Do you remember the day when you decided to write something and that took you into the writing world?
I HAVE WRITTEN FOR AS LONG AS I CAN REMEMBER, produced a magazine when I was nine and regularly published fanzines until, in 1956, when I was 16, I became assistant editor of a national juvenile magazine, became editor at 17 and turned it into a kind of science fantasy magazine for boys. From there I went on to work for IPC, chiefly on a crime series but also editing the big annuals (text & comics) and other publications for which I turned out thousands of words! Meanwhile I wrote fiction, chiefly for sf and fantasy magazines, quickly becoming frustrated with the restraints and conservativism of the genres. Ballard and I felt the same and planned a magazine which would be innovative and experimental and rejected the rationales and materialism of conventional sf. In 1964 I was asked to become editor of NEW WORLDS and began to change it into the magazine I had planned, beginning the so-called New Wave in sf. From the outset we were associated with the avante garde, including the ‘underground’ magazines like OZ, IT and especially FRENDZ which was associated with Hawkwind from the start.
How did you choose the SF theme and why?
Edgar Rice Burroughs was one of the first authors I read before I went to school! Baby duck syndrome! It provided a good form for writing on several levels, including symbolism and allegory. I was always a moral writer.
I will focus this interview more on your music part of life, as that's something that people here don't know about you. When did you find out about your talent to create music, to make a band, be in bands, record songs?
I was caught up, like most of my generation, in rock and roll and skiffle, had my first group at 15 and became deeply interested in the blues, meeting several of my heroes through John Brunner, another sf writer, who gave parties for them when they came to London. I was in several groups parallel to my writing/editing career and hitch-hiked across Europe (Finland to France) making a living as a blues singer.
How did you meet guys from Hawkwind?
Jon Trux of FRENDZ brought Bob Calvert to see me (I lived in Ladbroke Grove about 5 minutes from FRENDZ and NW offices were only about 3 buildings away). They suggested I might like to see this new band. We went together and I did like them! They seemed anarchic but controlled at the same time.
Did you had the same views on the world as them?
Yes, pretty much.
You and Mick Farren openly said that you are anarchists? In what way?
Philosophical/moral attitudes. A moral position from which to see and act for equality which included feminism (cf The Retreat from Liberty, 1983), socialism and so on.
Do you think the day will come when there will be no borders, nations and religion cults, just humanity?
Because in the name of some cult to kill somebody, children, and make wars is really sick. Is there a chance that people just stop playing that game? ABSOLUTELY. I longed for a just and democratic world government since I was 10 and first read about the idea. I worked for it (race relations, anti-fascist, democratic socialism etc). I continue to hope and to work for such a world.
What's going on with former members from Hawkwind? I know their dispute and all that, but why can't people be smart, be together, respect each other and make new albums as Hawkwind? Nobody has profit from this. I know you said you are little bit more on Nik's side.
Far more now than ever. Everyone is fine with everyone else. Dave is the only shit-stirrer. Divide and rule is his motto. Dave was always manipulative and ‘tricky’ and recent events have seen him attacking (or causing physical attacks on) loyal friends of 50 years. He’s behaving like the scientologists! I associated with the band precisely because its ideas reflected my own. Nick was the spirit of the band. Dave is the dictator. I quietly decided to leave the second time Dave manipulated Nick into being fired after Nick had done a lot of work with me on the idea. I was sickened by how Dave went about it. Without speaking, I decided that the Black Sword gigs were to be my last. I knew this while I was performing but didn’t say anything to anyone. Recently, with Dave’s volte face and attacks on members and fans I regard as friends, I decided to express my misgivings openly. Money is doubtless the root of it. Dave is probably planning to retire and probably has social security/tax problems and is behaving like a rat to old friends and band members. His behavior to band members and long-time supporters is sickening. I remain very good friends with everyone else.
I like your band The Deep Fix. You had one record in 1975, "The New Worlds Fair". I like it, but you said somewhere you were not happy about it. Why?
