Frontman Marcus Mumford attended King's College School in Wimbledon and it was there he first met fellow band member Ben Lovett. Marcus studied classics at the University of Edinburgh but returned to London to focus on his music career after his first year of study. He penned some of Mumford & Sons' debut album, Sign No More during his time in the Scottish capital city.
A handful of similar bands such as Laura Marling
and Noah and the Whale
were increasing their visibility in West London around the time Mumford & Sons were formed. This gave rise to what some in the media labeled the "West London folk scene."
Marcus Mumford began his musical career playing for various acts including Laura Marling in London throughout the summer of 2007. It was during these gigs that he met the other three members of Mumford & Sons. The quartet bonded over their love of bluegrass and folk and decided to set up the band in December 2007.
The band's name originates from the fact that Marcus Mumford was the most visible member at the time, organizing their performances at local venues. "I think we liked the idea of setting it up as a family business," said Mumford in an interview with The Illinois Entertainer, "although now it's much more collaborative in the way the songs were written. Some people find it confusing that it's my last name in the title of the band, but we just felt comfortable with the name sort of representing a business, something earned and shared between the four of us rather than just one guy with a name on the door."
Contemporary Folk singer-songwriter Laura Marling, for whom Marcus Mumford used to drum, was also his girlfriend for a time. He subsequently got engaged to British actress Carey Mulligan.
Mumford & Sons debut album Sign No More was released October 2009 in the UK and February 2010 in the United States. The album topped the charts in Ireland, Australia and New Zealand and peaked at #2 on the UK Album Chart and the Billboard 200 in the US.
Much of Mumford & Sons' lyrical content has a strong literary influence, the title of Sign No More
deriving from Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing
. Both "Timshel
"" and "Dust Bowl Dance
"draw heavily from novels by Marcus Mumford's favorite author John Steinbeck.
Marcus was bought up in an evangelical Christian household. His parents, John and Eleanor Mumford, are National Directors of the evangelical Vineyard Church in the UK. Speaking to The Guardian, Marcus said: "I think faith is something beautiful, and something real, and something universal, or it can be." He added, "We all have our separate views on religion, but I think faith is something to be celebrated. I have my own personal views, they're still real to me, and I want to write about them."
US sales for Sign No More
increased by 99% following the positive reception for the band's performance of "The Cave
" at the 2011 Grammy ceremony. The song itself jumped to #27 on the Hot 100, the following week, making it the band's first top 40 hit.
"Little Lion Man
" was voted #1 in the 2010 Triple J hottest 100 countdown which is a famous radio countdown in Australia. Its margin of victory was the largest in the history of the chart.
Sign No More sold over 1 million copies in both the UK and US. It also won the Brit Award in 2011 for Best British Album.
Marcus Mumford is renowned for his waistcoat ensemble, hoedown clothing style. "I started wearing the waistcoat because I was insecure about my weight," he explained. "I could hide behind them slightly."
Marcus Mumford admitted to NME in 2015 that with hindsight, he wishes Mumford & Sons had chosen a different moniker. "I definitely regret the band name," he said. "If I'd known that it was going to go this way I would have wanted to call it anything other than my last name. It's a b--l ache. We thought about changing it, but it's a bit late now."
Ben Lovett is the founder of the successful independent label Communion records, signing many of the group's friends. "Ben's the grown-up in the band," Marcus Mumford told The Daily Telegraph. "He gets up at nine in the morning to do four hours of emails, which is unheard of on the road."