It’s a nice feeling when you can say to yourself that you were there first. In the case of Colorado folk-pop trio The Lumineers, we can kind of say that ourselves. On January 19, the band makes their Saturday Night Live debut. But back in May, long before they were at 30 Rock’s Studio 8H, they were in our own Studio 1A. And we’re pleased as pleased as punch to have been there first.
In May, their self-titled, debut full-length had just come out the month prior. Today, as of writing this, one of the record’s singles “Ho Hey” is sitting pretty at number four on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart (wedged between Taylor Swift and that “Thrift Shop” song). But it wasn’t always roses and mainstream pop charts for the band. The band was forged out of the tragedy of the death of member Jeremiah Fraites’ 19-year-old brother in 2002. Fraites found support in a musical partnership with his brother’s best friend Wesley Schultz. The pair made their way to New York to make it as a band, before finally settling in Denver, where the final piece of the puzzle came into place. Through Craigslist, they found multi-instrumentalist Neyla Pekarek, and The Lumineers you know and love was born. The trio played the local songwriter scene, and issued a self-titled EP in 2011.
That brings us to late spring last year. After some SXSW 2012 gigs, they were back in Austin in May where they stopped by Studio 1A to perform a few tracks. “Stubborn Love,” from their debut full-length, was one of them. For all its folky simplicity, it’s a powerful tune. Schultz stretches his down-home voice almost to the breaking point when he reaches the climax of the refrain, “Keep your head up,” while Pekarek’s plaintive cello plays on. There’s no put on here. This band knows a thing or two about keeping their heads up. But then, they’ve been on a long road, with more than a few stops along the way. So when they take the stage on Saturday Night Live, keep in mind, they’ve earned it.