It was a few years back that I saw The Lumineers play in Plymouth, the room was packed and for good reason, they played an absolutely storming set which left the capacity crowd yearning for more. Fast forward a few years and they're back in the UK for their leg of the World Tour which sees them gigging on and off until April 2017.
We caught up with Jeremiah Fraites from the band whilst he was kicking back in his hotel room in Leeds ahead of their show, read on to find out about his love of visiting different countries and what he takes with him to try and stay 'normal' whilst on the road....
Jeremiah, the world tour has kicked off, you're playing in the UK now before heading to mainland Europe, Japan, Australia and finally South Africa, are there any countries that you're really looking forward to playing?
Well, firstly, it’s so great to be back here in the UK is a real treat, we’ve had a long and slow steady rise here and I feel like places like London and other cities in the UK were there from the very beginning so it’s great to be back there for the fans. I guess the more exotic and ‘off the beaten track’ places like South Africa are really cool, we played South Africa before, one show in Johannesburg and the other in Capetown and we had around 10,000 people at each show which was just weird, as an American band you don’t travel out of your own country that often and you appear half way across the world and there are a ton of people waiting to see you play. We got to go on safari and see some pretty exotic animals so that was great. I think Japan will also be great, such a diverse place. We played there before at a festival called Fuji Rocks, that was a really cool experience, we saw Yoko Ono there and there were a ton of bands and so many genres, something for everyone!
How has the tour been so far? Has it been free of issues?
So far it’s been great, we’ve been on tour non stop since March or April this year, we were in Europe in April then we went back to the States, the latest tour officially kicked off in the UK last night when we played Manchester, we’re in Leeds this evening.
Do you find that the audiences react to your music differently from country to country? why do you think this is?
Yeah, I don’t have a mental database of the reaction of audiences all over the place but the two countries that do come to mind are Japan and China and I think it was Japan where we did an interview and the lady who was interviewing us gave us the heads up and said that if you were in the middle of a song and the audience looked like they were bored, they weren’t, its just that they don’t find it easy to sing along to the lyrics in their broken English. They would clap and then just STOP after a few seconds whereas English audiences just carry on until they reach a rowdy frenzy and keep going! I guess it's a culture thing!
You're playing some great venues in the UK this year, which are you most looking forward to playing?
The Hammersmith Apollo in London is a really big deal for us, we’ve played a LOT of venues in London before and the Apollo is one that we are yet to play so we’re really looking forward to that.
Touring can be both fun and a drag at the same time, firstly, tell me what you really enjoy about touring and what you most dislike about the whole process?
Well, the shows are always a treat, they last about an hour and a half so you have twenty two and a half hours a day to figure out what you’re going to do! I really enjoy a cultural experience, if I can get involved and do things that you do in the countries you’re in, that’s great but unfortunately, you finish a show, you relax, you sleep, you get to the next venue and then it’s a case of “do I go out and explore or do I catch up on things like emails and calling home”, it’s a tough one to call. Touring is an exhausting thing to do but I guess the physical playing the shows in different countries is a real amazing treat!
A world tour involves a HUGE amount of planning and scheduling, how active have the band been in deciding on venues and the logistics in general?
We have a big 'round table' meeting and when it comes to these massive tours, you’re booking the venues 2-3 months in advance, I talked to our production manager who is working on next years leg of the World tour and she told me that the hotel rooms are already booked! We know that we have a bed whilst we’re in South Africa and Japan so that’s good! There’s a LOT to take into account, routing, how many days on, how many days off, the size of venue that we want to play. The band, the booking agent and the management are ALL involved in that, there’s a LOT of people involved. It can seem really complicated but at the end of the day, it’s not that bad!
Tell me your top three tips to surviving a major tour?
Stay hydrated….plenty of water is number 1 on the list, refraining from doing stupid things is really important, touring is an exhausting thing to do and the schedules can be pretty brutal and we’ve seen so many bands go out and do it the WRONG way and that teaches us what NOT to do, I guess it’s a case of allowing yourself to have a good time after the show but to know your limits and finally get to bed early every now and then!
