It’s been almost a decade since Mumford & Sons first crackled onto the radio with ubiquitous earworm, ‘Little Lion Man’.
Life for the English four-piece has not slowed down since, with the recent release of their fourth studio album and an upcoming 60-date tour.
New album ‘Delta’ has seen the group take a more experimental approach, working with well-known producer Paul Epworth in his legendary North London studio, housed in a converted church.
According to bass player Ted Dwane, the band made the decision to work with Paul because he has: “Great recording sensibilities, a love of programming, and he sort of makes things in a very non-pop way, and as you might have noticed, we haven’t got a drummer, so the sort of rhythmical side of our studio work is a very good area for experimentation.
“He really did what we hoped he would do, which is levitate us and the songs to a kind of more experimental place, I suppose.”
The album itself is a move away from the ‘pub band’ sound, and has seen the group work with composer Sally Herbert, best known for her soundtrack work on ‘Jean Genet Is Dead’, along with a 40-piece orchestra to create a larger, more imposing sound.
“We’ve had quite a lot of feedback now, and it’s been a bit – people keep saying that it’s an expansive record, and it’s... it’s very funny because people within one sentence will be like ‘it’s a whole new sound for you guys but all the classic sounds come through’, so we’re a bit confused about what people mean by that,” Paul says.
However, some things have definitely remained unchanged, with the band adhering to a time-honoured tradition of a ‘campfire test’ – a pared back, single-take recording of lead singer Marcus Mumford – when selecting songs to be recorded.
“So the thing is, we’re all spread out a bit now; some of the guys moved over to York, so sometimes we’ll go meet there, but it’s usually in London, and we’ll get together and we’ll record and work up any song that anyone has.
“So what happens is that we end up starting to make an album and we’ll have about 40-something songs, all in different stages of actualisation.
“I mean most of them [are] written but some of them [are] kind of produced, and there are sounds that we were getting attached to, and we wanted to level the playing field and make sure that we weren’t just attached to like a synth sound or a guitar sound and it was actually the song that was doing the work.
“We didn’t want to put something out that was sheerly hiding behind its production, we wanted all the songs to be strong.
“So we took them all back to level pegging by having them all performed with literally just one guitar and vocal, one take, with Marcus, and that allowed us to figure out what the strong songs actually were, and we’d take them to Paul and under his guidance, turn them into what they are now.”
Thematically, ‘Delta’ is relatively autobiographical for the band and deals with the idea of leaving comfort for the unknown. “It sort of feels like the wild for us, in a way, the things that we were writing about and the idea that a delta represents leaving the safety of the river for the wild of the ocean,” Paul says.
‘Delta’ is available now.
Mumford & Sons 2019 Tour Dates
Tue 15 Jan - Brisbane Entertainment Centre Fri 18 Jan - Qudos Bank Arena Tue 22 Jan - Sidney Myer Music Bowl - sold out Wed 23 Jan - Sidney Myer Music Bowl Thu 24 Jan - Adelaide Entertainment Centre Sun 27 Jan - RAC Arena (Perth)