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Last Updated: Sunday, 18 September 2005, 13:04 GMT 14:04 UK
The Kinks celebrated
On Sunday 18 September 2005 Andrew Marr interviewed Ray Davies of the Kinks live in the studio

Please note "BBC Sunday AM" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used.

ANDREW MARR: Now how many of the stars who really put British pop music on the map in the Sixties are still at it?

Paul McCartney still performs, Mick Jagger has just embarked on another world tour and Ray Davies, writer of such classics as Waterloo Sunset, Lola and Sunny Afternoon, is about to play the Albert Hall in London.

He spent time in New Orleans before the catastrophe and says he found the city's musical heritage inspirational.

FILM CLIP - RAY DAVIES NARRATING

ANDREW MARR: Ray Davies, founder of the legendary Sixties band, The Kinks, and he is here. Good morning Ray, very nice to see you. Of course it wasn't all great in New Orleans for you because you got shot there, as well, didn't you?

RAY DAVIES I did. I got mugged and shot, yeah. So it um, hit me in the leg.

ANDREW MARR: Are you all right now?

RAY DAVIES I'm fine, yeah. Ready for my tour.

ANDREW MARR: Absolutely. Those are, those are new songs - a lot of people will be very pleased to hear that you are still writing songs and like the old Kinks songs, every day life?

RAY DAVIES Yeah, I think I went to New Orleans to get a - not to get away from England but you know - I can almost phone in some of those English songs on the new album which comes out next year. There's lots of songs about London and England. I wanted to get away and find out, just look at people somewhere else and New Orleans is a very colourful place, a nice spot - I like - I like the culture down there - it's very European, not like America at all.

ANDREW MARR: It's very French.

RAY DAVIES It's very French, Spanish -

ANDREW MARR: So what do you feel about it looking at those appalling pictures we've seen now?

RAY DAVIES Oh it's horrific. I recognise so many of the places, even underwater - it's such a great place - but that's part of the character. I think people live like there's no tomorrow there and there's a kind of relaxed atmosphere for the locals there that, you know, it's enjoy today. And the music, it has an effect on the music and the way you think - that's why I enjoyed it there so much.

ANDREW MARR: And do you think that will come back again? Will New Orleans revive?

RAY DAVIES Well, you probably know, this is all very political. I mean I got involved in a school project down there, a very small modest scheme - I was trying to write music for a marching band when I was shot - and it's all very political because the funding down there, such high unemployment there, a lot of poverty - hence all the violence and the crime, it's like the number one gun city in America.

When I got shot it was like 50 murders that year. So it will be interesting to see how it develops, I, I think it's interesting the first places they're putting up on the map are the tourist spots and the commercial centres.

ANDREW MARR: They know where the money is.

RAY DAVIES They know where the money is - they have to watch that - the jazz fests and the Mardi Gras are the things that keep the city alive and funded.

ANDREW MARR: Kinks fans will always ask you a couple of questions - and I'm going to ask you them as well, because I just can't resist it. I mean A, how is your brother these days? Are you speaking and is there any chance whatever of The Kinks reforming?

RAY DAVIES Well it doesn't say much about my new solo album that's coming out -

ANDREW MARR: We haven't heard it yet, that's why.

RAY DAVIES Well I think with The Kinks, you know, I've done these solo projects and I thought we never really officially broke up, there was never an announcement or anything - a lot of people wished we had - but we always felt that if we had music that sounded appropriate and we felt that it wasn't a cheesy get-together and, you know, just for the money, we'd do it. I think the music has got to mean something. So when this solo venture's past, we'll get together and see if there's any music there that's worth hearing.

ANDREW MARR: So you might - you might come back -

RAY DAVIES We could conceivably do it, yeah.

ANDREW MARR: And would that - I mean you've done new songs but you've also, of course, gone back and revisited some of the earlier Kinks classics - I think we can just hear a new version of Sunny Afternoon.

[CLIP]

RAY DAVIES I think the guy saw that and then he shot me.

ANDREW MARR: No. Everyone likes to hear -

RAY DAVIES I mean I like, I like to try - yeah - I like to try those songs in a slightly different way. It's always a good test of a song if you can play it in different ways.

ANDREW MARR: There is a Kinks revival going on - I mean I've got young kids and they and their friends all know about The Kinks. They know - I have to say - about The Kinks are the Village Preservation Society, which is The Green Preservation Society which is one of those kind of cult albums, it seems like it's had an entire book written about it now.

