Mumford & Sons are an English folk rock band. The band consists of Marcus Mumford (vocals, guitar, drums, mandolin), Ben Lovett (vocals, keyboards, accordion, drums), "Country" Winston Marshall (vocals, banjo, dobro), and Ted Dwane (vocals, string bass, drums, guitar). The band formed in October 2007, rising out of what some in the media labelled the "West London folk scene" with other artists such as Laura Marling, Johnny Flynn and Noah and the Whale.
Mumford & Sons recorded an EP, Love Your Ground, and toured extensively in the UK to expose audiences to their music and build support for an eventual album. Their debut album, Sigh No More, was released in the United Kingdom in October 2009, and February 2010 in the United States. The album peaked at number two on the UK Album Chart and the Billboard 200 in the US.
The band gained popularity throughout 2010, performing for larger audiences and making their first network television appearances in the U.S. On 1 December 2010, the band received two Grammy Award nominations, one for Best New Artist and the other for Best Rock Song ("Little Lion Man"). They won the ARIA Music Award for Most Popular International Artist in 2010, and the Brit Award in 2011 for Best British Album.
Mumford & Sons were formed in October 2007 by multi-instrumentalists Marcus Mumford, Ben Lovett, Winston Marshall, Jimmie "Shaggy" Gregory, and Ted Dwane. Band members variously play guitar, drums, keyboard instruments, bass guitar, and traditional folk instruments such as banjo, mandolin, and resonator guitar. The band name originates from the fact that Marcus Mumford was the most visible member at the time, organizing the band and their local performances. Lovett indicated that the name was meant to invoke the sense of an "antiquated family business name". A handful of similar bands were increasing their visibility in West London around the same time, giving rise to the label "West London folk scene". Mumford downplays that characterisation as an exaggeration—Mumford & Sons and a few other folk acts just happened to be operating in general area at the time. In an interview with the Herald Sun, Marcus Mumford said, "It's not folk really. Well, some of it is, and it's certainly not a scene. Someone got over-excited about a few bands who live in a hundred-mile radius and put it in a box to sell it as a package. It's a community, not a scene. It's not exclusive." Having developed in the same musical and cultural environment, Mumford & Sons' sound has been compared to that of artists such as Noah and the Whale, Johnny Flynn, and Laura Marling, for whom Marcus Mumford used to drum.
In February 2008, the band completed an extensive UK tour with support from Alessi's Ark, Sons of Noel and Adrian, Peggy Sue, Pete Roe, The Cutaway and others. June marked the band's first appearance at the Glastonbury Festival. Mumford also toured Australia with Laura Marling, whose disinclination to interact with audiences encouraged Mumford into the spotlight. The experience helped inform his attitude toward Mumford & Sons audiences, which is to interact frequently and to try to create a comfortable, casual atmosphere.
Mumford & Sons are noted for their energetic live performances in which band members juggle varying setlists and exchange musical instruments. In interviews, they express attraction to a culture of personal connection with audience members and "downsizing" The band members have stated many times that live gigs are by far their favourite part of the music experience, and that they strive for a lively, inclusive atmosphere.
Much of Mumford & Sons' lyrical content has a strong literary influence, its debut album name deriving from Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. The track "Sigh No More" includes lines from the play such as Serve God love me and mend and One foot in sea and one on shore. The song "Roll Away Your Stone" is influenced by Macbeth. In an interview, Mumford was quoted as saying, "You can rip off Shakespeare all you like; no lawyer's going to call you up on that one."
Both "Timshel" and "Dust Bowl Dance" draw heavily from the John Steinbeck novels East of Eden and Grapes of Wrath, respectively. Mumford, in an interview, even compared touring to a Steinbeck adventure: "[Steinbeck] talked about how a journey is a thing of its own, and you can't plan it or predict it too much because that suffocates the life out it. That's kind of what touring is like. Even though there's a structure—you know what towns you're going to, and that you'll be playing a gig—pretty much anything can happen." Mumford also in his spare time runs an online book club on the band's official web site.