The retro-modern rockabilly rebels on their new album, ‘funny chords’ and the joy of family sing-songs
“Piano, drums, xylophone, clavinet. Then there’s guitar, harmonica, banjo, the ukulele. Tambourine, Hammond organ – oh, and singing.” Musical sibling trio Kitty, Daisy and Lewis Durham (21, 26 and 24 respectively) are counting the instruments they play on their fingers.
“We never really had music lessons,” says Daisy. “We just always had instruments around the house and our dad would play and sing to us. We’d all join in and have sing-songs and jam sessions together.”
The trio grew up in a musical household: their father is a studio engineer and their mother played drums in 70s post-punk band the Raincoats. “But,” says Daisy, “we had no idea of the impact that that band had at the time until we started doing interviews and people would be like, wow, your mum was in the Raincoats.”The family sing-song tradition continues: their parents record with them and join them on stage for gigs.
The band have been going for a decade, starting when the three were still at school. “Teachers used to come to gigs and get pissed,” Lewis says, “and the next day at school they’d let you off the hook, let you have a little kip in the corner. I used to go to sleep in the music cupboard, next to all the banged-up cellos.”
Their first two albums were recorded in a spare room in their mother’s house, but their third (called simply The Third) presents a big step up in terms of production. The trio spent the past three years converting a derelict Indian restaurant in Camden (“one room was completely covered in pigeon shit”) into a fully functioning recording studio and the record was produced by the Clash’s Mick Jones.
So far, the band have avoided digital technology such as auto-tuning or synthesisers. “Major record companies don’t feel safe putting out a pop record that hasn’t got that,” says Lewis, “so everything ends up kind of the same: vocals, a machine-generated beat and some kind of hook.”
Despite their vaguely retro sound and look – over-the-knee leather boots, gold glitter, silk cravats – the trio stress that they’re not “stuck in the past”. They’ll listen to Stevie Wonder and T Rex, but also Beyoncé and Adele. “I think that, even though we record in an old-fashioned way, what we’re doing is a current thing,” says Kitty.
There’s a bit of rockabilly in there, but also funk, boogie-woogie, disco, jazz, blues. “People always reference the 50s,” says Daisy, “but there’s no nostalgia there. If we’d been living in the past, we wouldn’t have heard a lot of the music that we like.” Would they ever consider going electronic? “Why not?” says Lewis. “We’re not closed to anything – we just feel if something works for the song then use it. We don’t think, ‘We can’t do that’.”
Many of the songs are about current or past relationships. I ask Lewis’s girlfriend, Laura, tapping away at her laptop nearby, whether she minds. “It doesn’t bother me, because the song about me [Good Looking Woman] is good,” she beams. How about exes? “I think it’s sort of tough shit, really,” says Lewis.
“It’s a lot easier to write when you’re upset or pissed off about something,” adds Daisy.
What’s the best thing about being in a band with your siblings? Daisy responds. “We all have a similar sense of humour. We laugh at strange things that other people won’t get [Lewis starts to laugh] or someone will play a funny note and everyone will just start pissing themselves laughing. There are certain chords that we find funny.” They all crack up.
The Third is out on 26 January; they begin their world tour on 15 February in Leeds. (Bron: The Guardian)
rock-'n-roll / rockabilly
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