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In May of 2005 I had the opportunity to ask Cameron Hawkins some Frequently asked Questions about himself and FM. He was kind enough to respond and had some very interesting answers. (PW)



PW: The question I keep getting asked by fans is why has the back catalogue of FM material not been released, especially City of Fear and Surveillance?

Cameron Hawkins: The answer is that, with the bankruptcy of Passport Records, the masters of these two records are gone. We've done some extensive checking on that. This was true of Black Noise, too. To make a digital master we have to find a pristine copy of the vinyl and put it through extensive "no noise" processing. It's time consuming - but we are working on it.

PW: Have you stayed in the music loop in a performing role or maybe some producing?

Cameron Hawkins: Personally, I retired from the music business in 1996 - the last FM show was a "SuperStars of the '70's" extravaganza at Molson Amphitheatre in Toronto. That put to bed almost 20 years with FM - which I thought was long enough. It wasn't until 2004 that I took up performing again. Now, I'm playing bass guitar for the Catfish Blues Band, who play around town once every couple of months. And I've got a trio called The Hot Knives - a just for fun, intergalactic, funk-rock band.

PW: What is your most memorable high point in FM's career (gig or otherwise)?

Cameron Hawkins: Wow, that gets me thinking...there were so many of them. It's hard to pick one. But I guess playing at the Ontario Place Forum in home-town Toronto, with family and friends and thousands of fans, and receiving a gold record for Black Noise was definitely a high point.

PW: A low point?

Cameron Hawkins: Points, actually. The bankruptcy of GRT Records in 1979.  The bankruptcy of Passport Records in 1981. The bankruptcy of Quality Records in 1986. All of these business failures resulted in the loss of royalties for the band. It's really amazing we survived these setbacks.

PW:  Has your record label Now See Hear produced any other material from other bands?

Cameron Hawkins: Now See Hear stopped operations in 1996 after the release of FM:Retroactive and Black Noise on CD. So much has changed over the past eight years about the way music is produced and distributed, that I'm just as glad I called it quits. But, if anything, the position of independent artists and producers is stronger now than it was then. So that's got me thinking...

PW: How did FM begin?

Cameron Hawkins: Long ago....I met Nash in 1976 when I was in another original band. He and a keyboard player joined the band for a couple of rehearsals. I had been working out my bass, vocal, synth approach and when Nash came in with his rig - boxed in a giant coffin, of course - I thought, wow, this guy's got the one-man-band thing down!

The band split up shortly afterwards, but Nash and I decided to combine our multi-instrumental approach into a TWO-man electronic band. He borrowed $5,000 from a good friend of his and we spent five months rehearsing and writing. Phasors, One O'Clock and Black Noise were the first three songs we wrote. In November 1976 FM debuted on television in a multi-media performance that featured those three songs supported by visuals by Paul Till and spoken word by David Pritchard. We then played "live" at A Space Gallery in Toronto. If two is better than one...then three must be better than two...Martin Deller joined us on drums, percussion and electronics about a month later.

PW: Do you have any memories of the gold record presentation at Ontario Place?

Cameron Hawkins: Funny you should mention that concert...Yes, it was a great show! The Forum was this outdoor rotating stage at the centre with the audience seated on the surrounding hillside. I think there was close to 10,000 people that night. Our production crew, who all had theatrical backgrounds, had put
together a stage plot with the three of us (Ben Mink, Martin and myself) on three risers with runways connecting them. We three faced out into the audience and couldn't see each other and it was hard to hear each other too - but it looked fantastic - like the landing of the Mother Ship.

Afterwards, we were presented with a gold record. It was a great night.

PW:  What music do you listen to today? Attend any concerts?

Cameron Hawkins: My new, favourite band is The Flaming Lips. I'm still exploring their back catalog. They have a whimsical audience-friendly approach to their music at the same time, they are definitely exploring sounds and songs.

For the last seven years I've been heavily into opera - I must have seen at least 60 of them.  I don't go to a lot of rock shows, these days. But there is so much good music out there, now. Music of all styles. It's great time to be an audience.