Dave Davies has revealed how he captured that distinctive distorted guitar tone that The Kinks became famed for. Most noticeably heard in You Really Got Me, the guitarist explains he created the sound following an argument with his then-girlfriend, in which he tried to break his amplifier.
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As part of an interview with The Independent yesterday (July 26), Dave Davies, the guitarist for 1960s rock pioneers The Kinks, explained how he first generated the raspy and distorted guitar tone that became a vital part of the band’s signature sound.
Describing how the unorthodox style was a fortunate accident, the musician admits that the discovery was made when he attempted to break his amplifier, following a disagreement with his girlfriend at the time.
“I’d had an argument with my girlfriend and I was full of rage and pissed off. Rather than slash my wrists, I thought I’d attack the speaker cone,” he explains.
This attack came in the form of a single-sided Gillette razor blade, the musician confirms, confessing that hormonal angst felt made him take his frustration out on his £10 speaker: “I sliced the cone down, virtually all the way around, and was quite surprised that it was still working. It had this kind of raspy sound, and I liked it. I thought it was amazing. I felt more like an inventor.”
This happy accident by the then-seventeen-year-old ended up forming the basis for the band’s most successful hit, You Really Got Me. Now considered one of the most widely-recognisable tracks in rock history, inspiring musicians including Tom Petty and Pete Townshend and being hailed by Jimi Hendrix as a “landmark record”, Davies admits that he thinks the song reached such success as it reached out to the working class.
“Some people adored the sound, and others hated it, but once we put it into the context of the song Ray [Davies, his brother and the band’s frontman] was writing it started to become what it became, which was a phenomenon,” he says, discussing the hit song. “It was a phenomenal time anyway. It seemed like the working class was really breaking through with art and movies and music.”
Elsewhere in the interview, the musician discussed the possibility of a band reunion, stating that both he and his brother have discussed the topic recently and are open to the idea.
Following their breakup in 1996, the duo have failed to perform together for close to twenty years – only reuniting for a performance in 2015. Now, after teasing fans by saying that new music was in the works, it seems hopeful that a reunion may occur in time for the sixtieth anniversary of their 1964 debut album.
“I hope so! I do! Ray and I have spoken about it – it’s possible,” Davies says when discussing the idea. “We get on okay. We talk about football! We’re born-and-bred Arsenal fans… So, yeah, I’m optimistic about the future.”
Find the full interview with Dave Davies on The Independent.