Interview With Pete Quaife

Pete was interviewed by Jean-Pierre Morisset in November, 2005. The interview, translated into French, was published in the May 2006 issue (#230) of Jukebox Magazine.

JPM: Back in 1963, under which name were the first group recording sessions at RG Jones Recording Studios and at Regent Sound Studios done during the fall of that year, and were these early songs exciting for you to record ?

PQ: Of course! It was not often that a bunch of scruffy, half assed 'musicians' had the chance to enter a Recording Studio to record their own 'music'! Up until then we, along with every other group in Britain, had only tried to record their music on their Uncle's old tape recorder!

JPM: Was it easy for you to adjust to the drumming of newcomer Mick Avory in january 1964, after having cut the first Kinks recordings with session drummer Bobby Graham, and why did Avory not participate to several of the next Kinks recordings later on ?

PQ: Mick was already with us and playing when we went into Pye studios and I think it was him that had to do most of the adjusting! Mick was our drummer and it was a great surprise to us to find that he was not allowed to play on most of the early recordings. Apparently (and I believe it to be a lie) in those days it was customary for the producer to use his own choice of drummer. The explanation was that 'drumming and drums are hard to record and the producer always chooses the drummer that sounds 'right' to him.' Personally I think it was just the producer giving some work to struggling studio musicians. Later on, when Shel Talmy left as our producer, we found that Mick's drumming didn't sound any different to Bobby Graham's!

JPM: What was the extent of your participation in the arrangements of songs like "I Gotta Move", "Come On Now" or "Milk Cow Blues", on wich we hear your incredible bass riffs ?

PQ: That was in the very beginning of our career. At this time, because we were still trying to get used to recording, we just let everything go and happily banged away at our instruments, hoping that the producer could put it all together again! So the strange bass lines in Milk Cow Blues was simply me showing off and trying to be nothing more that the lead guitarist! I cringe now when I hear it! As far as arrangements go - there were none! Nothing serious anyway. We knew the numbers off by heart and we simply started each one and then did anything we could possibly think of to make the number more exciting. It didn't always work!

JPM: What was your part of singing harmonies in the studios, with the presence of Ray's then wife Rasa, and do you remember when she entered the picture, and if she was heavily involved in most of the recordings ... up to when ?

PQ: We all, with the exception of Mick, participated in forming the harmonies. We would sit in the control room and quickly rehearse the various parts and then record them. It was not as important to get them as right (and as clever) as the Beatles. It wasn't that kind of music. Rasa is a very sore point with me. I'll make no bones about it, I didn't like her and felt that she was just a jumped up groupie that had no right to be there. But it was Ray's girlfriend and we had to respect that. Unfortunately, Ray couldn't see her for what she was and allowed her to 'la la' along with several numbers. As always happens, when a girl enters the group, the group always suffers. With Rasa tagging along with us all the time, tempers began to sizzle and eventually the group began to splinter. Not that she cared!

JPM: Do you recall some memorable french dates, maybe at the Olympia in february 1965 or others venues ?

PQ: I clearly remember the Olympia. For one reason only. I made a complete fool of myself! A reporter asked me why it was that British acts were so popular and French acts were not.... I replied that it was because the French were too emotional about their music and needed to come back down to earth! I wasn't too popular after that reply! Also, it was our first trip abroad! We had never been further from England than the seaside at Southend and suddenly we were on our way to PARIS! That was something - especially when we saw the Moulin Rouge! It actually existed! It wasn't just something in a Clark Gable movie!

JPM: After the onstage fight between Dave and Mick in Cardiff in may 1965, Ray Davies did a demo session at Regent Sound in London (songs included "Tell Me Now So I'll Know"' "A Little Bit Of Sunshine", "There's A New World" and "This Strange Effect"): due to their recent row, Dave and Mick were absent, but it has been said that you did take part to these recordings with Ray. Can you remember if it's true ?

PQ: After the Swansea affair, everything was a bit upside down. Nobody really knew waht was happening. Had we split up? Had we decided to go our own different ways? For about a week it was total confusion. I personally had no contact with anyone. I just stayed at home and counted my losses! So, as far as recording with Ray - I don't think so. That would have been dangerous!

JPM: Due to your car crash in june 1966, you were unable to perform with the Kinks for some time, but had the sessions for the album Face To Face been done already with you on bass, because some reports mention that your temporary replacement John Dalton only recorded "Little Miss Queen Of Darkness" from that album ?

PQ: Yes, I had finished that album. Completely. So, no, it wasn't Chubby playing that number.

JPM: In september 1966, you gave notice that you were leaving the Kinks, but in november that same year you returned to the band: can you explain the events surrounding this decision, and do you remember if you recorded "Big Black Smoke" upon your return ?

PQ: That accident had smashed me up quite badly. I thought that I was able to continue playing and touring but, after a few trips here and there, I realised that I needed to recuperate properly! I was in a lot of pain and unable to concentrate properly. So I went to Denmark to stay with my girlfriend for a long awaited holiday. It worked and when I felt better I rejoined the band.

