Ray Davies, 21.1.2000 Pressekonferenz in Madrid

Folgendes war auf der Kinks-Mailinglist, vielen Dank!!!

Hello all,

this is the transcription of the words Ray said in the press conference
held past January 21 in the Cuzco Hotel (Madrid).
I hope it will be interesting for you all.
I must acknowledge here the most valuable help of my friend Phil Mason who
carefully reviewed my first manuscript.
Questions have been adequately abridged.
And also a fateful kuriosity. During the conference, one of the translators
had a cell phone that went off quite frequently. Ray didn't care (or so it
looked) but it spoiled a couple of fragments of the recording. In those
cases, I have put the words I remember Ray saying. But please don't take
these parts literally. What is really ironic is that that same guy was the
one who introduced the concert in Madrid, saying something like: "Ray will
be on stage in five minutes, please turn off all your cell phones!!!!!".
Sorry for the delay. Enjoy it!



Ray in Madrid. Press conference. Maya hall of Cuzco Hotel. January 21, 2000

Q: What kind of show will we have in Madrid, different from other places?
RAY: It's different because it's Spain. It's different wherever I go. It
depends on the audience. You know, I might be playing somewhere like
Chicago and it would be different to New York. Obviously, because the show
is a language show, I speak a lot, the songs, the lyrics... I'll see how it
works in the first few minutes, and then I'll play it by ear, as they say.
It's an away game so I'll play defensive to start with, but I think I'll
win one-nil. I think the best form of defence is attack.
Because it's a story, basically the story of The Kinks, and basically
because The Kinks are kind of four guys, four boys who get together against
the world, it could apply to four boys in Madrid. It's just the language
thing, I guess, is the problem. I think the thing about music is that it
can transcend it.

Q: Which Kinks' songs do you never leave out of the show?
RAY: I think the big song of this show is 'You Really Got Me', because
without that song... And it tells a story in a sense of how we made that
hit, because without that hit obviously nothing would have happened to us.
And it's quite an interesting story. And that's the big song I always sing
in every show.

Q: Will you play 'Lola'?
RAY: Yes, we'll play 'Lola'. I sometimes throw that in. The show is really
narrated by the songs. So, there's a continuity because of the songs, but
sometimes I throw in some songs that are out of context.

Q: If you play 'Lola', will you do those famous false starts?
RAY: I don't do it that much, that thing. I was going through a bad stage.
I was quite ill at the time. We used to do it a lot with The Kinks, yes,
but with this, no, we don't do it too much. But now that you've said it,
I'll probably do it.

Q: The Kinks played in 1966 in Madrid in an unfortunate night (they didn't
pay you, you had problems with the police...). Is there any difference
between that Spain and this Spain?
RAY: They didn't pay me?... That was an unfortunate night. We had an all
new crew, we just had a new bass player who had joined the band, John
Dalton joined the band. I think this was one of his first gigs, Madrid, and
we had a tour manager. You know, tour managers in those days... he came in
an immaculate suit, tie, a shirt and his hair was really great. And all we
wanted him to do was to carry the equipment and he didn't realise that. His
name was Stan. I think Stan had an argument backstage and it escalated. You
know, these things happen, we were only young. But forgive us for that. I
think it was something to do with the club that was having problems with
the bookers, and the people didn't understand Stan. But it was just
unfortunate really. I think Dalton went to prison for one night, and it was
his first gig. He's never recovered. But it was really fraught, because of
that incident, because we got straight off the plane and went into the gig,
we never saw Madrid, we never saw any place. In those days we never saw
much of the city. When the Kinks started, the people remember, it was a mad
time. We never got to see anywhere because we couldn't go out. It's a
little bit calmer now. And I think the electrical plugs were different. We
put on the amplifiers and plugged it into your system and it blew up. And
because of that somebody accused us of having a gun. This created news, an
international incident. It was very difficult to get the equipment back
out. You know, it was new then, it was new to us, it was new to
Madrid...It's always been strange, there have always been strange things
happening in The Kinks.

Q: still?
RAY: Well, obviously we don't do it now together. Yeah, it always goes
wrong for us, I don't know why. In Denmark they said to us :"you know,
those nice boys The Rolling Stones can come back but we don't want the Kinks!"

