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The Lumineers – Wes Schultz

The Lumineers – Wes Schultz

By Lori Smerilson Carson

Having insight and compassion for others seems to be truly key at the present moment and The Lumineers honestly display these human elements with their fourth Studio album BRIGHTSIDE. After reaching worldwide success with their debut album released in 2012 which spawned hit singles like “Ho Hey”, “Submarines” and “Stubborn Love”, they have maintained the #1 spot in the “Adult Alternative” radio category with six different songs during this past decade. Since this latest LP released January 14th of this year, they have been on Billboard 200’s top ten, as well as Billboard’s “Top Alternative” and “Top Rock Albums.” Now, Florida fans can see this extraordinarily talented band when they bring their amazing show to Daily’s Place in Jacksonville, FL on May 17th and 18th and then the iTHINK Financial Amphitheatre in West Palm Beach, FL on May 20th.

Catching up with Co-founder, Guitarist, Lead Vocalist Wes Schultz, he revealed some details about the new show and new album, stories behind some new songs and videos, past events that shaped the band and what fans can look forward to.

Purchase tickets:  The Lumineers – BRIGHTSIDE World Tour Tickets May 20, 2022 West Palm Beach, FL | Live Nation

Website: The Lumineers

SFL Music: What can fans look forward to with this new show, the Brightside World Tour?
Wes Schultz: The Brightside World Tour, we’re gonna be playing all four records, especially the most recent one. We’re gonna play that entire thing, but for us, we feel like we’re playing a set that finally feels full. No fat. No down moments in a way. It’s just a stack that we feel like, it’s a good feeling, I think. We were lucky that things broke our way on our first record, but there was a lot less music than there is for you know, three albums later. Four albums total later. So, for us, we want people to walk away going, damn I forgot how many songs they had! That’s what we hope people walk away with feeling.

SFL Music: This is your ten-year anniversary since the release of your debut album and you all are releasing a Deluxe Edition on Vinyl?
Schultz: Yeah, well, we never had it on 180-gram vinyl which if you like listening to LP’s, it’s just a higher quality. Ten year and higher quality can fit more information on there, so an album short enough that it fits on one LP, you know what I mean? Side A, Side B. I’ve always wanted to do that, and we put it off until we were gonna hit the ten-year mark. So, I’m really excited and it kind of just thresh marks an important milestone. We spent about probably ten years trying to make it in music and then to be around for ten now, it just means something. It’s just hard to wrap your head around exactly, but just the idea that you know, we’re playing a couple shows in Florida. It’s a lot of people ten years later. There’s an element of feeling like, wow! We’re still doing alright ‘cause sometimes you just feel like at any moment someone can take it all away from you when you’ve sort of lived in obscurity for so long, that its wild that it’s been ten years.

SFL Music: You guys are very talented. The new album BRIGHTSIDE, what inspired it?
Schultz: I would say this feeling. You know, being inspired by artists like Kurt Cobain or Neil Young where I think they really wrote about a feeling a lot more than they wrote about, here’s a literal story. It starts here and it goes here and it ends here. They were masters and are masters at capturing some sort of feeling that is very illusive. It’s just when you hear it, you know it. Like a smell. So, to try to write about how it was feeling throughout these last few years during this pandemic, we were trying to write this sort of post-COVID anthem of a record. A lot of us I think, we’re trying to tap into some inner strength that we didn’t know we had, or find hope where there didn’t seem to be any and are still doing that you know, in our own way.

SFL Music: Is that the song “Where We Are”? That seems inspirational.
Schultz: Yeah, “Where We Are” is a good example. It’s based on this car wreck I got in about ten years ago. The car flipped over three times. It hydroplaned. We were going about seventy and it hydroplaned off the highway and my wife and I were lucky to be alive, but then you have, you know, years later, realizing there were still parts of that, we were still picking up the pieces of the wreckage in a way. Not literally some of that, but a lot of it had to do with, when that accident’s over, it doesn’t just leave you. You don’t get to just leave it, and I felt like it was a really good metaphor for kind of collectively what we’re going through where it seemed to happen quite suddenly, the pandemic, but there’s something about it that can linger and you have to deal with it. You don’t just get to put it down. Whether it’s like my mom not getting to meet her granddaughter right away or celebrating someone’s birthday in your family or not seeing them, someone getting married, not going to the wedding ‘cause you can’t. A lot of this stuff kept us apart from one another. I don’t know if we really deal with it right away, so there’s a lot of collected trauma that we’ve all been exposed to and been a part of that, I think. We’re gonna have to work through that.

