First thing’s first: are Mumford & Sons really going on hiatus? Speaking to NME before Glastonbury, keyboardist Ben Lovett revealed the group had penned songs for a new album that they had thought about airing in their Sunday evening headline slot at the festival, but decided not to play in the end: “It’s not really the time or place. I mean, it’s bloody Glastonbury, isn’t it? You’ve got to play the hits.” He refused to go into detail on the new tracks – “just because they’ll probably sound completely different by the time they actually surface” – but the London group were clearly looking to the future. They hadn’t worked their way up to mighty festival main stage conquering status to pack it all in, head home and check out the vacancies board in their local Tesco. So while their comments this weekend in Rolling Stone have understandably alarmed fans, it probably won’t be long before UK arenas are filled with banjos and britches once more.
But just in case a break really is on the cards for the London folksters, here’s five suggestions for the band as to what they should get up to next.
Mumford goes to Hollywood
Earlier this year, it was announced Marcus Mumford had collaborated with Justin Timberlake on the soundtrack to ‘Inside Llewelyn Davis’, the new Coen Brothers film. “Marcus and myself, we all kind of worked on the music together and I don’t know any other world where we would have the opportunity to collaborate like that but it was so much fun,” gushed the pop star. With his foot now in the door at the movie studios and a Hollywood actress wife in Carey Mulligan, an acting career could surely beckon for the waistcoated frontman if he wanted. He’s got enough contacts: the cream of current US comedy, from Arrested Development’s Jason Bateman to The Hangover’s Ed Helms, appeared in their video to ‘Hopeless Wanderer’, while the likes of Jake Gyllenhall, Zach Braff and Colin Firth have all been spotted at shows in recent months.
Launch a line of luxury vaccum cleaners
Speaking of Justin Timberlake, I don’t know who’s passing around copies of Steve Job’s autobiography backstage at music awards ceremonies, but pretty much every music A-lister dips their toe into business. Timberlake relaunched MySpace earlier this year, while Dr. Dre’s cornered the high-end headphone market. Pharrell Williams disappeared from production duties for ages to make a mint with his own branded liquor, as did P Diddy, while 50 Cent has taken to flogging things on QVC between albums (yes, really). Outside of hip-hop and R&B, Moby took a break from music to launch a line of iced tea drinks, while Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz entertained himself during their two year lull by creating a clothing company, Clandestine Industries. Maybe they should try their own social network (SighSpace, anyone?). Or, to keep clean the range of Mumford and Sons carpets spotted on the merch table at £40 a pop on their travelling Gentlemen of the Road festival tour this year (so rock ‘n’ roll), maybe a Mumford & Sons brand hoover is the way to go? Steve Jobs would be proud.
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Write next year’s World Cup anthem
Mumford don’t have the greatest rapport with your average working class man. Maybe it’s their much-discussed background in private education. Whatever it is, the problem could be solved by a football anthem for next year’s World Cup. The band are huge football fans, organising a charity 5-a-side tournament in Lewes earlier this year against members of Bear’s Den and Vampire Weekend, while Marcus hung out with Wayne Rooney at Glastonbury two years ago.
Become vigilante crime busters
Marcus Mumford’s brother James was lauded for saving a woman from an assault in west London this weekend, tackling a skinhead to the floor in Shepherd’s Bush. Maybe the band could team up with him to fight crime. I mean, a bit of street justice might spice up their image (see above). Or at the very least, encounters in London’s seedy underbelly might give method actor Marcus some pointers on the criminal psyche to help with his Hollywood career (also see above). Perhaps that’s what he was doing in that strip club in Atlanta.
Concentrate on new blood and get down their local record shop
Seriously though, there’s a lot Mumford & Sons could do with some time off. Like most of life’s troubles, their problematic image as safe, boring Marks and Spencer folk types could be solved by getting down their local record shop. Buy some new music. Get into bleepy UK electronica. Investigate acid house. Do anything that will expand their horizons and surprise people when they return, instead of retreading old ground as they did on ‘Babel’. Hopefully Ben Lovett will concentrate more on his record label Communion, which has been championing the best in British folk for years now, giving early platforms to the likes of Daughter, Gotye and Michael Kiwanuka. Should the band take time off to fully invest in the imprint, it could really deliver.
Whatever they choose to do, however true the news of this hiatus proves to be, it’s likely this isn’t the last we’ve heard of Mumford & Sons.