Surf-rock isn’t dead, it’s just evolving. Self-dubbing their sound as “Jack Johnson on LSD,” Lewis Del Mar’s self-titled debut album taps into industrial sounds and Latin-inspired guitar riffs, allowing fresh air to breathe into a genre whose seaside nature has grown stale in many ways. Their rise to fame that led to multiple record label offers (they signed with Colombia) likely comes from the fact that the D.C.-born duo of Danny Miller and Max Harwood have been playing together for ten years, have been best friends since childhood, and have had plenty of time in their Rockaway Beach, NY loft-meets-studio to solidify their signature sound. They aren’t a hype that washes to shore early and recedes back into the abyss. They hold their weight.
These two add a spin to our exploration of family—not only are they brothers from other mothers, but also Danny's Nicaraguan roots are an integral part of the band's unique sound. Their personal family histories are right in the name: both of their fathers are named Lewis, and del mar means "of the sea" in Spanish. We sat down with the boys at Alma at The Standard, Hollywood on one of the last days of their first headlining tour to attempt an interview with a three-drink minimum.
MEGAN LABER [THE STANDARD]: Are we ready to see which one of you is the lightweight of the group?
MAX HARWOOD: It’s probably me.
DANNY MILLER: He gets the worst hangovers. He’s the most likely to go hard on, like, strawberry margaritas.
How do two guys from Washington, D.C. even get into surfing?
Danny: My mom is from California. We both have family in San Francisco, and I was a surf instructor there.
Would you ever move back to Washington, D.C.?
Max and Danny: Nope.
Are you close with your families?
Max and Danny: Yes.
How often do you call your mothers?
Max: My mom has finally learned how to text, and that has really opened up a whole new world where her son is now responding to her. It’s great. She’ll be like, “How’s tour?” and I’ll be like, “I’m crying.”
Danny: Probably not as often as I should. My mom travels a lot. She does like, the most noble line of work. She goes into countries and does public health strategy, whether it’s AIDS prevention or breastfeeding strategies. It's life-changing stuff.
What are your favorite family holiday traditions?
Danny: Smoking weed before Thanksgiving dinner with my cousins.
Max: I used to get high on Christmas Eve a lot. I don’t do it anymore. I can’t handle my weed. It’s just that I like to drink, and I can’t mix the two. Lately drinking has taken a priority.
You guys have known each other since you were 9 years old. What’s the biggest fight you’ve ever been in?
Danny: One time in a totally friendly, non-girl-stealing way, I kissed one of Max’s girlfriends on the lips.
Max: We had just played this show…
Danny: And they were fighting about something. I was like, “Hey, guys. It’s her birthday. We all need to come together and enjoy this.” And she was like, “Thank you, Dan.” And she reached over to kiss me on the cheek and I kissed her on the lips.
Max: I just stepped back and looked at him, and immediately just punched him in the chest.
Danny: And we were on tour, so we were on the road, in the car and not talking, and finally, we just broke down and cried. So, that’s pretty much the worst fight we’ve ever had.
Max: Uh, have a career in music? My girlfriend doesn’t give a fuck about our band.
Danny: Those are the best kind of girls.
Max: You just don’t need to be with someone who is obsessed with your music.
Danny: I just bought bell-bottoms because the girl that I like here in LA is really into retro clothes.
Have you already worn them in front of her?
Danny: I haven’t yet. She’s gonna hem them for me tonight.
Have you guys hooked up with groupies?
Danny: Uh, yes. Well, kind of.
Max: It’s just a bad idea to hook up with real fans.
Who cries more?
Danny: We’re probably tied.
Down it. That’s the first round.
[Seven-minute intermission to discuss why the bartender, Riley, only cries every five years.]
Max: It’s the best time of our lives, and it’s the worst time of our lives. On any given day, you’re experiencing the most fun you’ve ever had and the most isolating moment you’ve ever had.
Danny: It’s almost done here, but then we go to Europe. This is our first headline tour as Lewis Del Mar, and that’s been great.
Do the people you tour with really become like a little family unit?
Craziest tour story thus far?
Danny: For a while, we were doing mushrooms in the van on our last tour.
Max to Danny: You know Nick did mushrooms the other night on tour to help him with his cold?
Danny: I guess when our bass player puked on a stripper.
Max: We decided to just run.
Favorite place you guys have played?
Danny: We have really close friends of ours who have this festival in upstate New York and it’s really small and beautiful. They keep it to the communities that kind of surround that area and the main stage is made up of a bunch of trees. When you’re playing, it’s under the clearest night sky. It really doesn’t feel like a festival.
Weirdest place you guys have played?
Danny: The first paid gig we had at 13. Our old friend in high school invited us to play his dad’s office party. It was like the U.S. Surgeon’s Convention at the nicest Marriott across from the White House. We carried all our gear on the subway because we didn’t have cars. We played in T-shirts and shorts in the corner, and it was a black tie event.
Max: I still think about that one couple that was dancing when we played.
I can’t really read the next question. I’m not sure if I need glasses or the drinks are already working, so we’ll go to the next one. If you had no musical talent what do you think you guys would be doing?
Danny: Writing. Probably novels. I’d like to do interviews and radio pieces.
Max: Actually, probably writing as well.
Okay, we have to down this because we’re on to drink three.
Max: Well, my favorite drink order would be a Modelo and a tequila shot.
I don’t know what that is.
Danny: What?! Riley, can we get three shots of Fernet? She doesn’t know what Fernet is.
Have you ever been thrown out of a bar?
Max and Danny: Definitely.
Thoughts on social media?
Danny: It’s not our thing. There are other things to get noticed, like getting drunk at The Standard.
[Fernet comes to the table.]
Danny: It’s like lemonade…
[They take a sip.]
Ugh. That tastes like the menthol cigarette of alcohol.
Danny: It tastes like licorice! It’s like an after-dinner drink. If you’re super full it helps with that.
Ya, because it’s burning everything inside of your stomach. What were your first jobs?
Max: Domino’s Pizza.
Functional stoner or occasional smoker?
Danny: I get really stoned and I’m not functional.
Max: Ya, completely dysfunctional stoner. I used to smoke six to seven times a day, but now I have all this drinking to do, and it’s messing that process up.
Do you guys envision an ideal setting for people to hear your music?
Danny: On the subway in New York.
Do you have regrets?
Max and Danny: Nope.
Big man in the sky, or are we on our own?
Danny: Definitely on our own. We’re bound to perpetual loneliness.
What are you guys doing after this?
Danny: Seeing our friends, Wet, play tonight at the Fonda.
Max: Right after this? I am going to go see my cousin and meet their new baby.
I’m nervous for that baby.