Mumford & Sons: In These Bodies, We Will Live. In These Bodies, We Will Die.
In 2008, they participated in the “River Rat Pack” tour with seven other bands where they coasted down the Thames River in Southern England on a canal boat to various ports of call. “No one came to the gigs but there were enough artists around that we made our own crowd,” chuckles Marcus Mumford who handles most of the lead singing, guitar playing and drumming for the band.
In 2010, they toured India—where they were unknown—as part of a cultural exchange. “It was a very humbling experience for us to play to the crowds and work under those constraints,” keyboardist and accordionist Ben Lovett told the filmmakers that followed them.
In February 2011, they toured the Scottish Highlands. “We figured that playing smaller shows would take us back to the beginning of our touring lives again, but we didn’t really figure that there would be so much demand in places like Orkney,” wrote Mumford on the band’s website after tickets sold-out quickly. “We think we’ve reached a bit of a tricky stage where we’re torn because we want to keep playing intimate shows, but we also obviously would like people who want to see us to be able to.”
In April that year, they embarked on the first annual Railroad Revival Tour with pals Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros and Old Crow Medicine Show that took them from Oakland, Calif., to New Orleans by train and saw them playing pop-up shows next to the depots along the way.
“When they play a show, they bring everything to that community,” says Daniel Glass, founder of Glassnote Records, which is home to Mumford & Sons in the U.S. (along with Phoenix and others). “Being here in Bristol, you see [how] the town gets affected. It happened on the railroad tour, it happened in Hoboken, it happened in Providence the other night—and Dixon is preparing for them.”
On State Street, the main drag of Bristol, which divides the town between Virginia and Tennessee, all of the lampposts sport quaint banners announcing the event. A majority of the stores have placed the Stopover’s symbol—an old-school Englishman sporting a regal mustache and top hat with antique pistols crisscrossed below him—in their windows as a show of support and welcome. Sandwich boards outside bars beckon fans while Union Jack flags flutter in the wind like distant cousins of the Confederate flag.
“In life, there’s been the Grateful Dead and Dave Matthews [style of touring],” Glass tells me. “The Rolling Stones did it when they brought their tours [to a town]. These boys, they come in—it’s an all-nighter and it’s rock and roll.”
If you know what Mumford & Sons’ music sounds like, then you know that when Glass says, “rock and roll,” he’s referring more to the band’s attitude and vibe than to their actual music. After all, it’s the music—an accessible, acoustic-based sound with pithy mantras and everyman storylines—that has allowed them the ability to take the Field Of Dreams mantra of “If you build it, they will come” anywhere in the world.
Mumford & Sons emerged from the bowels of an underage drinking establishment called Bosun’s Locker in West London where the members first met in 2005. Marshall, who once sported dreadlocks, ran the club as a causal, uninhibited venue for a burgeoning new school British folk scene led by artists such as Laura Marling (who members of Mumford & Sons backed early on and who continue to share a manager in Adam Tudhope), Noah & The Whale and Johnny Flynn.
“If you had heard some of the stuff that was played in Bosun’s Locker—some of those songwriters—the reason it was so exciting and something that’s been referenced is because there was no filter,” says Lovett. “There was a room of 60 people and it was almost like a counseling group: ‘Let’s all hang out, get drunk afterward and forget we ever said anything in the first place.’”
Two years later, the foursome gathered courage to commit three songs to tape: “White Blank Page,” “Awake My Soul” and “The Liar.” The sound that emerged on those tracks had a lilting rawness that’s reflective of the scene that Lovett describes. The group’s singing, led by Mumford’s bittersweet and throaty vocals, made them magnetic. Their harmonies came across like a powerhouse bar band version of Crosby, Stills and Nash. The charm was in both their natural talents and slight imperfections.
But it was “Roll Away Your Stone,” the lead track on the group’s self-titled four-song EP from 2008, where they found their signature sound: a quiet preface before a thunderous, foot-stomping chorus that is equal parts emotional catharsis and feel-good hoedown.
The band’s next two releases, another four song EP and a two-song limited edition 10-inch vinyl, each contained another “Roll Away Your Stone”: “The Cave” and “Little Lion Man.” (Lyrically, they all strike similar tones about a lover’s fear, contrition or failure.)
What the band didn’t realize at the time is that all three songs—in their moments of ecstatic release led by Mumford’s use of a standalone kick drum—have a four-on the-floor rhythmic pattern that’s one of the most pervasive beats found in house and techno music. It’s a key factor in why Mumford & Sons are so popular with people who also have a deep love of electronic music. (That’s my hypothesis, anyway.)
In honor of Umphrey’s McGee’s return to Summer Camp this weekend, we present the group’s Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger performing this version of “The Pequod” from UM’s Anchor Drops.
Dame shares a song from her new EP Preventions of Heartbreak.
Golden Bloom stopped by Relix to perform a tune from their latest EP No Day Like Today.
The Chapin Sisters share an tune from their new album A Date With the Everly Brothers.
Minneapolis-based Night Moves share a song from their record, Colored Emotions, live at Relix.
Cloud Cult share a song from their latest album live at Relix.
The Giving Tree Band enjoy a spring day on the Relix rooftop, while performing a classic Grateful Dead tune.
Canadian singer-songwriter Hayden performs a duet with his sister-in-law Lou Canon. The song appears on Us Alone his first record on Broken Social Scene’s Arts & Crafts Productions.
The Milk Carton Kids share the first song from their new album, The Ash & Clay.
Here is the new video from Serbian guitar ace Ana Popovic. “Object Of Obsession” appears on her latest album Can You Stand The Heat.
- Relix Live Fridays: Trey Anastasio at The Fox
- Grace Potter & The Nocturnals "The Lion The Beast The Beat" (Official Video)
- The Allman Brothers Band Before Gregg?
- The M & Ms: Medeski, Mali, Mercurio, Moore at (Le) Poisson Rouge (A Gallery)
- Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger "The Pequod"
- Trey Anastasio with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center
- More Visions of the Hangout Music Festival 2013 (A Gallery)
- A Blowout for the So So Glos
- Interlocken Festival to Feature Neil Young, Furthur, String Cheese Incident, Black Crowes, Zac Brown and More
- Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers "Friend of The Devil" at the Beacon
- The Salvation of Page McConnell (Relix Revisited)
- Interlocken Adds Widespread Panic and John Fogerty, Furthur to Play Workingman’s Dead
- Warren Haynes and Joe Bonamassa "If Heartaches Were Nickels"
- The Final Ingredient in Dogfish Head’s Grateful Dead Tribute Ale Is…
- Stone Gossard Readies His Moonlander
- Trey Anastasio Band at The Hangout (Video Stream)
- Doctor’s Orders: So what should we call the Super Ball IX Newspaper?
- John Kadlecik Posts Statement on Bob Weir’s Collapse
- "I Wanne Be In moe.": The Latest Volunteers
- Bob Weir Escorted Off Stage During Furthur Show
- Furthur Cancels BottleRock Show as Bob Weir Is Out Of Commision
- Vote for Your Favorite "I Wanne Be In moe." Contestant
- Doctor’s Orders: What’s Your Favorite Furthur Song? (Win Copy of Relix Signed by Phil and Bobby)
- On The Verge Poll