The Lumineers on Craigslist, Denver, and Basilica Block Party

Categories: Interview
Photo by Mark Sink
See Also:
Basilica Block Party 2012 lineup
The Avett Brothers' Seth Avett on Rick Rubin, political fans, and the band's legacy


The Lumineers have recently exploded onto the indie music scene, seemingly popping up out of nowhere (well, Denver, Colorado, to be exact) and giving fans some irresistible tracks. There's no denying the joyful catchiness of "Ho Hey," with its swelling chorus that begs a listener to sing and dance along. Even when the Lumineers are somberly laying out a love-gone-awry lyric, they are upbeat and delightful. The band first garnered national attention when "Ho Hey" was used in a Hart of Dixie episode, then again when it was used in a Bing commercial. Since then, their rise has been quick, and the young band is now selling out rooms across the country, with their 2012 self-titled full-length debut album peaking at no. 45 on the Billboard 200 chart. Not bad.

Gimme Noise caught up with Neyla Pekarek, the band's cellist and harmonizing vocalist, on how she got started with the Lumineers, what this surge of success feels like, and what's next for the band.

Hey Neyla! How's it going? Where are you right now?

Good! We are currently in the van somewhere between Detroit and Green Bay.

Wow, on the move! Thanks for taking the call. So, I read that the boys Wesley [Schultz, guitar and lead vocals] and Jeremiah [Fraites, drums] found you through a Craigslist ad. How did that first meeting go? What did they say they were recruiting you for?

You know, it's funny... I didn't know I was going to be in a band. I had just finished school and was looking for things to keep me busy, so I emailed Wesley from Craigslist and he called me right away. We met a couple days later, and it was pretty natural from the get-go.

You responded to an ad about a cello, but you brought a lot more than that.

I grew up playing cello music, and I went to school for vocal music. I got a teaching degree for music education. I'm not really well versed in any particular type of music or instrument, but I know something about a lot of them.

Cool! So how many instruments are you playing in the band?

I just play cello now on stage. Up until about the beginning of this year, I was playing mandolin, piano, electric bass, and cello as well.

What kind of hand do you have in shaping the music with Wesley and Jeremiah?

They kind of got into that sound right before they got to Denver, kind of some alt-rock type of stuff. There were a few songs we played on that side, but a lot of those new songs -- the folky, Americana stuff -- were already written. I think the cello and mandolin just really adds to that sound.

For a young band, you're garnering some pretty big success. How does it feel to be selling out shows?

It's wild. It really wasn't very long ago that the band members out-numbered the people in the crowd at times, so we're just really overwhelmed and shocked by it, but it's a good feeling.

I really enjoyed the album -- great emotion throughout, with songs like "Hey Ho" being sort of instant hits, and "Dead Sea" with its heartache and hope crescendo.... Though it doesn't fall too far from the whole Mumford and Sons acoustic folk-rock bit, and there are so many bands doing that right now. What sets the Lumineers apart?

I think we're really grateful that those bands have opened up those doors, but we try to let the listeners decide. We're really proud of the record, and I think our live show is a lot of fun. The live show has a lot of energy. People come and everyone seems to have a really good time. A lot of the times we offer sing-along stuff. What's funny is that we used to play almost for that reason and now the crowd sings along to all the words of the songs and sometimes if the room allows we go out into the middle of crowd, which is great fun.

Why do you think you've managed to achieve the success you have? And how do you plan to keep the momentum going?

We're already kind of writing new songs we're working really hard. We're touring like crazy, and we're not home very often. We've kind of got the outlook of going back to towns that like us--places we've sold out--sooner than later. We want to reward the people that support us.

Is there anyone you're listening to right now that you wish more people knew about?

We've got a great scene going on in Denver. It's a cool music scene, very community-oriented. Everyone really helps each other out. Paper Bird from Denver is a another folky band, they're great. The Outfit is a rock band, they have this awesome energy.

You'll be playing the Basilica Block Party when you come to Minneapolis on July 7, ahead of the Avett Brothers. There are a lot of Lumineers fans who have never seen you live, and a lot of other people who have never heard of you at all who will be there. What can we expect from your live set?

We are always looking forward to fresh cities and new faces, which is kind of every city at the moment. I think what we do translates well from a small stage to a big stage, so hopefully we'll feel right at home.

See Also:
Basilica Block Party 2012 lineup
The Avett Brothers' Seth Avett on Rick Rubin, political fans, and the band's legacy

The Lumineers play on Saturday, July 7 at the Basilica Block Party in Minneapolis, the full lineup is here; 800.745.3000



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