Mumford & Sons
|Mumford & Sons|
Mumford & Sons performing at Teatro Romano, Verona in 2012
|Genres||Folk rock, indie folk, bluegrass|
|Labels||Gentlemen of the Road, Island, Universal, Universal Australia, Glassnote|
|Associated acts||Old Crow Medicine Show, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Laura Marling, Bear's Den|
Mumford & Sons are a British folk rock band. The band consists of Marcus Mumford (lead vocals, guitar, drums, mandolin), Ben Lovett (vocals, keyboards, accordion, drums), Winston Marshall (vocals, banjo, guitar, resonator guitar, dobro) and Ted Dwane (vocals, string bass, drums, guitar). Mumford & Sons were formed in December 2007, emerging from West London with such artists as Laura Marling, Johnny Flynn and Noah and the Whale.
Mumford & Sons recorded an EP, "Love Your Ground", and performed in small to medium-sized venues in the UK and the US playing to new audiences and raising interest for a forthcoming album. Their debut album, Sigh No More, was released in the UK and Ireland in October 2009, and February 2010 in the US. The album reached number one in Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, and eventually peaked at number two on the UK Albums Chart and the Billboard 200 in the US. The band gained popularity throughout 2010, performing for larger audiences and making their first network television appearances in the US. On 1 December 2010, the band received two Grammy Award nominations, one for Best New Artist and the other for Best Rock Song ("Little Lion Man"). The ensuing live performance at the Grammy ceremony in February 2011 led to an increased airplay and popularity for singles from Sigh No More. The band won the ARIA Music Award for Most Popular International Artist in 2010, and the Brit Award in 2011 for Best British Album.
The band's second studio album Babel was released in September 2012. The album debuted at number one in the UK and US, becoming the fastest selling album of 2012 in the UK, and the second-biggest selling debut in 2012 in the US. At the 2013 Grammy Awards, they sang "I Will Wait" and Babel won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year. In 2013 the band won a Brit Award for Best British Group. On 20 September 2013, the band announced they were going on hiatus for a "considerable amount of time." Despite never achieving a top-10 single, the act has been credited with influencing a variety of popular music, including other pop-folk groups like The Lumineers and EDM artists like Avicii.
Early years: 2007–2008
Mumford & Sons were formed in December 2007 by multi-instrumentalists Marcus Mumford, Ben Lovett, Winston Marshall and Ted Dwane. Band members play guitar, drums, keyboard instruments, bass guitar, and traditional folk instruments such as banjo, mandolin and resonator guitar. The band name originates from the fact that Marcus Mumford was the most visible member, organising the band and their performances. Lovett indicated that the name was meant to invoke the sense of an "antiquated family business name".
A handful of similar bands were increasing their visibility in West London around the same time, giving rise to the label "West London folk scene". Mumford downplays that characterisation as an exaggeration—Mumford & Sons and a few other folk acts just happened to be operating in the same general area at the time. In an interview with the Herald Sun, Marcus Mumford said, "It's not folk really. Well, some of it is, and it's certainly not a scene. Someone got over-excited about a few bands who live in a hundred-mile radius and put it in a box to sell it as a package. It's a community, not a scene. It's not exclusive." Having developed in the same musical and cultural environment, Mumford & Sons' sound has been compared to that of artists such as Noah and the Whale, Johnny Flynn and Laura Marling, for whom Marcus Mumford used to drum.
In early 2008 the band began working with manager Adam Tudhope, who, as part of management company Everybody's, also represents Keane and Laura Marling. It was through Tudhope's connection that Mumford & Sons were exposed to their future A&R at Island, Louis Bloom, who began monitoring the band. Bloom told HitQuarters that they were still at a fledgling state and not yet ready for a label deal: "There was no one there for it, just a few friends, and they needed time to develop. Over the next six months I kept going to see them and they were literally picking up fans every time."
