Mumford & Sons on Returning to Bonnaroo After Cancellation: 'It's a Chance for Redemption'
After disarming fans with the electric sound of third album Wilder Mind, Mumford & Sons have even more surprises planned moving forward.
"We've already been talking about it," Marcus Mumford told Billboard during a recent conference call with reporters to promote the group's June 13 appearance at the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival. "We certainly want to get [the next] one out sooner rather than later. We definitely are thinking about it."
And anything is up for grabs in terms of what the next Mumford album might sound like. "We never had a discussion before any of the albums about style, really; we just got in and started writing songs, and if we liked them we went for it," Mumford explained. "We love so many different types of music, and … the goal is really just to kind of succeed in putting down the version of this band that we wanted to at this [particular] time. So we haven't sat down and been like, 'Let's make this kind of record.' We have sat down and said, 'Let's make another record, and let's make it sooner rather than later.'"
Before a new album is plotted, however, job one is getting back on the road. Mumford & Sons opened things up this week with a pair of shows on Coney Island; its first Gentlemen of the Road Stopover festival takes place Friday and Saturday in Seaside Heights, N.J., and the group has dates in North America and Europe booked into late August, marking the group's return to the road after bassist Ted Dwane's brain hematoma, which forced Mumford to cancel shows -- including Bonnaroo that year -- and go on a brief hiatus.
"We're just f---ing so excited to stop talking and start playing," Mumford said. "It's been a strong process the last few months because we didn't want to play any shows that were public before we released the album because we wanted people to hear the album on its own, without crappy YouTube live versions of the new songs. I wouldn't say it was a mistake, but we've missed playing live so much because that's where it all kind of slots into place for us. We've done too much talking, too many TV shows, and now we need to just go and f---ing play our instruments and see how it goes."
And the group does like having another album's worth of material to play, he added: "I've always been jealous of some bands, or you'll watch, like, Neil Young and he just has so many songs to choose from. Springsteen will play for three and a half hours and only scratch the surface of his catalog. So now having three records' worth of songs it's really fun to be able to pick and choose which songs we play."
No matter how happy the group is with Wilder Mind, though, the tour will still dip into previous albums Sigh No More and Babel and stay faithful to original arrangements rather than forcing them into the new set's electric mind-set.
"There's bits and bobs, but for the main part we're just sticking to the same kind of vibe," Mumford said. "We love those old songs. We're proud of them, and they're really fun to play. We tried rearranging a few of them, and there's a couple that we have, but I always kind of find it slightly frustrating, unless it's awesome, when a band f---s with their formula of the songs that you know and love. It doesn't quite hit the mark. It's got to be f---ing awesome if you're going to do that. And we love variety, you know? We love being able to do more than one thing."
Bonnaroo is not the only festival date on Mumford's calendar for the summer, but after the 2013 cancellation it's definitely a show that's circled as special. "It's a chance for redemption," Mumford acknowledges. "We don't take canceling shows lightly; it literally takes, like, a brain injury to cancel a show." After receiving his year's Bonnaroo invite, the group "was kind of overwhelmed. We thought headlining Bonnaroo wouldn't come for another however many years, if ever. So for that to be the first show that we were offered when we were in the studio making this album, it made us really kind of galvanize the end of the album process. We thought it would be throwing our hat over the wall and then making ourselves climb over. We're nervous, but we're so excited to come back and do it."