Davies - On His Own, Getting The Kinks Out

By Jim Sullivan

Boston Globe - February 2, 1999

Dave Davies may be a man without his main band, but he is not a man adrift. The Kinks cofounder, lead guitarist, and sometime singer-songwriter has learned to make his own plans. That's because the Kinks' strings are pulled by Davies's older brother, main singer-songwriter Ray, who has been off doing his own music-and-chat "Storyteller" club gigs and other theatrical projects for several years.

So at 50, Dave Davies has moved on. He's released a double disc, "Unfinished Business: Dave Davies Kronikles 1963/1998 " (Velvel), consisting of Kinks songs in which he's played a key part, plus new solo material. He has assembled his own band - guitarist-keyboardist Dave Nolte, bassist David Jenkins, and drummer Jim Laspesa - and embarked upon several club tours. He's currently on one that stops at the Middle East Downstairs tomorrow and at the Sit ' n Bull Pub in Maynard Friday and Saturday. He will probably play two sets a show, the first mostly acoustic and sometimes solo,the second electric with band.

How has he taken to the shift from second fiddle to front man?

"I find it really easy," he says from his home in California. "I'm really enjoying singing and that takes a while to get used to when you don't do it all the time. But now I've done a few tours and I'm into the light and the shade, the emotion of it. I'm having a ball playing with younger musicians who are really into it, very supportive and sensitive to the music."

A cynic might say that after playing to thousands in the huge arenas, a club tour must be a comedown.

"I don't really see that," says Davies. "When we were doing all those big '80s tours it got to a point where I'd walk in there and we'd look at ourselves and it was very scary. It was cold emotionally and [the halls] became frightening places to go, and these horrible big dark limousines.The performing was getting a bit flat. At least now, I can see the eyes of the audience. You get a different feeling and you can have a bit of fun. I think it's a revelation. I regard what I'm doing as a step forward. You can explore songs in a different way. It's a real eye-opener for me."

What does any of this mean for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, the Kinks? Do the Kinks exist?

"Well, I'd love to make another album as the Kinks," says Davies. "I don't know if it's a reality at all. We have talked about it with our management. It's a possibility."

Has he talked it over with his brother?

"No, we haven't discussed it," he says.

This is no surprise. The brothers Davies do not discuss much. When the Kinks are a going concern, the two travel separately and rarely acknowledge each other offstage. There is longstanding animosity, a contentiousness and combativeness beyond sibling rivalry.

Yet, Dave Davies is doing a number of his brother's songs in concert. "I want to cover a portion of the Kinks' history," he says, "cause you can't ignore that and try and pull some more obscure things out of the hat - really - just perform songs that I personally like of the Kinks and cover stuff from my other projects, plus a few surprises."

With the Kinks, says Davies, you never knew which song would turn out to be a classic. "You're just pleased when they do. All the best moments, all the magical events, are when you're lost in it anyway. You don't realize what you're doing when you're doing it. That's the best times.

"What's always kept my interest as a musician, on top of everything else, is the diversity of the music. It's quite interesting to be in a band like the Kinks 'cause you never quite know where you're going to go with it.''

So, is it possible to love the song, but not the songwriter?

"That," says Davies, "is a good question."

Does he have an answer?

"Well, I think the thing is: There's always going to be love; I'm always going to love my brother. I might not like his personality, but it doesn't prevent me from loving him. I don't hate his works because he can be difficult."

You either separate the two, adds Davies, "or go crazy."

Dave Davies knows something about that process. "I was going totally insane," he says, of a point in the early '70s. "I wasn't really able to communicate with people because of all these weird voices" in his head. He felt he was headed for a breakdown.

"It got to a point where I had to do something about this. I didn't want to go crazy and I didn't want to die. That's when I picked up a book on yoga, and then I got interested in astrology. It was explaining my psyche for me in a way I could understand. It helped piece my internal life together. I know what it's like to be in that dark place in our mind and it's really hard to get out of it. It's like the demons in your mind. Whether they are real, actual creatures, or just weird chemical [stuff], I don't think it matters. Whatever device you can conjure to get rid of them, I think it doesn't matter what process you use."

Davies was once one of rock's many drug-inspired/addled, bar-smashing, free-loving hedonists - the kind of rocker who could wake up in a hotel room on tour and not know what city or country he was in. He is candid about those details in last year's autobiography, "Kink."

He still drinks, in moderation, but says his salvation has been meditation.

"I don't know what I would do if I didn't meditate," he says. "Yoga was the thing I studied first and that's always been an important part of my life. I think it's essential in the '90s to have some kind of meditative angle. Chanting is really good; a mantra is a very powerful process. My spirituality is the most important part in my life. And it's all connected to everything else, music, having a good time."

Davies says he wrote the book in order to clarify history and to entertain readers. Maybe to purge, too.

"Carrying around all that stuff inside you is not healthy," he says. "Although some of it was quite painful, some of the emotional stuff about [my family], it was really important to get out, like shedding a skin."

In "Kink," Davies also wrote about his spiritual life - a Hindu/Buddhist/Christian blend - and about the benevolent aliens that came calling for him, telepathically. During the telephone interview, there was a disruption on the line, a clankity-clank sound as if someone had fallen down the stairs.

"We had a weird creature on the phone," says Davies.

One of those aliens?

"That's what I thought it was for a minute," says Davies, laughing slightly. Joking a bit, Davies is poking a little fun at himself. He knows his theories are rather far-fetched, but he also says, ''I mean, whatever works. And there is always a chance that I may be totally right, as well."

By Jim Sullivan - Boston Globe, February 2, 1999

This story ran on page E03 of the Boston Globe on 02/02/99.

© Copyright 1999 Globe Newspaper Company.

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