The Lumineers Light Up Sydney

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words by: tara wesson photography: universal music

Colorado folk rockers The Lumineers dropped their third studio album last month, to the delight of their millions of fans worldwide. COVERED. Editor Tara Wesson caught up with Wesley Schultz and Jeremiah Fraites, fresh off their Splendour in the Grass set and sold-out Sydney show.

How does playing a festival differ from a headline show?

JEREMIAH: There’s a bigger risk and reward in the festival because you’re trying to actually win new fans over as opposed to people who actually come to your show.

Congrats on the release of lll; how much of it is fiction versus reality?

WES: I think the only way it works is if it’s disguised, but it’s happening and it’s real.. it almost just wouldn’t work if you tried to make it all up. I think it’s way more compelling. I just wanted to give a disguise so the person that this is about has some anonymity and isn’t feeling exploited or exposed. I was trying to heal and get through it, and sing about it for myself.

Did you decide to do a concept album, or did that just happen?

W: We’re trying to be really upfront that that’s not what we did or were trying to do, but we saw this kind of beautiful story woven into these songs that almost creatively fit into these three chapters, these three generations. It was almost retrofitted over the record, like putting a puzzle after the songs had been written and recorded, it was like, ‘oh, I think I see these three stories emerging’.

And how did the videos go with that?

W: There are all these songs that we’ve written that mean something direct to me but they’re never really transferred to people. So for these songs to have a visual component, that’s super direct. It seems like the people who have listened to it and seen these videos, have responded really positively considering the darkness of the subject matter.

What’s your favourite thing about being in Australia?

J: We always joke about riding giants even though we’re on boogie boards with these ten foot waves. We’ve done lots of tours where we get to be close to a koala, or go to Byron, Manly Beach and all these really cool local spots.

W: Because we’re coming all the way out here, we try to build in a few days off. I think the unique part of coming down here is that we actually see it as a tourist for part of our time here, to enjoy it a little bit. And to play to people, it’s just trippy to realise that [the shows] sold out and we’re so far from home. That never really gets old.

J: Plus we have a local legend that’s a big fan, Mick Fanning.

What’s your favourite memory of Manly?

J: I just remember taking the ferry there.

W: We'd just stayed in London, right outside Heathrow airport, and they lost all our clothes and our luggage.

J: It was pretty brutal, so we got here and I remember just being so jetlagged and out of it.

W: I remember you walking around with a shirt and I was like, where did you get that shirt? Because we were wearing Qantas airlines’, because that’s all the clothes we had. But we’ve been to Manly Beach since, as a group last time. I tried surfing and cracked my head on the board. I had a shorter board so I thought I was going to be fine, but I was terrible and in everyone’s way. I wish somehow you could rent a space on the ocean so you weren’t bothering anyone and just catch waves without putting really good surfers out. I really wanted to learn but I was too clumsy at the moment. So we were mostly body surfing.

How has the new album and videos been received?

W: I hope that you can mute the music on the videos and they would be that beautiful. Then with sound it’s even better. It’s kind of like that, everything stands on each others’ shoulders and that’s how you prop up an album. It feels like we still have people’s ears and an opportunity to make an impact. • | @thelumineers