From the archives: FFS interviews Mumford and Sons

NB: This article was first published on 23rd September 2008….


For Folk’s Sake: How did you all get together?
Marcus Mumford: I don’t really remember, I moved to London about a year ago…
Everyone sees that FFS is writing in shorthand and gets a bit excited…
MM: Are you serious? Why are you writing in Arabic? That’s so sick, I can’t believe it!
FFS: Stop dodging the question…
MM: Someone else I’m no good at that one…
Winston: We were all friends with Marcus before we knew each other, then we got jamming together and wigging out, I knew him from Church and used to be in a worship band together a long time ago and then we used to play country music together at Bosun’s [Locker], Ben knows Marcus from school and Ted knows Marcus from playing in Alan Pownall’s band.
FFS: Alan Pownall, who is your influence on MySpace?
Marcus: …and our housemate [along with Jay Jay Pistolet].
Winston: We’ve really based a lot of our stuff on him.
MM: He’s our spiritual guru slash fashion guru.
FFS: Is he around can we play this back to him?
MM: No don’t we’d be embarrassed.
FFS: You’ve only been together eight months, and it sounds like you’ve been together for years.
Ben: We played in different bands.
Ted: Some of them together as well.
Ben: We’ve been playing together on and off for over a year.
MM: …and Ben and I over a decade in different forms.

What sort of music are you into?
MM: Ted and I grew up playing in a blues band together. We share a love for those things, we all teach each other. Ted’s a blues man, Winston’s a bluegrass band.
FFS: Do you pick stuff up from each other all the time?
Ted: It’s very collaborative…
Winston: That’s what music should be about I guess, this wouldn’t sound like us if one person was different.
FFS: Do you find one person takes the lead?
Ben: The overall sound of the band is a collaboration like Ted says.
Ted: As for songs we started off playing really just Marcus’s songs and for the past four or five months we’ve all been bringing songs along and ideas to develop most of the things we’ve written recently have been anyone’s really.

What are your plans when you get back from the US?
Ben: We’re doing a UK headline tour for the release of the next EP, and hopefully we’ll be doing some tours with other people.
FFS: Who would you like to tour with?
Everyone: Old Crow Medicine Show
Marcus: We saw them last night, they don’t have a support act and they played for two hours.

Let’s talk about the US tour, are you excited?
Everyone: Yes, we’re getting tattoos!
Marcus: We’ve got a 12-bed sleeper bus for 14 people.
FFS: How do you think you’re going to get received over there?
MM: I dunno…
Winston: there are loads of Banjo players over there… I’m a bit worried
FFS: Do you think they’ll appreciate what you’re trying to do?
Marcus: I don’t know some people love it and some people hate it. I had one guy at a gig come up to me at a show, I was playing a song on my own, and he said it was the most horrible thing he’d ever heard.

How are you finding being together all the time for a tour?
Ben: We had our first experience in the back of a van on the way here. We drove here with the four of us in the back of the van and we were like ‘wow, this is mental’. It’s really fun doing it with your friends as well. I think that’s why we play tight and why we get songs down quickly because we’re all friends before we were musicians. That’s awesome four touring as well because we all hang out anyway.
FFS: Do you see a lot of each other outside the band?
All: Yeah all time.
MM: Although Ben went missing in Edinburgh…
FFS: What happened?
MM: It was during the fringe and Ben went to find himself, he found himself in a casino.
Ben: I bumped into them at about seven in the morning. I’d been by Edinburgh castle finding myself. After that experience we had a couple of weeks at the end of August when we weren’t hanging out together. It was really hard actually.
Ted: We’re all part of the same group of friends anyway. It’s just one big possie.
MM: It’s not exclusive, you guys can join, you just have to get ‘tour’ tattooed on your arse.

“I still write to Laura Marling every day to ask her to join…”

Does everyone play with Laura Marling?
MM: No, just me, Ted and Winston. Winnie played with her and then got me a job playing drums with her.
Ted: …and then you got me a job playing bass with her.
MM: …and Ben’s not really good enough.
Ben: I still write to her every day to ask to join

Was it narcissism on Marcus’s part that led you to be called Mumford and Sons?
MM: Entirely, yeah.
FFS: How does everyone else feel about that?
Ted: Good question!
Ben: We’ve actually been having some chats about that.
MM: The idea was that it was a family business…
FFS: But why your family?
MM: Yeah. I dunno…
Ted: It’s got a nice ring to it. We have actually been thinking about changing it because we want to be portrayed as a band and not a singer-songwriter’s band.
Ted: So the new theory is that we’re all sons of Mumford, who is a character.
Winston: He appears on our next EP cover, he’s a shepherd who introduced us to bluegrass.
MM: We’ve all got double-barrelled names now, I’m Marcus Johnston Mumford, he’s Ted Dwane Mumford, He’s Country Winston and he’s Ben Lovett Mumford.
MM: We all write songs together so the vibe isn’t me and the band, it’s the whole band together.

In the Guardian they described you as Chris Martin Hilbillies, do you think that’s fair?
All: Did they?
FFS: [To Ted] Well you’ve got a vague resemblence to Chris Martin…
MM: He has! And d’you know who else – the robber in Home Alone!
FFS: Have you thought about changing your name to sticky bandits because of that?
MM: Sticky Bandits! That’s such a good name

What’s this EP going to sound like?
MM: It’s called Love Your Ground. We recorded it in Devon at Ben’s parents house, and it’s really beautiful there. We just set up a studio. Ben produced it and it was quite a homely vibe, it’s about loving your ground and being happy with what you’ve got. It’s easy to be happy I guess when you’re affluent middle class English people. But it’s the idea of not being always dissatisfied.
Ben: I have to say that when we sing Love Your Ground now it really means something. Something about those three words seems to tie everything together quite a lot.
FFS: [to Ben] Have you done a lot of production?
Ben: I never really studied it or anything but I’ve got a real chip on my shoulder about producers not understanding the music. When I do production for my mates I get really protective of it. I think it’s really important that the producer doesn’t stamp their own sound on it.
FFS: Do you think it’s going to be better because of that?
Ben: It’ll be more representative.
Ted: I think it’s going to be better. I think when you start adding more and more people into the mix it dilutes it. No one knows what we want to sound like as well as we do.
MM: Ben’s been doing a lot of production for friends recently. He’s done some stuff with Jay Jay Pistolet and also a band called Cherbourg who used to be called Davie Fiddle.

Where do you see yourselves in say…
Everyone: [singing] Five years ti-i-ime
Winston: Probably thinking about the way we used to smoke…
MM: …and drink stupid wine…
Ted: Sun Sun Sun
MM: Love Love Love
FFS: And on that note, thanks very much for talking to us Mumford and Sons…
All: Thanks, bye, pleasure, etc.