Large Group Theory: Interview with Mumford & Sons
A folk group giving stadium-scale concerts that … never wanted to be like that. Recently, they presented a rock album recorded in the classic traditions of the genre together with Aaron Dessner from The National and producer James Ford.
Mumford & Sons has targeted mass audiences. Will it come out? Of course! Do I need to give someone in the face for this? And then! Daniel Koch asked how all this happens.
With Mumford & Sons now reckoned, that’s for sure. So it was already in our last meeting shortly before the release of their second album “Babel”, which they tested by playing a performance on a baseball court. But now they have their own label and the media that does not specialize in music have turned their attention to them.
There are more than enough signs: an interview in a hotel room in Soho House, a new tough manager with a baby face and a really nice label representative whom we had never met before. Due to the fact that we arrived at the interview not in half an hour, but in 10 minutes, we were scolded as first graders. This means that first there will be ZDF (German television channel – approx.ed.). Okay. The cool lady from the label that we used to deal with refrained from commenting and was glad that magazines like “Visions” and “Intro” were still interested in the British and did not interfere with their menstrual filth.
What about the group? Cool as before. Marcus Mumford and Winston Marshall vaguely recall the last meeting: “It was fun. We kind of talked about beards, right?” – behave just like old buddies. Winston confesses that he slept only 3 hours, because until 7 in the morning he danced in the Tresor basement shrouded in a fog (one of the most famous Berlin techno clubs – approx. Ed.), “If you can call it that.” Marcus Mumford, meanwhile, calls the bartender and quickly cuts us a couple of lemons for a drink. “Your health, man!”
Congratulations: you have reached the point of your career when you realize that you definitely have something to pay for renting a house, but you can lose everything else. Such was the reaction to the first song from the album “Wilder Mind” – “Believe”. On the Internet, we drove through it hard. How are you feeling? Feel like a significant group with a bunch of enemies?
Winston Marshall: I even like it in my perverted way. I have something like this: there have always been problems with something large-scale and every time I ask myself if I can still believe in my favorite groups, if now you only see them on Wembley.
Marcus Mumford: This is strange. For some reason I do not want everyone to like this album. If we received only approval, everything could be adjusted to a common denominator. But we are proud of these songs. Until now, this has always served as a measure of the fact that we will reach the fans.
What is striking is that so far you have always had your signature sound, which was mainly based on Winston playing the banjo, and now you have changed it to classic rock arrangements. Was this a conscious move?
Winston Marshall: Ha, no. This is definitely not a planned move.
Marcus Mumford: … rather a step into the abyss.
Winston Marshall: Seriously: now we are much closer to what we have always been. Marcus, before becoming a vocalist, was always primarily a drummer. I was a guitarist who played in many bands. We knew that this sound was in us, it was just that earlier we accentuated differently. To outsiders, this may look like a giant step. We ourselves were not surprised by this.
Marcus Mumford: The label has always been involved in all this folk trepidation, which stuck this label to us. We always felt like a rock band that just plays instruments that are more characteristic of folk. Amplifiers always worked with overload and we gave all of ourselves to ourselves, playing on stage.
Winston Marshall: You won’t see this in folk. There you stare at the floor, pinching the strings of a guitar and letting your hair frame your face.
Marcus Mumford: The expression is also true: you will not please everyone. At first they said, “Cool banjo!” And then, “Well, damn it, still a banjo?” Now they will accuse us of using electric guitars. So what? Come on ** th! We know what we are doing.
Let’s see what the reaction will be to “Wilder Mind”. We have not yet made a final decision. On the one hand, Mumford & Sons definitely abandoned their sound autonomy with its driving moments that force it to trample a foot into rhythm. On the other hand, they succeed in excellent, though familiar rock compositions, such as the title track “Broad-Shouldered Beasts”, where Marcus’s voice sounds much more significant. They should not be reproached once again for the fact that they simply recorded the last album with some variations. There is something in their deep guitar sound, which shimmers with various shades. And this is no accident …
In the studio, you worked with Aaron Dessner of The National and producer James Ford. Why with them?
Marcus Mumford: Aaron has always been a good friend. When we told him about our plans, he became a good friend who wants to help us.