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The Lumineers at Meadow Brook; 5 things to know
The Lumineers had every reason to worry about a sophomore slump -- at least a little bit.
The Denver folk-rock trio's debut self-titled debut reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and went platinum, launching the hits "Ho Hey" and "Stubborn Love" and snaring a pair of Grammy Award nominations. It was a quick start that offered the classic scenario for a letdown the second time around.
The Lumineers' second album, "Cleopatra," debuted at No. 1 in April and had another chart-topping Alternative Rock song in "Ophelia." The group also placed songs in the films "Pete's Dragon" and "Storks," and it's returned to headlining amphitheaters like it was at the end of the first album's cycle.
So it's a gratified and maybe slightly relieved Wes Schultz who gets on the phone from Virginia, ready to illuminate us a little about the Lumineers' sophomore success...
After so much time touring to support "The Lumineers," Schultz and his bandmates -- Jeremiah Fraites and Neyla Pekarek -- were happy to finally have another batch of songs out. "I don't think it's a healthy thing to keep playing the same thing over and over for years," explains Schultz, 33. "So I think that it's been a relief to have new material and essentially double to pull from to makes us want to write more and more records that we feel strongly about. It's a freeing things when you have more songs you can pull from."
Pressure was a relative term for the group as it was working on "Cleopatra," according to Schultz. "It's a really strange contradiction," he explains. "On one hand we had people saying to us, 'That must be really hard,' almost asking us, 'Wouldn't you rather not have the pressure of what to do next?' But on the other hand I felt freed up to know there would be people waiting, so no matter what we put out there would be a built-in group of people waiting and ready and hopefully open to whatever we did if you've won their trust. In that was it was freeing."
That success gave the Lumineers both confidence and a different kind of determination in making "Cleopatra." "There was this eagerness to turn the page and look forward a little bit," Schultz says. "I think this album, because we were able to record it in such a special way, on our own timeline with (producer) Simone Felice, I think all these factors came together ot make something I feel is stronger than the first album. The third party became sort of the third party in the room, and we played it for so many years, it's been really positive to have people excited for (new) songs like 'Gun Song' or 'Angela' or 'Ophelia;' A lot of them get an immediate response, even just after the album was released but a lot more now that people have had a little more time to spend wtih it."
Having the album debut at No. 1 was "weird," Schultz says. "I don't know what to make of that," he says. "I think it gets people off your back; There are people at the record label or involved in the business side of things who are only moved emotionally by results like that. We tend to keep a little bit of distance from that; If someone says 'Congratulations on the album being No. 1,' it doesn't mean anything vs. 'That song really affected me' or 'I really love the melody' or the lyrics, something tangible. I remember my brother texting me, 'That's pretty...crazy you have a No. 1 album.' Everybody was so freaked out. I'm glad it gave more people interest in the record, but I don't now how to feel about it other than 'Wow...'"
Like other acts, the Lumineers actively campaign to keep phone filming and photography to a minimum at its shows and have even used apps such as Yonder and The Pouch to let fans lock their phones during the concerts. "I try to pick a spot in the show where if I notice there's a lot of cell phones out I'll say, 'Hey, let's make a deal here. If you want to record something, take a photo or a video, you can have it out for this song. After that can we all agree to put it away and be together for the rest of the show?'" Schultz says. "It's worked really well. I'm not trying to scold or chastise them to not do something almost every audience does, but I am trying to say, 'Just realize what you're doing can be changed pretty easily and make for a better show. That seems ot have gone over well. I hope one day it's not even a factor and (concerts) are treated more like a Broadway show or something, with reverence. But not right now."
The Lumineers, Borns and Rayland Baxter
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24.
Meadow Brook Amphitheatre on the campus of Oakland University, Rochester Hills.
Tickets are $39.50-$59.50 pavilion, $29.50 lawn.
Call 248-377-0100 or visit palacenet.com for both shows.
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