Lumineers' Jeremiah Fraites on Taking Their Music to Arenas: 'We're Showing the Loudest, Biggest Side of Ourselves'

Scarlet Page
The Lumineers

After conquering amphitheaters last summer, The Lumineers are finding a new -- and, they acknowledge, unlikely -- home in arenas. 

"We know that it's not where our music, on paper, is meant to be," percussionist and co-founder Jeremiah Fraites tells Billboard. "If you named 25 bands you think would sound good in an arena, we wouldn't be on anybody's list. But it's been awesome. What's been cool is we haven't had to change the songs all that much -- the secret touch tends to be maybe add a little more drums or a little more percussion and backbeat. But beyond that we don't feel like the songs have to change too much just for the sake of fitting the arenas."

The Lumineers are on the road again supporting their second album, Cleopatra, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 last April. The set hasn't performed as well as the group's platinum-certified, Grammy Award-nominated 2012 debut overall, but Fraites and company feel that the Cleopatra cycle has solidified the Lumineers as a more than a one-hit wonder, too.

"Y'know, we've got no Grammy nominations this year. We don't have that much going on on the radio, but yet here we are," Fraites says. "We've got thousands of people coming out to see us each night. We play 'Ho Hey' third or fourth in the set list every night -- and nobody leaves the show. They stay and sing almost all the words to all the other songs. Sometimes I do get preoccupied with, 'Aw, we didn't get any Grammy nominations' or 'How are we doing on Spotify?' but that's all bulls--t that doesn't really matter. How can you ask for anything more than, like, two nights at Madison Square Garden. The proof is in the pudding. Any touring band would kill for this situation."

Despite the fact that they managed to sell out arenas on this tour, The Lumineers have no plans yet to document the trek in any way. "That could be really cool some day down the road," Fraites says. "I think it could make more sense, maybe, if we had three albums to choose from instead of just the two, so maybe then."

Given the four-year period between the Lumineers' first two albums, that third one may be a little way off. "It feels really premature for me to even hear those fateful words," Fraites says with a laugh. "I'm always writing stuff and I'm always having these ideas. During the interim between album one and album two I was always wracking my brain -- 'What's the second album supposed to sound like? How's it going to sound like?' I don't want to preoccupy myself with too much pressure for the third album but I do want to think about it and it's still coming up with giant question marks, like 'What are we supposed to do for album three? We have basically a whole entire year of touring ahead of us, so there's not much pressure to be thinking about it. But I already am, and I don't have any conclusive results yet."

The Lumineers are in North America through March 31. The band then plays Japan, Australia and Tokyo before an opening run with U2 for U.S. stadium dates in May and June.

"I think what's cool is this is just another stop on the Journey," Fraites says. "I don't think as a band it's necessarily wise to constantly be like, 'How can we get bigger and better?' We might do a tour in 10 years where we're like, 'Let's just do smaller theaters and people are seated and we'll show them the quieter side. Right now we're showing people the loudest, biggest side of ourselves, and it's pretty cool to be doing that."