There are bands who play festivals, and then there are Festival Bands.
Mumford & Sons falls into the latter category. This is a band built for the road: a sweating-over-the-piano, hands-blurring-over-strings, foot-stomping, everybody-join-in-on-this-one folk/rock/roots machine. They feed off a crowd’s energy, the larger the better.
As Marcus Mumford, Winston Marshall, Ted Dwane, and Ben Lovett ready for Boston Calling, where they will headline Saturday’s show, we caught up with Lovett, 30, the band’s keyboardist.
Q. What is it you guys love about the festival vibe?
A. Any large gathering where you can sing at the top of your voice with lots of people is a great form of escapism and euphoria. With Boston Calling, Boston is one of our spiritual homes in America. A lot of people think we’re Irish, which is maybe why they like us. If they knew we were British, they’d maybe not be so into us [laughs].
Q. For a British band, you do Americana well. Did you grow up listening to folk?
A. No, grew up listening to Blink-182, Deftones, what other city kids were growing up with in American cities at the same time. Something felt quite novel about the Avett Brothers and Old Crow [Medicine Show]; we got a bit turned on to it, thought it sounded great and unique. It was that it wasn’t part of mainstream culture that we gravitated toward it.
Q. So why “Mumford & Sons”?
A. Marcus pulled us together, so we said, “Let’s set up like a family business.” But it hasn’t come without its confusions [laughs].
Q. Why did you want to record a live album in South Africa?
A. It was somewhere we’d not managed to get to yet. It’s quite hard to get to South Africa because it’s not on the way to anywhere else. The shows were absolutely crazy; 50,000 people bought tickets in three hours — it was madness. It taught us to continue to be adventurous.
Q. What was it like playing “Maggie’s Farm” with Bob Dylan at the Grammys a few years back?
A. A blur [laughs]. The best bit about Dylan was the rehearsal, spending the day rehearsing with him and the Avett Brothers and T Bone Burnett, who has become a guiding light for us. We were on the outskirts of LA in an old warehouse, and Dylan strolled in in a sports track suit. Our jaws dropped. And we just started playing.
Q. How has T Bone become a guiding light for you? You mean his knowledge of folk and Americana?
‘With Boston Calling, Boston is one of our spiritual homes in America. A lot of people think we’re Irish, which is maybe why they like us.’
A. Exactly. But he’s also quite badass. He’s a rock-and-roller. He walks that line. We did a tribute to The Band at the Grammys [in 2013] and he came and helped with musical direction. He’s played onstage with us a few times. He’s just a very cool guy, where you feel you play better in his presence.
Q. I read that you like to cook for the band?
A. [Laughs] Yeah, I’ve been pretty busy, so not much time for it lately, but I do love and respect food. I used to cook a lot growing up; I used to cook on the road a lot. I never used recipes. I was always kind of winging it. I was big into complex curries.Interview was edited and condensed. Lauren Daley is a freelance writer. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.