UT-Austin alumnus forms soul-rock band The Selfless Lovers

Catherine Cardenas

For around 100 shows in 2019, Nik Parr leaned into a microphone, fingers feverishly playing the piano with a saxophone strapped across his chest. His three bandmates played alongside him, performing as The Selfless Lovers. 

They’re scheduled for another 150 shows in 2020.

When alumnus Nik Parr decided to attend UT for marketing instead of pursuing his passion for music, he saw it as a “means to an end.” Now, Parr is the front man, pianist and saxophone player for soul-rock band The Selfless Lovers, combining his degree and his passion. 

The Selfless Lovers now tour all around Texas, playing different clubs and venues. Parr said when they first started in late 2016 they played small gigs in West Campus. The band used to play showcases at a bookstore which would include jazz groups, spoken word and kegs. 

“There was this crazy rapper dude who would put together these showcases — it would be a poet and like a rapper, and then we would come play … for like 15 minutes,” Parr said. “They would just invite people, and it was super illegal but we just did that — that was all we had.”

Since their start, The Selfless Lovers have grown in popularity, Parr said. Although they tour around Texas, the group is based in Austin. Drummer Daniel Warner said playing in Austin presents a set of challenges most small musicians have to go through. 

“When we were first starting out, finding good gigs, for us, was a challenge because there’s so many people trying to get a show,” Warner said. “With our music, luckily, it fits with the vibe Austin has really well.” 

Augie Gmitter, UT music studies senior and bassist for the band, said their music style is definitely unique.

“(We play) like a disco-y, funky rock ‘n’ roll,” Gmitter said. “We play a lot of rock ‘n’ roll and blues tunes, but it’s got this kind of upbeat and dancy-ness to it.” 

Although Parr majored in marketing and not music, he said he is still able to use his degree. 

“I live to do this thing,” Parr said. “I wouldn’t sleep at night if I didn’t play shows. Business school is largely learning how to plan and thinking strategically, like, ‘Okay, if we want to get here or if we want to be thought of as this band or if we want to do these kind of shows, what are the steps that are needed to be taken?’”

With the meshing of his interests in both business and music, Parr said he has been able to run a band successfully while also fulfilling his internal desire to perform. 

“I wake up every day — and I think the guys in the band do too — with a need to reach people with the music,” Parr said. “It sounds cheesy. It’s not supposed to be ‘Reading Rainbow’ cheesy, but if you really believe in what you’re doing, it’s to inspire people, to move people and to give people something emotionally.”