In this episode, PausePlay's host Zac Monson sits down with Mumford & Sons' Marcus Mumford and Ben Lovett. After 12 years and 4 albums together, Marcus and Ben share their experience of what it's like to work as a band, how they get lost in their music, how they create memorable stadium experiences, and much more!
I'm Zack Monson and welcome back to a very special edition of Stingray PausePlay here in Montreal with world sensations Mumford & Sons!
Marcus: Hello Mate!
How are you doing?
Ben: Great thanks! Yeah, nice introduction.
You guys look great! Considering the busy lives you have, you guys look happy and well rested and things are going up.
Ben: Yeah, we had a day off yesterday. Feeling pretty rested.
Curating their own Mumford & Sons Stingray Channel
So, I have to say a huge thank you to you guys for curating a Stingray Music channel with us. It's no longer on TV but you can definitely catch it on our mobile app and our Webplayer. So, what can people expect to hear from this channel? What kind of music did you guys kind of put into it?
Marcus: Typically, fairly eclectic when we put our heads together to try and curate um a sort of playlist. I mean at the moment were going through a big Billie Eilish phase as a band.
Marcus: Listening to a lot of Little Sims. Love Maggie Rogers.
Definitely Maggie Rogers in there yeah. She was on the album, right? She did…
Ben: She did some yeah.
Marcus: Yeah, she did some babies
Ben: We heard about her, um… we had some cross over with some of our team in the UK, and she came over and played a show in London and then hung out and had a drink afterwards and realized she’s just incredibly like engaging and warm and then we really bonded and spent a week collaborating and traveling together and now she’s just a really good friend of ours.
Best friends since. That's amazing!
Their relationship after 12 years and 4 albums
Um… You know you guys are twelve years in now. You're four albums deep. You're this you're the same guys in the band you know. You guys seem to get along so well. You guys seem to still find a moment to laugh and be happy in each other's company. Is there a trick to getting along for 12 years straight and not breaking up?
Marcus: We love, it's like a marriage you know. We, we talk a lot, we meet a lot, we make all the decisions together. There's a it's a real democracy which with four people can be complicated and boring but, it's sort of the least worst form of government. We make sure like, we yeah, we make sure we have fun as well. So, studio recently has been really fun, and we spent a lot of time in the studios that's good and important and then yeah, the gigs have been really fun.
Marcus: We have we've done some weird gigs recently you know. We like doing this like going to Senegal, popping up in West Africa and playing a show, which makes no sense really.
Just popping in there.
Marcus: We played at a pub down the road from the studio a couple weeks ago in front of like couple weeks ago in front of like a hundred people, fully acoustic. That was really fun! Yeah, we just try and keep it kind of fun.
Yeah. What's your first memory of each other?
Marcus: First like vivid memory I have of Ben was in a band practice. We are eight years and he was the drummer and I wanted to be a drummer like Ben and so I had to go and practice.
Which you were for a while right? You were a drummer.
Marcus: I still am. First and foremost, I'm a drummer. I'm not really a guitarist. I just play percussion on the guitar.
You also actually sing sometimes too.
Also, yeah, in case you forgot that part as well.
Marcus: But yeah. So, we were eight when we met, and we were at school together till we were eighteen. Now we've been in the band together longer than we were at school together.
Wow, that's crazy how relationships can last so long, and you don’t hate each other completely. It's amazing! I have so few of those friends left!
Marcus: You sound like a s***t friend!
I’m an awful person! Okay? I’m a terrible terrible person.
We asked the last artist that we had in to ask you guys a question, and that artist is grandson and the question for you is:
grandson: What's going on I’m grandson. My question for you is, in this era of oversaturated content seemingly flowing all day every day, why do you think that your voice is important to get heard now?
Ben: Um… certainly, probably look inward to make sure we're being as true to ourselves as possible whenever we're putting something out into the world and I think that the more noise that is out there, the harder that becomes because you get kind of distracted by lots of other people's realities and then you, the danger is that you acquiesce. Whereas actually you need to kind of, individuality has become more important than ever, so, the better we the better we achieve that, I guess be it the more people understand what we're trying to say because we're being bit more define, it better than I'm answering this question.
It was perfect.
Delta album and experimenting with music
The album is ‘Delta’. It's this, got this Mumford & Sons heart to it still but you know this ethereal kind of backbone to it this electronic background almost, a spine so, how was the process so different this time from the last time? And with experimenting and so many different sounds and styles and textures of the instruments that you already used to it, must be so easy to get lost in the infinite ideas of what you can do.
How do you like what's the stopping point? What’s the line you don’t cross?
Marcus: No, you’re right. It’s really easy to get lost. Um…and I’m sure we did lots and that was quite fun as well getting lost but we put our faith in Paul Epworth who we rate as one, as one of the best producers in the world, and he's really become one of our best mates as well and, and we yeah we went in with him and we took our time with it. We decided we didn't want a quick album, we’d rather have a good album. We're really proud of it we we spent a lot of time on it and I like it the most out of everything we’ve ever done.
But a lot of that was experimenting and trying different things, and working with modular since we've never done before or trying to distort and delay, and reverse banjos and chop them up in a way treating them like a sort of lead instrument on an EDM track or something and, and then going straight back to like playing around one microphone with four acoustic instruments. So, and everything in between really. So, I think we just enjoyed the fact that we were able to go into this studio called the church which is one of the best studios in the entire world and it's got everything's always plugged in so you can go and run over and try anything you like on any instrument which is dangerous because you can get lost but, I think we sort of relished the fact that this is our job like we get to be creative and make music and, and really not to be shy with that but to lean into it and and try and make the most of it and not take it for granted and we really enjoyed it can't wait to see a next one now.
