Interview with Dave Davies
By Ronnie

Back in 1983 (or was it 94?), my younger sister came up to me one day and asked if I wanted to go to see the Kinks live. I said "sure", although I was only familiar with their radio hits, such as "You Really Got Me", "Lola", "Superman", etc. We didn't have tickets, so we made the short drive to Austin, Texas to take our chances with scalper tickets. We got second row, front and center for the grand total of $20 a piece. Turns out to be the best $20 bucks I had ever spent - I came away from the show a total Kinks fanatic! Afterwards, I devoured every Kinks album I could get my hand on. Luckily for me, most of their albums were still available, albeit in the bargain bins as cheap imports from Spain and such countries. I completed my collection in no time and started collecting bootleg videos (at the time an emerging market - finding such video treasures as "Days" performed on British TV or the legendary banned "Dead End Street" video!). I was playing guitar in a band at the time and I demanded that we play as many Kinks covers as Beatles (much to the consternation of some of the other band members!). So I'm putting it mildly to say that I was excited when I got the chance to interview Dave Davies!

In my opinion, Dave Davies has been shortchanged his due in the "unofficial" guitar heroes club. In books that talk about guitar legends, you normally see the names Clapton, Hendrix, Page and Beck; Dave Davies is usually not mentioned. But Davies was ever much the ground breaker as these other legends, pioneering the "heavy metal" sound back in 1964 with the unique guitar sounds on "You Really Got Me". Although Jimmy Page tried to claim that HE played the lead, one simply has to listen to a few other Kinks songs like Dave's stinging lead on "Till The End of The Day" to see that Page's claim is poppycock! In addition to his guitar playing, Dave added unique background vocals to the Kinks and emerged as quit the songwriter in his own right ("Death of a Clown", etc).

Although the Kinks are on "hiatus", Dave keeps quite busy balancing his solo career with his passion for the metaphysical. With that in mind, I tried to balance this interview between music and the metaphysical.

Right: Dave

E.C.: One thing I noticed in your book was your mention of being uncredited on MANY Kinks songs. This has happened in the past with such artists as Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones and Mike Love of the Beach Boys. In fact, Mike Love recently sued Brian Wilson for his contributions on many Beach Boys hits - now he is not only credited, but also receives royalties. Would this ever be a possibility with your Kinks contributions?

Dave: Well, you see, the thing is…the songs like “You Really Got Me” in particular…and “All Day and All of the Night” would never have been the songs they were without my input. There’s quite a few songs, I mean I don’t want to take anything from Ray – with songs like “Waterloo Sunset”, we collaborated on so many songs. The thing is it’s like the left hand and the right hand, you need both hands. In a way I don’t think that in the end when you look back over the work – I think the work is more important. I’m very happy that I was able to be a major collaborator in such a great body of work. And obviously the majority of the writing was Ray, but I think it was a little bit sad that I didn’t get credited with more input on a lot of the important songs. The main thing is I think, is that the music stands up on its own and it was a body of work that I’m very proud of.

E.C.: I'd like to ask you a few questions about your solo career. At the time that "Death of a Clown" came out in 1968, there was talk of a Dave Davies solo album that of course didn't happen. In hind site, do you now wish that you had released one at that time?

Dave: Well, not really, I think that things happen for a reason. At the time I was enjoying being in a band. I mean I’ve always liked being in a group. I enjoyed the camaraderie and the collaborative thing. I really want to do it [solo album]. But, I had some songs I wanted to write, like “Death of a Clown”…and quite a few that never saw the light of day and eventually, some of them did. I think the main thing was, that I just really didn’t want to do it. I wanted to be in the band, the Kinks were doing really well…I was enjoying it. The record company were really pushing me to do it, put me in a cheap studio and I thought, ‘this isn’t what I wanna do’. I don’t like people telling me what to do, or trying to MAKE me write songs. It was really that basically, I felt like I was being made to do it and I didn’t like it.

E.C.: There is a current trend where "lost" albums of rock 'n roll are being "finished" and released officially, such as Pete Townshend's LIFEHOUSE project from 1971. I once saw a copy of a bootleg album called "The Album That Never Was", which was supposedly all the tracks of your "lost" solo album. Have you ever thought of officially releasing the tracks that would have comprised your first solo album?

Dave: No really because I think that there as they are they are kinda like pieces for their time. Everytime you do something you think, ‘oh shit I wish I had done that’ or ‘I didn’t like doing that’, but the fact that it happened when it happened. If you had a Van Gogh painting and when he was alive and you think ‘oh he could have done that different, we better change that tree, his face looks silly”…I mean I don’t see the point. You can always improve on something, the technology is different today, but I would leave it well alone. If there was something that was incomplete, that might be interesting…because I do that on my website. I’ve got demos on my website and I think its exciting that these finally actually get out, for people to listen to it. I think that’s a good idea, but they’re not really remastered because a lot of them are just 2-track tapes.

E.C.: Is touring/live performance still satisfying for you? I'm just curious as to how long you can see yourself performing live?

