Our surreal 10 minute chat with The Lumineers' Wesley Schultz

2016-09-09 08:50
wesley schultz, the lumineers

Cape Town – The Lumineers are returning to South Africa and to say I’m excited would be an understatement!

So, when I heard an interview with Wesley Schultz – guitarist and lead vocalist of the folk rock band – was on offer, I was first in line.

I was given a time that he would call and ten minutes to pick his brain about everything and anything I could.

The phone rings, I hear his voice and fan girl for ten seconds.

And then we start...

My first thought, obviously, is to ask "where are you right now?"

"I’m in New York, actually where we made our latest record, Cleopatra. We’re playing Boston tonight but I’d had a day off so I stopped by to say hello to the producer of our album. We rode some motorcycles and just kinda hung out."

Boston, wow! ?? @ak.instagraphs

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"Are you excited to be returning to SA?" I ask.

With a chuckle Wesley answers: "Yeah! I think every country might suspect that you say the same thing but it really is the truth."

*Side note: The Lumineers LOVE South Africa!

Continue conversation...

"One of the most incredible experiences we had was, we ended all of our touring of the first album (about three years) in South Africa and it was really moving that the amount of people came out and just the connection we felt with those people and the enthusiasm kinda caught us off guard, you know, we’d been touring so long on that material and in the end it felt so fresh and brand new."

He had to add their experience off of the stage as well, "And then also just being kind of blown away by... you know we went on a safari, I stayed an extra week or so and saw a lot more of the countryside and Cape Town so it really blew my mind.

"So I think needless to say we are very excited to return."

A video posted by @thelumineers on

"Are you planning on doing anything new or different for this trip to SA?" I ask.

"Well, it says a lot because I was kind of insisting that, that leg of the tour end in South Africa so that we could have more time for our own personal time," Wesley says.

"I’m not really sure exactly what we’ll do, I’m going to play that part by ear because I got to do a safari, I got to do the wine country. I also met a lot of cool people by accident, randomly, here and there and everyone was so friendly."

Wesley pauses for a moment, "I felt like what I liked about the vibe in South Africa is that people were appreciative that you made the trip, there was this attitude of appreciation that is not very common.

"I think I just enjoy mixing it up, just meeting random people at all the places we went and I hope to meet more."

#nosecurity #KNEE-lah @stelthulvang @neylapekarek @thelumineers

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I have to ask: "What was the highlight of your last trip to SA?" (thinking it would be the safari but I was pleasantly surprised...)

"We played a couple of shows in Cape Town that were really big and then we played a show in Johannesburg, that was the last show, and that had to be the highlight.

"I think it was like 14 000 and it was a really incredible way to say ‘Alright, this is the end of this album touring’ and that it had reached that far in the world."

This brings Wesley to tell me the short story of how they came to playing in SA for the first time...

"I had seen that documentary, Searching For Sugar Man and I asked our manager right after I saw it ‘Hey, do you think we could see if we could play a couple small shows out there?’ 

"I just think the people in SA kinda like what they like they don’t get force fed their music, they kinda pick what they want to listen to and make up their own minds and that really turned me on to the idea of playing there."

But hold on, there are more highlights.

"I would also say that the safari was also a highlight, because we have zoos all over America and they can be kind of depressing places, so to see all of these animals out in the wild and you’re just in this Range Rover that has no windows.

"I was just showing someone a video of these two cheetahs walking by as I’m sitting there videotaping and then we had to get out of the vehicle because we had a flat tyre and these cheetahs were just 50 yards down the road."

A photo posted by @thelumineers on

Getting back to the music I ask: "Did you get to hear any local music while in SA and what did you think?"

"We had Majozi open for us while we were here last time and he was great. I’m not sure what the plan is yet, we always sort of review and sift through anyone who is open to it or we try to reach out to other people that we like.

"It’s not like something that is done by someone else, it’s pretty hands on with us every tour we do so sometimes it takes some time.

"I just want to know that the audience is going to get something that I would want to see and hear as opposed to something that has a big draw but people aren’t really in to."

It’s been two years since The Lumineers blew us away and they have released a new album as well. I thought it fitting to ask, "How do you think your music has evolved since the last time you were in SA?"

"Well, we got to make this most recent album with Simon Felice, he was our producer. He became a friend over time, and so I think making it with someone whose music I really respected and admired really influenced the record and made it special.

"Also just being able to do it on our own timeline. We weren’t beholden to a timeline or someone else we could put it out when we felt it was ready."

A photo posted by @thelumineers on

It looks like our 10 minutes are almost up but I just have to ask: "How did your dance routine in the video for Ophelia come about? Was it choreographed or did you just go for it?"

Wesley laughs, "I’d like to lie to you and say it was totally natural but it takes a lot of work to look that mediocre. 

"We basically had a choreographer, her name was Gilly, and she was a really fantastic person to work with. So, they were thinking about the Gene Kelly Dancing in the Rain where it would look kinda improvisational or kind of casual because they knew I wasn’t a professional dancer. 

"We shot it in LA and it never rains too much there but they wanted rain in the video so they were going to pretend that it was raining but then it actually started raining really hard."

An amazed wow blurts out. I control myself and let Wesley continue...

"We actually only had two full takes so I think there is something really special and spontaneous about that. It’s kinda like how we make records, you keep everything even the mistakes because it makes it more human and I think the video has a touch of that."

I thank Wesley for his time and say, "We can’t wait for you guys to get here!"

Wesley politely replies, "We can’t wait either, see you soon!"

And just like that, it’s over.

Tour Information:

Cape Town

Wednesday 26 April 2017

Green Point Park, Cape Town

Ticket Price: R630


Friday 28 April 2017

The Dome, Johannesburg

Ticket Price:  R405 – R745

Tickets go on sale at 09:00 today! Get them from Computicket and Big Concerts.

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