A perfectly ridiculous rock and roll conversation with The Kinks’ Dave Davies

By Dr. Alan Carlos Hernandez on June 20, 2013

kink daviesHOLLYWOOD (Herald de Paris) —  Dave Davies is the co-founder of the super iconic rock group The Kinks – a seminal band that changed the very landscape of rock music. The Beatles opened up for them in the beginning of their performance career.

Davies was born in London, England. His was a close-knit, working-class family and Davies was exposed to a variety of musical styles, from family sing-alongs at the piano to the early jazz and rock music that his six older sisters listened to. At just 13, he played his first show with his older brother, Ray Davies. Two years later, Davies, his brother and their friends Pete Quaife and Mick Avory formed the band that would come to be known as The Kinks. As a guitarist, his dissonant chord in You’ve Really Got Meinfluenced musicians and his song Death of Clown hit number three on the charts.

The Kinks released their self-titled debut album in 1964 and embarked on a world tour a year later. While the band came together seamlessly enough, conflict was always in the background. A rivalry had festered between the Davies brothers since childhood and Dave Davies and drummer Mick Avory had a turbulent relationship. The band broke up in 1996 and Davies continued writing and recording music – even after a stroke in 2004.

The Kinks began in the early 60’s and forever changed music history after Dave sliced up the speaker cone of a little green amp and created a revolutionary, distorted guitar tone and frenetic solo on the song You Really Got Me. Musicologist Joe Harrington described the Kinks influence: “You Really Got Me and All Day And All Of The Night … were predecessors of the whole three-chord genre … The Kinks did a lot to help turn rock n roll into rock.” In 1998, writer Bill Crowley wrote, “As lead guitarist and founder of The Kinks, Dave Davies is one of the most unpredictable and original forces in rock, without whom guitar-rock styles including heavy metal and punk would have been inconceivable. A member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Dave’s massive guitar sounds have inspired bands from Van Halen to Green Day.”

They developed a tumultuous relationship as well. They fought on stage during their first tour when, after playing one song, Davies insulted Avory and toppled his drum set. Avory struck Davies with his cymbal stand, knocked him unconscious and caused a gash that required 16 sutures. Later that year, the American Federation of Musicians denied the group the permits required to play in the United States. Although they didn’t specify the reason, many believed it was because of these kinds of incidents.

In spite of internal feuds, the band was garnering both commercial and critical acclaim. Although he often took a backseat to his brother, Dave Davies was an excellent musician in his own right. With his signature, dissonant chord in You’ve Really Got Me he influenced musicians of the day by being the first mainstream guitarist to use distortion on an album. He also wrote and sang songs for the band. Death of a Clown on Something Else by The Kinks (the band’s fifth studio album) reached number three on the charts in 1967. The record label wanted to feel out a possible solo LP, but his first official solo single Susannah’s Still Alive only hit number 20 and subsequent songs didn’t chart at all. He made another attempt at a solo career in the 1970s with similar lackluster results.

The band had a surge in popularity in the early 1980s and continued to record and tour for fifteen years, although their popularity dwindled with time. The four original band members were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990 and The Kinks played their last concert in Oslo at the Norwegian Wood Festival in June of 1996. Davies married in 1967 and had four sons. He and his wife divorced in 1990. He also has three children from another relationship.

Dave Davies is the man who forever changed the sound of rock ‘n’ roll when he invented distortion and this Kinks legend has just recorded a brand new solo album of all original material. To be released on Cleopatra Records, I Will Be Me features guest appearances by The Jayhawks, Anti-Flag, award winning UK blues guitarist Oli Brown, Chris Spedding, US stoner rock band Dead Meadow, Aussie rockers The Art, Geri X and others. I Will Be Me is a return to his groundbreaking guitar sound and innovative songwriting. His classically English voice shows off a new depth but still hits his famous high notes in this collection. The hard rocking track Livin’ In The Past takes a look at obsession with all things retro but, ever the Mod, Dave surprises with the lyric, “No matter what they do or say, the future’s here to stay!” He takes a look back with Little Green Amp – a playful, punk homage to days when his jagged, blues driven sound wave ripped ahead of the British Invasion through stereos the world over. Cote du Rhone, an uncensored look at ugliness in the world today, is as angry and biting as any song in Dave’s repertoire with an innovative yet heavy slide guitar tone. Soothing lyrics and sounds of Jonathan Lea’s sitar playing on Healing Boy show Dave’s sensitive side.

