Fresh-faced siblings Kitty, Daisy & Lewis may be a family act, but though they’ve climbed to the mountaintop, they’re far from the Waltons.
Known for their rockabilly aesthetic, raucous live shows, and reluctance to record digitally, the London family have spent 14 years polishing the rough edges off their pre-teen pub act, grabbing the attention of Chris Martin, Dustin Hoffman and David Lynch along the way. Having beefed up singer/multi-instrumentalist Daisy Durham (photo, above left) and clan’s dirty, blues-infused Americana sound, in 2014 they set up their makeshift analogue studio in an empty Camden restaurant and enlisted The Clash’s Mick Jones to produce new release Kitty, Daisy & Lewis The Third (Sunday Best/PIAS). See them in triplicate at C-Halle on Tue, Feb 24.
What’s with the aversion to digital recording?
It’s not really an aversion. We just really like the sound that we get out of using analogue equipment, stuff with valves in it and real tape. My dad has a mastering studio and has always been into old equipment. He got my brother interested in it, so we started collecting stuff and recorded the first album with it.
Is the equipment reliable?
It breaks down all the time! Luckily, Lewis has become a bit of a geek with it and knows how to fix everything. He knows all the old guys at the shows, too. It’s a small circle of people that are still interested in the old equipment, so they all get to know each other and do swaps. We got the tape we used for the last album from America – one of them comes from Atlantic Studios, and we had one in the shed that “Hound Dog” was recorded on.
You started the band before any of you had hit puberty.
I was 12, Lewis was 10 and Kitty was seven. We’ve been playing at home since before we can remember. Not in any sort of serious way, but my dad just used to get a guitar out and start singing easy songs – a bit of Elvis, Johnny Cash, sing-a-longs – and we’d all join in. Someone would go and play the piano; whether they could play it or not was a different matter. It was just about everyone enjoying the moment. It wasn’t like we suddenly were a band. We just got up one day and did an impromptu thing in a pub, and from then on people were like, “Come and play in my pub.” It was all very slow, so we still had time for school. It was only Kitty, the youngest, who would suffer and fall asleep in class when we started doing proper gigs and staying out late. It was actually just after she left school that we went straight on tour around North America with Coldplay.
That’s a leap.
They’re fans of ours, and we heard that Chris Martin even mentioned us in one of his interviews. It was quite easy, in a way, because we had a proper tour bus. We were living the dream instantly, but then we had to go back to the white van afterwards.
How does having your parents in the band affect the normal parent- child dynamic?
No one directs each other. Although our parents aren’t in the band name, they’re s till just as much a part of it–my mum is as equal as I am. We don’t have to be on our best behaviour around them at all. Actually, they’re sometimes worse than us. We joke a lot about rude things around them. I guess if it wasn’t for the band we wouldn’t be like that, but after being around the crew and going to bars we’ve been able to open up to each other and we’re comfortable messing around with them.
How do you avoid family spats when writing?
There’s no civilised way of doing it. Like, when you’re family you have your silly squabbles, some more serious than others, but usually 10 minutes later the whole thing is forgotten about and you’re back to joking around about poo again! People walk out of rehearsals all the time, but we’re used to it now. It’s never anything serious; no one’s left the band yet. Well actually, people have left the band a few times, but they’re back five minutes later.
Still, touring with your parents…
We’ve got a lot of crazy stories from the road but it’s hard to remember them all. They’re always in drunken states. We got kicked out of the Dorchester Hotel a few years ago. We’d already done the gig and had our van outside. There was a little bit of paper that said that you couldn’t load out of there at a certain time, but we had to get our gear out. This big argument started, then one of the bouncers kicked one of our instruments. That’s when it erupted, there was a lot of shouting and swearing, and we eventually got kicked out and banned.
And the audiences?
They’re always quite wild, but not in a really rowdy way. But at one festival a guy in one of those weird neon Spandex things – a mankini – managed to get up on stage and start dancing. One of the bouncers went to drag him off, and then his balls got smashed on the gate. It looked really painful.
What are the stories behind the new album?
Boyfriends, girlfriends, God knows what. I think because our writing has progressed since we were younger, we’re able to write songs that are a bit more real. One song in particular that Lewis wrote, “Developer’s Disease”, is about all the shit that’s going on around London, all the buildings that are being demolished out of greed. They try and make it look like it’s for a good cause, but they’re taking down all the nice build- ings, the history, the things that make people want to go to London. Eventually everything is going to look the same.
That’s a hot topic in Berlin, as well.
I know. Berlin is actually our favorite place to play. I remember I caught my hair on fire there once.
Germany leads to drunkenness.
On our last promo tour visit, we were in Hamburg and we had a pretty full-on night drinking. Kitty and I were sharing a hotel room, so she knows that I went to bed at the same time as her, and next thing I know I woke up naked, with only my knickers on, at the end of the hotel corridor, standing up just staring at the emergency exit. I had no idea how I’d got there and I’d never really sleepwalked before, so I was like, “Oh my god, what happened?” I panicked and went to knock on the door because obviously I didn’t have my key on me, but I knocked on the wrong door and these two big meathead English guys answered it. They gave me a coat and phoned the reception to get another key. Actually, they were the only two people in reception when we went to leave the next day. God, it was horrifying.
KITTY, DAISY & LEWIS Tue, Feb 24, 20:00 | C-Halle, Columbiadamm 13- 21, Kreuzberg, U-Bhf Platz der Luftbrücke