In February 2008, the band completed an extensive UK tour with support from Alessi's Ark, Sons of Noel and Adrian, Peggy Sue and others. June 2008 marked the band's first appearance at the Glastonbury Festival. They also toured Australia with Laura Marling, whose disinclination to interact with audiences encouraged Mumford into the spotlight. The experience helped inform his attitude towards Mumford & Sons audiences, which is to interact frequently and to try to create a comfortable, casual atmosphere. Mumford & Sons' first project was an EP entitled Love Your Ground which took a year to complete and was released in November 2008 on Chess Club Records.
Sigh No More: 2009–2010
Throughout 2008 and into 2009, Mumford & Sons performed in small to moderate venues in the UK and US, exposing audiences to Love Your Ground tracks and other material that would eventually become Sigh No More. The band finally recorded Sigh No More with Markus Dravs, who had produced albums with artists such as Arcade Fire. At the time, band members did not even own their own instruments—Dravs initially turned them away when they showed up at the recording sessions empty-handed. The only track from Love Your Ground to be included on Sigh No More was "Little Lion Man". The band told the Herald Sun that they self-financed the album to avoid the artistic and technical compromises that sometimes befall studio-financed projects. They toured again in support of Laura Marling in 2009, and Mumford & Sons were contributing musicians to her 2010 album I Speak Because I Can.
In August 2009, Mumford & Sons signed a licensing deal to Island Records in the UK, to Dew Process in Australia and New Zealand, to Glassnote Records in North America and Cooperative Music in the rest of the world, and through its own label Gentlemen of the Road. Dew Process boss Paul Piticco signed the band after witnessing a US performance in 2009 and appreciating their "honest" approach and unique sound. Their debut album was released on 5 October 2009 with "Little Lion Man" as the lead single.
Dave Berry of XFM named "Little Lion Man" his record of the week, and in another interview with the band, Berry said "Screw 'of the week', it's my favourite track of the year." BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe made "Little Lion Man" his "Reaction Record" on 27 July 2009, before naming it the "Hottest Record in the World" the following evening.
In their first performance on US network television, the band played "Little Lion Man" on CBS's Late Show with David Letterman on 17 February 2010. This appearance was followed by a performance of "The Cave" on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on 26 February 2010. Mumford & Sons have been commercially successful in Australia and New Zealand. By January 2010 "Little Lion Man" topped the Triple J Hottest 100 list for all of 2009, with its margin of victory the largest in the history of the chart. In November 2010, the band won an ARIA Music Award for Most Popular International Artist. Sigh No More first reached number 9 on the New Zealand charts in October 2010, and subsequently topped the chart in January 2011 due to the popularity of the singles from the album.
In a March 2010 interview, Ray Davies announced that Mumford & Sons will be appearing on his forthcoming collaborations album. Marcus Mumford confirmed this in an interview the same month, stating, "I am more excited about that than I have been about anything before in my life". Mumford & Sons performed the track "Days/This Time Tomorrow" along with Davies on 12 February 2010 on Later... with Jools Holland.
In December 2010, Mumford & Sons earned Grammy Award nominations for Best New Artist and Best Rock Song ("Little Lion Man"). While they did not go on to win an award, the band performed their single "The Cave" at the Grammy ceremony. The performance earned positive media attention and boosted visibility for Sigh No More—US sales increased by 99% in the period following the ceremony in February 2011. The album subsequently peaked at number two on the UK Albums Chart and the Billboard 200 in the US.
On 7 December 2010, in collaboration with Dharohar Project and Laura Marling, Mumford & Sons released an EP album recorded in Delhi, India. The album was recorded in a makeshift studio with traditional Rajasthani musicians and features four collaborations, including multicultural mash-ups of Marling's "Devil's Spoke" and Mumford & Sons' "To Darkness." Sigh No More is certified 2x Platinum in the US and 4x Platinum in the UK.
