Drummer Davey Latter Celebrates Nearly Four Decades in the Music Industry
Did you catch him at BeachLife?
- Written & Photographed byKat Monk
Rocking a leather jacket, Davey Latter cruises down the street riding his vintage motorcycle toward his music studio. It’s hidden between multilevel, contemporary office buildings in the industrial section of El Segundo. With his infectious laugh, he quickly points out that he has had this studio space for the last 18 years and is beyond proud of its history with so many local musicians.
Davey used to sit at the bar at North End, formerly known as Critters, and occasionally order a double whiskey. Now sober, Davey is married to a beautiful young British woman and is raising three rescue dogs in North Manhattan Beach.
That does not mean Davey is leading a boring life. His band, Lost Beach, recently played at BeachLife Festival in Redondo Beach, and his smile behind his drum kit was infectious.
Davey has recorded 16 studio albums and has been in roughly 175 bands including the Devics, the Ethers, Slydell, Fireball Ministry, Twilight Sleep, Samiam and Too Rude. He has signed numerous record deals and traveled the world back and forth countless times over.
“I love playing the drums, and I do that with Lost Beach. It’s satisfying, even if sometimes there are only 23 people.”
The youngest of five siblings, Davey was an independent self-starter. He became a talented competitive surfer at Redondo Union High School and surfed for Dewey Weber while competing on the National Scholastic Surfing Association contest circuit. Davey graduated from Redondo in 1982.
Back in the ’80s and ’90s, every cool local teenager wanted to work at the Chart House, but only a few got the opportunity. Davey made the cut and waited tables there for approximately a decade.
At 20 he decided to help a friend in a pinch and bought the guy’s drum kit for $150. Little did Davey know that this drum kit would change his life’s trajectory. “I always wanted to play drums, and it came really natural,” he shares.
As many musicians do, Davey started out with a cover band playing local house parties. They played a lot of songs by The Clash and The Cramps. He joined another cover band called Dr. Bombay with the lead singer of Pennywise, Jim Lindberg.
In 1989 Davey answered an ad at Guitar Center for a band looking for a drummer with musical influences such as The Smiths, Dead Kennedys and Echo & the Bunnymen. He answered the ad, and Stanford Prison Experiment (SPE) was born.
SPE soon got a record deal with World Domination, a label created by Dave Allen of the band Gang of Four. On their first tour as a newly signed band, they opened for Rage Against the Machine. At that moment Davey’s career really got started. SPE toured for the next decade consistently before dissolving in 2001.
The last band he toured with, Everest, signed to Neil Young’s record label, Vapor Records. Everest opened for Neil Young during his 2009 North American tour. “My last gig, I’ll never forget, was two nights at Madison Square Garden opening for Neil, getting up on stage with him, singing songs, then taking a bow with him.” A pinnacle moment for this veteran musician.
Finding it difficult to make a living as a touring drummer, he started to roadie for other bands including Silversun Pickups, Beck, The Pretenders, The Last Shadow Puppets, Queens of the Stone Age and Iggy Pop. Currently he has been with Arctic Monkeys for more than a decade.
“I’m a drum and bass tech for Arctic Monkeys and also play percussion on stage. Alex (Turner) needed my rhythm abilities!” says Davey lightheartedly. “It’s a rush being up in front of that many people. Arctic Monkeys is extremely popular. Recently in Mexico City it was our headlining show, and there were 70,000 people in the stadium going nuts!”
But when asked if he prefers being in front of thousands of people with stadium bands or playing in a band himself, he says, “I love playing the drums, and I do that with Lost Beach. It’s satisfying, even if sometimes there are only 23 people.”
Echo Park, home to many Los Angeles musicians, was his home occasionally for a few stints. But Davey just couldn’t stay too far away from the saltwater that the South Bay has to offer. When he is not playing music, you can find him in the lineup surfing somewhere in the South Bay—most likely with a huge, irresistible smile on his face.
Good reads for your young adults.
Mr. Sexton took me to dinner at Joe’s on Abbott Kinney for my birthday some years ago, back when we were first dating. At that time, I was still in what my friend Adam memorably called my “faux-heiress stage” (when one pretends one has a trust fund when one, uh, decidedly does not).