Yeah, I bet so what's that what's the kind of craziest thing you guys did on the album or the most far away from what people might expect from you?
Ben: Well, there's a song on the record called ‘Darkness Visible’ which was kind of an edited version of what was about a four-hour version of that moment in the studio which came about midnight on a Friday and we were just all playing together in a room on all sorts of instruments.
Marcus: I was playing an orchestra on a keyboard. I think called a seaboard where you can do like quarter note.
Those seaboards are brilliant! That’s the one where you can kind of switch between notes and like a smooth, yeah, those things are amazing!
Marcus: But yeah, that was fun. I was playing like 14 cellos on that thing.
Ben: We were just making music and we were, feel, like, we're in lockstep and the tape was rolling and then we got to the end, and there was no apparent ending to what we were doing and we got the end and Paul was like, “Yeah, that should go on the album”. And then we obviously...
Marcus: Which we all laughed about!
Ben: From a song idea to a demo to the finished thing can be an insane journey sometimes.
Absolutely! It can be a very long grueling path, especially if you know I'm sure you guys like things to sound a certain way in your ear when you hear it in the end and going through all the band members, having them all like it, have the producer like it, have the label like it, have a, can be a tough journey but I think the album itself is, I think it's your best work I mean it's a beautiful beautiful beautiful album!
I know that the show has gotten bigger, your crew has gotten bigger, the stadiums that you're playing have gotten bigger and that you guys are very into the crowd having an intimate experience with you, you know whether you're playing to four people or however many people is, how do you maintain that sense of intimacy and closeness in a stadium?
Marcus: We put a lot of thought into it and really prioritize intimate moments as well as the kind of big expansive, more kind of abandoning moments. This tour we’ve done in the round which has been really fun, we make sure we lowered the stage enough so that people from both sides could see each other.
Marcus: Which is really important to us. So, I suppose we sort of think of it from the point of view as the person, of the person watching from the nosebleeds and think about their experience and then if you can kind of sing to them and get them engaged you can get people on the floor easier you know.
What an incredibly thoughtful way to go about that! I genuinely mean that.
Marcus: Oh, it’s also kind of customer service like you know we want people to have a good experience or ultimately you want them to come back!
Marcus: So, you got to think of everyone in the room rather than just the front row who…
Yeah, but I think you know full well that a lot of artists they're going there and doing their show and if they can hear me in the back, they can hear me in the back, if they can't hear me the back, they can’t hear me in the back. I think it's a special feeling to care about them that much!
Ben: People have different prerogatives don’t they. I don’t think there’s anything wrong necessarily if the artist chooses not to prioritize that.
Ben: For us, that communal experience although, might to your point seem like an obvious thing that you would put higher up the ticket doesn't have to be higher up the agenda and think for us it always has been. So, just to be able to share in that moment with people and also give that moment over as much as possible, almost like giving the songs over as much as possible and we're all in it together is, goes way back to the very beginning days of the band. That's what we wanted it to feel like.
Hopeless Wanderer music video
You guys have some great music videos some are kind of mini movies, some are just you guys playing in front of you know some people in the street, do you have a favorite video? I can think of at least one you should probably love a lot!
Ben: Hopeless wanderer?
I would say that!
Marcus: Yeah that was good!
Okay, so for that one right, A-list stars in the comedy world playing you guys. Did you guys get to pick who played who? Did they pick? How did that come about? Were you happy with the choices?
Marcus: Sam Jones. Sam Jones who directed it kind of got that crew together. We made a short list of people wanted and it included those guys and um we we went when went to the shoot I didn’t, and we just had the best day ever. Had so much fun! Just laughed. It was that period where we're quite enjoying laughing ourselves don't join anymore. But, sending out the view of our own band in the public world.
Marcus: And that one means, it means that we find it quite troubling to play the song live now we have those guys in our heads like gyrating with banjos.
You guys don't feel the need to kiss each other on stage during?
Marcus: And making out yeah!
Getting picketed for their music video
Marcus: And we got picketed by those guys, what then, what are they called?
Marcus: Yeah, is it Westboro?
Westboro Baptist Church?
Ben: Yeah, they picketed that video yeah.
Marcus: That video, yeah.
Oh, because there was making out of two guys involved?
Marcus: Yeah, which I think is quite a badge of honor.
I think so, yeah! It means you're probably doing something right! If their picketing you, you're probably a great person so, good on you for getting picketed guys!
I think guys are phenomenal I can't wait for the next album I know that you guys have a whole bunch of songs that kind of didn't make the cut this time around. I can't wait to see where the sound goes, where you guys come next and we're just really proud of you guys! We’ll continue to play you guys all the time. Thank you guys so so much.
Marcus: Thanks man!
Ben: Thank you. Thank you.
I really appreciate it!
Listen to Mumford & Sons on Stingray Music
You can hear Mumford and Sons on Stingray Music’s Adult Alternative channel, the Hitless channel, Rock channel, and the Rock Alternative channel. Of course, don’t miss the Mumford & Sons channel available on our mobile app on our Webplayer right now.
We’ll see you guys next time!