The band continued to grow in popularity in 2011, winning several major awards and headlining larger shows and festivals. In February 2011, they received a European Border Breakers Award for their international success. They received a Brit Award for British Album of the Year with Sigh No More and performed "Timshel" at the ceremony. UK sales of the album subsequently increased by 266 percent. While touring the United States in early 2011, the band began writing songs for the follow-up album. Keyboardist Ben Lovett credited the creative atmosphere of Nashville, Tennessee with easing the songwriting process. While performing in Kansas City, Missouri on 3 June, the first stop of their US tour, the band announced they had been recording a new album, initially set to be released in late 2011. They then performed several new tracks from the forthcoming album, the title of which was not revealed.
In April 2011 the group joined Old Crow Medicine Show and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros on the inaugural Railroad Revival Tour, which was inspired by the Festival Express tour across Canada in 1970 that included Buddy Guy, Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead and The Band. Travelling exclusively in vintage rail cars, the three bands performed in six "unique outdoor locations" over the course of a week starting in Oakland, California. Ketch Secor of Old Crow told American Songwriter that "It’s like we left all our baggage at home and just brought our instruments," often writing new songs while on the train. "We were just on these old rattling rails. It was a railroad odyssey that would have made Woody and Doc tip their hats and blow their whistles," he says. They appear in the musical documentary Big Easy Express, directed by Emmett Malloy, being made of the trip which premiered March 2012 at the South by Southwest Film Conference and Festival (SXSW Film) in Austin, Texas—winning the Headliner Audience Award. The film went on to win "Best Long Form Video" at the 2013 Grammy Awards.
Mumford & Sons played at the Glastonbury Festival on Friday 24 June 2011, and then embarked on a North American tour on which they frequently performed songs from the upcoming album. They recorded two songs for Andrea Arnold's adaptation of Wuthering Heights, one of which (entitled "Enemy") is featured during the closing credits. In June 2012, Mumford & Sons contributed the song "Learn Me Right" with Birdy to the Pixar film Brave, which came to be called "Not with Haste".
On 16 July 2012, Mumford & Sons officially announced the details of their second studio album Babel, including the release date of 24 September 2012 and a track listing of 12 songs. A deluxe edition containing three exclusive songs was also announced. A week later, the album became available for pre-order. The lead single "I Will Wait" premiered on Zane Lowe's BBC Radio 1 show on 7 August. Their performance of I will wait at Glastonbury has been repeatedly used throughout each night for most of 2013 on BBC 2 as part of the channels self-promotion. On 29 August 2012, Mumford & Sons recorded their concert at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado. The Concert was later released on DVD, Vinyl and on iTunes as "Road to Red Rocks". The performance of "I Will Wait" from the concert was released ahead of the DVD on 9 September as the band's official video for the song. On 22 September 2012, the band performed two songs from the new album, "I Will Wait" and "Below My Feet", on Saturday Night Live.
Babel debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart and the US Billboard 200. It became the fastest selling album of 2012 in the UK, selling over 158,000 copies in its first week, and was the biggest selling debut of any album in 2012 in the US, selling 600,000 in its first week, and over a million worldwide.
The first phase of a 2013 world tour in support of Babel was released in November 2012. Their Gentlemen of the Road tour continued through 2013. After performing two shows on 8 & 9 June 2013 at the Austin360 Amphitheater in Austin, Texas, United States, bassist Ted Dwane checked himself into a hospital the next day. Surgeons found a blood clot on the surface of his brain and performed surgery on Dwane to remove it. Heeding medical advice to aid Dwane's recovery, the band cancelled the rest of its Summer Stampede Tour, including performances at the 2013 Bonnaroo Music Festival and returned to the United Kingdom. Dwane's surgery was successful, and his recovery was such that the band managed to headline Glastonbury Festival.
