From Denver to Cleopatra
The Lumineers are one of the most famous bands to have emerged from Denver, but it was just a few years ago that they first experienced popular success. Founded by Wesley Schultz (lead vocalist and guitarist) and Jeremiah Fraites (drummer and percussionist), the duo started as a cover band. Since then The Lumineers have grown to include Cellist and Vocalist Neyla Pekarek, who joined the band in 2010 in response to a craigslist ad.
Though Wesley and Jeremiah grew up in the same town of Ramsey, New Jersey, they didn’t begin playing music together until after Wesley had graduated college. Jeremiah, who was more drawn to avant garde music than Wesley, swore he would never be in a band with a vocalist.
“I just wanted to be experimental and weird,” Jeremiah explains. “And then I met Wes and it was just a very organic process.”
After some time playing together, the band decided to try to fight its way to the top of the New York music scene. After struggling for a while to make ends in NYC meet, Jeremy and Wesley decided to head west in search of a more inexpensive place.
“Wes and I drove out to Denver about six years ago with everything we owned, which was, at the time, a mattress and all of our musical instruments,” Jeremiah remembers.
It was in Denver that the two were finally able to concentrate on their music.
The band’s audience exploded after their debut album. Immediately following the release of “The Lumineers,” the band embarked on a three and a half year tour including six continents. When asked how the band’s explosion in popularity has impacted them, Jeremiah thoughtfully responded:
“One of the best parts of popularity increasing is people recognizing you for what you love to do … I think we’re just lucky. We worked extremely hard … It’s something I hope we never take for granted.”
While The Lumineers are grateful for their success, touring has been challenging for the band.
“As artists, I think that you constantly like to change and reinvent yourself,” says Jeremiah, “and repeating the same songs night after night is sort of directly in conflict with that.”
While writing their most recent album, “Cleopatra,” Wesley and Jeremiah holed up in a small house in Denver for six months to get away from the whirlwind and back to the roots of what they were trying to do. It was worthwhile; “Cleopatra” stands out as a more emotionally mature album than their debut album, as well as more sonically explorative and thoughtful. With their latest release, it is safe to say that The Lumineers will remain at the frontier of the Colorado music scene for years to come.