Mumfords shrug off "inauthentic" jibes

The adage about the prophet never being welcome in their own land has its pop music equivalent. It’s something along the lines of a folk band making massive profits in the USA is always going to be sneered at in their UK homeland.

That has been the experience of Mumford & Sons, the posh folkies who have enjoyed massive success in the USA and attendant suspicion in the UK. Their recent album Babel has been the fastest-seller in America in 2012, but there is still a tendency to accuse them of being "inauthentic", or just to laugh at their studiedly retro folkie costumes. "They look like Amish," was style leader Liam Gallagher’s comment.

"England's just very cynical," bearded banjo-strummer Winston Marshal told The Guardian. "Like I am. Like we all are." "I think we're all guilty of it as British citizens," singer Marcus Mumford adds. "If something gets big we go 'Ugh'."

There’s something about the spectacle of polite, middle-class boys from fee-paying schools adopting the image of Steinbeck hobos that antagonises a certain spectrum of music fans. Marcus Mumford, equally at home escorting his wife Carey Mulligan to Hollywood parties or society gatherings or hammering out tunes in American rock arenas, isn’t too bothered.

"The authenticity thing has never been an issue for me," Mumford said. "Not since I came to the realisation that Dylan, who's probably my favourite artist ever, the richest artist for me, didn't give a sh*t about authenticity. He changed his name. And modelled himself on Woody Guthrie. And lied to everyone about who he was."

It didn’t help that Prime Minister David Cameron name-checked the Mumfords as one of his favourite bands, and arranged for them to play for Barack Obama at the White House. It’s the sort of invitation that Mumford’s hero Dylan would probably have resisted, but these boys are just too nicely brought-up to say no.

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