The British folk-rock foursome behind 'Sigh No More' talk Grammys, hanging with Bob Dylan, and partying like rock stars (or not)

By Leah Greenblatt
February 25, 2011 at 05:00 AM EST

Naming the band was easy
Titular honors went to frontman Marcus Mumford when the group formed in 2007 because, as keyboardist Ben Lovett, 22, explains: ”Honestly, when we put the band together, Marcus was the one making the phone calls and getting the gigs. We never thought anyone outside of London was going to see us. It just made sense as an antiquated family-business name.” Besides, Lovett laughs, if they’d named it after him, ”it would have just sounded like Lyle Lovett’s side project.”

Executives didn’t approve of the F-bomb in ”Little Lion Man” — but Mumford’s mom did
”We weren’t even going to put [the song] on the album,” says Mumford, 23. ”There were [industry] people asking, ‘Is there any way you can write a different word? We’ll do anything.’ We tried it and it was just horrible, it didn’t work at all. But I now have my parents agreeing with me as well. My mum’s justifying it to people: ‘There’s no other word that fits, it has to be that one!”’

Everyone in the band is an instrumental polymath (to a point)
Each member — including Ted Dwane, 25, on bass, and Winston Marshall, 21, on banjo — contributes to the group’s signature soaring harmonies and plays a primary instrument, with occasional dips into the more exotic: ”Really,” confesses Mumford, ”I can only play the drums — I can fake-play the guitar and the mandolin and ukulele and the banjo, but I don’t really know what I’m doing a lot of the time.”

Their Grammy performance with Bob Dylan was a late-breaking surprise
”The [bookers] were like, ‘We haven’t confirmed who it is that you’re going to be collaborating with,”’ says Lovett. ”It could have been anyone. But they said, ‘Trust us, you won’t be disappointed.’ They were right.”

Even Dylan takes direction
”After the dress rehearsal,” Lovett recalls, ”he did mention maybe doing it a different way. It took one of his bandmates to sort of tap him on the shoulder and go, ‘Man, Bob, not tonight.’ So we stuck to the plan.”

Bob’s not the only musical hero they’ve gotten to work with recently
The band spent time in the studio with legendary Kinks frontman Ray Davies for an upcoming all-star covers album, also set to include Bruce Springsteen, Spoon, and Billy Corgan. ”We love, love, love the Kinks,” beams Lovett. ”[Davies] was amazing. He just walked in and delivered his vocal. One take. The engineer said, ‘Ray, do you want to hear that back?’ And he said, ‘No, I heard it whilst I was recording it.”’

They haven’t gotten to enjoy the fruits of their labor…yet
”We have somehow yet to financially profit from what we do,” admits Lovett. ”We’ve just been working on the next record. We don’t really want to celebrate ourselves…apart from all the cocaine and the prostitutes,” he adds jokingly. ”But that’s just normal.”

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