The Lonely Kink
Ray Davies, one of rock’s most influential songwriters, is making his way as a solo artist. But all he really wants is his band back
Outside the restaurant, wind and rain pelt a village green in the highgate neighbourhood in London. Inside the restaurant, Ray Davies contemplates his career since the Kinks dissolved in 1996.
“I’ve realised how difficult it is to be on your own after being in a group for so long,” says Davies, who led the Kinks for thirty-two years. “I want to feel I’m in a band, but I’m not. That’s the biggest problem I’ve had in recent years.”
This is quite a statement, given what Davies went through in 2004, when he was shot by a mugger in New Orleans. The injuries were much worse than reported at the time, and Davies still hasn’t fully recovered. But in the four years since then, Davies has kept busy. He’s recorded two albums of original music partially culled from his experiences in Louisiana, 2006’s pessimistic and prophetic Other People’s Lives and the feisty new Working Man’s CafÃ©. He was also named a Commander of the British Empire, even though he doesn’t like empires at all. But through it all he missed his fellow Kinks.
“Getting shot is easy compared to creating an identity for yourself as a solo artist,” Davies says, picking at his baked avocado, which is oozing grease and smelling bad. He’s speaking like a depressed person. Minimal volume. Minimal affect. “I don’t want to treat musicians like hired help. I encourage a collaborative spirit. We had that in the Kinks, although my brother, Dave, will say otherwise.”
And that, of course, is the problem.