RAY DAVIES One journalist said, you know, The Village Green Preservation Society, the Conservatives ought to adopt that as their new anthem. So some people look at it, that album, which was years ago being very conservative, very sort of backward looking, but I think I like to treasure the things about England that I find are interesting and quirky and make us British.

ANDREW MARR: Well that is what The Kinks were always about - I mean we talked on the programme last week about Britishness and Englishness - and of all the bands of the Sixties, you are the ones who have stayed rooted in this country more than anyone else.

RAY DAVIES Well you only have to meet, well meet me and the people that were in the band - I mean we used to go to America, we never used to change our watches, we used to stay on London time. I mean we'd just, we'd hang around Time Square looking for the papers, the English newspapers.

ANDREW MARR: You were banned from America, of course, for quite a few years.

RAY DAVIES Yeah.

ANDREW MARR: And one of the interesting 'what ifs' I think about pop is if you hadn't been banned - because those were the years that The Beatles and The Stones and The Who got their American lift off and became global bands - had that happened to you The Kinks, I guess, would have been a very different band.

RAY DAVIES I think so. If we hadn't have been banned at that time, which is like our prime, if you like, our early prime, I wouldn't have written things like The Village Green, because I came back to England, thinking I couldn't go to America again - we were banned for like four years, I think - I just immersed myself in my Englishness and wrote these funny songs about England.

ANDREW MARR: The other thing that lots of people know about The Kinks, of course, is the relationship between you and your bruv -

RAY DAVIES Yeah.

ANDREW MARR: The passage of time -

RAY DAVIES It only gets worse.

ANDREW MARR: It gets worse? Oh I'm delighted to hear it - it would be so disappointing if you were getting on.

RAY DAVIES Yes, well I didn't want to disappoint you Andrew, yes. No it gets worse, yes. I don't think the rivalry goes away - it's one of those things. But at the same time, without that rivalry it wouldn't have the edge. Now every band, it's the same with sport, anything, where there's no edge you get very bland music, you get very bland sport - anything is bland - and an element of that is healthy but sometimes I guess it does go over the top with us.

ANDREW MARR: Mm. And still does.

ANDREW MARR: Because you were living - he had a heart attack and then you ...

RAY DAVIES Yeah he had a problem last year and he's moved in with me. So it's like Whatever Happened to Baby Jane.

ANDREW MARR: It sounds like the most fantastic, bleak sort of sitcom that could be written.

RAY DAVIES It is, it's a horrible Joe Orton horror script. But it's, it will work out. As long, he's still got his edge and he's starting to play again, he's recovering and we'll see how it works out with him.

ANDREW MARR: And the new album is songs about every day life?

RAY DAVIES Every day life. What it is, it started off - it's very difficult to get into a solo album after being with a band for so long - it took me a while to get through all the material I had in the back and then, like I said, I went to New Orleans to write songs and now we've got this thing mixed - it took a year out of my life getting shot, so I had to put that on the backburner a bit - and I'm back now. It's a song, it sounds like a band though - I've got a bunch of musicians together that don't sound like session musicians, you know -

ANDREW MARR: Yeah.

RAY DAVIES - it's not like a Tom Jones record.

ANDREW MARR: And you look now at the whole Britpop generation, all those people who say they look back to The Kinks as their inspiration - do you feel kind of paternal that you've got, you've got your musical children out there, and grandchildren, all round the shop - or does that make you sound too old?

RAY DAVIES If Damon Albarn was a child of mine, I'd slap him I think. No I mean I like Damon's music and I like all the Britpop people are fine. I think it's more a sensibility - a sensibility we have in common, rather than the music. The music was slightly different, we wouldn't have written about all the subjects they wrote about. It's just an English, a British sensibility that we shared and I admire their music, they inspire me - some of the things - Park Life was a wonderful album.

ANDREW MARR: Well good luck, I desperately hope The Kinks reform and when they do I'd like both brothers on the sofa in here -

RAY DAVIES That could be a problem -

ANDREW MARR: - a rather battered sofa - but it would be great to have you.

INTERVIEW ENDS


NB: this transcript was typed from a recording and not copied from an original script.

Because of the possibility of mis-hearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, the BBC cannot vouch for its accuracy


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