The Lumineers On Fame, Grief & How The Band Got Its Name

Listen Now
Photo: The Lumineers Cleopatra album
From left to right: Jeremiah Fraites (drums, piano), Neyla Pekarek (cello, backing vocals), and Wesley Schultz (vocals, guitar).

This segment originally aired April 11, 2016.

The Lumineers hit it big in 2012 with songs like "Ho Hey" and "Stubborn Love." The Denver band's self-titled debut album went Platinum Plus -- and the trio was nominated for two Grammy awards. On Friday, The Lumineers released its sophomore album, "Cleopatra." Songs such as "Ophelia" are meditations on the band's fast rise to fame and what comes next. Other tracks from the new album -- like "Gun Song" and "Long Way From Home" -- tap into a deeply personal side of frontman Wesley Schultz.

Schultz and Jeremiah Fraites, who plays percussion, spoke with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner. Highlights from the conversation are below. Click the audio above to listen to the full interview.

Schultz on fame:

"It's just an odd thing to have people treat you, I guess, sort of differently and look at you differently. It can go to people's heads -- I can see how it would. But for me, I didn't really take it seriously because I stopped taking seriously this sort of lack of anything happening, as though that was some indicator of we weren't doing good things before anything broke. ... I just like the idea of keeping your own score of your life and the things that you're doing in it-- and not turning to some external keeper of that."

On if they get sick of hearing "Ho Hey":

Fraites: "I don't think I've ever get sick of any of our music. ... Songs like 'Ho Hey' and 'Stubborn Love,' they really gave us the keys to the world. They allowed us to tour to foreign countries and allowed us to shine light on the rest of the songs off that album."

Schultz: "To this day, it's still being played. That's odd to me because I don't know if any song deserves that much play. That's not natural. ... We would stick it second or third of every set eventually because we had a whole album that we were proud of and connected with. I felt like, if that's what you're here for, then here, I'll make it easy for you. Then you can leave after that or you can stay and see what else is on this record."

On why the four-year wait between albums:

Fraites: "We tried to write, but it was difficult to do it remotely (while on tour). It just wasn't in our wheelhouse. We were trying to not lose that muscle of songwriting because that was a big fear, ya know, tour two and a half, three years and then you're supposed to just go back in the studio and start working out again."

Schultz: "The biggest challenge was realizing how we write songs. By the end of it, I started to understand more of that and the history of that. ... We write in a small little, here's a little jam, here's a little nugget here and then sort of collect those like for the winter. Then eventually you take stock of what you have and start to separate them into piles... as opposed to this sort of linear: I sat down and I wrote the verse, chorus, bridge, now we're gonna add drums."

Schultz on letting his voice crack in "Ophelia":

"It's something I really like about my voice. I listened to, I think it's called 'Mother' by John Lennon. His voice starts to break throughout that song and that's one of the things I admire about his ability -- to push his voice to the limit to where it's breaking."

Fraites on the band's name:

"We were sort of given the name. You don't chose your first name when you are born and it's kind of the same thing. We were under a different moniker... 'Wesley Jeremiah.' The [announcer at a club who had his weeks messed up] said, 'Up next, Lumineers are playing' ... We started playing our set and, maybe that night or a couple days after, we thought, that name was pretty cool."

Schultz on the story behind "Gun Song":

"This song was [from] the time when my dad had just passed away -- so soon after that that the clothes were still in his drawers. And so, I was running late for work and realized I didn't have black socks. I knew I'd be sent home without those. I was a bartender at a pretty crappy job. I ended up reaching into his sock drawer in a hurry... and unexpectedly pulling out his pistol that I didn't know he ever had. I was disappointed I couldn't ask him about it... and what else did I not know about this person that I supposedly so close with."