"The album feels like a big step forward creatively" - hmv.com talks to Mumford & Sons
Mumford & Sons unveil their third album Wilder Mind on Monday (May 4th) and it’s fair to say it marks something of a departure for the band.
They arrived in 2007, wielding bangos, freewheeling rhythms schooled in traditional Americana and some bloody massive choruses. Signed and presented initially without much fanfare, they rose stratospherically to arena fillers and festival headliners. Their second album Babel kept the ball rolling, packing much the same sound as their debut, it was chock-a-block with even bigger tracks and allowed the band to top the bill at Glastonbury, put on their own travelling festival and sell over three million albums.
Wilder Mind is a different beast altogether. Gone are the banjos and the twang of Americana, in are shimmering U2 esque electric guitars, powerful drums and choruses that are bigger than ever. We spoke to bassist Ted Dwayne about the band's radical change of direction, their plans to take the record out live and why Jake Gyllenhaal is a terrible trumpet player...
The tracks you've previewed so far from Wilder Mind indicate a bit of a change of direction for the band, does that continue across the rest of the album? Is this 'Mumfords Go Electric’?
"The album feels like a big step forward creatively. Whilst the first thing people will notice is the shift towards more electric instrumentation, the highly collaborative writing and live studio recording are the things that set this album apart for us. We were keen to spread our wings and explore more sides of our creativity and it's been a really rewarding process. The songs are a joy to play live and they have an emotional viscosity to them which glues the album together really well. They mean a lot to us."
When did you start working on it?
"Some months ago. August 15th, 1984 to be precise."
James Ford is producing this time around, why did you decide to make the change? Was working with him a very different experience to working with Markus Dravs?
"Our first two albums were a joy to make with Mr Dravs, but we were keen to explore all options and work with who ever would serve these songs the best. A conversation with James Ford one sunny morning in Soho illustrated that we were very much on the same page with regard to the vision for the demos we had produced with Aaron Dessner (The National) in New York. We spoke about creating a more sparse sonic landscape using fewer instrumental parts working harder, rather than oversaturating the sound."
What kind of album is this lyrically?
"The songs are all biographical accounts from four lads living between New York and London. There's no over arching concept or theme, we’ll simply write a song when an experience compels us to."
You've played some of the new material live at some low key gigs like the one in New York the other week, what has the reaction been like so far?
"It's been great. Nobody had heard any of the music before, so nobody knew what to expect. It was scary like Chessington World of Adventures after too many easter eggs on a school trip where you parents said you couldn’t go, but you went anyway and you think they probably know you are there, but you won’t be sure until you get home and you’ve drunk two litres of Irn Bru."
What touring plans do you have for the new album, and what kind of live show can we expect these days?
"We have been enjoying working up a set that includes tracks from the first two records. It's such a joy to have more colours on our palette with which to create a set and Wilder Mind has yielded a lot of really fun live songs. We have our own, 'one off' festival in Aviemore, Scotland and Reading and Leeds, but a UK tour won’t be until later in the year. We have loads of festivals and Europe and four Stopover Festivals in America which punctuate a big ol' US tour."
You're putting on the Stopover festival with Ben Howard at Aviemore, can you tell us a bit about that?
"Aviemore will be our 16th Gentelmen of the Road Stopover. They are two day events that we assemble taking inspiration from all our favourite festivals. We keep it quite small and ensure that its the most enjoyable experience possible for both the bands and the fans. We make sure the town that hosts us is deeply involved and celebrated and we take great pride in choosing the line up. Ben Howard headlines the Friday night and on Saturday we have Primal Scream, The Maccabees, Lianne La Havas, Jack Garrett and a bunch more. It's a good time in a beautiful location."
Where else are you looking forward to taking the Stopover tour?
"We have the Foo Fighters joining us in the States for the Walla Walla Stopover. We are big fans of every band we book for our festival, but I grew up with the Foo Fighters as my favourite band. They are the reason I pursued a life of music making. Dave Grohl is the father of modern rock. We are excited, you understand.."
We hear Jake Gyllenhall reprised his role as auxiliary trumpet player in New York, is he any good?
Finally, you're also headlining Reading & Leeds Festival this year, what kind of set can we expect from that? Will it be focussed on the new material?
"As mentioned earlier, we are enjoying combining these new songs with the stuff from the first two albums. We will belt out some sing-a-longs. I'm trying to ensure there will be lasers and a massive mechanical fire breathing dragon, but it's not looking that hopeful. Mostly just music, played loud, with loads of heart!"
Mumford & Sons' new album Wilder Mind is released on Monday (May 4th). You can pre-order it now in hmv stores across the UK.