Latitude: Lowestoft show was a bit of a mess for us too says Mumford and Sons’ Ben Lovett ahead of stage takeover
PUBLISHED: 19:00 25 June 2017 | UPDATED: 09:26 30 June 2017
Mumford and Sons’ Ben Lovett explains why performing live will be forever in their DNA, when we can expect new music and why he loves Suffolk’s Latitude Festival.
“No idea,” says Ben when I ask when fans can expect a new EP or album. They’re writing songs, playing some of them live already; but there’s still so much to be figured out before they can even talk about dates.
“Who we’re going to make it with as a producer, where we’re going to do it. We’re keen to just keep going, we love doing what we do. We feel we’re very active, but there are lots of different ways to be active other than releasing albums so we are doing stuff.”
The folk rock band have just finished a tour of the States and Canada, including a week with U2 celebrating the 30th anniversary of The Joshua Tree.
“From a Mumford and Sons’ fan point of view, they’re really not getting to those gigs... but from our point of view we’re playing shows, doing what we do, that takes time,” says the singer and keyboardist, sat on a picnic bench at Henham Park, near Southwold, less than a month before their appearance there as part of Latitude Festival.
They’ve always felt like their albums have been adverts for their shows. Ben doesn’t know whether that’s always going to be the case.
“Actually, on Wilder Mind, our last full album (released in 2015), it maybe changed a little bit. We questioned whether or not we could explore being more of a studio band. Some of our favourite bands are studio bands that then go and recreate that sound live. Ultimately, I think our DNA is live; it’s festivals, it’s an opportunity to experience together so that’s likely going to be our course and when we have enough songs and played them live we will capture it and put it out and keep going round that cycle I guess.”
The band’s Suffolk appearance will be good news for disappointed fans who couldn’t get tickets for their 2012 gigs at Lowestoft’s Marina Theatre, The Apex in Bury St Edmunds or the Ipswich Regent.
“It was a bit of a mess the Lowestoft gig, especially when it comes to secondary tickets. Not wanting to answer a question you haven’t asked but that mini-tour, specifically what happened in Lowestoft and something else that happened in Portsmouth, really set alight a fire in us to sort things out.
“You should be able to play a gig without creating a crazy market. We’ve done a lot of work since then, which we’ve been very vocal about; cracking down on the touts market and the secondary tickets websites. The mess around that show was a mess for us too... you’ve got to change legislation.”
Mumford and Sons’ Gentlemen of The Road tour, which has visited small cities and towns around the world, takes over the Obelisk Arena on Saturday, July 15. The line-up includes special guest Baaba Maal, Leon Bridges, Two Door Cinema Club, Glass Animals, Milky Chance, Lucy Rose and The Very Best.
“We’ve done quite a lot of work with Melvin (Benn, director of festival organisers Festival Republic) over the years, one-off shows, festivals. We find it very easy to work with him that’s quite a big part of it to be honest. But we’re fans of the festival, I’ve come twice as a punter as well as us playing here once,” says Ben.
The idea behind the stopovers are ambitious. Describing it as like creating a mix tape for a best friend - only it’s a whole day of music for thousands of people - they curate the line-ups; sharing the music of the artists they love.
“It will definitely feel like a Gentlemen of The Road day, there’s a lot going on beyond the curating in terms of visuals and the layout will slightly change.
“To find a festival really comfortable enough in its own skin, confident enough in what it’s offering, to allow a band like us to come and really stamp our identity on it for a day is very rare. I think really it’s that the list was as short as one festival, it’s going to be great” laughs Ben.
Their set is probably going to be massively varied, spanning their three albums and last year’s Johannesburg EP on which they collaborated with Maal and The Very Best.
“Plus we want to be pointing towards what we’re up to now, which is writing new material; so there’ll be something from everything we’ve ever made and hopefully some special guests on stage because we know probably about 80% of the Saturday line-up personally. It’s basically a collection of friends.
“Obviously we’re looking forward to our set but also looking forward to the hang; there’ll be a really nice vibe backstage and around the festival. It’s nice being able to pull something together where everyone gets to catch up and trade stories. A lot of these people don’t get to see each other very often.
“The last time I saw Ben Howard was probably a year-and-a-half-a-go which is crazy having grown so close... the last time I saw Two Door Cinema Club was in Austin for about an hour-and-a-half about eight months ago.
“It’s stupid, I’d very much consider these people to be friends [and] some of our best friends are on the line-up as well. It’s going to be a special thing for the artists as much as I think it’ll be for the punters.”
Ben loves how well Latitude, now in its 12th year, is put together. You feel like the site is very manageable and easy to navigate, so you’re able to move between different things happening within 15-20 minutes walk which makes a big difference.
“And the ground’s just beautiful. Those two times I came, I remember camping and when I look back on the photos of our campsite... there were about eight or nine of us... I have really fond memories; slightly painful memories of the drive back to London on the Mondays but that’s the same with every festival. I won’t say that’s unique to Latitude.”
Too much celebrating?
“Maybe too much sun,” he laughs.
Mumford and Sons’ popularity has continued to soar since forming in 2007. Ben never imagined it would get so big.
“I don’t think anyone can. People can aspire to being a musician full-time; I know a bunch of people who are musicians full-time who maybe people haven’t heard of. I knew in my teens I wanted to make a living as a musician, beyond that...
“It’s great, I really feel it’s what I’m here to do. I don’t get surprised as such, it’s more like it feels right, feels good. I don’t think you can aspire towards it [fame] and when you’re there it doesn’t feel like much has changed for like 99% of the time - then sometimes you sit in a field and talk to a whole bunch of people about what you’re doing with your life, then you feel things might’ve changed a bit.”