East coast natives Wesley Schultz and Jeremiah Fraites found solace in music after losing their best friend and brother in 2002. When they headed West and teamed up with Neyla Pekarek, a classically trained Denver native, they struck proverbial gold with The Lumineers. This up and coming trio is currently on a self booked tour, and their self titled album dropped today. Listen Up Denver! caught up with Pekarek recently to find out more about the new album, the tour, and the meaning of “Wakarusa.”
Listen Up Denver!: Where did I catch you today? What are you up to?
Neyla Pekarek: We actually have the day off today…which is much needed after a couple of crazy weeks. We’re in San Francisco at the moment.
LUD!: Cool, I was just checking out the tour dates on your website and I see that you’re heading up to Portland and Seattle next.
NP: Yeah, the end of the week we’ll be there.
LUD!: Nice. Glad to hear the tour is going strong. Can you tell our readers (who might be new to your sound) a little more about it?
NP: I think the best thing to do is just talk about our instrumentation. We have an acoustic sound with an acoustic guitar, a cello, a mandolin, a drum set, an electric bass, and a piano. It’s mainly acoustic with really great lyrics that Wesley writes with hopefully (laughs) good melodies. It’s a lot of feel good, happy songs.
LUD!: You guys remind me a lot of The Head and the Heart actually. Do you guys get that a lot?
NP: We do, we do. We met them early on in touring. It was a treat to see people doing similar sounding music and to see that success that they’ve had with it too.
LUD!: So I know that you’re dropping your self-titled album the 3rd of April. What can you tell us about the experience?
NP: We’re all very excited about it. It’s an album that took about three years to complete, with writing and perfecting every track. Nothing was an afterthought. We’re really looking forward to it. We had a chance to record about a year ago outside of Seattle, and then had a chance to remix the album just a couple of months ago in L.A. So we really got to spend a lot of time and take a lot of care with it.
LUD!: How can our readers get a copy?
NP: It will be available for download at iTunes and our website, as well as in stores on CD. The vinyl will be out in May and available at our shows.
LUD!: So the summer festival season is coming up soon and I know that you guys are going to a part of Wakarusa’s 2012 lineup. When it comes to the lineup, what are you looking forward to? Have you had a chance to think that far ahead?
NP: You know, not yet. But I know that in previous years there have been really cool bands there. We haven’t done a lot of festivals, but I know that at SXSW (South by Southwest) it seems like on every corner, there was a band that I wanted to see! But we played so many shows, so I (unfortunately) didn’t get to see as many bands as I would have liked.
LUD!: You know, this year’s Wakarusa line-up includes thirteen Colorado artists, including Pretty Lights, EOTO, VibeSquaD and The Lumineers. Why do you think there are so many acts from our fair state?
NP: It’s been our experience that Denver (and Colorado, in general) is a great place to live and make music. It’s affordable, so you don’t have to kill yourself working three jobs just to make rent, and it’s a great place to tour out of because it’s centrally located and it’s not a huge pain to get to either coast. And the community, in general, is very cohesive and everyone tries to help everyone else out and promote each other’s music. It’s a great music scene and I love it. I’m a Denver native and the more we travel, the more I appreciate how great Denver is.
LUD!: Here’s one for fun. I don’t really know what Wakarusa means. If you had to guess, what do you think it means?
NP: It sounds very dance-like to me. Maybe a tribal, bird-like dance?
LUD!: Good answer! So, final thoughts and comments, before we part ways? What else about The Lumineers do you want our readers to know?
NP: Well, we have a whole list of tour dates coming up and if people are even thinking about coming to a show, then they should. We’re really proud of the album and everything, but the live show is definitely where it’s at. There’s something very contagious about the live show, both from the audience and from the band. We have an awesome time up on stage and we hope that everyone else does too.
LUD!: Well, if it’s anything like your new music video for “Ho Hey,” [embedded below] then I can imagine so. It’s very uplifting and fun! I just grinned from ear to ear the whole time I watched it.
NP: Awesome, that’s kind of what we were going for.
LUD!: Yes! And I see that you guys are back home in Denver at the Bluebird in May, so I know I’ll be there.
NP: Great! Looking forward to it!
I’m looking forward to the band’s two shows on May 11th and May 12th (the 12th is with Joe Pug) at The Bluebird as well. You’ll see me there, doing the “Wakarusa.” However, if you can’t wait that long, head up to Mishawaka (in Bellvue, CO) for The Lumineers’ April 6th show, and if your motto is, “if it’s free, it’s for me,” then buy a copy of the record at Independent Records and catch the group perform a free in-store on April 7th.