From Muswell Hill to Beverly Hills
"There was a period when I really hated playing our records. But I've become a bit of a Kinks fan as I've grown older because I've gotten more objective about the music," relates Dave Davies, lead guitarist and founder of the Kinks, one of the most beloved British rock bands ever, and the long-suffering "little brother" of Ray Davies. And if Ray's superb songwriting is the Kink's soul, then Dave's forceful, scrappy-metal guitar playing and exuberant chutzpah is certainly its body.
The younger Davies is currently touring the U.S. for the first time ever on his own, in support of Kink, his recently published autobiography and Unfinished Business, a retrospective of his work as a solo artist, to be released next month. Originally slated to be backed by three-quarters of The Smithereens, a scheduling snafu forced Davies to hit the road with a group of local L.A. musicians (guitarist Andrew Sandoval, bassist David Jenkins, drummer Jim Laspesa and keyboardist Danny Magu) with whom he is now considering recording his next solo album (something he hopes to do this fall). As for why he chose to tell his story now, he explains, "There's been so many books about the Kinks and it was so frustrating to read these second hand facts that I just wanted to set the record straight."
So what does the elder Davies, who also recently published his autobiography (X-Ray) think of his younger sibling's tome and vice versa? "I think he as read my book and was pleasantly relieved because I could have said a lot worse things." Conversely, he adds, "It was quite typical of Ray not to mention me at all in his book. Ray likes to pretend that I don't exist."
Since the early '90s, Dave his been leading a dual existence, dividing his time between his native North London, where the Kinks are headquartered, and L.A., where he pursues screenplay and film scoring opportunities. To date, he has scored the 1994 John Carpenter film, "The Village of the Damned" and completed two screenplays: A "mystical sci-fi one" which he won't even reveal the title of, and the five-years-in-the-writing "How High the Moon", a slice of life from his childhood. The latter was the primary impetus to write Kink, and Davies is meeting with British auteur Mike Leigh (Academy Award nominee for Secrets and Lies) about possibly directing his film.
Then there's always the Kinks, who will resume touring in late '97 and record a new studio album next year. Now, as always, the Kinks are perennial music industry underdogs (a large part of their appeal). In \ Kink, Davies details their hardships, some self-inflicted, early and often. But Kink readers and Kinks/rock & roll historians can only imagine how things may have been vastly different had the Kinks not been banned from performing in the U.S. for three crucial years, 1966-1968. During those years, rock and roll reflected the world's sweeping social changes by losing its innocence, renaming itself just "rock", and becoming that era's defining Zeitgeist. For better or for worse, and in part due to the ban, the Kinks never lost their innocence. While this made them complete misfits during the late 60's and early-mid 70's, this set them up as cool, godfathers during the back-to-punk-basics late 70's.
But almost thirty years later, the ban still stings Davies. "It does make you think what we might have been," he offers of this infamous and untimely setback. After a long pause, he adds "Woodstock totally resurrected the Who's career and they were virtually out of the running at that point, weren't they? So who knows......maybe it all just happened for a reason."
So, while Davies has come to terms with his relationship to the Kinks, will the brothers Davies ever gain a similar perspective? "I'm a bit saddened that we're not as close as I'd like, but we get on OK. He's always been very distant and I've tried numerous times to fathom it out.....it's very, very strange, but it's his problem. Maybe he's always been a bit scared of me all these years?"
Alvin Eng, Long Island Ear, May '97