There were demos before that and a lot of work after (there were four albums altogether with a satirical record SUDDENLY, IT’S THE BELLYFLOPS in 1964. NWF in 75, Rock & Roll Holiday (new tracks and originals around NWF) and the Noh Poetry record of my & Pavli’s ENTROPY TANGO/GLORIANA work, bits and pieces from Flicknife etc. We found that r&r producers found my and Pete Pavli’s work hard to understand – atonality, no bass and drums, ‘speech-singing’ and so on and both of us gave up for a while, except to work on other people’s records. We were then more interested in modern classical music. Pete ran a bookshop in Wales. He specialised in economist books. He’s also an expert potter and a fine book-binder! He tends to write progressive modern music. I wasn’t entirely happy about the production and felt I could have done better.
On “The New Worlds Fair" record was Vic Maile (the guy who later produced Ace Of Spades from Motorhead). Did he had any ideas for that album?
Not really, though we enjoyed working with him and he was a good engineer.
There were also Dave Brock, Simon House, Simon King, Alan Powell on this LP. Did they just played on it or did they had some ideas for songs also? What did they said about the album in those days?
They didn’t contribute much except Simon House did the notation. Lemmy and Terry Ollis were more involved. Don’t remember Dave being involved at all. I didn’t do the credits. Doug Smith probably got them wrong when he gave UA the credits, Snowy White and Kumo were much more involved.
The single "Dodgem Dude / Starcruiser" was actually recorded before the album, but released later? It was something that gave you the idea to make an album?
UA liked the single but offered me a 3-record contract on the strength of it. I hadn’t expected that. I agreed because it gave me opportunities for recording the guys in The Deep Fix and getting them some exposure. As a writer I think in terms of narrative and so I conceived it as a song cycle!
You had another single "Brothel in Rosenstrasse". How did this one happen?
Flicknife did the Starcruiser single after I gave up on UA as a company. They then did BROTHEL from the planned album. Soon we became frustrated. We had other projects we wanted to do.
In the same year, 1975, was the second solo album from Robert Calvert "Lucky Lief And Longships". You were not on the first great one, but you were on this one. How was working with Brian Eno, Calvert and other guys? You are happy with this album?
I played some guitar, banjo and backing vocals and loved working with Eno. Intelligence/communication meant we could work rapidly. That suited me. Bob was a very disciplined recording musician. I also played my Rickenbacker 12 on HYPE, his third album. Linda and I did some backing vocals on it.
Do you think that Columbus wasn't the first who discovered America? :)
In an early comic song I did I claimed Kristov Kolumbovitch discovered America!
In the 80's again, Hawkwind used your books for albums like they did in the 70's. This time for the album "The Chronicle Of The Black Sword". One of their best, don't you think? And "Live Chronicles" is my live favorite. Were you in the studio and tour with them?
I did some gigs but wasn’t in the studio. Dave lied to me about who was putting the record out so I had all my work removed. This was the first time I took action because of Dave’s trickiness. Later, when the label changed, I let them put almost all back. I’m not really the best person to judge it but I did like a lot of it, especially Huw’s work.
As you were part of that scene from the 60's and 70’s, how would you describe these great musicians to people in Croatia or the world? I ask you this because last month we lost another great musician, Larry Wallis. How would you describe him and a few other like: Mick Farren, Lemmy, Dave Brock, Twink, Robert Calvert, Nik Turner, Russel Hunter, Paul Rudolph and Duncan Sanderson?
All like-minded people, most of whom remain good friends. Larry was a troubled individual, bipolar, and like Calvert could be sweet and very focused at his best, an exhausting nightmare when he was ‘up’. Twink was mostly in Morocco the last few decades and Blacky (Paul) moved back to Canada! I saw Nicky at a gig we did in Austin and he was very chipper! I got on very well with Mick since the days of IT where he was editor and I was contributing a Jerry Cornelius strip. He conducted his own trial for obscenity etc in court and I really admired his eloquence.
