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Providing the Soundtrack to Your Drive Home from Splendour
Monster Children got together with The Lumineers for this years issue of the Daily Splendour to discuss the bands touring experiences and (of course) their close bond with Australia’s surfing champ Mick Fanning.
Interview by Vaughan Dead
It’s hard to believe that nearly a decade has passed since the American folk revival overtook popular music, and yet it’s equally baffling that my chihuahua Smokey Lopez can dance around on her hind legs for over a minute, should I hold a piece of barbecued chicken just above her nose. No doubt this world is a strange joint, however, one truth that can be easily explained is the ongoing success of The Lumineers, a band that rode the crest of that initial A-folk wave with songs like ‘Ho Hey’ and ‘Stubborn Love’, but have since gone on to craft a sound and live show that is wholly their own, one that will sign off Splendour 2019 with a bliss-fuelled set of soul and singalongs in the GW McLennan Tent Sunday evening. We spoke with Jeremiah, aka Jezza, to see what’s cooking.
Hello Jeremiah, how are you today?
Good. How are you doing?
I’m good mate. I just went fishing with the kids and we reeled in three toadies, or puffer fish as they’re also known. They were undersize so we threw them back, but it was fun.
So, here’s a strange fact. I was introduced to your music by three-time world surfing champion and shark-bashing Aussie hero Mick Fanning when we were on three-week road trip through the desert last year. Were you aware he was a fan?
Mick actually came to one of our shows in Australia, and I was the only guy in the band who didn’t get to meet him. I think I went back to the hotel, but the rest of the band went out with him afterwards and they had a good time. But, I think our music serves well on the road; it’s good road trip material, because I don’t think our music is all that immediate, like, ‘Let’s check out this banger song.’ I think it’s better for driving around and having on in the background.
Oh man, road trip music goes hand in hand with some of the best and most liberating times of your life, especially when you’re young and you get your first car and you just hit the highway. What are your memories of formative road trip albums?
It wasn’t until we started touring with the band and we had fourteen-hour drives between shows that the road trip became a place of music for us. America is so huge and we did a lot of our own driving, and one of the bands we always loved listening to was Bright Eyes, Conor Oberst, particularly his amazing album I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning. I swear it’s gotta be one of the best road trip albums ever made. It’s a killer album for the road.
Are those early memories of the road as a young band fond ones?
I think slight memory loss combined with romanticising the past makes those times better than they were (laughs). You don’t miss the big drives–they were brutal, especially if you were playing somewhere one night, jumping straight in the car after a show and driving between eight and sixteen hours to the next show. But then, in the early days of touring you have so much camaraderie, and I think you miss that closeness of sitting in the van, getting some coffee going, throwing on an album, talking the whole way, taking in the landscape as it flies past the window… I think you end up appreciating the moment and the journey and the places so much more than when you just fly straight in. So, there are aspects of that time I remember fondly for sure.
You guys are playing Splendour on Sunday which is a blitzed and blissed out day to headline. My view has always been it’s the best day to play because everyone has had their heater night, they’ve come good but they don’t want to know about getting back to real life for at least another twelve hours. What will you guys be bringing to their final experience of the fezzy?
Actually, we’ve been playing a lot of festivals where we’re the last band on the last day, and it’d be easy to think, ‘Aaah man, everyone’s gonna be exhausted and burnt out,’ but the thing is, festival shows are always different to your own live headlining gig. People are there for an experience so much bigger than just seeing one band, so we bring a set list and an attitude that reflects that. We’re gonna play our best set and try to bring a Lumineers experience that caters to what we do in our normal shows, but also step it up so that it matches the emotion of that environment. It’ll be special because we know how to play a festival crowd now. Years ago, we came to Australia for Big Day Out and they wanted us to play an hour-long set, but our album was only thirty-five-minutes long (laughs) so we were pulling rabbits out of the hat for that one. We’ve come a long way since then. In saying that, the biggest mistake you can make is going out there and trying to be someone that you’re not; we’ll just bring our best show into the feel of the people and the surroundings on the day. Obviously, we’re not Australian, but we’ve put a lot of time and energy into coming down that way, and we feel a connection with the people that is unlike anywhere else, and I think they feel it with us too. I think it’ll be a great time.
Catch The Lumineers tonight at 10pm at GW McLennan.