“The Cave” By Mumford & Sons
Mumford and Sons are Ted Dwane,Country Winston, Marcus Johnstone and Ben Lovett
When a band is described as “the sorrowful sound of old men” it hardly gets your pulse racing and sends you spiralling into a giddy whirl of anticipation does it ? You may be forgiven for thinking that the statement above is in fact the tagline for The Last Of The Summer Wine – The Musical”, which like the lamentable TV show would doubtless be, a largely chuckle free zone.
Brows may be further furrowed when the band in question employ a collective appellation that sounds more like a local undertakers than a life affirming musical ensemble. But as the saying goes, one should never judge a book by its binding and that is of course why you have to actually open a book and carefully weigh what’s written therein, rest assured once you hear Mumford & Sons music any reservations or preconecptions you may have had with regard to their name will be quickly dispelled.
Often mentioned in the same breath as London’s new folk scene Mumford & Sons produce an intoxicating musical cocktail that is timeless, thoughtful and is of such quality that one cannot help being left with the impression that surely the band have been honing their craft since Jesus was a lad? It therefore may come as a surprise to learn that Mumford and Sons only formed in late 2007 and are all still in their early twenties!
So do they really view the world through the eyes of sorrowful old men ? Have they, by some cruel and freakish twist of fate, bypassed the joyous optimism of youth to sing embittered laments of all that they have suffered, all they have loved and lost ? Of course not ! “Sorrowful” is hardly a word that readily springs to mind when describing the bands output, “heartfelt” “emotive” and “euphoric” somehow seem a much better fit. Since the bands debut Ep “Lend Me Your Eyes” they have gone from strength to strength as they continue to produce a wonderful concoction of indie folk with majestic pop undertones that remains intelligent, thoughtful and uplifting.
When a band arrive this fully formed you can’t help but wonder what Faustian pacts have been drawn up in the dark of night and ponder whether William Hjortsberg’s novel “Falling Angel” has in fact become a reality ! Is Marcus really a modern day version of Johnny Favourite??? We spoke to Mumford’s Ben Lovett to find out more and hoped Louis Cyphre didn’t make an impromptu appearance to claim what is rightfully his 😉
VP: We’ll start with a traditional opening question…. what prompted you to form Mumford and Sons and how did you all get together?
Ben: Back in 2007, we were hanging out at place called The Bosun’s Locker where Country was hosting and promoting nights. Marcus, who I’d been playing music with since we were kids, was playing some of his early songs on guitar accompanied by whoever would be up for wigging out or singing. Country and I did this more regularly and then Ted joined on bass and we solidified ourselves as a four piece.
VP: Your third Single/Ep “The Cave and the Open Sea” is due to be released on April 6th on Chess Club Records. Can you tell us a little bit about the song/s?
Ben: “The Cave and the Open Sea” consists rather confusingly of a song called “The Cave” and “But My Heart Told My Head” (aka “No, Not Up For It“). They’re the first recordings we’ve released from a professional studio and so have branched out a bit, sonically. Lyrically, they’re about quite different experiences, one of Marcus’s and one of Country’s. Both kind of personal but I suppose ultimately the world would be a better place if everyone was a little more honest, considerate and self-aware.
VP: Is an album in the offing, a big label deal, swimming pools, movie stars .. etc?
Ben: That’s right. Everything you’ve heard about the country falling into recession, the music industry suffering from illegal downloads etc is all lies. We’ve acquired a swimming pool and a movie star each. Ummmm, Not really… We have, however, been recording the debut album for the past 4 weeks and are in the final days of recording. Hoping to share it by the end of the summer. We’ve still got a lot to do on it!
VP: Your music and lyrics have been described as “preternaturally wise” and the “sorrowful sound of old men contemplating their lost youth”, do you find you attract a wide range of age groups to your gigs?
Ben: I suppose we do. I find the age thing varies depending on where we are. We did a large UK tour at the beginning of the year, and noticed the crowds kind of got younger the further South we went. I don’t know what that means. And I also hope that our music isn’t received as “the sorrowful sound of old men” by too many people! There’s a lot to be happy and hopeful about, we are aware of that…
VP: What’s been your most amazing collective experience since the band formed?
Ben: We have had many great moments over the past year. They’re all amazing for different reasons, not wanting to be vague, but they really have been. We love to tour, and have shared many experiences – from leaning against gale force winds in Ullapool in Scotland looking over Loch Broom to sitting on Brooklyn Bridge in New York at four in the morning – and we also love sharing these times with friends we’ve met along the way. Like on the last tour, which we’ve since named the snowball tour, we got to play with some very dear friends (Pete Roe, Peggy Sue, Alessi’s Ark and Sons of Noel & Adrian) for different legs of the tour.
VP: Which musicians do you most admire and why?
Ben: Musicians who just do what they do and don’t try to be anything else. Whether or not what they do is successful commercially, they are the real winners in the end. And often write better music because of it.
VP: Is there any one style of music that sets your teeth on edge?
Ben: Is teeth on edge a bad thing?! I think we’ve all got different things that perhaps we wouldn’t enjoy but collectively we’re pretty open minded. I’m not a massive fan of “screamo” as a general style of music. But I do respect it and understand that it’s real and expressive. In the words of Beans on Toast “Celebrate or ignore” as opposed to “Celebrate or lament”.
VP: Any musical tips for big things in 2009?
Ben: The Temper Trap who have just moved over to London from Australia are fantastic. We played a show with them in New York and then caught a show of theirs at SXSW and both times were pretty blown away. Cherbourg are also fantastic and 2009 should be a breaking year for them as they release their second EP.
VP: A dilemma, Bono rings you; he wants to do a duet with you. Simon Cowell wants to oversee the project. Do you …
A/ Ignore the little fella and hope he goes away
B/ Say thanks but you’d rather eat your own kidneys
C/ Graciously accept calculating there’s no such thing as bad publicity
Ben: Option D/. Accept that there is such a thing as bad publicity but can’t resist the prospect of Simon Cowell trying to constructively criticize Bono.
VP: Five words to describe your sound?
Ben: Who can ever do that?
Order the very Limited Edition Ep here
“But My heart Told My Head” ( Live – IC, London) By Mumford & Sons”