You were at many parties with those guys or some of them. Can you share some stories? I always ask this when this club of musicians is in question because we fans want to imagine how was life off stage, behind 'cameras'.
Honestly, I didn’t really socialize much. I was at a party of Simon King’s with DikMik once and we were almost the last ones still awake. Earlier, as people fell asleep, Mik grinned like a shark and asked “Who wants to stay up all night and talk to DikMik ?” which terrified them all. I made him the main character in a story called A DEAD SINGER about a roady who thinks he’s driving Jimi Hendrix around. I’d bump into Lemmy at the Princess Louise quite often. I rode on top of my Nash at high speed with Mik driving. Took Calvert up to my house in Yorkshire quite a bit to make him walk in the wilderness to get the downers and shit out of him, tried to help him write and so on. We also drove the Pennine way (walking trail) in my huge Nash and generally had some good times.
However, mostly when not working I preferred to spend time with my children!
Last question about this part of your history. I was reading a few months ago interview with Sonja Kristina (Curved Air). She said that these guys were hippy but not in the way of peace and love. They were much more sharp, not only on albums. Do you agree with this and did you ever play with her?
Absolutely right! We were urban activists. Dave lived in the country but most of us lived in London. It’s why we got along. I was uneasy in peace and love land. Most of us had trouble with the cops at some point. I played with quite a few people but was usually so out of it I don’t remember them very much. I remember playing with Kossoff and Arthur Brown at a Portobello Green gig when we were all so stoned Paul fell asleep behind the stacks halfway through, Arthur sat down and couldn’t get up and I kept playing until I fell down a hole in the stage. Some French guys said it was the best gig they’d ever been to!
This ended with punk in the 70's, you know that Twink had The Rings and Andy Colquhoun and Lucas Fox were in Warsaw Pakt where Mick wroted few songs too. You were never involved in this music? Not your cup of tea?
I liked punk and wrote The Great Rock and Roll Swindle for the Pistols but I wasn’t involved with any band other than my own, Hawkwind and writing for Blue Oyster Cult.
Almost forgot, T. Rex former member Steve Peregrin Took had his band Shagrat with Larry Wallis and other guys. Your band and his band played in the London Roundhouse in 1978, also with Tanz Der Youth from Brian James, Andy Colquhoun...? What can you say to us about him and that show?
I loved Tooky and we all got on ok. I disliked Marc Bolan who wanted to meet me badly. He’d follow me down Ladbroke Grove in his white Rolls Royce calling after me while I rode my bike. I’d dart down a sidestreet or mount the sidewalk to avoid him. I didn’t like the way he’d dumped Tooky. That was a strange gig because we followed the Damned and they’d turned everything up very trebley and we didn’t get a chance to change the settings. My guess is, we sounded like chipmunks!
Thirty years after your first record, you were back in music. You released three more albums, the last one a few days ago “Live At The Terminal Cafe”? What are these albums about?
See above! I tend to work with concepts attached to books, to complement and augment my writing. LIVE AT THE TERMINAL CAFÉ imagines the music the band plays at The Terminal Café, Biloxi, Mississippi which is next to a huge ‘colour’ strike – mysterious energy which gamblers in particular know how to find. The books are known as the BLOOD trilogy – BLOOD, FABULOUS HARBOURS & THE WAR AMONGST
THE ANGELS, plus a strange 12-issue comic I did for DC called MICHAEL MOORCOCK’S MULTIVERSE. They are mostly dance tunes based on Cajun, Country and Texano rhythms. It’s the most ‘danceable’ record I’ve ever made!
I heard Martin Stone for the first time in the Pink Fairies when he was on their single “Between The Lines”. How did you hook up with him to make this album?