SFL Music: “Rollercoaster” seems to fit into that as well?
Schultz: Yeah, the whole records’ kind of like that to be honest. It’s like about this feeling of just you know, in the sense of “Rollercoaster”, it’s sort of this lullaby. This pandemic lullaby. A lot of our lullabies that we sing our children,” ring around the rosy. Pocket full of posy. Ashes, ashes we all fall down.” That is some dark stuff, or Grimm’s Fairy Tales. A lot of the stuff that we watch as kids and we sing to our children as we get older, that stuff had a lot of heart and a lot of darkness to it, and I feel like songs are no different. So, that song is a kind of deeply sad song, but it’s also this sweet-sounding lullaby, and trying to give yourself a lullaby through this period of time. That song sort of accidentally became that just by the sound of that piano Jer (Co-founder Jeremiah Fraites) came up with. This beautiful, soft, almost like hypnotizing rhythm to it.

SFL Music: “Big Shot”, that almost seems like giving a little bit of advice?
Schultz: Yeah. I mean, for me having written those lyrics, a lot of it for me just had to do with the idea that sometimes you get ahead of yourself and when you actually get things that you love taken away, there’s an only moment you can really realize it. So, for me, I think I just started looking way too far ahead instead of just being a little bit in the moment. It was like a sort of not-so-subtle reminder that being humbled is a real thing. We use the word getting humbled really out of context you know, when you hear actors on podiums saying all this, this award, I’m very humbled by this. Like, no you’re not. You’re quite the opposite right now, but getting humbled is what we all got a taste of these last couple years in a multitude of ways, depending on who you talk to. So yeah, it was just like, you think this is all permanent. It could be taken away in a moment.

SFL Music: What inspired “A.M. Radio”?
Schultz: Again, like a lot of this album was written more in a not so literal way and then afterwards, you kind if look back on it like, what did that mean? My friend who directed the video, I had gone to high school with him and I’ve been making music and he’s been doing visual art ever since. His name is Nick Bell. He directed the music video and he had asked me “so, this is a love song, right?” Like “long as you run, I couldn’t give you up. Forever run, I couldn’t give you up.” So, what do you want to make the video about?” and I was like, it’s not that romantic love. This is about, for me it was about music is my love and visual art was his love and dancing was this persons love, and whatever it is that really gives you purpose and you kind of stick with it against all odds. There’s such a beauty in that. So, it’s like a love letter to, for me music, but for anybody. It could be whatever, hey it could be numbers if someone’s an accountant. It’s just, there’s something about certain things that start to grab hold of us and we stay with them and we get obsessed with them, and it was sort of a love letter to that idea of just being totally obsessed with something and you’re working all these other jobs just to do that. There was something beautiful about that, that idea.

SFL Music: You have the two videos “A.M. Radio” and “Brightside”. Are there any more coming out?
Schultz: Yeah, we also have a video for “Where We Are”. It’s also out. I’m trying to think if there’s any other one’s out. Nick did “Where We Are” and “A.M. Radio” and Kyle Thrash did “Brightside”. “Where We Are” kind of goes through some of that car accident stuff and at the end, shows a photo of my wife and I. We’re holding the photo, but it shows a big photo of us standing on the wreckage of that car that we almost died in, but yeah, I think we might do a video for “Birthday”. We’re not sure, but those are the three we picked out for this one. Like last album we did a whole album on album three called “III” (released in 2019) which was also a visual, like it was a movie. It was a short film. So, this time around we decided to do something a little different.