Q: Tell us something about the new projects mentioned on your website (solo
album, choral piece and the Storyteller video)
RAY: Yeah! I'm doing very hard work now. The Storyteller thing came because
I had the book X-Ray, for anyone who doesn't know it, and I promoted it in
book-shops and I sang songs in between reading. That's how the show
developed, really.
And the classical piece is a choral piece I was commissioned to write last
year or over a year now, and was performed in Norwich. It's a long piece,
it was quite a stretch to do it 'cause I had six months to deliver it. That
was quite mind-boggling to do that. Very interesting to work with classical
musicians, maybe I'll do more of that later down the line.
But I think this is quite diverse, these are diverse times. People realise
that you can't be... like a lot of people hold down three jobs. It's like
I'm doing three different things. Because I'm more of a writer. I love
performing. And this, in a strange way, is like something I'm always been
doing in my shows, developing this kind of technique. Between Kinks shows,
in between songs, I'd speak about the songs a little bit, but then my
brother would play something and play something loud and stop me talking.
Now I don't have him. But it's strange, this show, because they're not on
stage but I feel they're there sometimes, because it's quite clear in my
mind and I think the audiences pick up on that as well. And that's quite
nice because you don't have to... it's something for your imagination as
well. As well as with the songs. And that's interesting. But classical
music is another complete discipline. But I'll be doing more of that. It's
strange, when I did the classical piece, it was not finished until the
afternoon. I realised I am a writer who has to perform. I'm not a
performer, really. And I only sang with the Kinks because nobody else
wanted to sing the songs that I'd written. So, I came to performing by
accident. When I did the classical piece I was really relaxed, 'cause
that's what I do. I like to write and let other people get up there and
make the mistakes.

Q: How do you feel being a rock star of large recognition and what do you
think about new bands following your trends?
RAY: The last concert we did, we had a very young cross-over because bands
like Blur and Oasis came through. There's always a new wave of bands,
particularly from England, who do not copy, who are influenced by The Kinks
and bands like that. So I think it's like carrying on our work and the
wonderful thing is that we are still alive and able to play it ourselves.
In that sense, I think we have a balance of fans who remember us from when
they were younger, and then we've got all through to about 15 years old.
And the good thing that's happened with my show is that my show started a
whole series of shows called Storyteller and they used my show to develop
other artists and they had a tape of my performance on VH-1 and they sent
it to all the other people, and Elvis Costello came to see me and we talked
about it. So, I influenced them to do all their shows and now Storyteller
is a very popular show that started with my thing. But the interesting
thing is everybody's got their own way of doing it, which is quite nice.

Q: Do you feel, because of your past, any pressure on your present work?
RAY: I'm writing songs now for a solo album. This is my first studio solo
album, that I'll be doing this year. And I've always been a very big critic
of my own work. And I have more trouble letting it go. I say: "that is
horrible, I don't want to record that", but people say "No! It's really
good!". Because I'm really critical. There is a responsibility 'cause I'll
never write a song as good as 'Waterloo Sunset' or 'You Really Got Me', but
that was one of a kind and I just have to write other songs. And I think
every artist goes through that. Whether it's the Gallagher brothers or The
Kinks or the Davies brothers, you have to write what you can write about at
that time and you shouldn't really be overwhelmed by your past.
When I first did this tour, I introduced songs that'd never been recorded,
songs like 'London Song' and 'X-Ray', but they fitted into the show,
because they worked with the show, people thought it worked, and they
hadn't heard them on the radio. So, it's possible to do that.

Q: Which kind of new music do you listen to? Any new band that impress you?
RAY: I get lots of demos, sent to me. It's not a new band, but Yo La Tengo
are good. It's an American band, they have been around for 20 years or so,
so they're fairly new. And I do courses for new writers once a year. I get
new writers coming along who are 15, 16 years old and some are 50. But they
just want to write songs and they're great writers. I think there will be
an interesting new flood of new acoustic kind of club music, simply because
there aren't many good gigs in London there is no really no music scene, at
the moment. And I think there'll be a good batch of, not jazz, but blues,
club music coming through. When I say club, I don't mean dance club, I mean
clubs where people play acoustic instruments.