We all love our creature comforts when away from home, what items will you be taking along with you to try and maintain a level of 'normality' whilst on tour?
That’s a good question, I think for me, having an acoustic guitar with me is important, I play guitar for pleasure and if I play 5 shows in a row, I don’t feel like I have actually played an instrument, it’s more a job for me so playing for just 20 seconds or 2 minutes a day just makes me feel more centred, when I’m at home in Denver, I play a lot so anything that reminds me of home just keeps me centred.
Tell me how the ‘South by South Lawn’ event came about? did you get to meet Mr President?
We got an email through asking if we’d like to play the event, being what it was and where it was, we said YES straight away and then had to work around the logistics. We had 5-6 shows in a row in America and the night this was due to take place happened to be a night off and we ended up playing! President Obama was a keynote speaker at the very famous ‘South by Southwest’ event in Austin Texas, someone from his staff suggested that they do a ‘South by South Lawn’ event at the Whitehouse! I already said that we agreed to play before we’d really had time to think about HOW we were going to do so, it was a case of moving some things about to allow it to happen, it was a very surreal experience! We got to meet the president, we were there, waiting for him in the White House and we must have been waiting like 45 minutes but you know, he’s a busy guy so you just accepted it! He came in shouting “hey folks, we got The Lumineers here”, apparently, one of our songs was a firm favourite on a White House playlist a year or two ago and we thanked him for putting it on there and he said “what do you mean, you’re always be on the playlist!”, so we actually have a presidential endorsement for the second album!
Your latest album 'Cleopatra' reached the top of the charts in the US, Canada and the UK, would you say that these countries form the biggest part of your fanbase?
Yeah, I guess so, these are the main countries where I guess we’re the most well received.
What do you do in order to raise your profile in other countries where you're maybe not so well known?
Just playing shows and trying to get known there, we've only ever had to cancel one show, that was in Manilla (The Philippines) that was one occasion where we just outstretched ourselves a little and it didn’t take off as well as we thought it might. I guess its down to promotion of your music in the country, radio really helps, if you get a track playlist on a popular station, people recognise you and that allows you to break through in those places, a tough one to control.
The world tour ends in South Africa in April 2017, what are your immediate plans when you leave the stage at the Ticketpro Dome in Johannesburg?
(laughter) I guess for me, my greatest dream is just being bored at home in Denver Colorado, when I go on tour, I leave behind my beautiful wife, it’s been so long that I’ve been at home, the thought of just doing nothing really appeals to me! People often say are you going to take a holiday? Believe me, after you’ve been on tour, you’re sick of the sight of planes and the last thing you want to do is even more travelling so to be at home, doing the food shopping for milk is ideal!
A real rock n’ roll lifestyle then!
When I saw you a few years back in Plymouth, England, you setup a makeshift stage right in the middle of the audience and played a couple of tracks from it, have you any surprises like this in store for the fans on the world tour?
Well, I guess you’re just gonna have to come along and find out! I think for us, its really important for us to break the big barrier down that forms between us as a band and the audience, we try and break that barrier in the most sincere way by saying, let’s all come together tonight, we’ll supply the music, you buy the tickets and attend the shows and together, we’ll just have a hell of a party! It’s just a very sincere way of giving something back to the people that make the effort to turn up to your show sand watch you perform.
Jeremiah, I’ve exceeded my 15 minute limit with you and I’m very well aware that there are other people who want to chat to you so I’ll leave it there, thanks SO much for sparing the time today to chat to us, we’re really looking forward to catching you on November 1st in Plymouth.
No problem at all, thanks for the questions, enjoy the show!
The Lumineers are on a World Tour taking in Europe and America this side of Christmas prior to taking to Australia, Japan and South Africa next year, for more information on dates and venues, check their social media channels below.