SFL Music: That’s something for fans to look forward to. What initially got you into music? Originally, you’re from New Jersey. Was there anything about being there or what would you say got you into music as a career?
Schultz: I think I always like doing something outside of the bounds of what felt normal. I really liked the idea of being an apprentice to something. You know, sort of like giving everything and asking nothing in return for a long time and maybe something would happen. I always really loved, for whatever reason I loved words. I loved lyrics and poetry and when I finally started playing guitar, for a lot of kids I think when you’re growing up, for me it was sports for the longest time and I thought that was what I was gonna do, and then all of the sudden it clicked. It’s like, that’s not gonna happen, and I picked up a guitar and started getting some basic lessons and very quickly found like, oh, this feels like home. It was way easier to do that then play sports and I had been playing sports so long. It was like something felt natural about it and I was off. I was off to the races after that. I wasn’t very good in the beginning, but I felt really possessed by it and enjoyed it, and like I said, sort of felt good at it. Even if I wasn’t any good by normal standards. I felt good at it for some reason and that gave me the self-esteem, and I started really pursuing it and working every side job known to man to support it and eventually I was able to call myself a full-time musician, but there was some glory and beauty in for me in just trying to be in the pursuit of something like that.

SFL Music: What sports were you playing?
Schultz: Mostly it was basketball. I had dreams of the NBA. I was all about Michael Jordan as most kids growing up. Then it went away from team sports after that and I ran cross country for a little, but I mostly played golf after that. And I still play. I just don’t play that often because I have kids now and being away from my family for four hours isn’t as appealing. So, occasionally I get out there and I love playing, and I always play, but time is precious when I’m home, so if I go golfing at all, it’s usually on tour with the band and crew.

SFL Music: Did you have formal lessons when you decided to play guitar?
Schultz: Yeah, I had lessons with this local guy for a few months and I still have the notebook with all the tablature and what he taught me and if anybody that I know is learning, I’ll just give them that. I’ll photo copy that and give ‘em that, but it wasn’t a whole lot. That’s what’s so beautiful about guitar. It’s so self-driven. It’s not like violin or I mean, I know you can teach yourself these things, but piano and violin are much more complex in the learning curve of things, and with guitar you can start playing songs by yourself within a few weeks. My first instrument was trumpet and that’s just not a fun thing to do on your own (he chuckled). So, I think basically the reason guitar really hooked me in is because of how quickly you can entertain yourself with it and start writing on it compared to almost any other instrument. I was writing bad songs almost immediately. I made a CD for my dad when I was fifteen of all these cover songs and then four original songs. That’s almost like, nerve I had because I thought I could already write a song and record it (he laughed) right when I started playing, but that was how it took hold of me. It was just fun to play even if it aggravated most people.

SFL Music: You were working towards your goal. That’s a good thing!
Schultz: Yeah, you got to leap sometimes.

SFL Music: (Running close on time). How did you get to Colorado and what would you recommend to new musicians?
Schultz: Those are kind of tied in actually. I got to Colorado because the rent was too expensive in New York and I had a couple friends that were moving to Denver and they said, hey. Rent is half the amount you’re spending in New York and there’s enough room in this house for you to practice in and dah, dah, dah. So, I moved there just because the economics made sense. It was like cheaper than living in New York and never really getting to play music, but working three jobs just to pay the rent. Two jobs actually, but sometimes three, and then I would tell a younger musician that when the time’s right and you’re gonna move, pick a cheap place because you’re gonna spend most of your time touring, so it doesn’t really matter where you live. Keep your overhead low, and that’s what I did and it worked out. Like all the clubs that I wanted to get into in New York wouldn’t let me in. The minute I moved to Denver, they started letting me in. I still don’t understand why, but it’s just I think they understand that you’re a little more committed when you’re willing to get in a van and tour, and there’s so many places that we’ve all seen over the last number of years that maybe were lesser known and become musical hubs, and then new artists have to find new places to go. So, for me it was like, I moved to Bushwick. That was still really expensive, but it’s not even close to what it is now. I moved to Denver. That was inexpensive. Now it’s very expensive. There’s somewhere else you can always find that you can go and make that place neutral, and it just seems to be how it works.

SFL Music: Was there anything lastly that you want fans to know about the show or the album?
Schultz: We’re just excited to play. We’re just excited to get back out there. I go see shows myself and it’s just that, it feels like we’re bringing back some sense of normalcy and beauty back into our world that we didn’t have for a couple years.

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