Mumford & Sons are an English folk rock band. The band consists of Marcus Mumford (lead vocals, guitar, drums, mandolin ), Ben Lovett (British musician)|Ben Lovett (vocals, keyboards, accordion, drums), Winston Marshall (vocals, banjo, guitar, resonator guitar ), and Ted Dwane (vocals, string bass, drums, guitar). Mumford & Sons were formed in December 2007, emerging out of 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 moderate venues in the UK and the United States to expose audiences to their music and build support for an eventual album. Their debut album, Sigh No More (Mumford & Sons 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| 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 increased airplay and popularity for singles from Sigh No More. The band won the ARIA Music Awards|ARIA Music Award for Most Popular International Artist in 2010, and the Brit Awards|Brit Award in 2011 for 2011 BRIT Awards|Best British Album.
The band's second studio album Babel (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 Grammy Award for Album of the Year|Album of the Year. In 2013 the band won a Brit Award for 2013 BRIT Awards|Best British Group.
Early years: 2007–2008
Mumford & Sons were formed in December 2007 by multi-instrumentalists Marcus Mumford, Ben Lovett (British musician)|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. . BBC. 31 October 2008. Retrieved 10 June 2010. 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". Collis, Clark (4 March 2011). . Entertainment Weekly Music Mix. Retrieved 6 January 2011. 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." Betts, Marianne (25 March 2010). . Herald Sun. Retrieved 24 January 2011. 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. Walker, Tim (28 July 2008). . The Independent. Retrieved 29 December 2010.
In early 2008 the band began working with manager Adam Tudhope, who, as part of management company Everybody's, also represents Keane (band)|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 (band)|Peggy Sue, and others. June 2008 marked the band's first appearance at the Glastonbury Festival 2008|Glastonbury Festival. Mumford also toured Australia with Laura Marling, whose disinclination to interact with audiences encouraged Mumford into the spotlight. The experience helped inform his attitude toward 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. . NME . 12 August 2009. Retrieved 9 March 2011. 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 . . BBC News. 5 December 2008. Retrieved 29 December 2010. 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 V2 Records|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 having seen it at a US gig in 2009 and having appreciated its "honest" approach and unique sound. Their debut album was released on 5 October 2009 with "Little Lion Man" as the lead single.
Dave Berry (presenter)|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 their single "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 (song)|The Cave " on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on 26 February 2010. . NME . 18 February 2010. Retrieved 9 February 2011. Mumford & Sons have been commercially successful in Australia and New Zealand. The single "Little Lion Man" has been popular—by January 2010, it had topped the Triple J Hottest 100, 2009|Triple J Hottest 100 list for all of 2009. Its margin of victory was the largest in the history of the chart. Gregg, Natalie (27 January 2010). . The Courier-Mail. Retrieved 21 February 2011. In November 2010, the band won an ARIA Music Award for Most Popular International Artist. Collett-White, Mike (20 November 2010). "Mumford & Sons top ARIA Awards". Billboard 122 (46): p. 32. 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 strong popularity of singles from the album. "International Charts: Mumford & Sons' Sigh No More rallies around globe". Music Week : p. 28 (22 January 2011).
In a March 2010 interview, Ray Davies announced that Mumford & Sons will be appearing on his forthcoming collaborations album. Uricheck, Mark (15 March 2010). . Themusiciansvoice.blogspot.com. Retrieved 24 January 2011. Marcus 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 . . Retrieved 26 November 2010. 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. Gundersen, Edna (24 February 2011). . USA Today. Retrieved 6 March 2011. . NME. 7 March 2011. Retrieved 7 March 2011. The album subsequently peaked at number two on the UK Album Chart and the Billboard 200 in the US. Billboard (magazine)|Billboard Retrieved 2 March 2011 . Retrieved 2 March 2011
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 spirited "Devil's Spoke" and Mumford & Sons' "To Darkness." Sigh No More is Music recording sales certification|certified 2x Platinum in the US . Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 17 May 2012. and 4x Platinum in the UK. . British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 17 May 2012.
Babel : 2011–present
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., European Commission. Retrieved 20 February 2012 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. Montgomery, James (17 February 2011). . MTV. Retrieved 7 March 2011. 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. tour info. 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 Guthrie|Woody and Doc Watson|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|South by Southwest Film Conference and Festival (SXSW Film) in Austin, Texas "" by Nigel M. Smith, IndieWire; 1 February 2012. —winning the Headliner Audience Award. Fernandez, Jay A. (19 March 2012). "" The Hollywood Reporter. The film went on to win "Best Long Form Video" at the 2013 Grammy Awards. "" Grammy; 19 February 2013.
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 (2011 film)|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 (musician)|Birdy to the Pixar film Brave (2012 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 (album)|Babel, including the release date of 24 September 2012 and a track listing of 12 songs. . The Telegraph. Retrieved 24 September 2012 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. . BBC. Retrieved 24 September 2012 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. . Rolling Stone. Retrieved 24 September 2012 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 Album Chart and the US Billboard 200. . The Guardian. Retrieved 3 October 2012 . Billboard. Retrieved 3 October 2012 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 tour in support of Babel was released in November 2012.
In December 2012, Winston Marshall told NME that the band already had begun rehearsing and writing for their next album. Mumford & Sons were announced as the headline act for the final night of Glastonbury Festival 2013. The band will headline the Pyramid stage on Sunday 30 June 2013. NME (27-03-2013). Retrieved (01-04-2013).
Musical style and influences
The band uses bluegrass and Folk Music|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 song "Roll Away Your Stone,"'s title alludes 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." Pearson, Rick (9 November 2009) . Evening Standard (London). Retrieved 9 February 2011. 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 Francis of Assisi|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 (novel)|East of Eden and The Grapes of Wrath . Mumford, in an interview, even compared touring to a Steinbeck adventure: " 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 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...
Sigh No More (Mumford & Sons album)|Sigh No More (2009)
Babel (album)|Babel (2012)
Awards and nominations
Year !! Award !! Recipient !! Nomination !! Result
Top Alternative Album
"Little Lion Man"
Top Alternative Song
Mumford & Sons
Top Alternative Artist
Best Breakthrough Act
Sigh No More
Best Live Act
Brits Global Success
"Little Lion Man"
Song of the Year
Best Rock Performance
Best Rock Song
Best Americana Album
"I Will Wait"
Best Rock Song
"Learn Me Right (From Brave)"
Big Easy Express
The band were forced to return to the UK when bassist Ted Dwane took ill during the band's North America tour. Surgeons performed surgery on Dwane to remove a blood clot found on the surface of his brain. Three concert dates were cancelled but the band announced they would resume the rest of the tour on-schedule, starting 15 June 2013. . Retrieved 12 June 2013
Marcus Mumford – lead vocals, guitar, Percussion instrument|drums, mandolin
Ben Lovett (British musician)|Ben Lovet t – vocals, keyboards, accordion, drums, electric guitar
Winston Marshall – vocals, banjo, dobro, electric guitar