Dave Davies :: The Aquarium Drunkard Interview

For Kinks guitarist Dave Davies, music isn't an intellectual pursuit. In Davies' mind, creation is a purely instinctual action, not a result of the brain so much as the gut.

"When you first start to get into music, you write something and if it feels good, maybe it is good," Davies says over the phone, reflecting back on the early days of the Kinks, the legendary rock & roll band he formed with his brother Ray in 1964. In the years since those nascent days in Muswell Hill, the Davies brothers have feuded off and on, but Dave's reputation as a hard rock and punk pioneer has only solidified. His raw guitar sound has inspired countless followers, including Ty Segall and Chris Spedding, who both appeared on his 2013 solo album I Will Be Me.

But Davies' latest is a more personal, stripped-down affair. Called Open Road, it was recorded with Dave's son Russ. Though the two have collaborated together for years now, the record marks a shift from electronic experimentation to more traditional singer/songwriter format. AD spoke with Davies about the record, some recent Kinks demos, his attraction to metaphysics, and abiding love of science fiction. Our conversation has been condensed and edited.

Aquarium Drunkard: You’ve collaborated with your son Russ for quite a while now. But Open Road is different than your previous collaborations. How did it work, melding your sensibilities as a songwriter to Russ’ more electronically-focused angle?

Dave Davies: We’ve wanted to do something more in the vein of a rock album...[Russ] was really keen on getting into this new area.

AD: What’s it like writing with your son? As a songwriter, part of your job is to get somewhere very vulnerable and open. Is getting to that space  with your son interesting?

Dave Davies: Russ is a very confessional, very sensitive musician, so it was comforting to work within that trust. The two of us working together helped emotionally; I wasn’t so worried about opening up to him, he knows me pretty well. I could trust him with my thoughts and feelings and likewise. There’s a line on “The Path Is Long” that goes, “You and I/We need to trust.” I really hooked into that. Trust is important when you’re working so closely on a project like this, or any creative project. That trust element totally freed us both up to try things out.

AD: There seems to be a theme of “family” running through your work. You founded the Kinks with your brother Ray. And while it’s difficult to pick a favorite Kinks record, most days Muswell Hillbillies is my favorite. On that record you were drawing from the people around you and to some degree, your own family history.

Dave Davies: Ray and I were obviously very influenced by country music, especially in the early days, with Hank Williams, Earl Scruggs, Lester Flatt. But the heart of the album, the theme really, is about a family having to move to another part of the city, focusing on tales about different characters in the family and what they did. It’s one of my favorites too, along with  Arthur. I like them all for different reasons, they’re very different from each other. That’s been the joy of being in a band like the Kinks. There’s a wealth of ideas me and Ray can draw from, including our childhood, our family.

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