WISE WORDS: Lumineers Frontman Wesley Schultz On 'The Reward Of Exhaustion'

The Lumineers' second album has topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic.

06/07/2016 13:01 | Updated 06 July 2016

For the latest in our WISE WORDS interview series - where stars from a whole range of fields share the important life lessons they’ve learned along the way - we’re posing some of the big questions to WESLEY SCHULTZ.

Wesley is the guitarist and lead vocalist for the American folk rock band The Lumineers. The band was formed when Wesley and his pal Jeremiah Fraites moved from NYC to Denver in search of cheaper living accommodations and met cellist Neyla Pekarek on Craigslist. Together they've made two albums, the first of which went platinum, and this year's 'Cleopatra', which has been at number one in the UK. 

On the eve of performing at the Latitude Festival, Wesley talks to HuffPostUK about some of the bigger thoughts he's had along the way, and how one fan moved him especially...

Kevin Winter via Getty Images
Wesley in action

What do you do to switch off from the world?
I usually listen to a podcast ('This American Life' or 'Radiolab') and walk one of my bulldogs (Ronnie or Ethel).

How do you deal with negativity?
I think there are different kinds of negativity in life.  Some negativity can sting, and other kinds seem have no weight.  If something strikes a nerve, I tend to think it's because deep down, I agree with that negative thought or comment.   And I'll try to learn from it and improve.  If it's just someone spouting off, I can let it go pretty easily. It wasn't always the case, but I think it's something I've learned over time.

When and where are you happiest?
I'm happiest at that moment when i feel like I'm totally exhausted and have achieved what I set out to do - whether it's a long hike into the mountains or playing a show in 100 degree heat.  I love that feeling of reward after a hard day's work. Without exhaustion, the reward feels empty.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Be your own score-keeper - make a conscious effort to evaluate how you think you're doing - don't look for or wait on outside people to do that for you.  

What has been the hardest lesson you’ve learned?
Surviving is not the same as living.  I missed out on a lot of life on tour because i confused the two.

What would you tell your 13-year-old self?
Don't be afraid to make a fool of yourself, it's the best way to learn. 

What 3 things are at the top of your to-do list?
See Machu Pichu 
Ride my motorcycle across the country
Have a beer with the boss (bruce springsteen)

What do you think happens when we die?
I believe in some sort of reincarnation - though not based on some strict religious idea of death, but more because my brain can't wrap itself around the idea of nothingness.  

Wesley (right) with bandmates Neyla Pekarek and Jeremiah Fraites

When do you feel a sense that we live in the presence of something bigger than ourselves?

When I saw a beautiful canyon in Arizona called Canyon de Chelly.  I had seen the Grand Canyon, but it was almost too big for my senses to comprehend.   The Canyon de Chelly made me feel like I was inside a surreal painting.

What do you try to bring to your relationships?
I try to bring honesty and vision.  Honesty because I have a hard time lying, and I think I was taught at an early age that the worst thing you can do is tell a lie.  And regarding vision - I try to have a big-picture, clear idea of what I want. It may change, but our thoughts are powerful things.

What keeps you grounded?
My wife. She will always tell me the truth, even if I have to pester her for it because she's trying to be kind. She keeps me grounded by reminding me of the things that are most important to her - being kind and being generous.

What was the last good deed or act of kindness you received?
A fan waited for hours outside a venue just to hand me a note, expressing how our music and words had gotten him through a hard time. As musicians, we do all of this, I think, to connect with others. In his generosity, he made me feel like through music, there was a real connection.

The Lumineers will be playing at the Latitude Festival, which runs from 14 to 17 July. Click here for more info. 

Suggest a correction