to me - they never reached that creative strength again.
Well, everyone knows - music & bands are a matter of chemistry - and the Calvert & Brock certainly reacted in highly creative ways during those years.

Dave Brock:
When we used to have Bob Calvert, we used to work really well together. We used to feed off each other. He'd give us a lot of ideas and when he left, I found it really difficult for the past few years, because it's very hard to feed off of everybody else... I mean, Calvert was a real loony and he used to make me go a bit peculiar as well!

Accompanied by their many musical comrades in arms,
Calvert & Brock broke much more new ground - in terms of music, concepts AND lyrics - than other bands will in a whole lifetime - and it's more than overdue they receive the credit for that.

bless 'em for that - and listen to

This is the story so far - and it ends here -

- as this is a site on Mr. Calvert, I am not going into the further and continuously complicated history of this band now - you can find it, however, on the net-pages that are linked below / annexed.

Find more infos on Calvert's involvement and influence on the band -and other artists- and the vast amount of his other works on the list of his works and the other pages of this WEBYRINTH.

Sideways Through Time?!?

- back to PART:   1 | | 2 | | 3 -

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