Max Harwood and Danny Miller have been friends since they attended the same grade school in Washington, D.C. In high school, the two started a garage-rock/punk band.
After high school, they moved to Brooklyn, then to the Rockaway Beach area of Queens in New York, where they started creating the music for Lewis Del Mar, music that mixes acoustic guitars, percussion, Latin rhythms, electronic beats and noise samples.
In 2015, their song “Loud(y)” went viral on the internet, and the duo attracted the attention of Columbia Records, which signed them to its offshoot Startime International. They followed that with the release of an EP and then, in October, a self-titled full-length.
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Thursday night, Lewis Del Mar will headline a show at the Madrid Theatre as part of Ink’s Middle of the Map Fest. Zipper Club and Anna Wise are also on the bill.
Harwood and Miller on Monday spoke to The Star about their live shows, selling out a hometown venue and their favorite records, bands and shows.
Q: You performed here at the RecordBar in November. How will the show at the Madrid differ from that show?
Danny Miller: This time we’re definitely traveling with more of an experience. We’ve sort of crafted a world around the songs, and we’re traveling with some really beautiful production. This show will be a more developed and advanced version of the show we brought to town in November. But our last show at RecordBar was (bleeping) awesome. The crowd was so good that night. We can’t wait to be back.
Q: You recently sold out a show at the U Street Music Hall in Washington, D.C., your hometown. What was that like?
Miller: That was really great. Things come full circle when you get to play in front of your parents and the people who watched you grow up. It was a really emotional experience and was kind of a marker for us that showed how far we’ve come.
Q: You were in a high school band that has been described as a mix of garage rock, punk and blues. How did that experience influence the music you do now?
Harwood: The experience we got from that last band was realizing that wasn’t the music we wanted to make.
Miller: I think there’s an element of songwriting that was experimental that transferred over and a sense of energy that Max and I brought to that project that remained intact. But I think most people would listen to that band and find it unrecognizable compared to what we do now.
Q: You have ascended precipitously in a short period of time. How prepared were you for it and are you catching up to it?
Miller: We’re kind of catching up with all sides of it, except for the music, which is what came first.
When Max and I released our first sounds onto the internet, we were like two kids working out of our bedrooms while working restaurant jobs. I think we had very little understanding of being a successful artist in 2017.
But now we’ve learned you can’t be one-dimensional. You have to kind of be a sphere and have different ways to extend your art into the world. We’ve started to understand that and are developing that day-to-day, and it’s something we think about constantly.
This is going to be our last tour for a minute and we’re really excited to be back in New York and let some of those ideas marinate and completely form themselves. I think where we will go from here is going to be very interesting to see.
Q: What can you tell us about what’s marinating between you two?
Miller: There’s not much to reveal at the moment. It’s Max and I passing a lot of ideas back and forth and talking a lot and letting our experiences unfold and all the things we’ve learned over the past year. There’s nothing definitive to say other than we’re really looking forward to spending some time in the studio and trying to experiment and find the next place to move the music.
Harwood: For me the next project is … something I have an idea of what I want it to feel like but beyond that there’s nothing really concrete.
Miller: We could almost tell you but we might be wrong.
Q: Talk about the live shows. What kind of live support do you have?
Harwood: We wanted to stay true to a lot of the sounds on the record, and we wanted a very real, live-sounding set. So we have three guys who join us for the live show. There are no laptops, no backing tracks. It’s all live.
Miller: A lot of our background in playing music in basements growing up informed what we do on stage now. It’s very visceral.
Q: Some quick questions. Garth Brooks will be in town this weekend, doing five shows in three days. What’s the most number of shows you’ve done in three days?
Miller: In three days? Like 10. But I bet he’s playing more than an hour and a half for each show. Some of those shows were really short.
Q: What’s the last great live show you saw?
Harwood: I’m really enjoying watching Anna Wise perform every night. It’s really lovely to have somebody who’s so expressive on stage. Watching her every night is very inspiring.
Q: Who are some of your favorite live performers?
Miller: What I look for when I see a show is somebody who makes me want to make music. That’s always a telltale sign. The greatest art always moves me to want to create something.
I feel like the last time I saw something and went home and wrote right afterward was Max and I got to see Kendrick (Lamar) perform with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C. It was shortly after our careers had started and our music was making rounds on the internet, and I think we felt like we had a lot of questions.
Seeing a performance like that can remind you that it’s always important to be creative first. And like we were saying earlier about being a complete artist, that comes naturally when you’re making music you want to make. So that was really inspirational. And also it was a one-of-a-kind thing. I love it when worlds collide and add depth to each other.
Q: What was the first album you bought or received?
Harwood: My cousin gave me a Beastie Boys record when I was like 10 years old and I think it was “License to Ill,” and I loved that record.
Miller: The first record I ever sort of bonded with was “Repeater” by Fugazi. That was another record we came around to when we made our record for the sheer energy of it, plus it was an underground D.C. band.
Q: What do you remember about the first concert you attended?
Miller: It was the Pietasters, this ska-punk band, these really great local guys. Going to that show was when I first realized I wanted to be a performer or be on stage. I was like 12. I got crowd-surfed onto the stage and I was singing the words to the songs with the lead singer. After the show, everyone was high-fiving me.
I was this little 12-year-old kid and I remember feeling like this was the coolest s*** ever. To go completely full circle, the guy that ended up signing Max and me and the guy we felt the most at home with going through that process was the guy who promoted the first-ever Pietasters show.
Q: Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Miller: Maybe Ravyn Lenae and Anna Wise. Okay Kaya. There are a lot of people we’d like to work with. We are taking our time. We have a lot of love for our craft, and we’re not moving on anyone else’s time frame.
We’re definitely excited about what the future holds. We feel so grateful to have a platform and in our first year to be playing shows all over the country, which is what Max and I have always wanted to do. We’re very humbled by it.
Lewis Del Mar performs Thursday night at the Madrid Theatre, 3810 Main St. Zipper Club and Anna Wise are also on the bill. Show time is 7:30 p.m. A variety of ticket options are available for Ink’s Middle of the Map Fest, May 4-6: A three-day pass is $75, a three-day VIP pass is $125. A Thursday pass is $20. Friday and Saturday passes: $35 for general admission, $65 for VIP. Jason Isbell and De La Soul headline Friday and Saturday. Tickets are available now at middleofthemapfest.com.