Q: Should we go back to the rhythm and blues to recover the right roots of
RAY: I think rhythm and blues won't go away. It's funny, only yesterday I
was playing a Slim Harpo record and Slim Harpo was one of the people that
made me want to play in a band when I heard his music, and I loved his
music. I've just started discovering him again... and Sonny Boy Williamson.
I think it's a little bit different now, because there're so many heroes to
choose from. But young people, you know, they think that Bruce Springsteen
is Bob Dylan, and they think that Bob Dylan is Woody Guthrie, but he's not,
you know. Everybody got their new version of what that hero is.

Q: Why don't you write the same (quantity) now? Getting older? No inspiration?
RAY: No, no... what it is, in fact...the reason I was so prolific in the
sixties and the seventies is because I had to be. In the sixties we put out
five singles a year, sometimes two albums a year. Now the record industry
is such that you plan ahead a year, when you've finished an album sometimes
it does not come out for a year. And I've probably got about 50 songs now
that I'm assembling, and I'll choose about 15 to record and I just keep
writing. I think the turnover is not so much now, that's why it seems
longer. It does seem a long time now I was to record this album, three
years ago, but things happen... I've done tours. With this show, the
Storyteller show, I don't play one-nighters, I'm playing one-nighters here.
Usually, if I go to Chicago, I play for three weeks and I'll do towns for
at least a week. So I'm in one place for a long time. I've built a new
career with this. The first week you have the hard-core fans, come to
Chicago, the second week people that read the reviews and the third week
people come back again.

Q: Do you miss the band?
RAY: I really miss the band. The first time I did this show, I couldn't
walk for two days afterwards, because I was stamping my feet so hard,
because I didn't have drums, and it really hurt. So I really miss the power
because what people don't know..., people know that rock music is loud, but
I miss the physical energy of sound hitting my body, and drums and when we
played big arenas all the time compressing me. I miss that. But this is a
different dynamic, totally. And like I said, because of the nature of the
show, the band is still there. But actual physical presence, I do miss
that. But there will be other instruments on my solo record.

Q: Talking about the Kinks, do you have more good memories or bad memories?
RAY: I think the bad memories are the good memories. Our career was, and
hopefully will be, because we still have another record to do. We might do
another record next year, I don't know.
It was the bad times that made us famous, in the sense that people think of
The Kinks being untidy, having disastrous concerts where everything goes
wrong, but something out of that..., out of that chaos comes the spirit of
what rock'n'roll of that type is. The Kinks and rock'n'roll music is not
about having perfect light shows, having laser beams and dances, it's about
four guys or five guys going on stage and having a good time and the
audience becoming part of it.
So the ragged edges are our finer points.
We had more lightning designers quit with The Kinks, than any other band.

Q: Why newer groups don't display that energy?
RAY: I think the bands like to rock out. I think attitudes towards what
they're doing have changed. It was that first wave of that kind of music,
it was like "let me these young animals out of the cage, onto the stage".
It was the first time they could experience it. I think younger bands now,
starting out now, are a little more laid back, they have more social
niceties about them. They know how to deal with society. But I'll make no
bones about it. The Kinks were barely potty-trained. When they walked on
stage it was like animals out of a cage. There are different attitudes
towards the rest of the world, now... sexuality definitely.

Q: Can you tell us something more about the possible new Kinks album?
RAY: Because of all the songs I'm writing for me, I still can't break the
habit of writing an odd song that would suit The Kinks, and I'm sort of
keeping those on hold and after my solo stuff, I'll just see if it is worth
going in the studio with them and if they want to do it. But I don' want it
to be one of those nostalgia things. I'd rather commit suicide than do
that. But if the music works, if a few songs work then, we'll do it.

Q: What will the line-up be?
RAY: I see Mick Avory every week, well, when he turns up, when he's not on
the golf course. And I'd like to give him a shot. He still plays in little
bands, you know. Pete Quaife is really... he doesn't play much now. But I'd
like to get that first unit together to see if there is a chemistry there.
I like that, I like that but Dave, I know, would like to get the last
person, Bob Henritt. So already there's a fight and we haven't even started.

