What the hell just happened?! The Lumineers catch breath to discuss whirlwind year ahead of Manchester gig

By Scott Hunt 

“I have a feeling when we’re able to step away a bit, I’m going to look back and just say ‘what the hell just happened’?!

That’s the take of The Lumineers’ vocalist and cellist Neyla Pekarek on the last 12 months or so.

The band have rocketed from a relatively unknown folk-rock outfit playing small shows around New Jersey and New York to a US Grammy Award-nominated behemoth shifting more than 4.5million copies of their debut single Ho Hey.

“This year has been at quite a breakneck speed, and I think it’s hard to take it all in as it’s happening,” she mused.

MM caught The Lumineers while on their way to Manchester as part of their second UK tour.

They will be performing at Manchester O2 Apollo on November 22 following their incredibly successful shows at Glastonbury, T in the Park, Belsonic and Reading/Leeds this summer. 

“We have now played in the UK about a dozen times, so it’s starting to feel a bit like home,” she said.

“We all really enjoy being over here.”

Neyla is hoping that the band can spend some more of their visit this time round seeing Manchester and the other cities they visit.

“I think this time around we’ll have much less to do and will hopefully have more time for exploring!”

The Denver five piece’s Ho Hey went platinum in the UK, catapulting the band to worldwide fame.

Since then The Lumineers have gone from strength to strength. Their first UK tour sold out, leading to extra dates being added at the Brixton Academy.

Their performance at Glastonbury in June is a standout moment of the year for the band.

“There aren’t really words to describe playing at Glastonbury,” said Neyla.

“We had never seen a crowd like that, and it’s a really neat festival because the attendees really strike me as true music lovers.”

Now they are heading back to the UK on a tour which starts in Manchester and will culminate at London’s Alexandra Palace.

And Neyla is looking forward to playing in Britain again.

“We have had great shows in Britain from our very first gig at the Houxton Bar last year, and I think we always feel right at home playing here,” she said.

“The audiences make us feel very welcome. It still blows all of our minds to play in a brand new country and people are singing along to our songs. That will never get old.”

Frontman Wesley Schultz and drummer Jeremiah Fraites began collaborating together in 2005 and made the unusual move from New York to Denver in 2009 in order to further their musical career.

There they met classically trained cellist Neyla after advertising on the classified website Craigslist.

The band did not select their name themselves. The story goes that an announcer in a Jersey City club accidentally confused them with another band and the name stuck. Incidentally, it is also a brand of dental veneers.

Such is the success of The Lumineers, the name is now recognised across the globe.

New members Stelth Ulvang and Ben Wahamaki joined the band to form the five-piece known and loved today.

Their self-titled debut album was released in April 2012 on Dualtone Records selling over two million copies globally and reaching number eight in the UK chart.

The upcoming tour cements another phenomenal year for The Lumineers. They performed at the legendary Grammy Awards in February, where the band were nominated as ‘Best New Artist’ and for ‘Best Americana Album’.

The Billboard Music Awards also recognised The Lumineers with nominations as ‘Best New Artist’ and ‘Top Rock Artist’.

The bands’ simplistic, sensitive, thoughtful acoustic melodies have earned them an army of followers and a reputation as a superb live act.

“The live show is a lot higher energy than the record in my opinion. From what I gather, it’s a pretty good time.”

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