Interview: Dave Davies (part 3)
Published on October 9th, 2011 | Jonny Abrams
At the time, were you frustrated about not getting to chip in with songs to Village Green Preservation Society and Arthur? (Click here to read Rocksucker’s in-depth review of the recently-released Deluxe Edition of Arthur).
I loved Arthur. I thought it was a new birth for The Kinks. I was very into it. I was very into all of the family-orientated music, like Muswell Hillbillies and Arthur especially. I really wanted to do it and I’m the sort of person who will do something if it feels right. Going back to Hidden Treasures, or Framed as I wanted to call it, I was hardly even playing guitar at the time. But when you feel great, any chord can feel like a new chord.
I particularly love your guitar playing on Arthur, especially on the choruses of songs like “Victoria” and “Drivin'”…
That was from the old jazz guys. If someone thought of a good riff, everybody would play it. It’s like how blues spilt over into rock and roll: if there was a good blues riff, everyone wanted to play it. It’s still the same, I think. The riff in the chorus of “Drivin'” was a throwback to country players like Chet Atkins, Earl Scruggs and Lester Flatt. We tried to copy them…badly! But that was good because, when you copy someone badly, you invent something else for yourself. I was very fortunate in one way because Ray was very pedantic about getting stuff like the theme from Shazam! right but, when I would do it, I couldn’t remember how it went so it would all come out jumbled. I thought, maybe that’s what you call improvising.
I had a bad memory and I only started learning scales out of thinking, oh, maybe I should. I thought it was so boring. The whole thing about playing an instrument, I think, is when something unexpected happens and, in your innocence, you think you’ve invented something that’s never been done before. I think that, when you eliminate that attitude and approach from any art, that art ceases to be art. Sometimes when you’re not sure what you’re doing, something very magical happens, although a lot of shit happens too (laughs). If it’s something that’s been done before but with a different twist, then you think it’s new. It’s weird. Art is the most impossible thing to nail down, thank god. If there was a practical manual on how to do any sort of art, it would be awful.
I think the best stuff comes from outside the mind, not from within it. Sometimes when we went on tour, we’d get off the plane in a zombie state and go to a gig to do the bloody sound check – I hate sound checks – and we’d mess around with bits and pieces. Later at the hotel, the roadie would come up and say, “Hey, what was that you were playing? It was great,” but we wouldn’t know what they were talking about! Interesting things can happen when you’re just messing around.
If would be remiss of me not to ask about the chances of a Kinks reunion.
(Groans) I think when Ray gets off his high horse and back into reality. I think the worst thing that ever happened to Ray was getting a CBE. It makes people think they’re better than they are. It’s an ego thing and it worries me because our music was never about ego – it was about taking the piss, or being upset, all sorts of emotions. It would be nice to do something but he’s too busy being up his own arse. I find it a bit of a shame.
Are you still in touch with Mick [Avory, Kinks drummer 1962-1984]?
I haven’t seen Mick for ages. We’ve just spoken occasionally on the phone.
Did you not all get together when Pete [Quaife, bassist 1962-1969] passed away last year?
No. Pete…he was a hidden treasure, part of the DNA of the band. I couldn’t imagine Ray and I having done it without him because he was a catalyst for both of us. He was very talented and very quick-witted and he kind of held it all together. He was much more important to the beginning of The Kinks than people realise.
How well do you think John Dalton fared in terms of replacing Pete?
I got on really well with John. What was good about him was that he’s really down-to-earth and very un-showbiz. I think that’s why both Ray and I liked him, because he was un-showbiz but he looked cool and played well. He was from a similar background to us too, which helped. He didn’t take things too seriously but, if you were having a go at anyone in the band, woe betide the person who was having a go at him!
Do you still go UFO-spotting?
I’m always UFO-spotting. I’m UFO-spotting now. (Laughs)
You’ve said in the past that you’ve met a lot of “loonies” but also some people whose experiences with UFOs you took to be genuine…
I think that if you want to see something, you will. I’ve met an awful lot of people who’ve talked themselves into believing that they were abducted but you can tell they haven’t been. There’s kind of like an emotional step with real abductees. You can smell it. I didn’t find out until the mid-70s but I’ve always been what they call an Empath. We didn’t use those words in the 60s and 70s. I also found out that I’ve got what they call clairsentience. You can sense or smell people who’ve been abducted because their whole psychic structure has been changed and you can smell the ones who are faking it because it smells of bullshit (laughs).
