Wesley Schultz, lead vocalist for the folk rock band The Lumineers, joins host Cindy Howes on Basic Folk to discuss everything from golfing to his debut solo album Vignettes.
Getting some background on Schultz, Howes asks about how growing up in the small town of Ramsey, New Jersey helped shape him as a person and artist. Schultz lightheartedly explains that it gave him the false sense of confidence he needed to pursue music.
“I feel like sometimes those small towns can inject this strange level of ‘I can do it.’ That’s the only way I can explain it because it doesn’t really make sense. When I listen to the songs I was writing, I would have so much confidence and how it actually sounded was pretty bad,” he says.
“There’s just something about that small town thing that I think helps you initially become a little delusional. But I think that delusion is really helpful in the beginning, because otherwise you wouldn’t dare to do it.”
Thankfully, that daringness helped Schultz continue with music and eventually meet his friend and Lumineers bandmate, Jeremiah Fraites. Schultz shares that the two of them bonded quickly through the powerful force of grief and were able to channel their pain into their art.
“Maybe this is just a human element, but trying to make something out of it that didn’t feel like a total loss. To me, art at least gives you some feeling of like, ‘Well, I’m gonna make something beautiful out of this.’ Even if it’s painful, even if on its face is like expressing pain, I found that those songs actually give me a lot of comfort, even though someone might be saying something very kind of upsetting or raw.”
He adds that music is his “companion” in that way and cites Lumineers songs like “Ophelia,” “Gloria,” “Ho Hey” and “Stubborn Love” as having this deceivingly upbeat tune with painful situations as their undertone.
Nevertheless, Vignettes is different from anything The Lumineers have ever done. He discusses how his perception of art has shifted as an artist, and how the making of this record was much more spontaneous than his more polished past work.
“We’re very intentional with a lot of things, but I think we’re getting better at making records in a way because we’re open to the other side of things, which is like, when something is cool and spontaneous, you have to be open to that if you really want to make something special. And so with Vignettes, it was almost all off the cuff.”
Throughout their conversation, Schultz is humble and honest about his growth. From getting past pride to the good stuff, taking advice from Bono and finally hiring a vocal coach, he is shameless in his search for new artistic ground and pushing the bounds of his own creative limitations.
For more on Vignettes and Schultz as a person, check out the rest of the conversation on Basic Folk.