Even Hipsters Love Basketball: An interview with The Lumineers’ Wesley Schultz

04.20.12 7 years ago
In October, Jordan Brand released a commercial featuring Dwayne Wade, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony balling in various basketball leagues during the off-season. Besides promoting Jordan Brand the commercial showcased the various demographics that play and are fans of basketball; Carmelo dominating hipsters in a pickup game in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg shows the wide reach of basketball’s appeal.

Rising Denver folk rock band, The Lumineers, can definitely fall under that “hipster” label. And they also happen to be led by a huge basketball fan.

Despite being in the midst of a tour playing sold out shows across the country, band front man, Wesley Schultz, took time from his busy schedule to chat with Dime about their new album, the tour, and his love for the New Jersey Nets.

DIME: Folk is such a general genre to classify The Lumineers, so how would you describe the band’s music?
Wesley Schultz: We are the JV of Folk-Rock. (Laughs). For people who haven’t heard our music before, we just urge them to give it a chance. The other night we had a death metal fan dragged out to the show, and he ended up really appreciating us even though it wasn’t his typical type of music. That meant a lot. I think we try to make music that transcends those lines; try to transcend the time period, or a particular genre.

There is this old saying that we like to throw around: “Talking about music is like dancing about architecture.” It would be like how do you describe playing basketball? At the end of the day, you just have to go see and experience it.

DIME: The debut self-titled album came out a couple of weeks ago. What has the reception and feedback been like?
WS: It’s been positive overall. We actually don’t read too many articles these days. What happens when you get to a certain level of notoriety is that people will start trying to knock you down. That’s not to say that we got bad press but we have our own internal evaluation, our own internal scoreboard. We do look at things like numbers, as the first week was really great. We sold over 10,000 records and we were something like #43 on the overall charts. That stuff is exciting. But we don’t really have any context as this is our first album. We only put out home recorded EPs before this. We don’t really know what we are talking about but we are just enjoying the ride.

DIME: Right, I know you guys are currently on tour and have been selling out basically all of your shows. So that has to be one indicator of the band’s success. How has the tour been going so far?
WS: It’s been really great so far. The sold out shows are remarkable, we didn’t expect that at all. We went to Vancouver and never played there, or in Canada or outside the United States and it sold out. That was pretty surreal. The same thing happened in Minneapolis. We had an amazing show in Denver, our hometown. It’s all kind of shocking and surreal. We are happy this is happening.

DIME: What’s been the best tour stop so far?
WS: I would have to say Seattle. We played this big show at Neumos, a couple days prior to our album release. We had about 700 people there, the most we ever played to, at one of our own shows. That show sold out and I saw a scalper outside beforehand. He was a guy who definitely does not listen to folk rock but had one of those signs that said, “I need tickets.” It was crazy.

We were still in Seattle, a couple days later on the actual CD release day and had four shows in one day. We played at the radio station and other venues around town. It was a crazy 24 hours. It all went really well though. I would say Seattle so far but overall its been great. We are excited to go to Williamsburg, I used to live there so I am excited.

DIME: I was told by your manager Christen that you are a big basketball player. How often do you get a run in?
WS: It’s important to note that Christen played college ball at NC State. She’s a badass in her own way. Real tall lady and she does a great job for us.

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