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Kronicles Fit for a Kink

British Rocker Dave Davies Mixes Rebellion of His '60s Group, Mysticism and Solo Material

February 07, 2001|JOHN ROOS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

In 1963, in the front room of his parents' home in Muswill Hill, a small suburb north of London, a teenage guitarist named Dave Davies was messing around with some amplifiers when he slashed an amp speaker with a razor blade. Though shredded, it produced an unforgettably distorted, jagged roar.

When that new sound ripped through "You Really Got Me," the Kinks' first hit song, it basically introduced distortion to British rock 'n' roll. It was arguably the birth of heavy metal, and in his 1996 autobiography titled "Kink," the younger brother of Kinks lead singer and songwriter Ray Davies writes how tickled he was with his little mischievous experiment.

Having released three solo projects within the past four years, the singer-songwriter-guitarist remains intent on expressing his individuality. Only these days, the personal has turned quite cosmic.

"I've always been a rebel, seeking out my own identity," Davies from his home in Los Angeles. "But what I've found in my clumsy way of looking for knowledge is the understanding of the connected-ness of all things, that just maybe we're different facets of the same energy."

Much like the ethereal Van Morrison, Davies has ventured into the mystic. Besides http://www.davedavies.com, he runs http://www.spiritualplanet.com, a site devoted to his fascination with metaphysical matters.

"I've been interested in spirituality ever since my mid-20s, and I've had numerous psychic experiences that have been very profound and strange," he said. "In fact, whenever I get together with a psychic researcher friend of mine, Dr. Richard Lawrence, we call the activity 'normal' rather than 'paranormal' because of the frequency with which it occurs."

Hearing John Lennon

Surely the most bizarre "channeling" thus far became the inspiration behind a song called "Unfinished Business," the title track of his 1999, two-CD compilation release.

"About five years ago, Richard and I were having lunch in London when we had what you might call a psychic communion with the spirit of John Lennon," Davies said.

"I know some people think I'm crazy, but we could feel this strong presence, and it was like he was talking into my ear. I just couldn't let go of this one phrase I heard about 'banging my head against the wall.'

"So Richard and I decided to write a song about it. At first, I thought it was about Lennon's tragedy, and how he should have been here to usher in the new millennium. Only later, I realized I was also writing about my own career and all this stuff that's been left unattended to."

Davies, who turned 54 last week, said he feels global consciousness is changing for the better.

"I realize that everyone needs money in order to live, but I do worry about greed destroying our fragile environment as well as our creative impulses. At the same time, I am excited about the prospects of technology, music and psychic phenomena bringing the physical and spiritual worlds closer together.

"People are more open than ever before to the notion that we should be sharing experiences, rather than just accumulating material things."

Davies touches on these themes on his new, Internet-only CD titled "Fragile" (released last week through his Meta Media label). The eclectic, 11-track collection ranges from techno-driven, modern-sounding textures ("Astral Nightmare," "Hope") to rootsy, melodic pop-rock (the accordion-flavored "No More Mysteries") to more personal, slower-paced ballads ("Wait," "Lost in Your Arms"). The diversity in sound and subject matter is something that Davies said comes naturally to him.

"I like different types of music, everything from bluegrass and country to classical to hard rock, R&B and pop," he said. "Being the eighth of eight children, I grew up absorbing just about everything. One of my sisters liked Fats Domino, another was always playing Hank Williams and Slim Whitman. Then there was the '20s- and '30s-era vaudeville music that my parents enjoyed so much.

"I love the energy of rock 'n' roll, and although it's had its darker moments, I believe rock is very underrated as a positive force. For a lot of people, young and old, it's a unifying, elevating experience that rejuvenates the heart and soul. I'm hopeful fans will get a sense of that out of my music."

Sibling Rivalry

While brother Ray has toured in recent years as "The Storyteller"--a charming one-man show mixing readings from his 1995 autobiography ("X-Ray") with live music--Dave's "Kink Kronikles" is a more straightforward rock show, drawing from the Kinks canon and his lesser-known solo material. (Davies is backed on this tour by a four-piece band, including keyboardist Kristian Hoffman, bassist Dave Jenkins, drummer Jim LaSpesa and rhythm guitarist Jonathan Lea.)

But where do all these solo projects leave the Kinks, who haven't toured or released new material in eons? Davies, whose tumultuous relationship with Ray is perhaps rivaled only by the Gallagher brothers of Oasis, said the band's final chapter has yet to be written.

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