The Lumineers on How 'Holdin' Out' Became an Emotional Peak for 'Storks' Movie

Courtesy Photo
Storks

“Holdin’ Out,” the song The Lumineers wrote for Storks, experienced a rewarding, if somewhat difficult, delivery.

The strummy, acoustic ballad plays during an emotionally charged scene in the animated feature about storks, who, after years of delivering packages for a retail giant, return to delivering a baby after accidentally activating a baby-making machine. The Warner Bros. film, with voices from Andy Samberg, Jennifer Aniston and Kelsey Grammer, opened Friday (Sept. 23).

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The band was in the middle of launching its second album, Cleopatra, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, when discussions about contributing a song to the movie began. It turned out the film’s writer/co-director Nicholas Stoller was a fan of the band. “The music he’d heard from us created this emotional peak and he wanted to have this moment where there’s this crescendo [in the film],” says lead singer Wesley Schultz. “I think he’d heard ‘Stubborn Love’ and ‘Angela’ and thought, ‘If you can do this, maybe you can help make this part [of the film] shine.'”

On a partial day off, Schultz and drummer Jeremiah Frates saw an unfinished version of the movie at the WB lot in Burbank. “Some of it was just hand-drawn, but all the dialog was there,” Schultz says. The band, moved by what they saw, knew they wanted in. 

Contrary to The Lumineers’ drawn-out writing style that can take a year, the band wrote and  recorded “Holdin’ Out’ in five days while home earlier this year before leaving on tour. “We liked the movie so much that even though we were exhausted, we said, ‘Let’s do this,’” Schultz says. To their delight, Stoller made himself available any time they had a question about the song’s direction. “Even on a Sunday when we could hear kids screaming in the background, he was generous with his time and energy when we’d ask some of the things [he was] trying to get at in the scene,” Schultz says. “Having access to the guy who’s really in charge of the whole deal made us feel more connected.”

Though the band thought their role was finished, as is not uncommon in animated film, some last-minute changes in Storks required the group to amend their song months after they had initially turned it in -- and while they were in the middle of their extensive tour. “We almost gave up,”  Schultz admits. “We’d had this quick, intense experience of writing the song, recording it and getting it to them and we thought they were done. Then they said, ‘We need another chorus.’” 

The band initially chafed at changing the song. “We thought, ‘We really believe in the [original] song. We’re not jingle writers where it just pops out of us. I don’t know if there’s something to add to it, much less a brand-new chorus,’”  Schultz continues. But during another two-day hiatus, they came up with something that worked and recorded the new version just weeks before the movie’s release. As Schultz observes with a laugh of the filmmaking process, “They spend four years making the movie and then it comes together so last-minute.” 

Despite the time crunch, Schultz says the band, which previously wrote music for “The Hanging Tree,” a song for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part l”, is eager to do more film work -- not only for the experience itself, but also because it offers the band a chance to write material that might not fit on an album. Plus, he reasons, the exercise and discipline “makes us better at what we do. I won’t say it was an easy breezy walk in the park, but I’m glad we did it and we’d do it again…we’d just want a few more days to work on it.”  


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