"I brought Balance"

kinks.de interview with ex-Kinks bass player Jim Rodford

Jim Rodford with Thomas BartoldusHe played 18 years with the Kinks -- only Mick Avory, Ray and Dave Davies were longer serving Kinks members. Anybody who has seen the Kinks in the 80s and 90s will remember the little man playing great bass lines and singing backing vocals. After the split of the Kinks in 1996 he played for example with Colin Blunstone & Rod Argent (Zombies). On Friday 29th November 2002 he was in Bielefeld (Germany) with one incarnation of the Animals. Thomas Bartoldus was there and had the opportunity to interview him for kinks.de.

Thomas Bartoldus: Jim, last time I saw you live was back in 1993 when you played with the Kinks in Dortmund. Now you are playing with the Animals. How did it came that you joined the band in 1999?

Jim Rodford: It's very simple. John Steel and Hilton Valentine [original Animals] were playing with an "Animals" band they were both in. They wanted to change the band a little bit and get people in that would make it sound the way the Animals used to sound. So they wanted to get Dave Rowberry back. Dave Rowberry and I were both in the Mike Cotton Sound in the early Sixties, and when Alan Price left the original band, they got Dave Rowberry from the Mike Cotton Sound. Dave Rowberry is very similar to Alan Price, and he was in the band right until the end. - But in 1998 or 1999 they also wanted to get a bass player - I don't know why - a bass player of the same sort of type. They rang Mick Avory and they asked him "What is Pete Quaife doing?". Mick said "Well, Pete Quaife's health is not very good, why don't you ask Jim Rodford? He played for the Kinks also, he may do it." Then they rang me, that's why I'm in the band. They wanted a bass player from the same era, someone who played that way. I went along and had a play. And Dave and I were re-united. It felt great, so here I am.

Animals in Bielefeld: Rodford, Peter Barton, John WilliamsonWhat are you plans for the future with the Animals? Is there another tour in the next year?

Well, we are just a hard working band playing the Animals material and other stuff which John and Dave want to do. I'm from the same era and enjoy playing that music. Alan Price is still himself and still plays Animals songs also. Eric Burdon is still himself, but he obviously plays Animals songs, too. I just enjoy playing with John Steel and Dave Rowberry.

Apart from the Animals, are there any other musical projects you are working on at the moment?

Oh yes, of course. Before I joined the Kinks I was in band with Rod Argent called "Argent". Rod is my young cousin. When the Zombies were forming in 1962 or 1963 he asked me to be part of them. I said "I will help you to form the Zombies" - a band from school - "but I will not join you then." And I helped the Zombies form. Colin Blunstone was from my school - he joined Rod Argent, and they became the Zombies. At the end of the Sixties Rod and I decided to form our own band, and this was "Argent". Now, three or four years ago Colin Blunstone who had then started touring himself, said to Rod Argent and me "Would you come on the road with me?". So we formed "Rod Argent - Colin Blunstone". We play Zombies hits, Argent hits and Colin Blunstone's solo hits because Colin Blunstone had solo hit records by himself and also as part of the Alan Parsons Project. We go to America, and we tour the U.K. Then I also play Rock'n'Roll with Mike Berry and the Outlaws who are one of the greatest early British Rock'n'Roll bands. I also did four years with Lonnie Donegan in the Eighties. I also played many years with a Scottish singer called Barbara Dickson. I play with everyone I can, I enjoy it. The Animals is great fun. Musicians today are not just in one band, they are in one or two, maybe three. I work all the time because I have a lot of experience.

Mark Johns: one of the best guitar players of the world

At one point in the set you talked about the Kinks and said that the band as a working unit stopped back in 1996. Do you have any ideas why the group stopped then?

Just my opinion is I feel that Ray and Dave had been together all those years in a goldfish bowl, you know. They both needed to get away from it and be themselves. Well, when Ray started it he said "Look, I am going to do an one-man-show and I don't know how long." He didn't say the Kinks are finished. He said: "I'm gonna go out, me on acoustic guitar, sing, tell the story of the band, tell the story of my life." And he's still doing this although this year he has formed another band around him. His guitar player Mark Johns is also playing with Colin Blunstone, Rod Argent and me just by chance, anyway!
Mark Johns is one of the best guitar players in the world. He's from Australia and he has a big open mind. He plays great blues, he plays great jazz, he plays great rock'n'roll. Ray was working with another guy for many years, Pete Mathison, who is a great rock'n'roll player, a really good player. That was for five years, then Ray decided to have bass/drums/guitar and Pete left, I don't know what happened. When Ray may have asked the question who is a great allround guitar player somebody must have said "Mark Johns", you know, not me. This all happened away from me. When Mark told me that he got a call from Ray Davies I thought, well, he'd be perfect. And it's working great! But it has nothing to do with me. I wish him the best luck with Ray.

Jim Rodford in Bielefeld (soundcheck)I was quite impressed by your showmanship tonight. Especially your wonderful rendition of "Sunny Afternoon" with you on lead vocals testified your wide-ranged musical abilities. Looking back to The Kinks, do you think you could or should have played a bigger creative role in the band like you have for example in Argent?

No, I don't need that. I think with the Kinks, maybe, I brought balance. I saw the Kinks before I joined and they were wonderful in the early Sixties. When I joined I think that maybe - between Ray and Dave - I've made it more solid. I just balanced a little bit more. That's maybe what I gave.

If you were to put together a CD with the best shows you ever played, what would you put on it?

Best shows I've ever played? - With the Mike Cotton Sound we did the Hammersmith Odeon. We opened for James Brown and did the first half. He watched us from the side and said, "Hey man, this band is fucking great. I didn't realize you had a band like that." You know we were a solid rhythm'n'blues band. In a country like this! And then we did the opening for Aretha Franklin a year later. It was the first time she ever came to Britain. - With the Kinks I suppose it would be Madison Square Garden. I hadn't played Madison Square Garden, it was a fantastic concert! It was everything I thought it would be.

At the Garden you even played "Village Green Preservation Society", didn't you?

Yes! I requested that one. I said, "Ray, please play a little bit of Village Green." I thought it was poignant and we should do that.

Favorite track "in between": Property

What is your favourite of your recordings with the band?

"Low Budget", the album, I thought was fantastic. I love that. But the live album "One For The Road" I thought was great, too. "Phobia" was also a great album, and "To The Bone", especially the reworking of some of the old songs. We even did two new songs. My favourite track in between is "Property" from "State Of Confusion".

What do you think: Will the Kinks ever reform?

No idea.

The Kinks 1983: Ian Gibbons,  Mick Avory, Ray Davies, Dave Davies, Jim Rodford (left to right)In a recent interview Mick Avory said that you and Mick do some studio work at Konk sometimes.

This was last year. We did some demos for Ray's new solo album.

Are you still in contact?

Oh yeah, I play with Mick, still, just for fun. Mick and I play with Adam Faith and the Roulettes. And sometimes with Russ Ballard and Rod Argent. If Bob Henrit can't do it Mick plays drums.- I think the next thing the Kinks might do if there is an offer for Ray, Dave, Pete Quaife and Mick Avory to make an album. I think that might be the next thing.

Jim, thank you and good luck!

It was a pleasure. Please say hello to all the Kinks fans.