THE KINKS - Ray Davies Interview, Part 2

Here is the second part of my interview with Ray Davies from 1971, postponed from earlier in the week.
Are there any activities outside The Kinks that you are currently working on?
         “Yes, Granada asked me to do another programme for them and I had lots of ideas. It’s going to be a story about a person who is always told what he is. Everybody keeps telling him what he is and what he looks like. It’s just a play with music, which I am writing. I’m writing the story but I couldn’t write the script because it would take too long. It’s got to be out next July but I am hoping to have it finished by April.
         “The next album will be about this story. It will contain the music from it but in the meantime we will put out an album of just songs without a running theme. I’m also working on a musical film which is allegedly coming out this year, and it’s taking up a lot of time. I suppose I am very busy in a way, but if I were a businessman I would say that I haven’t got much of a turnover at the moment.
         “I like writing and playing, but I think I write to play rather than write and play.”
         How was the last American tour? “It was excellent. We had bad nights when we were all off together, but the rest of the time was very good. On this tour we concentrated on the new album, playing tracks from it, and we put ‘Shangri-La’ in the act as well. We get requests for the old numbers, but I think a lot of the people haven’t heard things like ‘Waterloo Sunset’ which came out in the period when we weren’t allowed into America.
         “We have built up a following in the States but I would like to build up a bigger following over here as well. I still think people don’t really understand us in this country.”
         Wouldn’t another hit single help? “Yes but I am not looking forward to going through the mechanism necessary to get another hit single. We haven’t had a single out for eight months but when we played that gig in Birmingham I discovered that there wasn’t one song that people really wanted to hear. They wanted to hear everything, but there wasn’t any one to finish the act with like a current hit song.
         “I think the people who have seen us play once or twice understand us more. We wouldn’t have made it in the first place if we hadn’t gone literally all around England for a year. We played every week in a residency in Manchester and built up a great following there. It’s still an honour for me to play live. It was an honour for us to play the Carnegie Hall when we were in New York, and if I play badly somewhere I feel ashamed afterwards.”
         What about the new generation of rock fans who have arrived since The Kinks’ early days or the changes that their original followers will have gone through since then? “I don’t think they have changed basically. They have been around longer and they have been through everything that is going on with worries and problems to cope with but I think the basic following is still there. As far as ‘You Really Got Me’ is concerned, it’s a new song every night for us. We play it differently every time we play it.”
         Did this mean the Kinks will go on for ever? “We could break up next week, but I don’t think we will. We are developing all the time. We are going on to new things and keeping the old songs as well. We do it to live and I get a certain feeling from the songs I write. I like to think that other people get a feeling from the songs I write, and those are the people who really understand The Kinks.
         “The fact that a guy in Cincinnati really knows me because of the songs I write is amazing. I met someone in San Francisco once whom I’d never met before and he knew all about me. He knew little things like what I liked and what I didn’t like and he’s worked it all out from the songs I’d written. It was a great feeling.”
         Undeniably The Kinks tend to be a vehicle for Ray Davies’ writing and consequently his thoughts. Did the rest of the group feel held back by this?
         “Mick Avory is working on something of his own at the moment, but I do want the group to become more creative. On the next album I want to do more group arrangements instead of my own. We are planning to work a lot next year and I want it to be group work instead of my own ideas.
         “I throw away a lot of ideas if the rest don’t like them. There was a song I wrote this year that I wanted to record and I thought would be our biggest song ever. It took me a long time to write it, but the rest of the group didn’t like it at all. I had to leave them for a time because I really thought they would be knocked out by it                                                                   
         “I started to write songs for the Kinks because the standard of the stuff the recording company was bringing us to record was very bad. They brought us songs that everybody else was doing. I am a vehicle for The Kinks and The Kinks are a vehicle for me. We have created a working relationship with each other and we help each other along. Over the next three years I am going to make six LPs with the Kinks, and there are still things I want to do. I would like Shel Talmy to produce for us because I really enjoy working with him.”
         Are the days of the great Kinks’ singles over then? “No, but I really feel that the stuff I am writing at the moment is album material. It’s not material for a single. I just don’t like all the problems involved with singles, promoting them and things because people think that’s all you are doing, just the single. I don’t think there are any singles on Hillbillies. It’s a comedy album. ‘Complicated Life’, ‘Alcohol’ and ‘Acute Schizophrenia’ are comedy songs.
         “They are not serious social comment, but I think I have made a more definite statement on this LP than ever before. That life is complicated is what I am really trying to say.”

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