After laboring away in various bands ever since they first met in the fourth grade, Danny Miller and Max Harwood decided to move from their hometown of Washington, DC to launch their own, unique project. Lewis Del Mar was born, and early single ‘Loud(y)’ blew up the minute it was uploaded online, hitting no1 in the Hypemachine charts, receiving a Beats1 play and hundreds of thousands of streams completely organically. The pair even performed it on the Late Late Show with James Corden. Fusing samples and beats from a multitude of influences, they’ve been compared to the likes of Foals and Alt-J. With an album in the works, and a hectic weekend of Reading and Leeds debuts ahead of them, we caught up with the pair to talk NYC, studio audiences, and naked Burning Man parties.
How does your specific area of New York influence your sound?
We actually grew up in DC, but where we live right now in Rockaway is extremely influential in what we are doing. The area is actually on the beach, so it’s the edge of New York City and in the borough of Queens. It’s in this area where the beach sort of meets the city and where the city sort of ends and sways outwards. To us it’s a total personification of what we were trying to do with an industrial landscape meeting natural one. And in that sense it is the complete embodiment of our sound.
How has the reception to your sound been around the world then?
It’s still early days, so we don’t completely know. But so far in the UK at least, we have played to some of our best audiences and we have played some of our best shows during our last tour in London. We have definitely had an amazing response here in England, and we are also getting an amazing following in South America which is really cool – we actually draw some of our influences from there. But to be honest, I think that some people are still trying to wrap their heads around what we are doing. It would be really cool if we continue to put out more content and see where we land.
So how did you initially meet and then decide to form a band together?
Well, Max and I met when we were in the fourth grade actually. We were in a bunch of different groups together, but then we moved to New York together and started this project. So it was sort of the next incarnation of our creative process. So with Lewis Del Mar in particular, what we were really striving to do was compose music that was completely unique to the two of us and something that only the two of us can make. [like an extension of our childhood friendship].
So from childhood friends, to performing on The Late Late Show with James Corden – can you tell us a bit about your experience of performing on the show?
Yeah, overall it was an amazing experience, it was like our first time playing on national television so it is quite hard to prepare yourself for that. You do a bunch of shows but it’s really not the same thing as doing a live television performance. James Corden was such a nice guy, really friendly and we spoke to him at length about our music and music in general, so it was a really pleasurable experience overall.
That’s so good! How was the studio audience, did they get involved and dance along?
They did, but it was really strange. They had cues, and they didn’t really tell us what to expect so we started playing and like maybe 30 seconds into the song, they started cheering. That’s pretty strange because when you go and see a show that never happens. Everyone applauses at the end of the song. So we were standing up in the middle and clapping, and obviously you know it is a studio full of people who are there for the show and the general guests on the show, so most of them had never heard our music before. There are lots of stops and starts in the song, so there was a time when everyone was on their feet clapping and we’ve pulled a really quick stop, and you can hear the audience trying to catch up.
What’s the biggest gig that you have ever played, in your opinion?
It was during our first tour ever in May or June, we began in Europe and played some really fun shows here and then flew from Paris to Houston in Texas. I felt a bit out of sorts from the travelling, we’d been in completely different places and I got really sick. We went there to play a set at a festival none of us had ever heard of before, and we really didn’t know what to expect. Then we got on stage at 2pm, and there were 8 to 10 thousand people there. So that is probably the biggest crowd with played for, by far, but it was also great in conjunction with the fact that it was during a completely unexpected time and it was such an amazing day. It was really wonderful. It was raining but all of a sudden it stopped and there was this huge rainbow. It was an incredible time.
So you mentioned that was your first ever tour, which wasn’t that long ago. Have you adjusted to the touring lifestyle a bit more since then?
I would say we’re definitely more adjusted, it’s starting to feel a little more like a normal life now but I’m not sure if it ever completely does. It’s a very strange life. I think we’re certainly getting used to finding certain things that make you feel more balanced in a different place everyday. We’re definitely getting better at adjusting to the time differences. It’s a slow process but it is also incredibly exciting.
What’s the weirdest gig you have ever played?
We’ve had some weird ones man. You know about Burning Man right? Well, in other cities of the US and possibly in cities all over the word, there are groups of people that go to Burning Man called Burners. One time we played a party that was a Burner’s party in Washington, DC and they asked us to strip at the concert – we ended up playing in basically our underwear and bow ties. Chippendale style.
Where in the world is there that you would still like to go and play?
I’ve got two answers to that and one of them is South America. We were supposed to play in Colombia for a Lollapalooza but it unfortunately got cancelled. That would have been really amazing, like I said before, we draw influence from there so that would have been really cool. I also want to go to Japan. I think Tokyo is one of those cities that is so unlike any city that you’ve ever been to. So that would something wildly different.
Dan: I think my answer would probably also be South America. My father’s from Nicaragua so playing in a place where some of my family down there could see us perform, that would be a really incredible experience. A big part of what we do is influenced by that region and Max and I have lived down there. I think us going there would be a really natural connecting point with our music.
On to less exotic places, you’ve obviously got Reading and Leeds coming up this weekend, so have you heard anything about or had much experience of UK festival culture in the past?
This would be our first major festival. We’ve heard that Reading and Leeds can get pretty crazy though. We’re pretty excited about it, we’ve done a few smaller ones but they were more like city and beach festivals – we’ve heard that Reading and Leeds are very outdoor, very crazy festivals.
So apart from tour dates, what are you most looking forward to right now?
Well we have an album coming out this fall that Max and I just finished. Overall, it’s a huge milestone for us and our friendship, and for us as artists. We really can’t wait to share it with people. We’ve been operating quite slowly and letting songs come out. I think the album is going to paint a fuller picture of what we’re trying to do and what we can achieve as a band.
Have you got any last parting words of wisdom or anything else you would like to say before we finish the interview?
Words of wisdom? We’re still learning, we’re not very wise. We need to experience things before we give words of wisdom, so gives us like 10 years? You know, a couple of divorces behind us. For now, our words of wisdom are: read a book.
Words by Miriam Johnson