Herald de Paris Deputy Managing Editor Dr. Al Carlos Hernandez had a perfectly ridiculous rock and roll conversation with Dave Davies, founder of The Kinks:

What were the good and bad of becoming a worldwide full blown rock star at the age of 15?

DD: Oh frick . . . um, I don’t know. Funny question. What do you mean?

I understand, you took a major electrical shock when you tried to modify your guitar amp. You eventually got the raw sound riff for “You really got me” classic. Still like to tinker with sounds?

DD: Yes and yes.

What was the very first moment when you realized that The Kinks was a really big act and that you were a real life rock star?

DD: When I had four girls in the same bed at a hotel in Paris – the Georges Cinq hotel at the back of the Champs Elysees.

There are few full out rock stars in your peer group from that era who are still around and making music. What is your secret to longevity?

DD: I make sure I breathe in after I breathe out.

What are some of your favorite songs from when you first started out? Do you tire of playing them today? What are some of your best recorded guitar riffs?

DD: See My FriendsMilk Cow BluesI’m Not Like Everybody Else.

No. In fact, I think they’re better now.

You Really Got Me‘Till The End Of The DayPerfect StrangersAll Day And All Of The NightIt’s All Right (Life On Mars).

What is the best gig you ever played?

DD: The US festival in 1982 near San Francisco.

In your book you talk about what is perceived as a contentious relationship with your brother Ray. Was that tension good or bad for the music?

DD: Both good and bad. Sometimes difficult situations breed positive, creative solutions.

You were contemporaries of The Beatles, occasionally out charted them and they once opened for you. What did you think of them as a band and as individuals? How do you think The Kinks influenced The Beatles?

DD: Everybody influenced everyone else and was affected by it.

Musicologists say that you invented the three cord genre that inspired bands from Van Halen to Green Day. How do feel about that?

DD: Good.

Do you think you have been given the credit you deserve as a guitar icon?

DD: No.

There was a three year ban of The Kinks working in the US when you guys were killing the charts around the world. Do you think not being able to tour the US during those years kept you from being a bigger act?

DD: Yeah, but I think it was good because it made us turn inward and become a more creative musical force.

Tell us about your hit solo record Death of a Clown? Didn’t Paul McCartney say he should have written that tune?

DD: It’s about a clown. He said he should have written See My Friends.

Of your body of work with the Kinks which are your best albums? Which are the ones you wished you could do over again and which stands the test of time?

DD: I can’t decide which albums I like the best. They all have their special space. Don’t ever regret creating art. It is what it is and leave it be because everything is special in its own time and space.

Do you think your struggles with substance abuse along the way affected the quality and the body of your work over the years? Any regrets about the whole Kink experience?

DD: Just do what you do. The thing that makes you feel like shit make you do things differently than things that don’t make you feel good. Is that an answer? What kind of question is that? To keep going is the important thing.

Tell us about your new CD. Why the title “I will be me?”

DD: The CD is a chronology of your life with cuts like Living In The Past.

Tell us about your work with your son Russell on the Aschere Project?

DD: It was phenomenal and inspiring and better than even working with my brother. I’m a big fan of my son’s work on his other music projects Cinnamon Chasers and Abakus. All my kids have tremendous creative talent. Christian is a London trance DJ, Daniel plays with Year Long Disaster and we are hoping to work on an album together shortly. My daughter Lana Davies has some excellent songs up on Sound Cloud people should check out.

How does your spirituality inform your lifestyle and art form?

DD: In every way humanly possible.

Plan on touring extensively again?

DD: Yeah, kind of . . .

Anything left on your bucket list? What kinds of things do you still want to accomplish?

DD: I want to go to India. I want to put on a stage show production of my album with Russ Davies, the Aschere Project.

What do you think of new media and your ability to interact with your fans?

DD: Good!

How can people buy your new CD and interact with you?

DD: Check out my website www.davedaviescom or check out my Official Dave Davies Facebook page.

Nice talking to you, Dave. bye, bye, then.

Edited by Susan Acives


F. Gibson June 18, 2014

Funny and good. A lot of people meet musicians along the walk of life and are overwhelmed but you hang in there toe to toe. Congratulations on good piece.

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