“We've always worn old shit because my mom used to have loads of stuff in the attic,” says Lewis Durham, one-third of the irresistible retro-rocking trio of London-based siblings Kitty, Daisy & Lewis.
“Loads of my shirts were just stuff she bought in the Seventies, and they were second-hand then.”
No doubt about it, Kitty, Daisy & Lewis take a New York stage looking as sharp as one of Lewis' Carl Perkins–style riffs, a perfect visual match for the exuberant funk that invigorates their rockabilly twang. With his flop of black hair stacked into a fine pompadour, Lewis wears a dark suit, well-knotted tie and a ’58 Gretsch on his shoulder.
Kitty, on guitar and harmonica (to name just two), and drummer/keyboardist Daisy (all three sing) wear body-hugging jumpsuits so shiny you just might catch reflections of Patti Labelle and Nona Hendryx.
Blending old-timey hot licks and country blues with rocking, post-Winehouse British R&B, Kitty, Daisy & Lewis have drawn attention well beyond their Camden Town circles.
The Third (Sunday Best Recordings), the trio's latest self-penned, confidently eclectic album, was produced by Mick Jones, an old, if passing, acquaintance of the Durhams’ dad, Graeme Durham, a veteran Bombay-born London session guitarist and mastering engineer. (The mother with the cool closet? Ingrid Weiss, drummer for the British post-punk band the Raincoats.)
“My mom had Clash records,” says Lewis, “so yeah, we knew who he was. When I saw him at the Notting Hill Carnival in London I asked him, 'Do you want to come by and produce some songs?' He just sort of said yeah. He ended up producing the whole thing.”
With Jones a frequent presence at the Durhams' DIY London recording studio—a once-dilapidated Indian restaurant now stocked with vintage analog gear—Kitty, Daisy & Lewis sharpened a contemporary edge on The Third, with standout cuts like Daisy's riot grrrl single “Whenever You See Me,” Kitty's Innervisions (Stevie Wonder) homage “Feeling of Wonder” and “Baby Bye Bye,” Lewis’ ska piano romp.
“Yeah, it was pretty weird having Mick come round,” says Kitty, “but after a while he just seemed like part of the family. We'd want to boost the guitar in the mix, and he'd say no, no take it down. We went with it up.”
• Guitars: 1958 Gretsch Country Club, 1960s Harmony H-75, Danelctro (recent vintage), Harmony acoustic
• Amps: Fender Twin Reverb, Fender Hotrod Deville, Ampex SVT Classic, Sixties Ampeg Jet, Fender Music Master Bass
• Effects: EMT plate reverb, Ampex 350 Slapback (both for recording only)