Dave: Well, I don’t know…I mean I love playing live now more than ever. I’ve got a great little band and we’re organizing tours for next year [2003] and I’m very much looking forward to it. Hopefully going to Europe and doing some promotion when BUG comes out. I enjoy it, I think it keeps you young.

E.C.: Your book (KINK) came out roughly around the same time as Ray's (X-RAY). Were each of you aware of the other's book plans? It's been 6 years since your book came out, is there anything that you would add or change to your book if you had the chance?

Dave: No, that’s funny, I mean Ray is very secretive about his ideas – why not, the times that the Kinks have been ripped off, especially in the early years, it makes you a little bit cautious about telling anybody what you’re doing. And that’s understandable. But, I thought that it was a strange coincidence because I had no idea that he was working on a book. I was about three-quarters of the way through the book here in America, I flew to England to me my publisher-book agent because we wanted to get it placed in the U.K. I get off the tube train in Piccadilly and I see and advert for X-RAY! (laughs). I thought, ‘I can’t believe it, what a weird coincidence.’ It was totally weird that we were both writing – I mean we aren’t the same, Ray’s was thankfully a totally, totally different book which was kind of written in third person. My book I wanted to get a lot of the facts straight…historically get it right because there have been so many Kinks books that got it wrong! So that’s really what motivated me to do it, to get some of the information – the right information out.

E.C.: Do you foresee a second book?

Dave: Well, I’m in the process of writing at the moment and its not a continuation, its all antidotal episodes in it…they’re autobiographical. But it’s a work in progress.

E.C.: Do you think the Kinks will ever do a reunion tour?

Dave: It would be nice, I know that Pete is a little unwell, but he is fit. I think it would be nice to do something…when you consider that the original Kinks lineup are still alive. It was really sad to hear about Joe Strummer today…

E.C.: What? (I hadn’t heard yet that Joe Strummer had died of a heart attack).

Dave: Joe Strummer died today…it’s devastating, I couldn’t believe it. I just heard it, someone just posted it one my website. Fifty years old…a mere youngster.

E.C.: A section of your official website has an area for metaphysical/spiritual discussion. Have you ever thought of writing books on the subject?

Dave: Yeah, in fact the book that I’m writing – it’s to do with my life as a musician and writer and the spiritual side of my life. But, it’s something that’s ongoing and I’m meeting with my publisher in London when I go back. Yeah, there are a lot of people who have asked me about that and its something that I’m interested in and working on. Particularly from the perspective of the life experience that I’ve had – my perspective might be helpful to a lot of people. A lot of people that embark on spiritual endeavors tended to, especially in the ‘60s and ‘70s they tended to give up what they had before and cut themselves off from their lives, previous life as it were. But, I don’t think that one should do that. Spirituality can make you more aware of what is going on around you as well. Not to hide away from what is reality. What is reality anyway (chuckles)? To be very much a part of what’s going on in the world. My perspective is that you should be IN the world, but not OF the world.

E.C.: How has the belief in religion helped you to be a better person or a better musician?

Dave: I have no idea…I think well, it’s not ‘religion’, I call it ‘spirituality’. What I believe in touches many aspects of religious and spiritual thought. Mainly I’m influenced and inspired by the eastern yogi’s aspect of mysticism. Which is, I think, the future. Concepts and methods, which were derived thousands and thousands of years ago to help people. And they might have been misused or discarded and I think people are turning inward more now cause the world’s got in such a weird, crazy state. I think its making people think more about their life and what it is really that they are doing. And how do we interact with a world that’s going crazy? It’s a very important time.

Right: Dave Davies...then

E.C.: How would you describe your take on spirituality?

Dave: I guess I’d like to think it’s all encompassing, I think that what went wrong with religion is the same thing that went wrong with politics. Is that it became too money based and too controlling. It’s just a weakness that we human beings have for control – we want one thing and then we want more and then we want more. We’ve got ten people, we’ve got thirteen people in a spiritual movement like Jesus had. And people get ahold of the idea and say, ‘hey, this could make a lot of money’. (laughs) What’s all this thing about ‘converting’ people? People should be shown a method to spiritual survival, its not about ownership and control. I mean these are things that we always keep doing, we’ve got to break these cycles. We’re going to war again, another cycle. It’s like a high-tech version of the Roman Empire all over again. We won’t break these cycles until we start going ‘inside’ and questioning our own selves – ‘what am I, where am I, where is my spirit, where is myself’. We keep looking outside for answers, when really the solution and the answers are inside us all. So, that’s really what I think and it takes onboard a lot of questions about reality or this 3-D reality that we live in. And that’s the only way we’re gonna move forward. A great mystic once said, ‘if you change yourself you’ve done your part in changing the world’. And I very much believe that. I mean, one person can make a big difference.

But, without saying, ‘I’ve seen the light, it’s beautiful, come with me’ – I don’t think that’s good, people have to have ‘self-realization’. I’ve got enlightenment…or I think I have. Or ‘Joe Smith’ says I’ve got enlightenment and you should have it. You should do it yourself, but you can’t get it for nothing. That’s why I think there’s been a big problem between religion, or organized religion and spirituality. Spirituality to me seems like ‘self healing’, ‘self development’. A lot of orthodox religions say, ‘come on to me, we’ll take care of your problems’ and I’m afraid that’s not good enough.

