2012 in MUSIC: Moving to Denver makes a band, a career for the Lumineers, othersBy Ricardo Baca | December 26th, 2012 | 2 comments
2012 was a defining year in Colorado culture.
It was a year of dazzling art exhibits. Thrilling musical moments. Triumphant theater. Inspiring filmmaking. Galvanizing television events. Brilliant athleticism. Blockbuster shows.
But 2012 also saw terrifying crimes. Devastating disasters. Divisive politics. And not a lot of rain.
The nation, and the world, were focused on Colorado with unprecedented intensity in 2012 and for good reason: We are a state to be reckoned with. And this was a year we’ll remember.
A YEAR IN MUSIC
It used to be Denver bands would move to New York or Los Angeles. To be around other musicians. To be surrounded by music industry. To find like-minded artists. To get signed to an influential label. To be exposed to that big-city art aesthetic.
And while that still happens on occasion, more and more national touring musicians are making a home for themselves in Colorado.
In some cases, they’re already here — and not leaving. A la EDM (electronic dance music) hero Pretty Lights, who gives his music away, headlines festivals and sells hundreds of thousands of tickets. Churchill had a similar story: They did everything themselves, from their homes and rehearsal spaces in Colorado: writing and recording and touring. And the band was signed earlier this fall to A&M Octone Records with a hit single on the radio and a full-length due next year.
In other cases, these musicians are from somewhere else. And they want to live here. They want to create music while looking out their window at the Colorado Rocky Mountains.
Look at OneRepublic frontman Ryan Tedder, who moved from Colorado to Los Angeles with the intention of making a name for himself. He did just that, writing, producing and performing No. 1 songs. But once he was established, he moved back to Denver — and he brought with him a reputation, an idea for a world-class studio, a shared feeling that Colorado was a place where the biggest musicians in the world will write and record their next records.
What you’ll find with increasing steadiness is the artist who moves to Colorado to be around other musicians, to get signed to an influential label, to be surrounded by a music industry that includes clubs, agencies, media and more infrastructures that have a proven record in supporting local artists.
“There’s no one thing you can point to,” Lumineers frontman Wes Schultz said earlier this year about he and Jeremiah Fraites’ move from New York City to Denver. “Sometimes you’re just drawn to a place. In our case, we had a couple friends (in Denver), and they were moving into a house that fit our needs.
“We moved (to Denver) from New York, trying to find a fresh start and devote full-time attention to playing music and not having to worry about cost of living.”
When Schultz and Fraites moved to Denver, they were starving artists. A few years later, they have tens of thousands of tickets sold, a platinum single (“Ho Hey”), a gold-selling full-length album (“The Lumineers”), multiple notches on the Billboard charts, a string of opening dates with Dave Matthews Band,two Grammy nominations, two upcoming, sold-out New Year’s dates at the Ogden Theatre and an upcoming slot on “Saturday Night Live” as the musical guest on Jan. 10.
“Once we got here, we started meeting a phenomenal bunch of musicians,” Schultz said, hinting at cellist Neyla Pekarek, who they picked up after they got to Colorado. “And coming from the background of the New York scene — and the ego that is present in that scene, where sometimes they don’t even think anything exists outside of it — the whole scene in Denver was so rich, and I didn’t necessarily expect that.”
And Schultz won’t likely be the last to find unexpected riches in these parts.