The Lumineers looking forward to playing the Grammys
At this point, you have probably heard The Lumineers’ single “Ho Hey” many times. The Denver-based folk trio’s hit song with the prominent titular refrain has been featured in a trailer for the Oscar-nominated film Silver Linings Playbook, in the first-season finale of the TV show Hart of Dixie, as well as in commercials for Blue Moon Brewing in the US. It made it into the top 3 in the US Billboard Hot 100 singles chart last year, and has sold over 2 million copies to date.
And while you may not remember the first time you heard it (I do: in my local bakery), band member Neyla Pekarek does.
“I just finished a really long day of babysitting, and I got in the car and I turned [the radio] on and it was playing,” she says. “It was pretty bizarre, just hearing it. It was in Denver; it was on a station I grew up listening to. It was weird to hear the DJ saying, ‘This is the new song from a band called The Lumineers from Denver.’ I was a little relieved that I was alone because I could process it, but I was also looking for someone to be like ‘oh my gosh!’ So it was pretty neat though.”
It’s late January, and Pekarek, the band’s mandolin and cello player, is calling from her home in Denver. The post-holiday break has been the longest the band – which also includes Wesley Schultz (vocals, guitar) and Jeremiah Fraites (drums) – has spent at home since they released their eponymously-titled debut on indie label Dualtone last April. (Dine Alone Records is the band’s label in Canada.)
The Lumineers took off thanks to canny marketing by Dualtone and the band’s love of the road. Appearances on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Late Show with David Letterman, and NPR’s All Things Considered followed, as did a cover story in POLLSTAR Magazine. The band also recently earned their first International Gold record, for sales in Canada, and is the first International Gold-certified artist for Dine Alone, which is also home to Marilyn Manson and City and Colour.
The band also played Saturday Night Live recently (“if you get to play on there, you’re doing something right, you know?”) and will perform on this Sunday’s Grammy Awards, where they are nominated in two categories: Best New Artist and Best Americana Album.
“I think we were pretty overwhelmed by [the nominations] because we are so new in the grand scheme of things and so many great bands who are working just as hard as we are will probably never get something like that. It’s just the way the world works, unfortunately, but I think it provides a little bit of longevity to the band. It’s one more way for a really large amount of people to see you. And I think those kinds of things provide a little bit of insurance that you can at least be around for a little bit longer.”
After the Grammys, The Lumineers will embark on extensive touring of the UK, Europe, Australia and Japan before returning to North America in April, including a few Canadian dates in late April and early May.
While Pekarek enjoys recording, she and her bandmates love playing live even more.
“It’s really important,” she says of touring. “I love the way our record turned out and I think that we have a lot of fun in the studio, but I think the live shows are where we sell the most. And we have two touring members that tour with us, for about a year now, and they add so much to the live show. They are great performers and really fun to watch. I think it’s a lot higher energy than the record is, and it seems that the people who come to the live show, they like the record, but then they like it even more once they see us live.”
For evidence of that energy, take a look at the band’s website. The landing page of thelumineers.com is currently hosting a video for “Ho Hey” which features footage shot during a recent concert in London, England. Speaking to their hit single, I ask Pekarek to explain its success.
“I don’t know really. I know it’s taken this kind of persona in all these different mediums and commercials and TV shows and all kinds of different radio; they are playing it on country stations, they are playing it on Top 40. And I think it’s really cool that way because a lot of different people are able to hear it.
“I think it’s kind of refreshing for people to see human beings playing instruments, as opposed to everything being so digital in music and just life in general. I think it’s refreshing for people to see just somebody stand up with an acoustic guitar or whatever and play a song that somebody actually wrote.”