How Mumford & Sons became the biggest band in the world

From The Guardian:

“They look like fucking Amish people,” Liam Gallagher said last year. “As rock and roll as a blue rinse,” was the the Sun’s more recent take. An October blogpost on the NME’s website, entitled Why Do People Hate Mumford & Sons So Much?, quoted extensively from a Facebook page called I Hate Mumford & Sons. They’re inauthentic, runs the general complaint. They went to fee-paying London schools and now they’re all about heels and waistcoats and hoedowns.

What do Mumford & Sons think? “England’s just very cynical. Like I am. Like we all are,” says Marshall. “I think we’re all guilty of it as British citizens,” says Mumford, “if something gets big we go … ugh.”

There is a plausible argument that this band are the most successful in the world right now – Babel shifted 600,000 copies in its first week in the US, making it the fastest-seller of the year. The album before that, 2009’s Sigh No More, went multiple platinum. And here they are, commendably (you might say perversely) taking a share of the blame for the stick they get, on national-character grounds. “We get accused of inauthenticity because we play the instruments we play,” says Marshall, whose furious banjo work probably prompts the most carping. But he points to the example of legendary British guitarist Peter Green. “He’s from Bethnal Green – and he’s this fucking incredible blues guitarist. Nothing fucking authentic about that, right? But actually there is. He loves it. It’s what he’s good at. It’s not like he’s saying he’s from the Delta. It’s not like we’re saying anything like that.”

“The authenticity thing has never been an issue for me,” says Mumford. “Not since I came to the realisation that Dylan, who’s probably my favourite artist ever, the richest artist for me, didn’t give a shit about authenticity. He changed his name. And modelled himself on Woody Guthrie. And lied to everyone about who he was.”

Mumford is outfitted today like his hero, the worn dark suit ideally Dylan, so too the black hat deep-positioned on his head. Backstage at the Hollywood Bowl this hat will get a compliment from a bystander and Mumford will explain that its appearance is the result of many weeks campaigning. His wife, the actor Carey Mulligan, took some persuading on it …

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