As co-founder and lead guitarist of The Kinks, Dave Davies defined what became known as British rock. The band’s slew of iconic and memorable hit songs included “You Really Got Me,” “All Day and All of the Night,” “Lola,” “Come Dancing” and “Waterloo Sunset” over the course of a career that spanned decades.
When Mr. Davies and his brother Ray decided to retire The Kinks in the early 1990s, both continued on with their own musical journeys. For his latest album, “Open Road,” Mr. Davies teamed up with his son Russ for a truly beautiful portrait of collaboration in song.
In advance of a tour that brings Mr. Davies to Rams Head On Stage on April 24, I spoke with the legendary guitarist about how the new album came to be, the importance of trust and the possibility of that long-rumored — and highly anticipated — Kinks reunion.
Question: Did you approach your son to make this record, or did he come to you?
Answer: We’ve been thinking about doing another record together for a while [since “Two Worlds” in 2010], and we just mutually seemed to arrive at the same conclusion as to when was the right time.
At the beginning of last year, we thought we would try to get some ideas together. I thought it would take a few months to put the album together, but it took about a year. (Laughs) I’m very happy with it.
Q: Is the creative process between a father and a son different than the one you had between you and your brother?
A: On some levels it’s very different. But on other levels it was very reminiscent of how me and Ray used to work together in the early days. Of course, when we got over the “father-son” thing and got into the nitty-gritty of putting the songs together and making it work, it was more like working with a fellow trade musician who you could trust.
The trust element was a really big thing. One of the songs on the album that triggers things for me emotionally is called “Path Is Long.” There is a line that Russel wrote that goes, “You and I, we need to trust.” It got hold of me, that line.
Of course, when you do trust in someone else, you do feel better about doing things. And ideas flow better. We worked very closely on all aspects of trust.
Q: “Path Is Long” is such an emotional song. Is this album your most personal and emotional record?
A: Working with Russel, it was very emotional. He was very demanding. He wanted it to have a character and integrity and honesty. Quite demanding, really. It was helpful to be not … trying too hard. Just speaking directly from emotion.
Q: Because your son is big in the EDM (electronic dance music) world and you are a rock ‘n’ roll icon, how did you find a musical middle ground?
A: A lot of that is thanks to Russ. He’s a great producer. Obviously he was very familiar with my work over the years. (Laughs)
We worked together before on a couple of projects, but they were more experimental and more kind of sci-fi alternative ideas. This was a chance for us to put something together that reflected both of our styles.
As the producer, he would assemble on the different songs the sketch of the musical idea so I could import some vocals [and] lyrics. It kind of made it easier to work in the structure of his ideas. He would then pull it apart, edit it and make it better.
I’ve been wanting to work with him on something like this for a while but was waiting untill he was ready. If you force things, they will never come out right.
Q: When Russ started his musical career, did he come to you for advice?
A: No. It was a natural thing for him really. He did study music earlier on at school. He learned guitar. He became a multi-instrumentalist and singer, of course, because it was a natural thing. He did things I could never do.
When all these digital programs started to emerge years ago, he really got a handle on how to use things like Cubase and Pro Tools and was really ahead of the game in that side of music.
Q: What can people expect when they see you live?
A: You’ve got to conserve your energy a bit more when you get older, but it will still be a rock show. Russ won’t be on stage with me for the first part, but for the second part he might. Down the road we are looking to do a live situation together.
I will be doing a couple of the songs from the “Open Road” album as well as things people expect.
Q: Do you still enjoy touring?
A: I enjoy it when I get on stage. But it’s the same old things with the traveling. All the hanging around and getting to the gig is not fun. But performing? I love performing and I love the vibe of the audience. You can’t really beat it. There’s nothing like it.
Q: Do you think there will ever be a Kinks reunion?
A: Well me and Ray [Davies] worked on a few demos at the beginning of last year, just prior to me getting going on this record with Russ. You know, never say never, as they say. He’s busy doing his stuff.
I guess I’ll see him when I go back to the UK after my tour. We’re still standing. We’re not dead yet. I hope we do it before we drop down dead. (Laughs)
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