LUMINEERS’ STELTH ULVANG BRINGS HIS OWN SONGS TO OHIO
By Tim Anderl
Photo: Stelth Ulvang will perform at Canal Public House on March 11; photo: Norah Hoover
Although the name Stelth Ulvang may not be familiar, his performance with celebrated Denver, Colorado-based folk rockers The Lumineers probably is. The band’s self-titled debut album, released in mid-2012 peaked at number two on the Billboard charts in early 2013 and has been certified platinum in the U.S. As a result, they were nominated for both Billboard Music Awards and Grammy Awards.
Ulvang released his first proper solo album, And As Always; The Infinite Cosmos, on Feb. 19 and has a pair of Southwest Ohio tour dates where he’ll road test his skillful, multi-layered rock tunes. Dayton City Paper caught up with him to discuss the LP, and the delicate balance between songwriting and showmanship.
The new LP is your second solo record?
Stelth Ulvang: It is actually my first. I put out a couple little EPs here and there. I was in another band called Dovekins and put out records with them, but this will be the first record that are solely my songs.
Your solo material is pretty piano centric.
SU: This album is about 50/50 piano songs versus guitar songs.
What is it about writing on those instruments that lends itself to the stories you are telling?
SU: A lot of the music I was listening to before was piano-inspired. I like the formality and grandeur of pianos in a lot of music going back to Elton John or Jerry Lee Lewis or Leon Russell. The transfer of physical energy that is being moved into an instrument is powerful. The same can be said about a guitar. I’ve always liked that about the piano – that everything you are playing is something you can feel as you are doing it.
There is also a 16-piece orchestra on half of the record, which felt fitting to the music as it was written in an older Quincy Jones kind of way. I’ve always liked those big, powerful Hollywood strings that supplement pop songs, although my songs aren’t as pop as they could be and the strings aren’t filling up the Hollywood Bowl … it was my small attempt while recording in a little studio in Portland.
Did you write the compositions for the orchestra?