You can smell lies. People that lie, smell. Animals smell each other and they probably get better information from that than we do talking because we can colour it over with lies. With smell, you’re stuck with it, and bad psychic smells are awful, worse than any shit. I’ve been with so-called abductees and people who supposedly know a lot about ETs but you can smell that they’re full of shit. But I’ve been lucky enough to meet real investigators and abductees, and they have a presence. A smell, a vibe. It’s unmistakable and you know they’re not lying. They might be upset or confused. In the future, I think people will be unable to lie to each other. It’s starting to happen now.
Politicians would be screwed!
Oh definitely, politics is built on lies, but it’s our fault as well because we don’t like people telling us the truth. So we’ve got to believe that someone is full of shit because it makes us feel more comfortable. That’s what we’re going through now, on a global scale. People’s intuition is starting to awaken more and we feel more uncomfortable with people fabricating the truth. I find it really difficult to be in the same room as someone who’s deliberately lying to me. I’ll say, “Nice to meet you, see you,” and leave before I get angry. Anger doesn’t solve anything; it just makes things worse.
A few years ago, you said that you were in the process of writing a book that deals more with your spiritual side than Kink did. What happened with this?
It’s still unpublished. Its working title was Meditation and the Conspiracy of Distraction. The trouble with writing is that you keep getting ideas, so when can you finish the bloody thing? I don’t know how people do it. I’m sure I’ll get it out one day. I get a line of thought and I’ll just go with it, write twenty, thirty pages then leave it and move on to something else. I’ve found that people are becoming more psychic when they write than when they talk. A lot of my closest friends are psychics and spiritual writers – we’ve talked about this sort of thing and there’s a general feeling that people are learning to use other senses without realising. I think that’s really good because it needs to be a natural process rather than enforced.
My father spent most of his life working as a slaughterman, killing animals – well, nobody got hungry during the war, but anyway (laughs) – and I could smell blood on him when he used to come home from work. In later years, he became a really avid gardener – I used to catch him talking to the fairies at the bottom of the garden. I was fascinated by it and it made me realise that we have to relearn how to be natural about processes.
Drugs like acid, mushrooms and pot give you a quick blast but it’s a shortcut that doesn’t lead anywhere. I think any kind of wisdom or enlightenment, or finding out your truth, is a process. Say you plant seeds in the ground, you’d nurture it in a loving, caring way rather than stand there with a shotgun yelling, “Grow, immediately!” But that’s what certain drugs do: they put you in that future frame, then they drag you out of it again. There’s nothing permanent there.
Meditation though is a process which is very, very natural. Instead of looking for instant gratification all the time, sit back and push everything away from you. We don’t consider what’s going on around us enough. Ancient shamans used to work with drugs in a different way: they would grow it and nurture it for specific sacred tasks, not for getting high and going out (laughs). Our minds are so full of shit that we’ve forgotten that natural, organic, human process. It’s a shame.
Music is the one thing they haven’t taken from us yet, whatever ‘they’ represents for you. But I think there’s a distinct ‘they’. Shit, now I’ve given you the title of my new album!
(Rocksucker says: your guess is as good as ours!)
They haven’t taken music away from us yet. They might do, but how? We can always make up music. The human spirit is being chipped away daily but randomness might save us as a race. Society is programmed to keep us within workable parameters but we’re so much more than we think we are.
In time-honoured Rocksucker tradition, we’ll have to finish by asking you to name, off the top of your head, your top three albums of all time.
Oof! (Laughs) The Band by The Band: songs, feeling, instrumentation, mood. It’s got to be the ultimate pop…no, not pop. It’s got folk, blues and rock in there. We shouldn’t try to categorise it – it’s just really natural-sounding. People talk about Sgt. Pepper’s but I thought Pet Sounds was a vastly superior album. And anything with Eddie Cochran on it.
The original SMiLE sessions come out in November so it’s a great time for ‘lost’ albums.
I actually listened to Hidden Treasures and I didn’t mind it (laughs).
I’m glad you’ve finally come round to it! Dave, thank you, as well as love and best wishes from everyone from the Official Kinks Fan Club forum.
Oh cool, that’s really nice!
Hidden Treasures will be released on October 31st through Sanctuary Records. For more information, please visit davedavies.com