Our Interview with Neyla Pekarek of The Lumineers

Jer still gets picked on plenty for wearing suspenders

Tim Baker | April 2, 2012

When I was in college I had this fantasy of moving to a northeastern fishing village where everyone wore white woolen sweaters, pea-coats and navy colored skipper hats. The goal was to toil away in a mix of loose women and alcohol while working on the great American novel. Unfortunately I wasn't a good enough writer and I hate people who are American but way to into being Irish. However I do love the kind of music I imagine these swine to be into. It is rootsy and folksy and usually involves some sort of statement about the simple life and easy women with golden hearts.

Lucky for me I moved to Brooklyn, immersed myself in indie music and realized their are more than enough fuckers dressing like bare knuckle boxers and making amazing music. Frank Turner comes to mind as well as Baltic Cousins but The Lumineers might just be the best in the biz at this style of artisan music.

Powerful and drenched in the scent of stable work these assholes make such an exciting brand of music, it makes me look for drinks with dirty New Englanders and their stupid fucking accents they are all so proud off.

The Lumineers caress my listening shaft while cupping my musical scrote. The effect is other worldly. I love these bastards.

The Lumineers interview starts now:

SYFFAL: Our readers are a rowdy band of ex militia members, occasional survivalists and interpretive dance professors. For some reason they have decided that we are the go to source for new and exciting music. Can you help us help them by answering the following: Who the fuck are you?

Neyla Pekarek: We are The Lumineers. More specifically, this is Neyla. And I'm you worst nightmare. Just kiddin.

SYFFAL: Hi Neyla, I am Tim and I don't get the joke, because indeed you are my worst nightmare - a talented lass with a sense of humor..va, va vow! So, who does what in the band?

Neyla Pekarek: Wesley is our fearless frontman who plays guitar and sings, Jeremiah plays drums, and I play cello and mandolin. Everyone kinda sings/shouts along. We're currently traveling with a couple fellows helping us out on bass and keys too.

SYFFAL: What is your sure fire way to get out grass stains?

Neyla Pekarek: Stay outta the grass, bonehead.

SYFFAL: I don't appreciate you sassing me like that. Your self titled album is so fucking good. It makes me well up every time I listen to it. The embarrassing part is that I am often listening to it at the library (i dont own a computer so I do all my online shopping there), this usually results in me getting escorted from the premises, and just like that I am down another pair of pants (I need comfort when I shop online so I remove my pants). Is this what you hoped to achieve with The Lumineers? If not what were you trying to get across and if so what do you have against our public libraries?

Neyla Pekarek: If we can't get a man to take off his pants in a public place, we haven't done our job.

SYFFAL: Job well done. Speaking of The Lumineers, kind of a lazy album name. Lets get creative and come up with a new name using one comic book character, an ethnic food, and something earthy.

Neyla Pekarek: Funny you say that, I personally wanted the album to be called "Archie and Jug Head's Saag Paneer Garden," But was outvoted for some reason.

SYFFAL: I have no idea what you are talking about, and it is making me get shame wood. I met Joel, my partner in all things SYFFAL back in 2006. We were at the batting cages right outside of Portland ME and we got into a bit of a skirmish over who's turn it was. The authorities were called in and we were forced to do some community services. While cleaning up the side of the turnpike we got to talking and learned that we shared a love for the collective works of Lily Tomlin, ironic plushy costumes and music. Instantly we knew we had something special and decided right then and there to start SYFFAL, the rest as they say is history. How did you guys meet and when did you realize that you had something special?

Neyla Pekarek: I'll skip the boring details of Wes and Jer's Jersey roots, their move to Denver, and my Craig's List "Missed Connections" ad gone awry (just kiddin), and just tell you it's all been very organic from the get go. We get along splendidly, we work hard, and from what we can gather at shows, other people seem to dig the music we make. We feel grateful for all those things.

SYFFAL: Fucking Jersey?!?! are you serious? I am astonished. I was sure that you were born in some sort of country side speak easy where people played banjos and sang Irish folk songs. My whole world just turned upside down. How did you end up making the kind of music you make in the land of I-Rocs and strip malls? Did you get picked on a lot for wearing suspenders to school?

Neyla Pekarek: The current sound that is now The Lumineers has evolved out of a whole lot of writing, experimenting, and ultimately stripping down a lot of elements to let Wes' lyrics breathe and tell the stories they were intended to tell. And trust me, Jer still gets picked on plenty for wearing suspenders.

SYFFAL: As he should. I bet he smells of leather and rendered fat. Let's say you had to make a punch for your quinceanera, but this punch had to be made up of your musical influences which influences would you use for the following:

Neyla Pekarek: Hahaha...

SYFFAL: The juice?

Neyla Pekarek: Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Bruce Springstein

SYFFAL: The fruit?

Neyla Pekarek: Noise Ambiance, bowed guitars, Sigur Ros

SYFFAL: The grain alcohol?

Neyla Pekarek: Guns n Roses (duh)

SYFFAL: The taffeta dress?

Neyla Pekarek: SPEBQSA (the society of preservation and encouragement of barbershop quartet singing in America)

SYFFAL: The crying after a heavy petting session?

Neyla Pekarek: Selena. It's my quinceanera, after all.

SYFFAL: How traditional. I full expect you guys to become the next big thing and play on next years Grammys telecast during the part where they have a bunch of young and exciting bands play together to prove that they care as much about music as they do making sure America loves women beaters like Chris Brown. If my prediction is correct how do you plan to thank us during your acceptance speech for your Best New Artist Grammy?

Neyla Pekarek: I may be too distracted getting my pet flying pig all dolled up for the event to prepare a speech...

SYFFAL: Well now you have ample notice to get your shit together. Speaking of new and exciting bands, our site was started by a small group of friends who shared the new and exciting bands we were falling in love with. Who are three new and exciting bands that you guys are listening too that you feel the rest of the world should be checking for?

Neyla Pekarek: A few artists we all really like and respect and would love if they could be in everyone else's ears are:

  • Paleo
  • The Outfit
  • Y La Bamba (who we have had the pleasure of touring with these last few weeks)
  • Rad musicians, rad people.

SYFFAL: two SYFFAL favorites out of three. Nice work. OK. I am a big fan of revisionist history, for example imagine how great America would have been if JFK worked in Porn. A lot of times I fantasize about going back in time to tell myself important things like "dude cut that mullet" or "Seriously stop being shy and worrying about if she will be made if you try to kiss her, you will never see her again after 1992", you know the important things. If you could go back in time and give your younger self 3 important messages what would they be?

Neyla Pekarek: Braces are temporary. Eat your vegetables. Guess what's NOT dorky about being an orchestra dork? Touring, playing festivals, recording albums, being on late night TV...

SYFFAL: Braces might be temporary but the shame of imperfect teeth lasts a lifetime. Please promote anything you would like to promote.

Neyla Pekarek: Golden Retrievers and our new album out on April 3rd: www.thelumineers.com.

SYFFAL: Golden retrievers? Fuck you guys are quaint.