A new electric direction, politics, and some new music tips
Cai Trefor

08:00 20th April 2016

Cleopatra might only be The Lumineers' second album, but they've built a devout fanbase thanks to their electrifying live performances and are now one of the biggest bands around.

Jeremiah Fraites, a core member of the Denver band, was in town to discuss the more electric direction of Cleopatra - which went to No.1 in both the US and the UK last week.

In addition to learning their new approach to recording, we discussed how they've developed as musicians, their favourite music, and their thoughts on the election.

Was your approach to making the follow-up much different to your approach to your debut?

"The first one you could busk, but this one we tried to plug in our instruments a bit more and really use to exploit the studio atmosphere for this album.. It feels less acoustic."

How would you describe the sound and feel of Cleopatra?

"Not so folky and Americana like the last one. It wasn’t a conscious decision, we just wanted to make new music and that’s the way it kind of unfolded in the studio."

What is the biggest misconception that people have about you?

"People judge us through our media and images and song like 'Ho Hey', one song that they don't go beyond. Also, maybe people have this idea about the band that we’re old-timey, and don’t like modern stuff, and that we're folky and always happy and clap our hands. I consider ourselves to be complex musicians with a broad palette."

Is there anywhere you are particularly looking forward to playing?

"London of course! It feels like our home here as we always get a great, massive reception. We’re very excited to play Los Angeles and a place called Red Rocks outside Denver, Colorado."

Who are you listening to these days?

"I really like Hozier, he’s fantastic and new and really great. I’ve been listening to Arcade Fire stuff, the new David Bowie, his last record Black Star, it’s out of this world! Not just because it was his last album, but I think it’s truly a magnificent, different out-there record and it’s amazing he created it while going through all that."

What classic albums do you fall back on?

"Dark Side Of The Moon by Pink Floyd is amazing, I listened to it the other day and I was just blown away."

You guys were quite chuffed when Obama used your music for his campaign. Who are you backing in this year’s Presidential elections?

"Anybody but Donald Trump. I’m not really a political guy but I think if Donald Trump wins I’ll probably move to Canada or Europe."

How important do you think politics is to music?

"For a band like Rage Against the Machine, it’s everything. Those guys were really talking about something they were passionate about. We try to conquer smaller things, like we try to be good at our instruments, write good songs, tell good stories - being political isn’t really our forte." 

2016 has been an interesting year for comebacks so far. We’ve seen big acts such as Rihanna and Kanye West release new music after being silent for a few years. Are any of you Rihanna or Kanye fans?

I like some of Rihanna's songs, to say I’m a fan is a bit odd, I doubt she writes any of her songs. As for Kanye West, he’s awesome, there’s a song ‘Real Friends’ it’s just so cool, there’s this sample that’s a deconstructed piano sample that he just raps over and I guess it’s autobiographical about getting famous and having real friends and separating them from fake friends. I think, for me, I try to separate his personality from his music. In regards to his music, he’s a genius. He takes risks and that’s really respectable.

Who else do you think will have a big 2016?

We hope our friend’s Langhorne Slim & The Law will be. They released their album last year and we’re gonna go on tour with them this year, they’re fantastic. Another band, Borns, are gonna have a huge year, they’re gonna be direct support for us at some point. And Nathanial Ratliff and the Nightsweats are gonna have a big year.

Cleopatra is out now on Dualtone Records.  

Photo: Press