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Say 'Hey' to folk rock's new royalty The Lumineers

The Lumineers

The Lumineers Credit: The Lumineers

The Lumineers were one of the biggest surprises of 2012. Seemingly out of nowhere, the band's single "Ho Hey" sold more than two million copies and at one point was the most shared song in Manhattan on Spotify.

Not bad for a band that was once forced out of New York because it couldn't make ends meet. Rather than give up, the trio regrouped in Denver and developed its folk-rock sound.

amNY spoke with singer/ guitarist Wesley Schultz.

Most people come to New York to make it. Why did you leave? Warren Buffett said whatever anyone else is doing, do the opposite. For me, New York was a place to get found and play music. But that wasn't true. It was really a place to work and do other stuff to pay the rent. I didn't have time to work on my art.

You originally played loud rock. What made you turn to folk? A lot of bands start out one place, end up somewhere else, then go somewhere else after that. It's a natural part of creativity. It was about figuring out where we felt comfortable.

Did you know right away that "Ho Hey" was something special? Yes and no. We knew it worked really well live, but we were pretty certain yelling "hey" in people's faces wouldn't work on a record. We spent months figuring it out. At first we didn't include the "hos" and "heys," but then we realized they glued the song together.

When did you first start going offstage and performing in the audience? We had one really bad show in D.C. where we kept having to run to the back of the room to fix the sound. The next day we thought that if it happened again, we could do a song in the audience. Even if people couldn't hear it perfectly, it would be a moment. We've been doing it ever since. We're firm believers that when you see a show, it's the nonmusical things you remember and feel something for. It's "remember when that guy climbed on to the balcony" as opposed to "that song was played perfectly."

If you go: The Lumineers are at Terminal 5 on Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., 610 W. 56th St., 212-582-6600, $35.

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