For­tu­nate sons

The UK folk favourites are sigh­ing no more af­ter charm­ing the world on the road to their sec­ond al­bum, as Cameron Adams re­ports

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Eguide Music -

MUM­FORD and Sons have used the ears of the world as a sound­ing board for their sec­ond al­bum.

The Bri­tish band toured re­lent­lessly prior to the re­lease of their 2009 de­but Sigh No More. They adopted the same road- test­ing process for the fol­low- up.

Things have changed some­what, how­ever.

Sigh No More has sold more than four mil­lion copies, in­clud­ing peak­ing at No. 2 in the US. The stag­ger­ing suc­cess in the US also in­creased the de­mand for the band to play live.

As such, they’ve ef­fec­tively been on the road for three years.

‘‘ It’s been flat out, but that’s good,’’ Mar­cus Mum­ford says.

‘‘ We want to work hard. We’ll have a break at some point.

‘‘ We’ve been kept busy. Peo­ple have wanted to see our gigs in var­i­ous parts of the world, which means we have to travel, which takes up some time.

‘‘ So we did that in be­tween record­ing. We’ve had a lot to do.’’

Buzzing from writ­ing and record­ing new songs, Mum­ford and Sons reg­u­larly aired them live just to sig­nif­i­cantly larger au­di­ences than be­fore.

‘‘ We’ve in­volved our au­di­ences a lot in the writ­ing of this new al­bum,’’ Mum­ford says.

‘‘ A lot of peo­ple have al­ready been ex­posed to th­ese songs. Records should be ad­verts for our live show.

‘‘ It’s im­por­tant to know if a song can be played live, and en­joyed by us first and fore­most, and sec­on­dar­ily by oth­ers. Some songs passed that test, some didn’t.’’

A hand­ful of un­re­leased new songs – Ghosts That We Know, Lover’s Eyes, Be­low My Feet, Whis­pers In the Dark, Lover Of the Light, Hope­less Wan­derer – are all float­ing around on YouTube in vary­ing lev­els of record­ing qual­ity.

‘‘ I do no­tice peo­ple singing along to new songs at gigs,’’ Mum­ford says.

‘‘ That’s amaz­ing. But then peo­ple get emo­tion­ally at­tached to the sound of the songs, so there’ll be peo­ple who’ll be p----off when they hear the stu­dio ver­sion.

‘‘ It’ll be ‘ Oh, it doesn’t sound like I imag­ined it would from what I re­mem­ber of hear­ing it at that one gig when I was drunk’.’’

The new songs have had a lot of love on YouTube.

‘‘ As a pol­icy I stay away from YouTube and YouTube com­ments es­pe­cially. I’ve been told they’re pretty bru­tal and it’s a whole world of pain I don’t want to sub­ject my­self to.’’

Not that Mum­ford doesn’t have a sense of hu­mour.

His band has been on the re­ceiv­ing end of feed­back, good and bad, from both Gal­lagher broth­ers. Liam Gal­lagher said the band looked ‘‘ Amish’’.

‘‘ I thought that was hi­lar­i­ous,’’ Mum­ford says.

Noel Gal­lagher said he wished he’d writ­ten Mum­ford’s The Cave.

‘‘ Now that was a beau­ti­ful mo­ment. We walked past each other in a hall­way at a fes­ti­val once and nod­ded at each other. I think he had no idea who I was, he was just be­ing nice to a stranger. I gave him a lit­tle ‘ I’ll swap you The Cave for Won­der­wall ’ look.’’

It’s a tes­ta­ment to the ac­ci­den­tal but un­stop­pable suc­cess of Sigh No More, the mod­ern folk rock al­bum that could.

Mum­ford has seen ev­ery­one from Tay­lor Swift to a busker in Lon­don singing his songs in the past two years. ‘‘ It’s very sur­real,’’ he says. The all- im­por­tant fol­low- up is to be re­leased in late Septem­ber.

‘‘ Peo­ple ask us to de­scribe the sound of the new record,’’ Mum­ford says. ‘‘ We can’t, we’re the worst peo­ple to ask.

‘‘ It’s just us again; just us be­ing a band again. The sound of the al­bum is dif­fer­ent cer­tainly. Some peo­ple will like it, some will hate it, but that’s the same with any record.

‘‘ We’re not re­ally keep­ing an eye on record sales. We never have.

‘‘ To us this makes sense as the next part of our story. We’re not freak­ing out. It’s an ex­cuse to play more gigs.’’

For a band whose breakthrough hit Lit­tle Lion Man came with two un­likely in­gre­di­ents for main­stream suc­cess – a banjo and the F bomb – no one was talk­ing ra­dio- friendly sin­gles.

‘‘ The S word [ sin­gle] was banned in the stu­dio,’’ Mum­ford says.

‘‘ It’s not our job to un­der­stand that. It’s point­less, peo­ple pluck­ing a song from an al­bum they think can get played on the ra­dio. That’s not a good test of a record, it’s just cherry- pick­ing. When we fin­ished the first record we didn’t talk about sin­gles un­til it was done.

‘‘ We did ex­actly the same this time.’’ Aus­tralians will get to see Mum­ford and their pals Ed­ward Sharpe and the Mag­netic Ze­roes when both bands ( and US singer Willy Ma­son) tour in Oc­to­ber every­where from Ho­bart to Cairns.

‘‘ We felt we owed it to Aus­tralia to do a more ex­ten­sive tour,’’ Mum­ford says.

‘‘ We never felt we’d been around as many of the places as we should have.’’

Mum­ford is ex­cited about longer sets with songs peo­ple will recog­nise.

‘‘ You do test the pa­tience of your au­di­ence if you’ve only got one record out and you’re play­ing for an hour and a half; at least 30 min­utes of that is new songs. Or just s--- chat.

‘‘ We fig­ured peo­ple pre­fer new songs. Not that we can’t give them s--- chat as well.’’

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