Photo: Paul Natkin (Getty Images)
I literally stumbled across Lewis Del Mar when I was in Austin back in October 2016 to cover Austin City Limits. Whether I was running off to see a band, conduct an interview or maybe just grab some Micklethwait Barbecue I cannot recall, but what I do remember is the dreamy, sun-bleached sound coming from whatever stage they were playing on.
When I discovered that the Queens-duo of Danny Miller and Max Harwood were coming back to Austin for SXSW 2017, I made it a point to track them down. And, so I did, at a Four Seasons in downtown Austin before catching their showcase later in the evening at the Pandora party at the Gatsby.
Crave: You’re back in Austin after playing Austin City Limits (in October 2016). Everyone talks about the difference between ACL and SXSW, what’s your experience been like?
Danny: The two are very different by nature. ACL is a festival in the same category as the summer music festivals that cultivate a line-up. SXSW feels more like a gathering.
Max: When we played ACL it was the biggest stage we ever played on. Here it’s cool to see a band at the corner end of a bar on a makeshift stage, but there are so many bands playing, there’s lots of moving parts and a variety of technical problems that you have to take the shows with a grain of salt.
So do you change your setlist or maybe step up your interaction with the smaller crowds?
The audience is always going to be different, but when you have a crowd engaged with your performance it’s inherently going to shape the nature of it. It is a performance, which is give and take so you have to put your best foot forward.
Part of what I think makes Lewis Del Mar standout is your unique sound that’s both complex and comforting —
Max: I like that!
(Laughs) What’s the most interesting or funny description you’ve heard about your music?
Max: The funniest one was the New York Times article that said it was Paul Simon meets Nine Inch Nails.
Danny: It means a lot of different things to a lot of different people.
Okay, so what does it mean to you?
Danny: For us its indicative of the musical world that we cultivate between the two of us and our only goal from day one was to make the music that only we could make together.
You’ve known each other since you were nine, right?
Max: I was born in the states, but had live abroad in the Ukraine for two years before coming back and I remember feeling like a weird outsider and then Danny moved in from DC around the same time and was the new kid so I think there was the same level of sympathy.
Danny: We bonded as the kids who got in trouble all the time. All the good and bad experiences I’ve had are with Max.
Speaking of, it’s been quite a crazy year-and-a-half for Lewis Del Mar. What’s been the highlight?
Danny: We played Outside Lands on the same stage as Radiohead. We brought out our parents who have always supported us from when we were playing in Max’s parents basement to when we were just broke musicians all of our lives. It was so exciting to see their reactions to seeing us on that stage playing for that many people.
Max: It might sound cliche, but when you have so much family around it transcends the music and the music business that comes with it, which is always about growing your fanbase or ‘does the A&R from our label think our music video is cool enough?’ It’s those (Outside Lands) moments that cut through the bullshit to when you’re just making music for the people that you love and love you.
You guys are obviously much more than bandmates, but best friends. What does each of you bring to Lewis Del Mar both as musicians and people?
Danny: Max handles the bulk of the production work. Plays drums. Crafts the world around the songs I write. He’s able to see the song that I wrote in a way I would never see it as the writer. And that’s the kind of person he is. He has a really solid center. I can grow sort of eccentric and erratic sometimes and Max is the sounding board who reminds me of the core principles of why we’re doing this.
Max, you’re blushing.
(Laughs all around).
Max: It’s just funny to hear when he’s sitting right next to me.
That’s why I get paid the big bucks to ask those types of questions.
Max: Well, Danny obviously plays guitar, does vocals and is the main songwriter. He brings a lot of focus to the group that allows us to work through moments to get to where we need to go. He has a wealth of knowledge of music and culture. I find myself saying something from a conversation we’ve in the past that Danny might have said two months ago —
Danny: And vice versa.
Max: I guess you could say Danny is the mouth and I’m the hair.
Lewis Del Mar will go on a headline tour this Spring and Summer. For more information go HERE.