E.C.: Is that the reason why you don’t put these themes into your songs, you feel everyone should find their own way?

Dave: Yes I do but, in my album BUG, and actually there is a thread through a lot of my solo work. From my first album in 1981 which was about spiritual change, there’s a song on it called “The World Is Changing Hands”, which is about spiritual evolution…and it’s a theme in all my work. I touch on it in BUG. The song “Bug” is about removing emotional spiritual blockages, we have to de-bug ourselves to try and find a spiritual reality…find what the hell we are. That’s the idea of “Bug”, its like a metamorphosis.

So, it is in my work, but obviously when you write songs - I like to keep it amusing if I can…I don’t wanna bore people to death with it, because I’m an entertainer. I want people to be entertained and have a good time as well as that there being an undercurrent message hopefully that might be helpful to people.

E.C.: Do you still pursue UFO sightings?

Dave: Yeah, I think there’s some real stuff happening. I’m very much interested in – I’m not so much interested in all the loonies that are attracted to it. Because I’ve met, since my interest in UFO’s which goes back like twenty years, I’ve met a lot of loonies. (laughs) You probably think I’m one anyway, but I don’t care anymore (laughs)…there’s loonies and loonies, you know what I mean? People that have had genuine abduction experiences that I’ve met that seem very genuine to me, but they’re just confused about why it happened. I’ve met a lot of people like which I regard as being very genuine…but there’s a lot of crazy people out there. They dream of UFO’s and then they think they’ve been abducted. Once the imagination gets hold of it, its X-Files all over again. At the same time I think there’s a lot of information that’s being withheld, for political reasons. It’s like a political cauldron.

E.C.: I’ve been out to Area 51 and I know what you mean by the loonies. It was like the “Graceland” of UFO’s…

Dave: But there is a lot of interaction going on…if you wanna say like ET or a spirit-people. I think that what’s going to come to light is that we’re gonna interact more and more with the other realm of existence. Were not just in this 3-dimensional psychical robot.

E.C.: So, you see a correlation between UFO’s and spirituality?

Dave: Of course there is. There’s a song on BUG called “True Phenomenon” and its based on personal experience but it’s also a metaphor for spiritual change. To some person, its like the difference between like maybe Moses and Mohammed and Jesus and I-Ching….they didn’t have all the same philosophy, they spoke in a different language and they looked different. One might be oriental and one might be black or some different backgrounds. Maybe some of these benevolent ET’s are like our ancestors – we’ve come to a climax or the end of a cycle, a state of evolution. And they’re coming to help…I really believe that. But I also believe that the best help is self-help. In STAR TREK the ‘prime directive’ - “what is it?” Non interference. I think Gene Rodenberry had contact with these ET’s. There’s a lot of stuff in his early work that indicates spiritual things happening and different ways of conscienceness.

E.C.: What is your take on the current trend of UFO movies like "Signs" or the new TV series, "Taken"?

Dave: I thought “Taken” was a bit boring. I thought “Signs” was brilliant! I’ll tell you why, what was so great about “Signs”, was the subplot was about these people that interacted with each other like nothing was coincidence. I thought that was very beautiful. And it was almost like the alien stuff, the crop circles stuff, were secondary.

E.C.: Also there was the underlying theme of “faith”?

Dave: Exactly, like when the guy lost his faith and he realized that we all contribute. I love that feeling of ‘nothing is a coincidence’. And even if we are dead we help each other in some little way. See, that’s why it was called “Signs” and not “crop circles”. Cause I’m a great believer in omens. I try to be really very aware of the alignments in things that happen. Because I think that we are so bogged down in all the mundaneness in life…and our bills and the car wont start. I think we were put here on the planet to actually have a good time and help each other. Why shouldn’t we have a good time, I think we were put on here to experience bliss and joy and happiness and positive relationships. I know it sounds all very utopian, people think its a lot of rubbish, but I think people are becoming more aware of these thoughts and ideas now. We obviously need more love in the world. And we obviously need more compassion and understanding. Our leaders need to really address these issues properly now.

“Signs” I thought was an important film from that point of view. It gave the guy faith and made him believe in a divine force or whatever force is operating and also gave him his faith back.

E.C.: But it also had a different take it that the aliens in the movie were…

Dave: Stupid! (laughs) I mean if you could fly from like the other side of the galaxy and they can’t get out of a cupboard? (laughs) It’s good that they had humour in it, there was some humorous stuff in it.

E.C.: Any plans on coming to the states to play live?

Dave: Yeah, I’m hoping to do a U.S. tour next year [2003] I’m not sure whether its going to be April or May yet, probably around that period so this is definite.

E.C.: Well, [Dave’s publicist] said I only had about 20 minutes and I believe we’ve gone over…

Dave: I hope most of it makes sense (laughs) There’s just so much to talk about, it’s great you asking me these things that I’m really interested in.

Click here to visit the official Dave Davies website