Going Up the Country with Kitty, Daisy and Lewis

Kitty Daisy Lewis 3

By Melody Berger for Tom Tom Magazine

London-based Kitty, Daisy & Lewis have been on our radar for some time now. The sisters and brother that make up the band are known for their slick rockabilly look and infectious blend of sweet nostalgia with raw grit. And all three of them play drums: swoon. 

They’ve toured with the likes of Coldplay, Billy Bragg, Razorlight, Richard Hawley and Jools Holland and have acquired celebrity fans as varied as Amy Winehouse and David Lynch to Dustin Hoffman and Ewan McGregor.

Kitty Daisy Lewis 2

Name: Kitty Liv Durham

Age: 20

Hometown: Kentish Town, Camden, London

Lives In: Kentish Town, Camden, London

Past Bands: Kitty, Daisy & Lewis

Current Bands: Kitty, Daisy & Lewis

Drum Set Up (Gear Talk): Early 50’s Broadway Snare with Remo Emperor coated skin, Vintage premier snare stand, 12” or 14” Zyn Hi-hats with olympic stand, 1940’s Calf skin 28” Slingerland Kick Drum (Unless we are touring, then we will just hire a standard kick drum), Zildjian K custom ride cymbal, Recent addition – Floor tom (still looking to buy our own)

Fav Venue: Black Gardenia (soho, London) – Now demolished by bastards.

Fav Food: Curry (Dad’s homemade)

Fav Band: The Glitter band, T-Rex

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Name: Daisy Rowan Durham Walters

Age: 24

Hometown: Kentish Town, Camden, London

Lives In: Kentish Town, Camden, London

Past Bands: Kitty, Daisy & Lewis

Current Bands: Kitty, Daisy & Lewis

Drum Set Up: same as Kitty

Fav Venue: White Trash (Berlin, Germany)

Fav Food:  Caribbean chicken curry with rice

Fav Band: The Glitter band, The Kinks & T-rex

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Name: Ingrid Weiss

Age: 52

Hometown: London

Lives In: Kentish Town, Camden, London

Past Bands: The Raincoats

Current Bands: Kitty, Daisy & Lewis

Drum Set Up: 60’s pearl snare, Bruce Smith’s Premiere kit (member of Pop Group & Slits)

Fav Venue: The Roundhouse, London (in the 70’s)

Fav Food: Spinach

Fav Band: The Slits (live)

Kitty Daisy Lewis 1

Tom Tom Magazine: You mention in all your press releases that you come from a tradition of people sitting around the parlor jamming with their family. How did you get into old time American music, given that you live in London? 

Kitty Durham: Well, it was always a big mix of stuff. A lot of it was American music and it was kind of passed down in a traditional way. My dad came from a big family and they used to all sing and play guitar together.

Ingrid Weiss: They used to do a lot of the old sentimental ballads which would have been quite popular in America and where they were in India, popular tunes of the 20s, 30s, and some country-western.

Daisy Durham: A lot of that music is really simple three chord stuff. So you can just grab an instrument and bash away at it. You don’t really have to know how to properly play music.

TT: Which kind of connects it to punk rock, wouldn’t you say? Interesting given your background, Ingrid.

I: Exactly. That’s the thing when you all play together as a family, you’re just joining in. It’s not about rehearsing or getting something perfect. When everyone’s playing together you can make mistakes and you just carry on and that’s how people learn.

D: It’s more about the feeling than anything else.

TT: I know you have some issues with the word rockabilly since everyone assumes that’s the style you play because of your vintage look.

K: All of our press shots are quite old now, but I don’t think we look as rockabilly anymore. It was just a phase we were going through. People are quite quick to pick up on the old American style music as well but we play so many other styles like ska and 60’s stuff and our next album will be even more different.

I: It’s easy for people to put you in a pigeonhole. If you’ve got a quiff you must be rockabilly. But that’s never been the case. It’s just one of many influences. We’ve always been into vintage clothes but we’re not trying to live the 50’s lifestyle or be retro 50’s or recreationists. I think the girls stopped having the quiffs because they got fed up with people thinking that.

