Mum, tell us about that time you were in the Raincoats?

Interview by Kitty and Daisey Durham for Tom Tom Magazine

When we invited Kitty and Daisy to take part in our country music issue we learned that they have quite an illustrious lady drummer pedigree. Their mom, Ingrid Weiss, who currently plays bass in the band, (and Dad is on rhythm guitar!) used to drum with the all girl punk rock band The Raincoats, a Kurt Cobain favorite. What follows is an interview Kitty and Daisy conducted with their mom about her time in The Raincoats.

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)

Daisy: How did you come to be in The Raincoats?

Ingrid: They were one of my favorite bands at that time (1979) and I knew that their drummer, Palmolive, had just left. When I bumped into Gina (bass player) in Ladbroke Grove, West London and told her that I was a drummer she asked me to come along and audition and that was it.

Kitty: When did you first start playing drums?

I had some friends in the boy’s school next to mine that were into punk as well. My best friend and I used to hang out with them and they had a band. After their rehearsals I would mess around on their drum kit.

D: What was it you liked about Palmolive?

Seeing The Slits for the first time was a true revelation for my friend and I. We had thought we were the only ones looking and behaving as we did and then we found these others who we could both identify with and aspire to. Palmolive had amazing onstage attack and energy.

K: So how long had you been playing drums before joining the Raincoats?

I suppose since ’77. I didn’t have a kit to begin with and just used a pile of old New Music Expresses and a biscuit tin. After seeing the Slits play for the first time in 1977 and being inspired by Palmolive I worked in a canteen for the summer holiday to pay for my first kit. A Pearl like hers! I practiced in my bedroom but the neighbors couldn’t complain because their son was in a reggae band and played in his bedroom too!

D: Didn’t you have to work folding men’s underwear?

No, that was a Saturday job in BHS (British Home Stores). To pay for records.

K: Did your parents approve of you playing drums?

No, my mum wasn’t happy at all about the music or the scene I was into, though my dad always maintained his principles about letting creativity take its course and supported me. I think he was actually quite proud that I’d got the gumption to take up what was then seen as a strictly male instrument and used to give me Gene Krupa 78s to listen to. I think my mum was reconciled to it after they came with friends to see the Alexander Palace Anti-Racism gig and realized that it wasn’t just childish posturing. She brags about it now.

D: How long were you in The Raincoats?

Only a year, but a very packed one. We wrote Odyshape, toured Europe and spent time in NY but the best fun was the Rough Trade tours where we shared the gigs with The Slits, The Pop Group, Gang of Four, etc.

D: Why did you leave?

I never really fitted into the Raincoats — or the raincoat never really fitted me properly! I was always on the outside of the clique. I was younger than them and quite naive in some ways which was probably annoying for them but I think I was also taken advantage of in some ways. It came to an end during the recording of Odyshape when they decided to change horses midstream and go for a sparser percussive sound with studio manipulation.

K: Is it true that you wrote some of the songs on Odyshape and weren’t credited properly for it?

I was credited for some of it, but we wrote a lot of the songs kind of together. Then when I left the band, although the credit was always shared, I was then cut out.

D: Did you carry on playing the drums after The Raincoats?

No, I helped out with other things. Bits of percussion or violin with friends in bands like the Television Personalities, but no, didn’t play the drums again.

D: What do you think makes you different from other drummers?

The obvious one was that I was female. Most music then was still the normal 4/4 beat. I tended to work in and around the music, rather than just carry the beat. The drums were another kind of instrument, and that suited the Raincoats style. I first heard the word “polyrythmic” applied to my drumming when I was staying with Ornette Coleman’s manager in NY. I was chuffed when Robert Wyatt praised my drumming — but that might just have been because he’s a nice guy!

K: Will you ever drum again?

No — you always take the piss!

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