This article is from Issue 62: March/April 2013

The Lumineers

The meteoric rise of the Americana trio has surprised them as much as anyone

The Lumineers haven’t been a household name for more than a couple months, but they’re already losing track of which photo shoot is which. As they were coming off a brief Thanksgiving break, posing for just one more batch of pictures, the band’s affable cellist, Neyla Pekarek, says, “We didn’t really know what was happening until we were there. It was like, ‘Oh, this is for the cover of Billboard?’”

That’s a notable achievement for any band, but when their manager pulled them aside mid-shoot to inform them they’d be flying to Nashville the next morning to present the Grammy nominations, it all started to seem uncommonly charmed.

“It’s all just kind of a whirlwind,” says Pekarek. “It’s crazy to think that in March [2012], we were playing to empty rooms and working side jobs. And in May we did Conan, July we did Leno—all this late-night stuff. It’s almost hard to take in because it’s happening so rapidly.”

Here’s what she’s talking about. The Lumineers (Wesley Schultz on guitar, Jeremiah Fraites on drums and Pekarek on cello) just wrapped an arena tour with the Dave Matthews Band, criss-crossing states in a tour bus with a full crew. They were nominated for two of those Grammys they announced in Nashville, have cropped up in national commercials, landed a coveted gig on Saturday Night Live and watched, aghast, as their single “Ho Hey” went both viral and platinum. It’s no surprise their self-titled debut album that dropped last April has already gone gold.

“It’s funny because I keep thinking, ‘Oh, it can’t get any crazier than this,’” Pekarek says. “We were in Europe about three weeks ago, and I thought, ‘This is the craziest it’s gonna get.’ And then last week, we had the Grammy nomination thing happen.”

With their folk-Americana-pop-stomp-clap-“hey!”-snap goodness up for two Grammys and a string of sold-out shows on the tour docket, the Lumineers went from feisty indie nobodies to conquering folk heroes at a galloping pace that doesn’t show any sign of slowing.

“I think it was pretty unexpected,” Pekarek says, reflecting on the band’s ascension. “The goal was for us to just kind of make a living as musicians. And I think a lot of the things that have come with it at this level weren’t really in the plan. We were just happy to come home and not work side jobs anymore. We’re all really grateful for what’s happened, but we definitely weren’t expecting it.”