Q: Why X-Ray ends in the early 70's (suicidal attempt), is there going to
be a part 2?
RAY: There's a suicide and he suddenly dies, the old guy dies. I don't
know, I'll have to work on that. I don't know quite how to bring him back
to life. I'm not quite sure. I think it was a spiritual death. If you
think, it ended in 1973 when one phase of a career was over and I did
actually feel then, going back to it, I felt like I was crawling out of one
shell, like a caterpillar turning into something else. So, it's a form of
death, it's a kind of a metaphorical death. But in my book I'm 75 years
old, so it's a fair age to die, it's a good age to die. I'd be glad to
reach that.

Q: But, there will be a second part of X-Ray?
RAY: I've already written the first line of the second part.

Q: Why the Kinks didn't follow the hippie scene? Is it necessary to recover
the energy of that time, of that music? do you think that music now is
simply business and entertainment?
RAY: If I get the question right, I think newer bands as I said to Damon
Albarn of Blur the other week and I suspect... lots of other bands of that
type.... (sorry, I was in the aeroplane today, now, and it really messed my
head up, so my brain actually hurts) [Ray was moving his head from side to
side and touching his right ear all the time, he really must have felt bad]
I think they are very aware of how to work the media more than we were.
Like I said, it was the start of a new thing, television wasn't used to
promote records really [although we had] Top of the Pops every week. But
now I think younger bands play the game, it's called playing the game. You
go to the opening, you have your picture taken with Rebecca de Mornay
[right spelling?] or some model, or whatever, you know, they like all that.
The Kinks never..., I don't think..., if the Kinks were starting out now
and we were 20 years old I still don't think we would do it. Because you
look at the personalities... [here the tape has a failure due to the
interferences for the aforementioned cell phone, so this is what I remember
him saying]... Mick Avory is a very serious, shy person, I'm also very shy,
perhaps Pete was, perhaps, more fashionable, and Dave was kind of
outrageous...[end of tape failure]... we were very diverse people. But I
think younger bands know the score, they know the business and they know...
it's like young footballers do now. They know the business, it's the world
you live in.

Q: This may explain why you decided to preserve your own kind of music, not
being much influenced by the environment?
RAY: I think really, if you write songs that you believe in, and I say this
to all new writers and it's still true. If you write about what you believe
in and what is true to you and it comes out, the world will change fashion
as you walk down the street. Because you have an element of your own truth.
And if you dress up, you know, you see all these bands, the Spice Girls
copyists, there's about 50 other Spice Girls, but someone original is going
to come along very soon, and they'll blow everybody else away, because it's
an original thing and the world will change with it. So, you can't really
predict it, and that's the wonderful thing about raw talent. It's hungry
and it's not afraid, so it all hinges on what the young people do.
An interesting thing, when I first had this show, my American agent
wouldn't book it. [He said]: "Why? You're going on stage, where is the
band?" I couldn't get him to book it. Did one show in New York, but got a
promoter who is a friend of mine, Ronnie Delson [spelling?], a big New York
promoter. He put me on at the Academy Theatre. I did two nights, the one
night at the Academy, the first time, all the media people came. I was
doing what I wanted to do. Nobody wanted it and I did it. And then, after
that it changed a little part of the music industry, turned it around,
because I believed in it.
I was in a restaurant in London the other night - and I'd left the agent -
and I met him in a restaurant the other night and said "God! Ray, you know
what?", I said :"What?", "You know, I came to see your show "- after it was
successful - "It was great, I wished I'd...". And sometimes you've got to
be brave, even when you are my age and doing it as long as I have. I had to
be brave, I had to do something different, and that's what I'd say to the
new bands as well. Do what you believe in, and do what you want to do, and
don't follow the run of the mill, you know. Even if you fail, you fail your
way. Because you can go through all these grand experiments, do all the
things that record companies want and the stylists and the photographers,
and you still fail. So, do it the way that you wan do it.

