Very few bands can get people off their feet with a banjo and Shakespeare, but Mumford & Sons get the job done every time. These four Brits started in 2007 and rose to headline music festivals around the world. With three studio albums and over a dozen awards and accolades, this quartet has as much character as they do talent. Here are ten facts you might not know about Mumford & Sons:
Marcus Mumford was born in the United States: Although Marcus Mumford was raised in England and presents an air of British charm, he actually hails from Southern California. In the 80s, Mumford’s parents were working in the states as visiting missionaries for The Vineyard, an evangelical Christian movement, when he was born in Yorba Linda, California, on January 31st, 1987. Since his parents are English, Mumford holds both British and US citizenship. Because of his religious background, a lot of Mumford & Sons’ music has Christian themes.
Songwriting is a game to them: When it comes to writing songs, these guys like to get a little playful. They are known to play a game called the 10 Song Game, in which each musician is challenged to crank out ten songs, with no expectation of quality. When someone strikes a chord, they tweak the piece to make it better and flesh it out into a worthy song.
Marcus Mumford married a childhood friend: Carey Mulligan is best known for her roles in Drive, An Education and Never Let Go, but rarely does her credit Wife of Marcus Mumford come up. Mulligan and Mumford were childhood friends and pen pals into adulthood. It took the magic of Jake Gyllenhaal to bring these love birds to their full, romantic potential. Gyllenhaal and Mulligan attended a private house party in 2011, with music provided by none other than Mumford & Sons. In 2015, the couple welcomed baby girl Evelyn Grace.
They don’t think rock ‘n roll defines us: Mumford and guitarist Winston Marshall told Billboard they were disappointed their generation isn’t defined by rock ’n roll like previous ages, but can agree there are worse things than being defined by hip hop. While Marshall feels sad people his age will remember Kanye West and Rihanna as the defining musicians, Mumford sees a little light in Kanye. “I think Kanye is sick,” Mumford said. “He’s the only rock star left.”
Marcus Mumford started a book club: Imagine being talked into attending a book club, suffering through Moby Dick and a white wine spritzer only to realize Marcus Mumford was behind the whole thing. A couple years ago, Mumford set up his own online book club in an effort to make himself read more. “I believe that you write what you read, just in the same way that you’re a musician, you play what you listen to,” Mumford said. This explains why some of their music is inspired by classic literature; For instance, “Sigh No More” features likes from Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.
Winston Marshall can tell a joke: As a man of many interests, Marshall decided to hone another craft: improv comedy. The guitarist took classes with the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York City. UCB, known for producing greats like Amy Poehler and Matt Walsh, is a great in the comedy industry and gives hobbyists and professionals alike a chance to play around and workshop jokes. While Marshall toyed with the idea of a web series, luckily he didn’t quit his day job.
They drink for free in Brooklyn: Givers and Takers, a bar on Third Avenue and Carroll Street in Brooklyn, has been known to host impressive after-parties when a big show ends. Once the house lights go up, musicians and fans head to this little spot to keep the show going, and for good reason. Financial backers Marcus Mumford and keyboardist Ben Lovett put their faith in concert promoters-turned-bar-owners Anthony Makes and Tom Robinson to create a hub for music fans. Mumford & Sons headed their after they performed on Saturday night live in 2015.
Acoustic is their second language: You might be wired to think an aggressively-strummed mandolin is exactly what Mumford & Sons do best, but their roots are actually in electric guitars. The band grew up with electric instruments and learned to play plugged in but eventually wandered to acoustics. “We adopted acoustic instruments,” Mumford said.
They don’t like much of today’s folk rock music: Mumford & Sons will be the first to admit they were not solely responsible for bringing folk rock to people’s ears in this millennium, but they’re not really proud to be seen within the ranks. “Some of it was great,” Mumford said. “And some of it was f***ing awful. But naturally, we started our journey away from that stuff.”
They almost didn’t make it: When Mumford & Sons were trying to catch their big break, they almost missed an opportunity because of what they didn’t have. According to an interview with NME, the group was almost turned away from a recording opportunity for the album Sigh No More because they didn’t own their instruments. At the time, a big producer was ready to turn his back because they guys didn’t come equipped to play.