Kinks main man Ray Davies returns to rockin’ form with his politically pointed Working Man’s Café (New West) disc, from which he’ll be knocking out a few selections at HMV (333 Yonge) Friday (February 22), 6 pm. See his MySpace for music.
Have you fully recovered from the injuries you suffered from being mugged in New Orleans?
Yeah, I’m fine now. I’d gone out to the French Quarter with my girlfriend and saw this guy coming toward us, and when I turned around someone else jumped me. Foolishly, I chased them down the street and got shot in the leg. Fortunately it went clean through, but it broke my femur. There were some complications with my heart, but, thankfully, I’m alive to tell the tale.
What inspired Ray Davies, CBE, to focus on the plight of the working man at this time?
I’m not sure what it’s like in Canada, but in England the Londoner has become an endangered species, almost entirely wiped out. There’s a certain kind of character and lifestyle I grew up with in the 50s and 60s that I feel is important. The decline of the working man is happening all over, and there are issues here that need to be addressed. I think it’s essential for every country to keep a handle on its national character.
Will the long overdue career-spanning Kinks box set finally see the light of day?
Because our catalogue is split between a number of companies, it’s made compiling the set very difficult. But everyone got together and said let’s work out a deal, so hopefully by the end of this year there will be a Kinks box set that includes recordings we did for Pye, Reprise, RCA, Arista – some bits from every era along with a few tracks nobody has ever heard before. While I was going through the vaults, I found an old 2-inch tape reel of some stuff we recorded 20 years ago containing songs we’d never fully completed. Unless it’s really, truly awful, I’ve got no problem including some of that material with the set.
There has been some talk about a reunion of the Kinks original lineup. Any chance of that actually happening?
I’m good friends with the original drummer, Mick Avery, and bass player Pete Quaife, but my brother Dave had a stroke a couple of years ago and is very lucky to be alive. He has recovered enough to record a demo album, but we’ll have to see. We’re going to talk about the possibilities in a few months. My judgment call will be based on whether we can come up with some good new material rather than just play the old stuff. It’s important to move forward.
A number of contemporary artists cite the Kinks as a key influence. Anything you’ve heard recently that you’ve enjoyed?
There definitely are some interesting new bands out there. I think the Kooks are good, and so are the Cribs. I’m being given some award in London, and they wanted the Babyshambles guys to accompany me, so we did a demo of You Really Got Me, and it worked out pretty well. Their drummer, Adam Ficek, reminds me of Mick Avery. Pete Doherty played the guitar solo and he did all right – he’s good when he’s together.