Interview: Ray Davies

By ELIZABETH GEHRMAN  |  November 6, 2009

I read a quote once that you thought your American fans were different from the British ones, because you were banned in the US for a time.
It’s odd, but we became more popular because of our unpopularity. It’s difficult to explain. Village Green came out during the ban and a few hardcore fans got together and formed like a cult or society, and the “God Save the Kinks” movement started. I don’t think that could have happened anywhere else but in America. I have no explanation.

Does the England you wrote about exist anymore?
Nope. I was born into a dying empire. I meet as many people of my parents’ generation as I can while they’re still around. So many soldiers felt betrayed after the Second World War. Many came to the so-called colonies. I wrote a whole album on it, Arthur.

How is your brother doing? I hear he's touring next year, for the first time since his stroke in 2004.
It’s incredible, wonderful news. I think he’s just testing the waters to see how he can cope on tour. I would love to play with him again. Two of my — well, I have other reasons to live, but one of them is to make his life as difficult as possible, and the other is to make music with him, because out of that difficulty sometimes comes this incredible creative spark of energy and performance.

Were you a bit at sea after the Kinks broke up?
We never broke up. I’m still waiting for the phone call. That time was tempered by my book X-Ray and then the “Storytellers” tour [which told the story of the Davies family and the early days of the Kinks], so it was almost like they were onstage with me, anyway. Afterward, I realized how difficult it was to get a touring band together, but now I’ve got probably the best band I’ve had since those days.

You did a musical based on the album Come Dancing in London last year. Any plans to bring it to the US, or are you working on another one?
Yeah, I’m working on The Kinks Musical. I’ll be touring with it in the UK at the start of the new year, with the same cast. If I can cast it properly, I would like to bring Come Dancing over here. There’s a lot of new music in it that I’m really proud of. It takes place at the end of the Big Band era, when my sisters were growing up in postwar England.

How can you possibly find someone to play Dave?
I don’t know. I’ll scour the lunatic asylum. I think Joe Pesci’s not doing much at the moment.

Elizabeth Gehrman is a Boston-based freelancer. She can be reached

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