Speaking with Kinks guitarist Dave Davies, it’s almost difficult not to focus on that riff. Other than Deep Purple’s “Smoke On The Water,” there may be no more recognizable guitar riff, ever, than the one Davies dreamt up for “You Really Got Me.” One could argue that riff paved the way for the likes of Deep Purple and hard rock guitarists in general, but the Kinks’ influence is hardly limited to the heavy set: the work of the Davies brothers has been cited as a major influence on all manner of rockers ranging from Cheap Trick to Yo La Tengo, from Van Halen to Blur.
Dave, as has been widely reported, suffered a stroke in 2004, and had to learn to walk, talk and play guitar again. Happily, he’s quite active these days, promoting his latest solo album, I Will Be Me, released over the summer. He’s been touring to support the record and filming a documentary on his life, Dave Davies’ Rock N Roll Journey. Radio.com called him up to talk current projects, brother-on-brother musical feuds, and of course, whether the Kinks will ever work together again.
Tell me about the documentary you’re working on now. Me and [son] Martin [Davies] had been thinking about it for a while. We did a film called Mystical Journey a few years ago [in 2009], it was about my spiritual interests, and all my alternative ideas about the world and life. So, we thought we’d do a similar thing about rock ‘n’ roll, and the journey of being in a rock ‘n’ roll band on the road. We want to interview old colleagues, other celebrities and fans. And through Indiegogo we could work with fans or just people who wanted to be a part of it, and get some funding to help us on our way with it.
There’s certainly a lot of bands who would cite the Kinks as a major influence, and lots of people who have covered your songs. Maybe we could organize interview with Van Halen. Why are you laughing?
Only because you’ve gone on record saying that you don’t like their cover of “You Really Got Me.” No, I don’t! That’s why they’d be a better interview, probably. But there’s lots of people who covered Kinks songs.
There’s a lot of other groups influenced by the Kinks… Do you know Oasis?
No, I’ve never interviewed them. They remind me of me and Ray sometimes. I was going to look them up and see if they want to do something. That would be funny. I might get up to that!
You probably wouldn’t get Liam and Noel together… Like us!
Watching those guys assess the relationship of the Davies brothers would be interesting to see. It would be pretty interesting! Thanks for the idea!
In some of the doc footage, you’re having tea in front of an arena… That’s the Muswell Hill Odeon. When we were kids they had a thing called “Saturday Morning Pictures,” we’d see the old Dick Tracy black and white films, Flash Gordon, it’s where I saw my first Dracula film. South Pacific, and all those early films. That area’s where me and Ray grew up, and where I bought my first records, Johnny Cash, the Ventures and stuff. That’s why we chose that location. There’s a lot of nostalgia.
So, I don’t know if this is a touchy subject, but to use Kinks songs, do you have to clear the publishing with… [Laughs] It shouldn’t be a problem.
Does Ray have to approve it? Yeah, but if he doesn’t, I’ll use it anyway. He’d have to be pretty mean not to give me permission to use “You Really Got Me.” If it wasn’t for my guitar [on that song], he wouldn’t have a writing career!
I hope it doesn’t go down like that… Nah, it’ll be fine.
You recently told Rolling Stone that the odds of a Kinks tour in 2014 is 50/50. What are the odds now, a few weeks later? Still about 50/50! I spoke to Ray last week when he was in New York and we had a chat, and we’re going to try to do something. He’s promoting his book [Americana: The Kinks, the Riff, the Road: The Story] and I’m doing these tour dates. We’ll meet up in the U.K. in December and talk about what we might do, or what we can do. At least we’re talking!
A Kinks tour would be great… … I’m not sure about a tour, but I think we’re going to try and do something. We talked about doing maybe a couple of songs. I’ve written a few songs with that in mind. I’m sure Ray has some ideas, of course. So we’re going to meet up in the U.K., I’m looking forward to that.
You’ve said that you don’t want (founding Kinks drummer) Mick Avory involved. I want to move forward. I want to maybe get my son Daniel involved. He’s a great guitar player and singer. There was even talk at one point [about working with] my son Russ Davies, he’s got a career doing trance music. I worked with him on an album called The Aschere Project, it’s like a combination of rock meets ethereal landscapes. That was a great experience, and we talked about maybe Russell producing.
How did Ray react to the idea of having your sons work on a Kinks project? He was quite surprised when I mentioned it! But he didn’t not like the idea.
What about (former Kinks bassist) Jim Rodford? Would he be involved? We’re not sure yet. We haven’t gone that far, to discuss personel.
I don’t know if you’re familiar with the Jonas Brothers: they just announced that they’re breaking up. Do you have any advice for them to stay close as brothers, now that the band is finished? I don’t have a good answer for that! It’s hard: everyone has ideas, there’s personalities as well. The problem we had, we had too many ideas. I want to do this, and he wants to do that, and I say I don’t like that… and some point, everybody has to compromise. At some point! There has to be a lot of give and take. The problem me and Ray have had is, it’s all me giving and no taking! And conversely, him not giving and all taking!
Are you interested to see how groups with siblings play out over the years? Yeah! It’s really funny. I find it very amusing. With Oasis and the Gallagher brothers, watching them handle things. It’s difficult. The problem is… who’s the oldest one?
Noel Gallagher is older, he plays guitar but also wrote most of the songs. So it’s kind of similar [to us]. Of course, I’ve written quite a few [songs] so it’s not quite the same. But the friction comes when the older brother always thinks he should be in charge, and it’s not always like that.
The Wilson sisters from Heart seem to get along… Maybe it’s a gender thing. Maybe chicks could get on better. I mean I have six older sisters, they always seemeed to get on well.
I just read Keith Richards’ autobiography, Life, and he describes a similar scenario to what you have described. The singer trying to dominate everyone and run things. I think it’s an ego problem, I’d imagine Mick Jagger has terrible ego problems. Ray’s obivously a lot more sensitive. But hopefully we can do something, we’re not going to be here much longer… he’s one of the best songwriters ever. In modern rock music, I’d regard Ray Davies on top [of the list], then Chuck Berry and then Bob Dylan.
So as a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, you get to vote on who gets in. Who are you voting this year? I get the paperwork in London but I’m here [in the states] right now, so I haven’t seen my post. Who are the nominees?
Well, the Zombies. Who else?
The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Chic, Deep Purple… How can Deep Purple not be in yet? Who puts this thing together?
Rock critics? Rock critics are the worst people to be doing it! Are Little Feat in it?
No. You’re kidding me! Why not?
They’re not even on the ballot. Get out of here! How can you not have Little Feat in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? You’re kidding me! They were incredibly influential. They were like The Band. That kind of down-home humor and feel and groove — it was fabulous. Rock and roll is about feel! I would definitely vote for them. And Deep Purple! If if’s a real “Rock and Roll” Hall of Fame, they have to have Little Feat and Deep Purple in there — before anyone else!
— Brian Ives, Radio.com