Q. Which are your favourite song-writers?
RAY: Can I think about while she translates the answer?
[After the translation, some more questions are asked. We'll have to wait
until the end to get an answer about favourite song-writers]

Q: The Kinks represent the British side of music. Is it possible to imagine
their music without this British background?
RAY: As Oscar Wilde says "It's a curse that I speak the language of
Shakespeare". I can't help that, but it's the way I am. I think, you see, I
think I'm a bluesman. I think I sing like Slim Harpo. In my head that's
what I'm doing. I really think that. It really comes out sounding like Ray
Davies which is a real drag. It's what you want and what you get, it's the
same old thing, it doesn't matter what you do. Cary Grant wanted to be a
famous old actor. What was it? No, Cary Grant wanted to be Spencer Tracy,
wanted to act as good as Spencer Tracy, and Spencer Tracy wanted to be as
good looking as Cary Grant. It's probably the same thing now with the other
people too. But the thing about the Kinks and rock music, the stuff wasn't
essentially British like 'You Really Got Me' or 'All day and all of the
night', they transcended nationalities. Yes, but sometimes I write and I'm
proud to be British, I guess, I used to be, anyway. Now I'm lucky if I'm
considered a Londoner anymore. It's the way we are.

Q: Besides 'You really got me', how many important songs did you composed
in the front room?
RAY: The interesting thing about this show is, I think, I wouldn't have
been able to write the songs, the first songs I wrote, without my family
and how important they were to me, 'cause we used to sing songs round the
piano. That was a big influence, those get-togethers. And in a way, I was
writing something, because we used to do a show, and we'd all go and do
different songs, so you had to follow the good act if someone did a good
song and got the applause. And I wanted to write songs that would go well.
I'm the opposite of most the young people of that time. Most young people
rebelled but I wanted to write songs my dad would like.

Q: Do you know that Money & Corruption/I'm your man from Preservation Act 1
was censored in Spain?
RAY: No, I don't know. Perhaps the critics had good taste. You mentioned
Preservation... next week, or the week after next, I start working on an
script for an animated film of Preservation. There's going to be an
animated film in about two or three years time. It was very political,
maybe they saw the political content in that.

Q: [again] Which are you favourite composers?
RAY: Oh! This is the most, this is the most feared question for me.
Terrible. [Tape again is interrupted, so this is a transcription of what I
remember he said]. There are so many good poets, composers, writers,
technicians, lyricists....[end of interruption]. When it's pop music,
popular music, I guess, I think it's not so much the song, it's the ability
to make an exciting record. And that's an artist, combining a good song in
pop music with a good record. And the great records have that sound,
something they put on the record. The Beatles did that a lot. They just had
an exciting sound. It wasn't the song, it was the sound that stayed in your
head. 'You Really got me' was like that. It's a magic, it's kind of a
I've been influenced by so many people. I was talking last night to
somebody, I think Richard Rodgers is a great melody writer and he wrote
with Oscar Hammerstein. Richard Rodgers actually wrote really good
rock'n'roll chords. And he wrote for the musical theatre, you know, he is
very underrated, even though he's had big hits, he is very underrated as a
musician in his own right.
Also it's great to be a good lyricist. One of my heroes is Hal David, who
wrote with Burt Bacharah. And Bacharah used to write the melody first and
you've got to be a really good lyricist to write to all those complicated
melodies and come up with something good.
But in my world, the singer songwriter, you adapt your songwriting to your
own talent. Morrissey, of The Smiths, wrote songs that he could participate
in as an artist, the same as Elvis Costello did, and same as I do, I guess.
So it's a different kind of songwriting, you're writing, you're tailoring
the song for yourself.
I love Scat music. There's a record out now, I can't think of her name,
she's on the TV all the time. [He sings] "Ada-da-a-da-da, when you're
around". I don't know what it is, it's a song that's a hit at the moment.
Just for that phrase, the phrase is out of time and it falls back on
itself. Sometimes it's not the song, the artist gets a line and doesn't
know how to sing it and they put their own interpretation on it and that
makes it magic. The artist as well has a lot to contribute to songwriting.

[End of the conference].
RAY: Thank you very much.

zurück zur News-Seite
zurück zur Hauptseite