After first including select stopover cities in their 2012 Tour, the band decided to once again select five cities throughout the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom to play host to a two day festival with continual shows on multiple stages as well as various other activities and performances. The first stopover of the 2013 Gentleman of the Road tour was in Lewes, England from 19 to 20 July. Next was Simcoe, Ontario from 23 to 24 August, followed by Troy, Ohio from 30 to 31 August. The band rounded out their tour with stopovers in Guthrie, Oklahoma on 6 and 7 September and finally St. Augustine, Florida on 13 and 14 September. The Vaccines, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, Vampire Weekend, Old Crow Medicine Show, Yacht Club DJs, Alabama Shakes and various other bands also performed at many of the stopovers throughout the tour.
On 20 September 2013, they announced they were going on hiatus for a "considerable amount of time.". "There won't be any Mumford & Sons activities for the foreseeable future following Friday's show," said Ben Lovett, the keyboardist, in an interview with Rolling Stone.
Marcus Mumford joked that he encouraged rumours of the band's break-up to circulate so that they could have a "big comeback tour next year".
Third studio album: 2014–present
In December 2013, the band's bassist, Ted Dwane, stated that the band would be meeting to write new music in February 2014. Then on 20 July 2014, Ben Lovett confirmed that they are currently recording their third studio album in London.
The folk rock group have begun work on a handful of new songs at Eastcote Studios in Kensal Town, west London, the same studio where they recorded their debut album Sigh No More. They intend to release the record in early 2015. "But very early work and sessions have begun quietly on album number three. They haven't announced anything officially because they don't want to be under lots of pressure. At this point, it's still more likely the album will be released at some point next year – unless things move very quickly."
Musical style and influences
The band uses bluegrass and folk instrumentation, such as a banjo, upright bass, mandolin and piano, played with a rhythmic style based in alternative rock and folk. Much of Mumford & Sons' lyrical content has a strong literary influence, its debut album name deriving from William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. The track "Sigh No More" includes lines from the play such as Serve God love me and mend, For man is a giddy thing, and One foot in sea and one on shore. The title of the song "Roll Away Your Stone" is an allusion to Macbeth; the song includes the line Stars hide your fires/ And these here are my desires which borrows and pares down Macbeth's line in act 1, scene 4: Stars, hide your fires,/ Let not light see my black and deep desires. In an interview, Mumford was quoted as saying, "You can rip off Shakespeare all you like; no lawyer's going to call you up on that one."
Additionally, "The Cave" includes several references to The Odyssey, in particular the sirens that Odysseus encounters on his journey home. The song also contains many references to G.K. Chesterton's book, St. Francis of Assisi, in which Chesterton uses Plato's Cave as a way of explaining how St. Francis views the world from God's perspective. In addition, the song "Little Lion Man" appears to be a retelling in dramatic monologue form of Chretien de Troyes' Yvain, the Knight of the Lion, which is the story of a knight who goes mad after betraying a promise to his wife to return to her.
Both "Timshel" and "Dust Bowl Dance" draw heavily from the John Steinbeck novels Of Mice and Men, East of Eden and The Grapes of Wrath. Mumford, in an interview, even compared touring to a Steinbeck adventure: "[Steinbeck] talked about how a journey is a thing of its own, and you can't plan it or predict it too much because that suffocates the life out of it. That's kind of what touring is like. Even though there's a structure—you know what towns you're going to, and that you'll be playing a gig—pretty much anything can happen."
In the documentary Big Easy Express, Marcus Mumford recognises the Old Crow Medicine Show influence: "I first heard Old Crow’s music when I was, like, 16, 17, and that really got me into, like, folk music, bluegrass. I mean, I’d listened to a lot of Dylan, but I hadn’t really ventured into the country world so much. So Old Crow were the band that made me fall in love with country music." Mumford acknowledges that "the band inspired them to pick up the banjo and start their now famous country nights in London." Ketch Secor, Old Crow front-man, concurs: "Those boys took the message and ran with it."
Emmylou Harris was "among the gateway artists who helped Mumford and bandmates Ben Lovett, Ted Dwane and Winston Marshall discover their love for American roots music. It started with the 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' soundtrack ... That eventually led them to the Old Crow Medicine Show and then deep immersion in old-timey sounds from America's long-neglected past."
