Given this inherent closeness and the raucous nature of the live shows, which inevitably leads to floor-rumbling hoedowns, the rapid rise of Mumford & Sons would seemingly point to a well-oiled machine with a “five year plan” and all-business approach behind the scenes. On the contrary, the band simply just started writing music and playing shows with minimal planning for the future other than continuing to go out and do what they love.
“We haven’t really planned anything, actually. We started the band for fun, and just started playing gigs straight-away just because we loved playing. There has been no real strategy.” In terms of setting goals or wanting to get big, Ted states, “Nobody has really thought about that much. We recorded the album before we had a label, and we now know that we’re going to do a second album. That’s really about it. We’re just truly enjoying writing and being creative. We feel like it’s just the beginning.”
That’s not necessarily to say that Mumford & Sons do not view things in a professional manner, as they do put the show first, ahead of partying or getting too carried away in any type of antics, but the band also definitely aims to have fun when they hit the road.
“We strike a good balance,” Ted highlights “There’s an obligation that we want to play well, since we consider ourselves a live band, first. We want to put on a good show, so if there’s anything that would jeopardize the quality of the show, that’s when we get professional.”
With regard to their live show, Mumford and Sons draw out a remarkably unique group of fans, particularly evident at their recent sell-out show at Webster Hall in New York City. Beyond the shadowy profiteers out front asking upwards of fifty dollars per ticket, the attendance comprised of a droll mixture between locals, expats, international tourists and U.S. fans who all traveled to see the band. In essence, you get a festive batch of partygoers from all over the world at a Mumford & Sons show.
“The crowds are quite similar,” Ted comments in drawing comparisons between the U.K. and U.S. shows. “It must be weird being in the audience. It certainly doesn’t appear to be generic!”
In the midst of a cross-country U.S. tour, the band seems quite at home in the states, as they should be with their shows selling out nationwide, in some cases in just a matter of minutes. However, with the endless highways, ubiquitous chain restaurants and stinky rest areas dotting the countryside, one might expect the boys from across the pond to miss their convenient U.K. tours, but it’s quite to the opposite.
“I love American food,” Ted proclaims proudly. “I also really like the drives. Back in the U.K., it’s never really more than an hour drive from one place to the next. I just love that feeling of being able to just drive and drive. It sounds cliché, there’s something about traveling that’s just so inspiring. And, we got a bus this time, which is really nice.”
Naturally, these long drives around the American countryside involve a lot of listening, and subsequent discussion, about musical tastes. “We’ve been really enjoying this compilation album that’s basically songs about murder,” Ted laughs. “No, we’re all quite different musically. My personal love is for the blues, for jazz, and a lot of folk. I’ve only recently been getting into bluegrass. It’s Winston who loves the bluegrass. I know he really loves Cadillac Sky, stuff like that.”
Of course, with the World Cup kicking off this week, a big face off between the U.S. and England this coming Saturday, it should be interesting for the band to be on enemy territory for the historic matchup. “Most of the guys are really into football. I’m the only one who’s not, really” Ted explains. After joking about how American fans need the help of some good U.K. fans around, this leads us to one of the all important topics: beer. “When I’m back in the U.K., I love Guinness. It’s still pretty fresh in England. In the U.S., I like Brooklyn Lager and Magic Hat #9.”
More important than the World Cup, the band seems to be really gearing up for their first visit to the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, which also serves as the final shows for the U.S. tour. With their varying musical backgrounds and influences, it’s really banjo player Country Winston who knew the most about the festival, but the rest of the band has since done their homework, and now they view it as a vacation of sorts.
“Winston knew a lot about it, and we’ve been on the website learning all about it, so we are super excited. It’s the end of our tour, and we have three days at the festival, so we really can’t wait.”
It becomes quickly clear that Mumford & Sons is not simply Marcus Mumford’s band with a supporting cast of musicians. In fact, it’s nothing like that. Mumford & Sons are a tightly knit band, both in terms of their relationships and their musical roles, and their success comes in large part from this dynamic. Each member brings a unique musical background and a unique personality, all of which come together to form the curious sound of Mumford & Sons.
So, that leaves just one question: Does the name Mumford & Sons have anything do with the TV show Sanford & Sons?
“Is there a TV show?” Ted bursts out laughing. Clearly having no idea what I’m talking about, “No, in the U.K., there are lots of family businesses, like grocers or other shops. I never even knew there was a TV show.”