PAUL EPWORTH

Paul Epworth, best known for work­ing with Adele, said he and Mum­ford & Sons went on ‘a se­ries of blind dates’ be­fore they de­cided he was the best pro­ducer to help them with their fourth al­bum

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Ever been on a blind date with a rock star? How about four of them? That was Grammy-win­ning pro­ducer Paul Epworth’s ex­pe­ri­ence when he ini­tially met up with Mum­ford & Sons to see if he and the four rock­ers could vibe, and pos­si­bly cre­ate not just mu­sic, but magic to­gether.

“It was all a bit like a se­ries of blind dates to see how we hit it off. It took us a cou­ple of ses­sions be­fore we found out what the best method was. The chem­istry felt re­ally good all through­out the process,” Epworth said.

“We went on a cou­ple of dates,” said band leader Mar­cus Mum­ford. “We did ses­sions be­fore Christ­mas, which led to pretty much the fi­nal ver­sion of the song called ‘Slip Away,’ which is on the record. And we just felt like he was ex­actly the per­son we needed to help steer this ship for this fourth record. And we’ve never en­joyed record­ing more.”

The re­sult is the 14-track “Delta,” to be re­leased Fri­day.

The band started writ­ing new mu­sic af­ter the al­bum “Wilder Mind” was re­leased in 2015, even though one of the “Delta” songs is six years old. Mum­ford said they tried to re-work the old track “about 400 times.”

“It’s called ‘For­ever’ iron­i­cally,” he said.

“It wasn’t called ‘For­ever’ be­fore. Af­ter the 600th time,” chimed in Win­ston Mar­shall, who plays banjo and elec­tric gui­tar.

Epworth was part of the so­lu­tion. The band says when they didn’t know what to do, he did.

“They were open to giv­ing me a bit of space to run with stuff (and) try out what I had in mind,” Epworth said. “It def­i­nitely made me feel like I was es­sen­tially a fifth mem­ber of the band.”

The Lon­don group said they were fa­mil­iar with Epworth’s work - the pro­ducer is best known for craft­ing Adele’s mon­ster hit “Rolling in the Deep” and also win­ning an Os­car with the Bri­tish vo­cal­ist for the James Bond theme song, “Sky­fall.” Epworth’s cred­its also in­clude songs with Cold­play, Florence + the Ma­chine, U2, and Fos­ter the Peo­ple as well as lesser known acts such as Glass An­i­mals, Bloc Party and Plan B.

Markus Dravs pro­duced the band’s 2009 de­but, “Sigh No More,” and its fol­low-up, 2012’s “Ba­bel,” which won the al­bum of the year Grammy. Both records reached mul­ti­plat­inum sta­tus and launched hits on the pop and rock charts. “Wilder Mind,” pro­duced by James Ford, still had rock hits but only went gold.

Epworth’s fifth mem­ber sta­tus proved in­valu­able for “Delta,” mainly recorded at Epworth’s The Church Stu­dios in Lon­don.

“(Paul) would just come back one day and be like, ‘That is not your up­beat rock song. That is your down­beat pi­ano bal­lad. We’d be kind of just blind­sided by the mo­ments of sheer vi­sion­ary,” said mul­ti­in­stru­men­tal­ist Ben Lovett.

“Es­pe­cially for a band of four col­lab­o­ra­tors - to have that per­son to help, de­ci­sion-tie-breaker, those sort of mo­ments (are im­por­tant),” Lovett added. “If it were to be that we kind of fell out with our pro­ducer, it would be ine be­cause we could leave the sit­u­a­tion. If we fall out with each other, we’ve got a ma­jor prob­lem. Luck­ily that’s been some­thing we’ve been able to avoid.”

The song­writ­ing process for each track on “Delta” var­ied each of the band mem­bers work on songs in­di­vid­u­ally and then bring them to the group.

Mum­ford said over the years he’s learned how to be a bet­ter team player and let ev­ery­one’s voice be heard.

“In the old days there was a sliver of im­me­di­acy and I think a slight im­ma­tu­rity, cre­atively . ... If some­one else had a dif­fer­ent idea, I per­son­ally had less pa­tience for it than I do now,” he said. “Now, I trust these guys’ cre­ative in­stincts so much. If they’ve got a dif­fer­ent idea (and) it doesn’t chime with me straight away, I’m in­trigued to see where it goes.”

One of the ideas that came from Lovett was “If I Say,” a beau­ti­ful, build­ing rock song, where the string ar­range­ment and or­ches­tra shine brightly. Lovett said he wrote the song “in a dream that I had whilst I was go­ing through a bunch of stuff.”

“I was half­way be­tween grap­pling with a divorce but also be­ing in a new re­la­tion­ship,” he con­tin­ued. “The song ques­tions a lot about com­mit­ment and about the power of com­mit­ment.”

Per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences are what drove the over­all song­writ­ing be­hind the al­bum, bassist Ted Dwane said.

“We write au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cally. A lot has hap­pened to us in our per­sonal lives in the past few years and the over­rid­ing theme felt like en­ter­ing the world,” Dwane ex­plained. “It felt like leav­ing the se­cu­rity of youth and in­no­cence and man­ning up, ba­si­cally.”

Mum­ford & Sons, who formed in 2007 and started out as a live band, will get a chance to show­case the new songs on their 60-date “Delta” Tour, which kicks off in Dublin on Fri­day and lands in the U.S. on Dec. 7 in Philadel­phia.

They said an­other way they were in­spired to write new songs came from lis­ten­ing to other artists’ mu­sic in the stu­dio.

“We’ll con­stantly be in­tro­duc­ing each other to new mu­sic like, ‘Lis­ten to this song here’ and we’ll turn it up loud,” Mum­ford said. “Wins and I once had a very late, quite drunken night in Lon­don, demo­ing for the pre­vi­ous al­bum where we lis­tened to (Don Hen­ley’s) ‘The Boys of Sum­mer’ about five times re­ally loud and then tried to record our own. We called it ‘Lads of Sum­mer.’ It’s a mon­stros­ity. We should have put it on the record though.”

“Maybe on the next one,” Mar­shall said. “By the way, I (ex­ple­tive) love that song.”

Mar­cus Mum­ford

Paul Epworth

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