Richard Davies of Moles, Cardinal and Cosmos unveils his past misdemeanours…
1 What was the first record you bought and where from? And can you remember the price?
“I didn’t buy the first records I listened to. I inherited a few records from my sister Anne. A single of ‘Tell Him’ by The Exciters, a Beatles single from 1964, ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ I think, Simon and Garfunkel’s greatest hits, Bee Gees’ greatest hits, Sam ‘n’ Dave’s ‘Soul Men’ album, Jose Feliciano, John Denver, and a couple of fabricated sound-alike compilations. The price was a lifetime of love. The first record I bought was a cassette of Queen’s ‘A Night At The Opera’.
2 What was the record that changed your life and how did it do so?
- “The Beatles box set when I was about 13. I knew it would confirm some things I already liked about music and my cultural heritage. My parents were from North Wales, Wrexham, Holt area, not far from Liverpool and Manchester, and my brother and sisters were born there. The general sensibilities were similar and it was interesting how those sensibilities translated into music.”
- “‘VU’, The Velvet Underground. The quiet, the beauty, the symmetry of a simple raw ensemble, the beautiful melodies, the intelligent and soulful lyrics, and protean rhythm guitar. The beauty and strength of pity and the celebration of dirt.”
3 What’s your driving playlist and who, if you had the chance would be riding shotgun?
“Very ephemeral, whatever happens to be in the car. I’m not a digital listener (yet) but I like listening to whatever my friends put on. I went to Portland, Maine with a couple of friends, JC Bouvier and John Caples, recently and we listened to Archie Shepp ‘Money Blues’, and ‘Coney Island Baby’ Lou Reed from John’s tracks. If I was alone and had a choice I would have listened to Muddy Waters, classical music on the radio, and NPR (the American equivalent of BBC news).”
4 What’s your favourite Elvis song?
“’Mystery Train’, ‘Blue Moon Of Kentucky’.”
5 Who’s your favourite Beatle and why?
“The Beatles were a thing, so it’s hard to separate them out. I’ve gone through phases but probably John on balance.”
6 If you were commissioned to write the theme song for any TV programme what would you choose and how would you tackle it?
“Test Match Special, although it’s a radio show. I’d pick up an instrument and match it to the assignment, thinking about how the first instrument would fit with the others as I go.“
7 Which song have you always wanted to cover but never quite managed yet?
“A song by an Australian ‘mainstream’ band called Australian Crawl from the late ‘70s, ‘Reckless’. It was a big hit there. It has some powerful emotional imagery about Australia and Sydney. It’s not the style I usually go for, but I always like sentimentalism if it’s done well.”
8 What, after a social evening, is the one album that you insist your fellow socialites should hear before they leave?
“I kind of outgrew that impulse as I got older. I was so intent on foisting my opinions on my friends when I was younger that I have satisfied that impulse. When I was 17 I insisted my friends listen to the Moody Blues’ ‘Days Of Future Past’ in the car on the way back from a short holiday. It was a stressful interlude for all.”
9 Which film do you wish you’d had a cameo in?
10 In the biopic of your illustrious career who plays you in the movie?
11 If you were on a night out with Ozzy Osbourne where would you suggest you went?
12 If you were asked to cover a Simon And Garfunkel song in the style of Frank Zappa who would you rope into the band to get it nailed?
13 Pete Townshend had pictures of Lily, what did you have on your teenage bedroom wall?
“A poster of the Australian Test Cricket team 1974-75.”
14 Did you ever join a fanclub? If so, tell us about it?
“That’s something I never did.”
15 What’s your most treasured piece of memorabilia?
“I did a photo shoot in about 1997 with a New York Times photographer who was an eccentric. He had just done a photo shoot of the first ever cloned sheep. He told me nonstop stories about brothels and opium dens he’d seen. He made me trek through the forest of Woodstock with a guitar case. He sent me a print of a picture he’d taken of Neil Young working on rehearsals for an Unplugged special as a reward. I don’t have a single most treasured object like that but that is one I remember had a reason behind it. “
16 What’s the best gig you’ve ever been to?
“I think the first show is hard to beat because you are young and impressionable and everything is so vivid. That was The Police in 1980 at the Hordern Pavilion in Sydney. However, I really enjoyed shows by The Go Betweens, Ed Kuepper, and The Chills in the late 1980’s.”
17 Which gig did you wish you’d seen?
“A good Velvet Underground show with John Cale and Mo Tucker in the lineup, either the original band or when the original lineup reformed.”
18 John Lydon – hero or villain?
“A very clever boy. It’s only recently I learned how clever and calculating he was when I saw the Julien Temple film The Filth And The Fury. The idea of using the character of Laurence Olivier as Richard III as a template for a pop personality was interesting. To be anti-everything as a strategy has inevitable limitations after a while, but was supremely effective at the time.”