Monday, August 6, 2012
On this fine Monday, I will of course be attending The Lumineers concert at the Central Park Summer Stage. From the moment I heard this trio, I was catapulted into a delirious state. I am already downright obsessive when I discover a new song or band, but there was something particularly striking about this one. I would listen to the song Ho Hey, on repeat for hours in a day. No other song could possibly compare when I tried to switch it up. I am not sure if it’s the potent mix of upbeat lyrics that start to wail, the jangling folksy sound and stomp, the references to beloved New York streets and this line, “I belong with you, you belong me, you’re my sweetheart,” but this song is tops. I mean, bloody tops!
It still slays me! I have the entire thing memorized, and I don’t have many songs entirely memorized, though I am a master at memorization. True fact. Anyway, digression.
Let’s get to the good stuff. The band. Here is a brief bio on The Lumineers, found on their website, which I urge you to check out.
It begins in 2002, the year Jeremiah’s brother, Josh, died from a drug overdose at 19. Amidst the loss and grief, Wes and Jer found solace in music, writing songs and playing gigs around New York. After battling the city’s cutthroat music scene and impossibly high cost of living, the two decided to expand their horizons. They packed everything they owned—nothing more than a couple suitcases of clothes and a trailer full of musical instruments—and headed for Denver, Colorado. It was less a pilgrimage than act of stubborn hopefulness.
The first thing they did in Denver was place a Craigslist ad for a cellist, and the first person to respond was Neyla Pekarek, a classically trained Denver native. As a trio, they began playing at the Meadowlark, a gritty basement club where the city’s most talented songwriters gathered every Tuesday for an open mic and dollar PBRs. Neyla softened Wes and Jer’s rough edges while expanding her skills to mandolin and piano. And so The Lumineers sound took shape; an amalgam of heart-swelling stomp-and-clap acoustic rock, classic pop, and front-porch folk.
Now without further ado, my interview with the band’s wildly talented Neyla Pekarek.
Adventuredame: What song means the most to you?
Neyla: Charlie Boy holds a pretty special place in my lil heart. It was one of the very first songs Wes, Jer and I worked on as a trio when I first joined the band, and I’m very happy with the way it turned out on the record.
AD: Can you tell me more about the song, Ho Hey and how it came to be? (By the way astounding)
Neyla: Well, thanks for that! Wes initially wrote Ho Hey as sort of a pep talk to himself when times were a bit rough for him, and that same thing held true for us as a band in our beginning touring days. It’s the kind of song that would always boost our spirits in a set, whether we were playing to two people in a dirty bar in the middle of Wyoming, or to our first full room in New York with 100 people singing and stomping along.
AD: What most feeds your soul?
Neyla: My friendships. I have some pretty incredible friends who keep me grounded and happy, especially when things get hectic. They would be my friends whether I was in a band or in a ditch.
AD: In the spirit of all things adventure, what is your greatest adventure to date?
Neyla: Dang, I’ve had a few. Jumping in a van with a couple smelly musicians with very few dollars to my name is pretty high on the list.
AD: And what might you suggest to other artists/writers pursuing their artistic endeavors?
Neyla: Work ethic is invaluable. Treat your art with the same standards, the same respect, as you would any job or relationship. It takes time and patience and care. And it’s totally worth it.
Oh Neyla, I couldn’t have said it better myself! Huge thanks to Christen Greene for setting this interview up and Neyla for being ever so accommodating in answering my questions.
Now do yourself a solid and go buy The Lumineers album. I am going to do one better and go see them live. Mmmmmmm. Ho Hey indeed!
For more info on The Lumineers, check out their website: