Monday, 15 April 2013


Nik Turner, the sax-playing space-rock pioneer with Hawkwind, may be as busy as he’s ever been.
Fresh off a carnival-like series of appearances at South by Southwest, Turner’s working on a new album, and will make several guest appearances on albums by the Prog Collective and William Shatner. Meanwhile, he’s also the subject of a new biopic — the reason for that recent visit to the U.S.
Beginning in 1969, Turner helped to craft Hawkwind’s way-out sound over their first six albums, then returned later in the 1980s, memorably guesting on Choose Your Masques. After a falling out with fellow co-founder Dave Brock, Turner would go on to form Sphynx, Inner City Unit, Nik Turner’s Fantastic All Stars and Outriders of the Apocalypse, as well as a series of Hawkwind-related groups like Hawkestra, Space Ritual and even x-Hawkwind — though Brock eventually stepped in there and claimed trademark infringement.
That certainly didn’t slow him down. Turner’s new album, his first solo venture since 2001′s Kubanno Kickasso with the Fantastic All Stars, will be produced by Billy Sherwood for Cleopatra Records. They initially worked together onlast year’s Fusion Syndicate,, and Turner will appear on a pair of other forthcoming Sherwood-helmed projects, including The Prog Collective 2 as well as Shatner’s new solo album. Turner recently guested on Nektar’s last album and also appeared recently with the prog-metal group OHM, fronted by Chris Poland of Megadeth.
Turner joined us, in this exclusive SER Sitdown, to talk about this flurry of new activity, his history with Hawkwind, an abiding passion for fusion, and why even today the offbeat saxist still busks for loose change …
NICK DERISO: How did you develop such an individualistic style on the saxophone?
NIK TURNER: I learned to play saxophone when I was about 17, and I didn’t play for a long time. Then I ran into a musician who told me that I didn’t have to be technical to express myself. I thought: “That sounds good. I could play free jazz in a rock band!” And that’s what Hawkwind was for me. I’d played in a big band, a soul band, a ska band, a punk band. I didn’t want to just be limited to playing jazz, or marching band music. I listened to lots of avant garde stuff. I found, when I was learning, that there was so much stuff that far beyond me, so I sort of became more interested in Jimi Hendrix, so I used to play with a wah-wah pedal and all sorts of effects on my saxophone. I’m very keen on Bitches Brew and Miles Davis here at the moment. I love Chick Corea, Wayne Shorter and those guys. I just like to have the influences of these people. I find it stimulating. I only listen to music that I can learn from.

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