By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Ayers cared not for such distinctions. He repeatedly chucked it all to split for the Continent to loaf in the sun and ponder his place in music. The problem was, he never had any sort of niche. "They never had a clue how to market me," he says, laughing. "I was just always an oddball. They found me interesting, like some eccentric oddity, but they just didn't know how to sell it. My stuff was so diverse - there was nothing really to grasp hold of and say, well look, it's this, that or the other. So I was a difficult number to shift."
Kevin Ayers comes from a time when the song was important, but not so important that it couldn't be played with - no need to be so rigid about things, you know. Sleep and dreams are a continuing theme in his work, something he got from an early fascination with the Russian mystic G.I. Gurdjieff.
"I think that's where the fantasy is," he says. "That's the area you don't really have any control over - the dreams. And sleep to me means just going through life being a robot, basically. That's what Gurdjieff meant about us being automated rather than having conscious choice, even though you think you do - that's what he called sleep. But dreams are a very rich area. You don't have to sleep to dream, you know. You can have a daytime dream, you can have a constant dream, if you like."
That fairly describes Ayers' relationship with life and music and "the music business" and all the rest. While he's continued to gig successfully with bands and as a solo act throughout Europe and the U.K., he's recently bought a house in the south of France, and he'll soon be heading off down there to do whatever he feels like doing; daydreaming, for example.
"I just feel at home there," he says. "I don't feel at home in Northern Europe. There's more of a Western uptightness, and I just don't feel at ease. Once I get down to the Mediterranean, I start relaxing."
And will he be forming a band, or . . .
"No, I think I've just about had it with this business, actually. I don't really enjoy it anymore, and I'm not writing any new songs at the moment. There's just repeating old stuff, which I don't find particularly satisfying. I was never really cut out for show business. I don't like it at all. I never have done."
Kevin, what would it take to turn things around, to be "Kevin Ayers" again?
"Love is the only thing that inspires anybody to create anything."
So, in theory, if he fell in love, he'd feel like writing songs again.
"Yes, I would, I'm sure I would. Once you know how to write a song, it's pretty easy. All you need is the input - you have to have input before you have output, and I haven't had any input for years now." He laughs. "There's no point in trying to manufacture songs that don't communicate anything other than the fact that they're manufactured. Some people do that and get away with it and make money, but that's not something I can do."
Does he have any plans?
"I never make plans. I don't think I've had a plan in my entire life." He laughs. "Except how to get to the airport."
Kevin Ayers performs at the Gig, Friday, May 29, with a band made up of L.A. musicians Ken Rosser, Vinny Golia, Richard Derrick, Brad Dutz, Chris Wabich, Paul Roessler; and singers John Talley-Jones, Kevin Keller, Michelle Biernat and Lauran Gangl.