Pop culture can be as forbidding as it is inviting, particularly in areas that invite geeky obsession: The more devotion a genre or series or subculture inspires, the easier it is for the uninitiated to feel like they’re on the outside looking in. But geeks aren’t born; they’re made. And sometimes it only takes the right starting point to bring newbies into various intimidatingly vast obsessions. Gateways To Geekery is our regular attempt to help those who want to be enthralled, but aren’t sure where to start. Want advice? Suggest future Gateways To Geekery topics by email@example.com.
Geek obsession: Hawkwind
Why it’s daunting: Steeped in hippie mysticism, science fiction, arcane energies, and what must be some staggeringly potent acid, Hawkwind has never aimed for the lowest common denominator. Formed in 1969, the legendary British band has spent the last 44 years skirting the edges of the collective unconscious—first as a remnant of the psychedelic ’60s, then as an increasingly diverse and inscrutable collective known for its almost tribal pull. But beneath the crusty, druggy caricature of Hawkwind lurks an iconic group of subcultural pioneers. From the droning pulse of space rock—a genre the band all but invented—to its influence on everything from punk to metal to electronica, Hawkwind has explored depths of sound and thought that few musicians dare to admit exist. Add to that a catalog that penetrates five decades—not to mention a sprawling array of offshoots and solo projects—and it’s no wonder Hawkwind’s image and legacy are among the most impenetrable in rock.