Exclusive GIGsoup Interview: Jeremiah Fraites

We are delighted to bring you this interview with Jeremiah Fraites from The Lumineers. He recently released a solo album Piano Piano. It is an instrumental, piano focused collection of songs that has been in the works for the best part of a decade.

Welcome, thanks so much for joining us today Jeremiah. First of all, how are you?

I am well, thank you for asking. I am sitting in my room here in Torino, Italy answering these questions.

Tell us the inspiration behind the track ‘Maggie’?

The title of Maggie actually comes from my wife’s dog who sadly passed away the day I was mixing the song. I felt it was a fitting way to honor her spirit and memory. This song actually gave me a lot of difficulty. I had a lot of trouble with the verses, in particular finding melodies that worked over the complex, odd time signature piano. I reluctantly added drums last at my wife’s counsel and I am forever grateful for her recommendation on that! I feel like that really tied the song together and it is one of those ideas that I can’t imagine the song without it.

How was recording Piano Piano a different experience to your previous projects?

Recording Piano Piano was wildly different to all my previous projects. First of all, it was my very first solo album. Second, it was recorded entirely inside my home in Denver, Colorado from April to July of 2020. Normally demos are made in my home, but rarely ever ‘final’ recordings that I’d use on an album. Not to mention, we were in lockdown in quarantine along with my wife, our 2 year old son, our golden retriever who likes to sing/bark when I play the piano and literally a house being built next door us at the time.

I will probably never do it again entirely in my home, but I can honestly say I will look back on those memories infinitely with fondness and gratitude. If you listen closely with headphones, you can definitely hear some sounds that made it onto the record like construction next door or my son playing in the background.

What was the highlight of making this record?

The highlight of making this record was finally seeing some of these ideas through to their completion. I believe the oldest idea on the album was Nearsighted, where the guitar was recorded 13 years ago when I was living in Kingston upon Thames, England. I had come back from a pub and recorded that guitar on the little hole in my laptop at the time. That same recording is the one that you hear. Finally having the time and the mental bandwidth to sit down and work on these songs to their end was such a rewarding experience.

Could you share some of the key experiences that have shaped you as a musician?

Some of the key experiences that have shaped me as a musician range from obvious sources to more abstract. There’s a few I can discuss here. One was ‘trial by fire’ when it came to learning the piano. When Wesley Schultz and I started The Lumineers 15 years ago I could barely play a piano chord to save my life. I think being thrown into learning covers like Tom Petty and trying to write originals really forced me to learn the piano, and fast.

Another key experience came from my friend’s dad telling me to try and do smaller fills when playing the drums. I would go from playing a straight beat to these huge, grandiose drum fills. He pushed me to variate and change the parts without changing everything. That taught me to move slower and with more intent and that really cracked open an entire universe for me.

Similarly the same idea was instilled to me when it came to playing piano by a friend in high school. He told me I should try and add more ‘colour’ to my piano chords and try and be more distinct by adding 4ths, 6ths and even 2nds. Again that really opened up a world to me in trying to distinguish myself from other players.

You recently moved to Italy. Five things you love about Torino might include …

Five things I love about Torino are the people, the restaurants, the culture, the city itself and the food.

If I could have added food twice I would have. It’s seriously insane here! I was born in Ramsey, New Jersey and lived there for the first 24 years of my life. So moving here to live in Italy is wildly different and I love it for that reason. There are so many restaurants here that serve food I have never tried, or have tried in America but never from native Italians. Not to mention the espresso. Drinking espresso and then playing my grand piano might be my favorite thing on the entire planet.

Where did you find the silver lining in 2020?

Being able to see my son this much has been a blessing because normally I would’ve been touring constantly. So there’s a silver lining there.

Quick Fire Questions

If you had to choose would you pick:

Forgive or forget                  Forgive, my memory is too good 🙂

80s or 90s                             90s

Bison or Bear                        Bear

Still or sparkling                  Sparkling

Bach or Beethoven              Beethoven