Danny Davis of Husbands talks about SXSW, inspirations and new music.
Danny Davis and Will Norton’s fathers were long-time friends, but the two never truly bonded until they found their creative chemistry, oddly enough, co-directing a Godzilla musical in college. Eventually, Davis and Norton would become a beachy-indie pop band called Husbands — now slated to perform at this year’s SXSW Festival.
As Norton’s former band The Non dissolved, the two began jamming out, bonding over their love of The Beach Boys and other sunny influences. Hailing from Oklahoma City, they like to describe their genre as “landlocked beach pop,” and any one of the duo’s tracks could easily land on a summer vacation playlist. Writing music together since 2014, the duo spent some time apart throughout the years when Norton moved to D.C. to attend Georgetown University for his M.A. Even with some temporary distance, Husbands continued to push out music, with their most recent album “Full-On Monet” released early last year. We spoke with Danny Davis about finally performing at SXSW, sunshine and their new music, as well as a teaser for a future tour stop in D.C.
District Fray: Tell me about your journey to music. What made you feel inspired to create?
Danny Davis: I’ve always loved music since I was a kid. My dad had these cassette tapes of these novelty Dr. Demento type-songs, and also just regular 70’s music — The Eagles, classic rock and the Beatles — so I was always exposed to a lot of different music. And then in high school, my older brother showed me Blink 182 and Weezer, and the classic alternative, pop-punk bands of the time, as well as The Strokes. The Beach Boys have also always been this force in my life, because I’ve always been a fan of sunshine and harmony. After I learned about these bands, I just decided I wanted to get a guitar. I guess since then, I’ve just been writing songs.
How did the two of you meet and then come to find, ‘Hey, I want to start a band with you’?
I met Will in college. Our dads were friends, and they were like, ‘Hey, you should be friends with this guy.’ That doesn’t always work out, relationships being set up by your parents. But in this case, we just incidentally had very similar interests. Will and I directed [a musical] together; it was basically a musical about Godzilla. Also, Will was in a band here called The Non, and they were really great. They were super electrifying to watch live. It was very inspiring. I’m younger than him by a couple of years, so he was somebody I looked up to. After The Non did its thing, and after collaborating and having such a good time with our Godzilla musical, we were like, ‘Why don’t we just keep writing music together?’
You describe your sound as “landlocked beach pop,” which I assume is because you are from Oklahoma City, but tell me about how you all landed on this beachy sound in the first place.
I’ve spent a lot of time going away from Oklahoma to sunny places. You know, there are conversations you have with your friends, like, ‘Are you a mountain person or a beach person?’ And I think Will and I would both say we’re definitely beach people. We just love the sunshine and the way that it makes you feel and think. A lot of the music we’ve written over the years has been in periods of time when we were away from our homes in sunnier places. There’s something about the way the sunshine makes you feel; it kind of influences what comes out of you. I’d say we’re pretty optimistic dudes. We just have it’s less to brood about, I guess. Though if I had something to brood about, I definitely brood about it. But since I don’t, it’s just like, ‘Let’s be happy about things.’ Not to say lyrically we’re not dealing with some stuff, but that’s just the music I like to listen to.
What was the biggest difference between writing your latest and third album “Full On Monet” released last year and the projects before it?
I guess the biggest difference with “Full-On Monet” is a lot of that was written right smack in the middle of a couple of big things in the world and also in our life. Because it’s sort of like our quote, unquote, “2020 record,” where half of it was written in the midst of being quarantined and Covid-19. Then it coincided with a time in my life when I quit my job of nine years to do something entirely different. And there’s some of that in there too, where it’s kind of transition phase to something better for my mental well-being. We’ve called it our quarantine record, but it’s also like our — or really my — huge life changes record. It marks the most market shift in my life besides getting married or leaving for college.
Before the pandemic you were slated to perform at SXSW among many other festivals, so now how does it feel to be performing at SXSW this year? Is it your first time?
It feels great. All the guys in our [live] band had played before. I know it can get hectic. I haven’t played but these are the tales I’ve been told. I personally enjoy the hectic nature of being on the road and doing shows after shows. I’m not burnt out from it at this point, so I’m stoked to do it. And I’ve seen a lot of great bands over the years because we’re kind of neighbors with Austin.
Our drummer and our synth player were in a band called Horse Thief. They’re great as well. Then Will and Tom the bassist were members of The Non. Both of those bands had played before, so I’m the only guinea pig in the Southwest process. But I’m still looking forward to it.
I saw that you are going on tour opening for Goth Babe after finishing your own tour. There are a lot of similarities in your sound and his. How does it feel to be open for them?
It feels really, really great. Last year, we got a booking agent for the first time. Before, all we would do is what anyone does: just message people you want to play with and message places you want to play and hope they’ll have the time and bandwidth to respond. But it’s funny because when we figured out we were going to do this, Goth Babe messaged us on Instagram and — I forgot that we had done this — but like two years prior we [messaged him], ‘Hey, would you like to play a show with us in Denver or something?’ We’d already reached out to him once just because we love their music. And I agree, I think [our music] is similar and it kind of sits in the same world. It’s so exciting to get to meet someone that we’ve been fans of and have wanted to play shows with them for a long time. It’s really exciting.
Are there any new projects on the horizon for you?
For the last three or four months, I’ve been sort of in a cave. Well, not a cave, but just kind of hunkered down in this headspace trying to finish this record. We have a fourth record that we’re working on and I would say we’re probably 90% done with it. And we have to get the last 10% done in the next two weeks. We’re hoping to put it out in the fall and tour and actually make it up to D.C. in the fall. We played D.C. twice incidentally, and Will lived there for a while. So it’s like a place that we’re connected to on a few levels. The crowds have been fun there. [D.C.] was our first show on our first tour that was outside of Oklahoma or Texas. D.C. is just a cool place. We love playing there.
Husbands play SXSW March 18th at the Chess Club. Tickets can be found here.
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