From a bar stage to the big stage: Neyla Pekarek from The Lumineers discusses who they are as a band and what it’s like to be popular now
The Lumineers are a band from Denver, Col., that began playing open-mic nights at the Meadowlark Bar. In Dec. 2011, the band released its first single, “Ho Hey,” which was later featured on the CW TV show “Hart of Dixie.” The group’s debut self-titled album on Deftone Records peaked at No. 11 on the Billboard 200 and No. 7 on the iTunes charts. “Ho Hey” is currently No. 3 on Billboard’s Alternative and iTunes charts. The Lumineers are currently on tour with The Civil Wars, and they are playing in Atlanta tonight, Oct. 19. Neyla Pekarek, cellist and vocalist, recently spoke with a reporter for The Colonnade.
Q: When did you all finally realize that you made it big? Was there a specific “wow” moment?
A: Well, I appreciate that sentiment. We’ve had some pretty incredible experiences in the last few months, and if I had to pick one “wow” moment, I’d say the Conan O’Brien show was pretty memorable. We’ve been working really hard for the last couple of years, but it’s hard for friends and family to grasp exactly what’s been going on until things like Conan happen. A sold-out theater in Portland or Minneapolis is really overwhelming and amazing to us, but isn’t very tangible to my 66-year-old parents in Denver. Conan is tangible.
Q: What would you classify your genre of music as?
A: The current instrumentation we use is acoustic and electric guitars, drums, piano, electric bass, cello and a little mandolin and accordion used sparingly. People are calling it all kinds of things, so maybe it’s up to the listeners to decide.
Q: Who are your influences?
A: I come from a pretty eclectic background, so from growing up playing cello and listening to a lot of classical music, to singing in a barbershop quartet and listening to a lot of old timey turn of the century standards and stuff, to my dad’s old Dylan records. I’m kind of all over the place.
Q: Has there been a place you really enjoyed playing at, or are you excited to play at a specific venue?
A: I’d say our show at Red Rocks in Morrison, Colorado. It is a legendary amphitheater and I’ve seen so many of my favorite artists play there, so it was pretty surreal to be on that stage.
Q: What is the lifestyle of the band on tour? Are there any quirky things you like to do or funky foods you have to have?
A: We get along amazingly well. I think if there’s anything that is really keeping us happy and grounded during these crazy times, it’s our ability to be around each other every waking second of every day. There are few people I could travel with as well as I do with this group of people. As far as funky foods, we’re pretty boring. I like to have coconut water on hand to stay hydrated. More potassium than three bananas!
Q: What do you think is next for The Lumineers?
A: Lots and lots and lots of touring.
Q: Who would be your dream artist to perform with or collaborate with?
A: I recently had the pleasure of playing cello and singing some background vocals on a track called “The Gospel” for a Denver artist known as Faceman, and it was a really awesome experience. I find it’s a lot of fun to collaborate with friends and bands I admire from our local scene in Denver.
Q: What do you want your fans to really know about The Lumineers?
A: From what we’ve seen at shows, it seems like people are listening to the album as a whole, which we really appreciate. We like “Ho Hey,” but we hope if that’s the first track someone hears, it inspires them to hear the rest of the album because it goes a lot deeper than just that track.
Q: Lastly, just a fun question, if the band could be featured on the soundtrack of any movie, what would it be?
A: The next “Muppet” movie?