JPM: Wasn't it upsetting when Pye continually cancelled EPs projects by the group, and what is your feeling about missed hits opportunities in England when such strong songs like "A Well Respected Man", "Dandy" or "Mister Pleasant" were issued as singles only in continental Europe ?

PQ: Do not talk to me about Pye! They were the most incompetent record company in Britain! They took, took, took! And never gave anything back! I'm sure that if someone seriously investigated that company's books they would eventually find some 'discrepancies'.....

JPM: Did you enjoy recording the solo Dave Davies singles, and did you take part to the sessions for his never released solo album in 1968/69 ("Mr Shoemaker's Daughter", "Do You Wish To Be A Man", "Mr Reporter", "I'm Crying" and "Are You Ready Girl") ?

PQ: Working with Dave was always a pleasure. He never tried to do it all himself, he always asked for advice from all of us. That was nice. I did some of the recordings which eventually appeared on his solo album.

JPM: Are you proud to have taken part to the Village Green Preservation Society masterpiece album before leaving the band for good in april 1969, and what do you think of the commemorative three CD set released in 2004 on the Sanctuary label ? [You surely contributed a lot to this LP: your Bach bassline in the middle of "Wicked Annabella is brilliant !] ?

PQ: Making that album was the high point of my career. It is something of which I am very proud. For me it represents the only real album made by the Kinks! It is probably the only album made by us in which we all contributed something! Good, good album! I felt a little bit guilty about the Bach line at the time. I had visions of an irate Johann visiting me late at night ready to clobber me with music stand! As yet I haven't heard or seen the CD set. I'm waiting for someone to send me a version!

JPM: Would you agree with what Ray Davies once said about your leaving: 'when one of the founders leaves, the band is dead'. ? Were the Kinks a very different band from then on ?

PQ: Now that is a point with which I could play with! On the one hand I could be so full of myself that I would agree that my departure led to the worsening quality of the the recordings. On the other hand I could be humble and say that my departure meant very little to the overall quality of the band. However, I prefer not to speculate on that. I think the answer is in the minds of all of the Kinks fans out there. Let them decide for themselves.

JPM: Just after you quit the Kinks, you played with the canadian band Maple Oak: had you started this band secretly during the months preceeding your departure or did you just join an existing group, and have you done recordings with Maple Oak apart from the single called "Son Of A Gun" if I remember correctly (I have unfortunately misplaced my british copy of it ... and it's pretty rare now) ? I read somewhere that the band has also released a complete album, but maybe without you ?

PQ: As Village Green Preservation Society was my high point so is Maple Oak my low point. No, I did not secretly form the band. It was at the suggestion of Stan Endersby, a Canadian that was playing in London at the time, that we should find some musicians and just gig around for a while. Nothing more. Unfortunately they loved drugs more than they liked music. Consequently it was all a big embarrassment. I did my bit and then got out of it quickly - like a scalded cat! Oh, yes, thats me on A Son of a Gun.

JPM: On several of occasions, you appeared onstage with the Kinks during the seventies, eighties and nineties (Tivoli in Copenhagen september 1974, Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto september 1981, Kingswood Music Theatre in Ontario june 1987, and of course at the R&R Hall of Fame Induction Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria in NY january 1990 etc ...). Are you still in good terms with Mick, Dave and Ray and do you talk with them occasionally ?

PQ: I do not know where you get your information from but I can tell you the only time we got back together was in Toronto,1981. For one number. You are right about the Waldorf Astoria but we didn't really play together - we just jammed with all of the other musicians. Yes, we often get together, in fact we will be together next Wednesday at our local pub in Muswell Hill! Should be fun!

JPM: In an interview at your home in Canada in 1998 you mentioned a reunion of the original line-up supposed to happen at Konk studios in London later that year for the recording of a CD of original material: how come this project never materialized ?

PQ: It was one of Ray's ideas. He wrote me a letter asking me if I would like to take part in the project and I said, tentatively, yes. That was the last I heard of that venture!

JPM: On september 12, 2004 you took part to the seventh annual dutch Kinks fan meeting, and on that occasion you even played bass with the Kast Off Kinks: did you enjoy playing with Mick Avory again, and wasn't it a bit weird to be onstage together with the guy who replaced you, John Dalton ?

PQ: Absolutely not! John is a fine musician and there is absolutely no hard feelings or jealousy between us. He does his job and I try to do mine. As for Mick ... well... Mick is Mick. He doesn't really care about anything really. The fact that I was there on stage with him probably didn't even register!

JPM: August 2004 marked the 40th anniversary of the giant Kinks hit "You Really Got Me" and many fans hoped for a reunion of the original line-up on the occasion, but nothing happened. I know both Ray and Dave had serious health problems and that you are on dialyse, but do you think it could have happened in other circumstances ?

PQ: Quite possibly. But its just a case of 'if and if'. I know that it didn't even cross my mind that it was an anniversary of some kind. I was quite surprised!