D: And I got tired of having a boat looking thing on my head.

TT: Tell us about the kit you girls share. 

K: My dad got it in a jumble sale years ago, it’s an early 50’s kit. It was a gift for my sixth birthday because I asked for a drum kit. It was either that or some boxing gloves, which I got later that year, which I was quite pleased about.

TT: What drew you to playing drums?

D: I always remember loving rhythm as a kid. Whether it was banging on pots and pans or tinkering on bottles or playing my mum’s bongitas whilst having a family jam session or listening to records. I never felt like I was just making noise, but like I was driving the music forward in some way and giving it a certain bounce. I probably did just sound like an annoying kid bashing stuff, but I felt it myself and enjoyed it.

I: What does it feel like when you’re playing?

D: It feels great. Like I’m a leader of a rowing boat or something. Keeping everything together, but also pushing it forward. Sometimes I get into a trance when I’m playing on stage and my mind can completely wander off somewhere else and sometimes I even start half drifting off asleep. When I snap out of it I realize that I’m still playing a solid beat with energy. Strange feeling. Sometimes I will feel dizzy when I switch from one beat to another. I think it’s because I move my whole body when I’m playing, so my body gets used to moving one way and then when it changes I get really dizzy. I guess it’s like trying to walk straight after spinning.

I: How do you decide between you who’s going to play the drums on which song? 

K: All three of us have different styles. It depends on the song. For example, Lewis is better at doing ska drumming. Me and Lewis both do sort of jazzy drums, but I kind of vary between jazz, blues, and rock drumming. Daisy sort of plays more like one beat on the snare, so depending on the song it just varies.

K: Daisy, is there anyone who inspired your style of drumming?

D: I’ve always loved the drums in “Shotgun Boogie” by Tennessee Ernie Ford. I think listening to it naturally influenced my drumming style in some way. It’s quite simple, but bouncy and thwacky, which I think is how I would describe my style.

 I: Do you have any other favorite drummers?

D: We once watched Adam Ant at a festival we were playing. He had two drummers. A male and girl whose name is Yola I think. She was amazing. She played completely different to me, but I could relate to the way she really moved and bounced around. She made the male drummer look silly and lifeless. I also love the drumming in The Glitter band.

I: You’ve been noted to have a peculiar side saddle style of sitting when you play. Can you explain this? 

D: I used to wear quite tight pencil dresses on stage, so I couldn’t put my legs apart, so I just sat to the side. Actually I may have sat side saddle even when I wore jeans. Can’t remember. Anyway it didn’t matter because I didn’t play kick drum. Now I wear mainly playsuits, so I switch it up a bit. I still feel more comfortable playing side saddle for some reason.

TT: I’m sure everyone asks you about what it’s like to play in a family band. I’d love to hear one of your best sibling rivalry stories, or tales of family strife.

K: I think every gig can be a struggle, especially sound checks. They’re always a nightmare. But when you get to playing the actual show you kind of forget about everything. If everything’s going well, if it sounds good and you’re enjoying yourself then none of that matters. And we’ll argue but then we’ll forget about it like five minutes later, so I think the good things outweigh the bad.

D: After the gig as well we all moan about everything.

I: There’s always an inquest.

D: There’s always someone shouting at someone telling them they f***ed up.

TT: Oh, man, are you all still living together too?

I: For the moment, but not for long.

K: We just bought a new house up the road for the three of us to live — me, Daisy and Lewis.

I: We say new house, it’s a very old house.

D: We’ll be moving our studio there as well.

TT: Daisy, I noticed you have a penchant for just sticking to brushes on a snare- a very classic country kind of move.

D: Our broadway snare already has an amazing deep sound, but when it’s hit hard in the right spot with a brush it sounds amazing. Almost gives you shivers. I do love playing the rest of the drum kit depending on what song it is, but the main pleasure I get from playing the drums is hitting the f*** out of the snare.

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