Not every critic is impressed with the group's style. Ian Brennan, writing in Guitar Player, lamented that "a band like Mumford & Sons unplugs and bulldozes all of the subtlety out of a working-class art form. The degree of artificiality that we are steeped in had deepened to such a degree that a group of aristocratic Brits (one of whom [Winston Marshall] is the son of a billionaire who is among the richest men in England) can ride to the top of the charts and win an Americana award with hardly a soul batting an eye."
Awards and nominations
|2011||American Music Awards||Mumford & Sons||Favorite Alternative Rock Artist||Nominated|
|2010||ARIA Music Awards||Mumford & Sons||Most Popular International Artist||Won|
|2011||Billboard Music Awards||Sigh No More||Top Rock Album||Won|
|Top Alternative Album||Won|
|"Little Lion Man"||Top Rock Song||Nominated|
|Top Alternative Song||Nominated|
|Mumford & Sons||Top Rock Artist||Nominated|
|Top Alternative Artist||Won|
|2014||Babel||Top Rock Album||Nominated|
|2011||Brit Awards||Mumford & Sons||Best British Group||Nominated|
|Best Breakthrough Act||Nominated|
|Sigh No More||British Album of the Year||Won|
|2013||Mumford & Sons||Best British Group||Won|
|Best Live Act||Nominated|
|Brits Global Success||Nominated|
|Babel||British Album of the Year||Nominated|
|2013||Echo Awards||Mumford & Sons||International Rock/Pop Group||Won|
|2011||Grammy Awards||Mumford & Sons||Best New Artist||Nominated|
|"Little Lion Man"||Best Rock Song||Nominated|
|2012||"The Cave"||Record of the Year||Nominated|
|Song of the Year||Nominated|
|Best Rock Performance||Nominated|
|Best Rock Song||Nominated|
|2013||Babel||Album of the Year||Won|
|Best Americana Album||Nominated|
|"I Will Wait"||Best Rock Performance||Nominated|
|Best Rock Song||Nominated|
|"Learn Me Right (From Brave)"||Best Song Written For Visual Media||Nominated|
|Big Easy Express||Best Long Form Music Video||Won|
|2013||Juno Awards||Babel||International Album of the Year||Won|
|2010||MTV Video Music Awards||"Little Lion Man"||Best Cinematography||Nominated|
|2011||"The Cave"||Best Rock Video||Nominated|
|2010||NME Awards||Mumford & Sons||Best New Band||Nominated|
|2010||Q Awards||Mumford & Sons||Best New Act||Won|
|"The Cave"||Best Track||Nominated|
|2013||Teen Choice Awards||Mumford & Sons||Choice Rock Group||Nominated|
|2014||Ivor Novello Awards||Mumford & Sons||International Achievement||Won|
- Marcus Mumford – lead vocals, guitar, drums, mandolin
- Ben Lovett – vocals, keyboards, accordion, drums, electric guitar
- Winston Marshall – vocals, banjo, dobro, electric guitar
- Ted Dwane – vocals, double bass, bass guitar, drums, guitar
- Chris Allan – cello
- Duchess Nell Catchpole – violin, viola
- Nick Etwell – trumpet, flugelhorn
- Ross Holmes – fiddle
- Dave Williamson – trombone
- Will Calderbank – cello (also of Sons of Noel and Adrian)
- Ross Holmes – fiddle (also of Chessboxer)
- Nick Etwell – trumpet, flugelhorn (also of The Filthy Six)
- Michael Siddell – violin (also of The Leisure Society)
- Dave Williamson – trombone
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- [dead link]
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Personnel: Duchess Nell Catchpole (violin, viola); Ross Holmes (fiddle); Chris Allan (cello); Nick Etwell (trumpet, flugelhorn); Dave Williamson (trombone)
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