Martin and I were from the same part of South London. I met him when he was in MIGHTY BABY (originally The Action) a superb bunch of musicians. We both read a lot of books of the same kind. As a boy he was a little younger than me and would look for books with my name in them because he knew he would like them too. A lot of bands, including the Stones, wanted him to join them. After his last touring band Chilli Willi broke up he became a full time book-seller. He was known by everyone in the book world for his supernatural ability to find rare books, some that people didn’t know existed before. We also shared other enthusiasms, including music and we were good friends until he moved to Paris and I moved to Austin. We hooked up again when I got a place in Paris. We had talked of doing a record together for years and decided we’d go ahead in Paris. So we contacted Denis Boudrillart and Brad Scott (drummer & bassist) and rehearsed it all in Paris then recorded basic tracks at a great little studio in Montmartre. My friend and neighbour Sean Orr, one of the great Texas fiddlers, agreed to put fiddle on and we turned it over to Don Falcone in San Francisco to produce. He added a little more and recorded me playing harmonica and singing St James’s Infirmary a cappella. I think it’s the best produced album I’ve done.
I heard on this album a few things — a style from the 70's, style from Hawkwind, and new sounds on it which sounds really fresh. These new things are amazing on the first song “The Effects Of Entropy” and the song “Sam Oakenhurst’s Story,” for example. What was the story behind them?
The books I mentioned. I can’t hear much Hawkwind, I’m afraid. The record is driven by Martin’s guitar. The BLOOD trilogy is the set of books.
What were the lyrics’ theme this time, for those who haven’t heard album?
As above! All good dance tunes!
What can you say to us about the guys who did a great job on the album, drummer Denis Baudrillart and bassist Brad Scott? Catherine Foreman and Jonathan Segel were members too?
Denis is one of the best drummers in Europe. Brad has been in a few French bands. Both played regularly with Martin in Paris. He also played at a Pataphysicians event (Martin and I were both Pataphysicians) which is where I first met him. Working musicians in Paris. Sean is also an old friend, heads up his own band in Austin (check out his web site!). Don put the other two on! He of course is a musician in his own right and played piano.
The sleeve was done by Walter Simonson who drew your comic book “Michael Moorcock's Multiverse?”
Right. Another old friend. Walter and I have worked together quite a bit on DC projects. He conceptualized THOR for Marvel. He and I did an Elric project ELRIC: THE MAKING OF A SORCERER a few years ago. The sleeve picture is by Gustav Moreau. Walter did the inside sleeve.
Was it easy to produce the album and what is different producing an album now versus 1975?
Record companies used to pay for everything out of a large advance. You never saw any of the advance because it went on ‘expenses’. Now I pay for everything myself. This is a good thing because it keeps you from spending too much and wondering who spent your money and where. You can also run your own timetable and have complete control over engineers, producers and the tapes are completely yours.
In the middle of making the album, Martin Stone died. This album is dedicated to him? How much work on the album was done without him?
Mostly production. All the guitar is his.
Any plans for a tour in Europe?
Not without Martin.
Are you planning after some time to do a new album or return to writing?
I’m always doing both and if I can find a partner as good as Martin or Pete Pavli I’d start recording today. I have severe neuropathy, so the only instrument I can still play is a harmonica! TERMINAL CAFÉ was all composed on harmonica!
Because of my surname, which by meaning in a way is similar to yours, I always remember Lemmy how in one interview was talking good stuff about you and for fun he said something like 'great guy with very unfortunate name’.
Although Lemmy was one of the best-read musicians I know, he also had a lowbrow persona which was his public face. We hit it off the first time he auditioned with the band. He liked to characterize me as a posh literateur who was nervous of performing but I was never nervous on stage while he could get very nervous before going out on stage. I remember one night at a Christmas gig – a reunion at Hammersmith Odeon, he got a terrible nose-bleed and Linda had to help him. He was as tender on the inside as he was tough on the outside. He would aways get the best quality groupies! Before she met him Linda said she wouldn’t take any shit ‘from that MCP’ and he was so charming and funny that she liked him instantly.
If he is somewhere alive as pure energy or something, what do you think guys like us should say to him?
Fuck off, you old cunt.
Mr. Moorcock, thank you for your time and I wish you more books and records.
Thanks, pard. You’re welcome.