Interview: Dave Davies (The Kinks, solo)

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HIT CHANNEL EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: September 2015. We had the tremendous honour to talk with a legendary guitarist: Dave Davies. He is best known as the lead guitarist of The Kinks, one of the best bands of all time. Of course, he is responsible for the groundbreaking guitar riff on “You Really Got Me”, which has influenced countless guitarists over the years. He has also a very interesting solo career and he just released a new live album titled “Rippin Up New York City: Live at the City Winery” on September 4, 2015. Read below the very interesting things he told us:


Why you decided to release the show from the City Winery?

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Because I thought it was a really good evening, we had a good crowd and I was very happy with the band and it was an exciting evening.


What fans should expect from your upcoming tour this autumn?

Well, we are going to do a mix of old Kinks songs like “You Really Got Me” and some new songs from “Rippin’ Up Time”. Also, we are going to put a couple of new ideas which I wrote and I am working on. So, I’m looking forward to it.


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Are you satisfied with the feedback you got from fans and press for your latest studio album “Rippin’ Up Time” (2014)?

Yeah! I mean, it was really well-received generally and I’m very happy. There was so interesting criticism and observations. I am very pleased with that.


“Rippin’ Up Time” album is based on a nightmare you had. Can you describe that nightmare to us?

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It’s funny. It wasn’t so funny at first. I was in New Jersey, I woke up in the middle of the night and I had this wild dream. I dreamt that the past, the future and the present were sort of happening at the same time. I woke up screaming saying: “There is madness here!” And I used that idea on some songs on “Rippin’ Up Time”, which are based on this nightmare.


How emotional was to write your autobiography “Kink”, published in 1996?

It wasn’t a very emotional time, really. It was difficult to remember things. But when I started playing the music from these periods, the music helped me remembering facts. They tell us about my life. It was an interesting exercise my life writing.


My favourite Kinks song is “Death of a Clown” (1967), which is your composition. Can you tell us a few words about that great song?

Thank you! Oh, yeah. I wrote it when I was a bit disillusioned with music business. It seemed like a bit of a circus. So, it made me think about the analogy of a circus clown. I felt like a disillusioned clown and that really came from that idea: About music business being like circus. It can be.


When you recorded the riff on “You Really Got Me” did you expect that it would become one of the most famous riffs of all time?

Oh God, no! I mean, when we did it, me and Ray, obviously knew that it was something very special. I had no idea how it would influence generations of people and musicians. Now, it’s quite amazing how it has influenced so many people.


Are you proud of the classic album status that “The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society” (1968) has?

Oh, yeah. I think it’s very special for the Kinks catalogue. It has different genres and kinds of music, instead of one kind of music about one thing. It combines all kinds of aspects of life in the past and celebrating the past. Only good things from the past. Yes, I am very proud to be part of such a legacy.


You are the first rock musician who used a Flying V. How did you get your first Flying V guitar?

The first time we travelled to America to do a TV show, “Hullabaloo”. We landed at Los Angeles Airport and they lost my guitar on plane. And we thought: “Oh, we have to get a new guitar somewhere” and somebody took us to a pawn shop on the way from the airport. I saw this funny-shaped box in the back of the store. I got there and opened the case and I saw it. I fell in love with it in this very way. So, that became my axe.


What was your reaction when Steve Marriott of The Small Faces asked you how you achieved the sound of “Waterloo Sunset”?

It was interesting because we have been experimenting in delay echos. In the ’50 they used delay in the vocals, which I used in guitar as well. It was quite an experimental thing we did on that record (ed: “Something Else by The Kinks” – 1967) with a lot of different ways.


Did you get angry when The Doors copied “All Day and All of the Night” on their song “Hello, I Love You”?

Yes, it’s funny because they so obviously ripped off The Kinks. I found out years later that there was an original demo for that song by The Doors and it had a funky guitar on it as well. But they took it off because they obviously thought it was even more like The Kinks with that funky guitar. So, they were gonna rip off our record completely. I was quite shocked when I found that demo.


Humour is an essential part of Kinks music. Why many people seem to overlook that part?

Of course. I think humour helps people function better. You can say quite serious things with humour. You can get a lot more information with a joke or a humourous way of looking at life. Sometimes life can be quite daunting, quite serious, so we all need a bit of humour. We all tried to keep humour as an essential part of music. I tried to do that with my own music because “Rippin’ Up Time” is drawn from a bad experience and I tried to make it humorous as possible.


Do you remember your meeting with Jimi Hendrix?

Yeah, we were on a plane to Sweden to do some sort of hit TV show in Sweden. We both were on the same show. He didn’t talk a lot. He really loved the “You Really Got Me” record. He said that it was a landmark record. It was a great compliment from a great guitar player.


Who are your influences as a guitarist?

Oh, there are so many of them. I don’t know who to start with: Big Bill Broonzy, Lead Belly, Eddie Cochran and of course, Chuck Berry. He had a big-big influence on all of us at that time. But there are many…


Do you believe that popular music which was written in the ‘60s and ‘70s is much better than today’s music?

It’s hard to say because pop was a lot more spontaneous in the ‘60s. Because everything seemed so new. So, I think now that all of us have so easy access to all different kinds of music and it has become more easy to play music. But the ‘60s was a very special time.


Do you like the Van Halen cover to “You Really Got Me”?

I didn’t like it that much, but it was kind of amusing that that record, that song, started up a whole new career for somebody else. It’s quite funny.


You are very spiritual person. What have you discovered in spiritualism?

Oh, I don’t know. I just believe that we are all essentially connected as a human race. I don’t think that we are that too different from each other. We live in different countries and speak different languages.  I think essentially there is something very special about human beings or being a human. We are all linked together. It’s sad that there are so many frictions, tragedies, racism and hatred. It’s sad because we are all part of the same family, basically.


Is it flattering that Pete Townshend is one the biggest Kinks fans?

Oh, it’s great, yeah. Pete is funny. He has always been a big supporter of the Kinks music, right from the early days. The Kinks has been a big inspiration to his work and to The Who’s work. It’s very nice that he gave us all that support.


Were you surprised when you learned that John Lennon loved The Kinks song, “Wonderboy”?

Yes! I knew that The Beatles listened to a lot of our music. But I was quite personally surprised when I found out that “Wonderboy” was one of his favourite Kinks songs. Yes, it’s nice.


It is possible to play again with your brother, Ray?

Well, I hope so. We are not dead yet (laughs)! Who knows? Maybe early next year or maybe we can do something around Christmas. So, we will see.


A huge “THANK YOU” to Mr Dave Davies for his time and to Rebecca for her valuable help.

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