“It’s f***ing early for us, sorry,” apologized Marcus Mumford with his yielding, transcontinental-sounding British accent. The frontman of English folk-rock band Mumford & Sons looks almost all-American with his lush mustache, blue jeans, buttoned-up shirt that refuses to be buttoned, and what looks like a brass-buckled American eagle belt. “This is part of our bit. This is what we do. F*** up constantly.”
Around him, people in the courtyard of the Britannia-themed pub Cat & Fiddle order morning beers, plates of fish and chips, and already start to break glasses. Everyone in the band laughs sleepily.
They have an epic excuse for their exhaustion; the two nights before their Breakfast with Kevin & Bean of KROQ in Los Angeles, the band had played a coveted headlining performance at the massive Hollywood Bowl, which Ben Lovett called “bleeping massive.” Thankfully, Mumford and Sons have an equally massive sound to shake the souls of even those in the cheap seats.
In a world full of autotuned power pop ballads, Mumford & Sons have shown that sometimes graceful simplicity is best, the almost acoustic sound of their twangy Americana mixed with their classic, romantic
British lyricism finding its way into the hearts of music lover internationally.
Despite their obvious American influences, Lovett said that the band is “pretty proud of their British roots and like to keep things that way as much as possible,” especially when it came to hiring the Wire‘s Idris Alba to direct and star in the music video for “Lover of the Light.” The British actor, who does a convincing American accent for his role on the hit television show, offered his services and the band happily accepted because they “hate doing music videos.” They signed up to be musicians, not on-screen actors.
Without being aware of it, the boys dressed in wonderfully crumpled clothing with their beards and banjos organically visual. A bright orange butterfly flies serenely through the breeze overhead as they perform songs like “I Will Wait,” “Roll Away Your Stone, “Ghosts That We Know,” “The Cave,” and “Where Are You Now,” and it’s apparent that Mumford & Sons are truly in their element when they’re performing–whether it’s in the intimate space of the Cat & Fiddle or the Hollywood Bowl.
Maybe they even prefer the hushed outside environs of the tiny courtyard, so small that people in the offices nearby have to cut down tree branches to watch from a rooftop perch. In response to an audience question, the band says that they find “the glitz-y and glamour-y” environment of Los Angeles completely surreal but that for them, as people, nothing as changed. The only thing they wish they could do more of is laundry.
Even the dramatic beauty of “Where Are You Now” has a more simplistic story; it was created from a game called ‘ten songs’ where the boys try to write ten songs in six hours. The worst at the game in the group? Mumford who just “sat there” and “picked his nose.”
“I don’t think there’s one thing that we can’t do now that we did before,” confessed Mumford. “Also, we’re always on tour, so nothing’s changed really. We just play gigs all the time.” In fact, Mumford seems the most excited when an audience member tells the singer that her fiancé proposed to her at one of their shows, that they are getting married in March of 2014, and that their invite is in the mail. Host Ralph Garman suggests that Mumford & Sons be the house wedding band.
With a glimmer in his eye, the newlywed himself Mumford paws his chin mischievously and says in a Dr. Evil voice from Austin Powers, “We’ll definitely be there…for one million dollars.”
It’s clear that the young musician, known for his romantic lyrics, reticent to talk candidly about his fame, is more interested in love, of which country of origin, size of venue, or success can’t supersede in the game of life. Love rules all.
Watch videos of them performing “The Cave” and “I Will Wait,” as well as their interview and audience Q&A.
–Nadia Noir, KROQ Los Angeles