Ray and Dave Davies discuss the band's history and their rumoured reunion
“Does he like shortbread biscuits?” Ray laughs. “We never reminisce. We never talk about professional things. He didn’t talk about any work I’d done. He was just happy, he was taken aback at how cooperative I was. But he always wants something. He wants control. He had a list of things he wants, which had been written down. Which is strange, and kind of sad, when we’re brothers.”
“I just want to define a few areas,” Dave clarifies. “I’ve said to Ray over and over that I felt really quite undervalued, in the past, and I think he should accept that I’m an active, creative person. It’s about self-worth, a lot of it. He’s always been so condescending about my contributions to the music. He still talks about me as some sort of kid that’s latched onto his wonderful genius. And all the really great stuff was born out of collaboration and mutual support, and maybe our joint genius. I don’t want to pump myself up to be anything that I’m not. But I’d like to be appreciated for my contribution to the work.
“We need to talk to a lawyer about financial things,” he continues. “There’s other things that would need to be defined, about content, who’s doing what. If we just get a straight letter together that we could agree on, it’s basic stuff. The last thing I said to Ray that night was, ‘I’m only going to do what makes me happy.’ And I know it sounds nebulous. But that’s my yardstick now. And he kind of nodded, and smiled.”
“I’ve always been afraid of happiness,” Ray confesses.
“It’s fleeting. It’s there for a moment. Because I’m more dark than bright. When I get happy, I’m ecstatically happy. When I’m down, I’m appalling. Dave has become more like that.”
A subsequent meeting brought tensions to a head. “I’d booked to fly back to New York and he turned totally weird,” recalls Dave. “He was going, ‘Why are you leaving, don’t leave, we’ve got things to do…’ I thought, if I don’t do something to make me happy, I’m going to regret it. So I got my flight back to New York, and it made me feel sad. Because we could’ve done it – and we might still do…”
The brothers parted company, each convinced they had the measure of the other. “If it is a game between Ray and I, I realised years ago that he’s already lost,” Dave believes. “Because the one thing that’s going to trip him up every time is that deep down, he loves me. And that is his weak-spot. So he’s fucked! If it is a contest – which it’s not.”
“He knows I can out-psych him,” Ray counters. “And ever since we were kids I could beat him at table tennis, snooker, everything. He wants badly to write good new stuff, which is very encouraging. But there’s maybe a difference in perception. That’s the first hurdle to overcome. None of these widdly-woo guitars, which was a phase he went through in the ’90s. I like the solid part of his playing. And when he’s at the top of his range, he’s a great flamenco singer. I’ve got two flamenco songs I could try with him, that were written 30, 40 years ago. Because I’m competitive, still. When I can be competitive and get his anger up, that’s unstoppable.”
Would Ray like to do that again? Would he risk it?
“It’s not a risk,” he laughs. “You can’t get the riffs and the energy without having a hard time. He always liked being edgy, Dave. He still does. After we met, I said, ‘Let me drive you home.’ He said, [surly] ‘No, I’m walking.’ I said, ‘I wouldn’t get on the No 41 bus at this time of night.’ So he’s very brave. I’m more… secluded.”