Their single, “Ho Hey,” is a monster hit that you’ve almost definitely heard a million times by now.
No, trust me, you totally know this song. It has been featured in the TV shows Bones, Catfish, Hart of Dixie, and The Vampire Diaries, as well as ads for Bing and the movie The Silver Linings Playbook. So basically, if you’re a human being who has turned on a television or radio in the last year, you’ve heard The Lumineers.
1. They’re a plucky, heart-on-their-sleeves folk band whose songs are pure backwoods sweetness and simplicity…
Like the musical equivalent of drinking iced tea out of a Mason jar on a country porch.
…but they actually grew up in a New Jersey suburb and started as a cover band called Free Beer.
They picked the name to try and trick people into thinking that their shows were open bar. Crafty! “It wasn’t serious at first,” Fraites told the Chicago Tribune. We were a crappy band doing terrible covers. But we slowly started getting away from covers and writing originals. We were doing everything: vanilla singer-songwriter stuff, hard rock, electronic music.”
2. They’re maybe the only band to ever move OUT of New York in search of musical success.
Schultz and Fraites left the city in 2009 after finding it too expensive and competitive. They relocated to Denver, CO. “The mentality of New York bands…was very dog-eat-dog. Denver was more community-oriented. People would talk to you about your music, not just their music,” Fraites explained to Music Connection.
3. Neyla Pekarek met the other guys in the band through Craigslist.
After they moved, the two dudes put up a Craigslist ad looking for a cellist. Pekarek was one of two people that responded, and she met them in their basement to jam, resulting in the only time a woman meeting strange Craigslist dudes in a basement was actually a good idea.
4. “The Dead Sea” was written about an actual conversation Schultz once had with his girlfriend.
From the chorus: “You told me I was like the Dead Sea/You’ll never sink when you are with me.” Aw, a high salt content has never sounded so romantic.
5. Technology isn’t a big part of their lives, both musically and personally.
Each member of the band resisted getting a smartphone until they got really successful last year and started traveling all the time, and their music is similarly old-world. “Anyone who can play an instrument can play a Lumineers song,” Fraites told The Crimson White. The songs are wholly acoustic and sounds like they’re from an era when computers were just a science-fiction dream.
6. The name “The Lumineers,” which is also a brand name for dental veneers, was randomly given to them by a promoter.
“We were playing at a place in Jersey City – the Lucky Seven – and the MC introduced that way,” Fraites explained to Jersey Arts. But he doesn’t find that strange: “You don’t get to pick your name when you’re born.” Pretty poetic considering that the name comes from a cosmetic procedure for teeth.
7. They’re pretty indifferent about being commercially successful.
The Lumineers were perfectly happy to play tiny shows at places like Denver’s Meadowlark, which is a dive bar where bands play to local crowds drinking dollar beers. They self-recorded their first EP in Fraites’s attic, released it themselves, and booked their own tours until “Ho Hey” was randomly discovered on YouTube by their first manager. Schultz explained the band’s low-key attitude toward their sudden success to American Songwriter: “It’s really arbitrary to us. I’m really thrilled, but I also take it with a grain of salt…I feel really lucky because I know how fickle the business, the industry is.”
8. Tom Petty’s hat is as big a creative inspiration to the band as the music of Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen.
Schultz spelled out the important role that haberdashery can play in a performance in an interview with No Depression. “I saw a Tom Petty show, and he is obviously older now, but he clearly learned a lot about what makes for a good show. I just remember him playing “Last Dance With Mary Jane”, and as the opening guitar line was being played, he opened up a chest on stage that had not been opened the entire show, pulled out a hat, put that hat on for the duration of the song, and then opened the chest back up and put it in and shut it. That is the moment I took away from his show. This taught me everything I needed to know.”
9. They’re wary of praise, including their two Grammy nominations.
After being nominated for Best New Artist and Best Americana Album, the band is a little on edge. “I get a little suspicious,” Fraites said to Rolling Stone recently. “You start to be, ‘What’s going on right now? Grammys? Is this a joke?’” The band doesn’t want to be influenced by other people’s opinions of their music. “The Grammy thing slipped in and snuck up on me where I almost started to buy into it. I think you want to try and have your own value where you don’t look at those accolades.”
11. Fraites’s trademark suspenders are actually a superhero costume.
“When I was in high school, my friend’s brother asked him when you go on stage, ‘What kind of superhero are you?’ I had never really played music that much, so I decided to create my own little [superhero] outfit,” Fraites told the Huffington Post.