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Interview:
Lumineers' Wesley Schultz live online, 5 Things to Know
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

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It's divide and conquer time for the Lumineers this fall.



Coming off the success of last year's "III," which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200, the duo has gone its own ways -- temporarily. Wesley Schultz has just released "Vignettes," an album of stripped-down covers of songs by Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, Warren Zevon and more. Jeremiah Fraites, meanwhile, has started releasing tracks from "Piano Piano," an album of instrumental, piano-dominated (duh!) material that's due out Jan. 22.



No one needs worry about the group's status; Schultz and Fraites are already writing songs for a follow-up to last year's "III." Nevertheless, Schultz says, going their own ways has been a nice respite from a busy career so far defined by two platinum-or-better albums, a Top 5 single ("Ho Hey") and a pair of Grammy Award nominations...



Schultz, 37, says "Vignettes" was an accidental project, "definitely a quarantine record" inspired during a visit with producer Simone Felice in the Catskills. "We were riding motorcycles and he had a version of (Derek and the Dominoes') 'Bell Bottom Blues' we did a couple years ago. He said to me later, 'I forgot how good that sounded and how much of a beautiful experience that was to record that cover song with you. Would you want to do more of those? Maybe an album?' I said, 'Maybe...' (laughs) The next day he calls me up, 'I've got some studio time? You want to do it?' so I said, 'Yeah, I guess. Sure.' I think it was born out of a desire to do something, to start something and finish something that felt like it gave us goosebumps and inspired us."



The session took about five days, with Schultz stripping down the arrangements to their barest necessities. "The natural way I look at songs is to strip them down. That's the lens I see all music through. If I were to produce someone else's record, this is how I would do it. I just like it to sound that way. We were trying to make something that reminded us of listening to James Taylor's "Greatest Hits" -- I know that seems strange, but you can put that on at any time and it feels like your friend, someone you can just be yourself around. That was the spirit guide for that album -- like I said, as strange as that sounds."



Sheryl Crow's "If It Makes You Happy" was one of the tracks Schultz particularly enjoyed wading into. "I always felt like that song was way more melancholy than she was letting on, but the way she did it was cool because it made me forget about that. The lyrics, I thought, were always better than you could appreciate because the song was so upbeat and a bigger arrangement; I kept thinking, 'What would it be like if I heard Sheryl Crow playing this on a couch in a basement somewhere, figuring it out,' because the mood felt lonesome, almost defeated." I always thought, "Yeah, why the hell ARE you so sad?' So that's what I wanted to bring out of it.



Schultz says he and Fraites are "two or three songs in" towards the fourth Lumineers album, and the latter has come over from Italy, where he now resides, to do some more work. "We'll be working together for about a month, and we'd already worked together for about a month prior to this. Our goal is to make a new record, hopefully in the new year if we can get enough songs together."



Schultz and Fraites are also anxious to take the Lumineers back on the road after the "III" tour was interrupted by the pandemic. "We feel like it make sense to have something new whenever we get to go out on the road again. The 'III' tour was incredible; We were having the best time ever, and we were so sad about having to leave the road. Like everyone's life everything got turned upside down. So we're going to do something new and then when we do get to go back it'll be like a double release for fans who haven't seen us play 'III' live."



The Lumineers' Wesley Schultz plays a virtual solo concert at 8 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 15. Tickets available via momenthouse.com/wesleyschultz.

Web Site: www.momenthouse.com/wesleyschultz

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