A few months back, the Jersey Shore was braced with some amazing news. It is a breath of fresh air to hear something positive happening to the community aside from hurricane aftermath, fires, and so much more. A handful of local media and press were gathered around the Pier in Seaside Heights to hear the announcement that the Gentlemen Of The Road Festival would be stopping at Seaside Heights on June 5 and 6, with a solid roster of talent. This year, the festival includes performances by Mumford & Sons, Alabama Shakes, The Flaming Lips, and so many more. To get in the mood for the festival, amazingly enough, Mumford & Sons took some time out of their busy schedules to visit the site for a pre-party hosted at Spicy Cantina, which I spotlighted in my Local Radar not too long ago. They expressed how excited they were to have such a strong backing from the people of Seaside Heights, and how much they were looking forward to the festival.
Now, let’s fast forward a few weeks; Mumford & Sons have since dropped a new record, Wilder Mind, to amazing reviews and sales. It’s all it was hyped up to be, showcasing a whole new style for the band. Upon hearing that they had basically “eliminated” the banjo, I was eager and anxious to hear what this new sound was all about. After a few spins, I immediately fell in love. A few days later, I was then asked to chat with the band about the process of recording this new album, what the response from fans has been like, and how they are preparing for their Jersey Shore excursion. I had the pleasure of speaking with Ben Lovett, and he filled me in on every detail. Check it out below:
Ben, thanks for taking the time to chat. First and foremost, I want to discuss the new album, which is amazing, Wilder Mind. I love the first two singles, “Believe” and “The Wolf.” Obviously, it’s very different, removing signature elements like the banjo and acoustic strumming. Did you guys feel you needed to reinvent your sound? What caused the drastic change?
The pleasure is all mine, Maria. Thanks for having me! Yes, the singles have been getting an amazing reaction as well. You know, the progression was very natural in many ways. We didn’t feel as if we needed to change our sound. It’s just something we knew we wanted to do on this record. We didn’t have an ultimate plan; we just knew we didn’t want to do the same thing over again. I am glad you are enjoying the record!
At first as a fan it was hard to imagine you guys switching gears so drastically, especially when you are so well known as an outrageous acoustic attack! Was it nerve-racking getting in front of a crowd at first in the few shows you’ve done thus far?
Well, we’ve only done a few shows so far, but of course! They’ve been some great warm-up shows, one in New York City that you were at; it was great to be back on stage again. Of course, you want the fans to react in a positive light, and they have been doing just that! Just like with everything, you want it to go well.
I’d also like to talk a little bit about the writing process on this album if you wouldn’t mind. I know in the past, Marcus Mumford wrote most of the lyrics, but was it more of a shared effort with the band this time?
Yes, we really came together on this record. It was like one big melting pot. We usually write a lot on the road, but this time we were able to chill, reenergize, and really bring our ideas to the table. Everyone just had so many amazing ideas on this one! It was a group effort 100 percent, and we’re all really proud of this one.
From a professional standpoint, what would you say has changed the most in the music industry since you guys first started out?
So much. The obvious stuff, naturally, with social media and those things, but for us, we are in such a good dynamic. We are in much more of a relaxed place now, really enjoying being in a band. We know who we are, and what we want, and have a great vibe with our fans. It’s still amazing to think that we do this for a living, and we really are in a good state of mind as a band. This year especially feels great for us.
Now, clearly this area is so hyped for the Gentlemen Of The Road Stopover in Seaside Heights in June. Can you tell us a little bit about how you choose your locations for the Stopovers?
Of course, we are so excited as well. We work with a great team out of New York that helps us throughout the year get all of the details in line. They came to us with this little hidden gem called Seaside Heights. We saw it, and fell in love!
As you know, a Stopover is a celebration of a real place, with real people. We want to bring music to people, and feel the energy of the local town. It’s a wonderful thing that we love to do. We have some bigger acts and bigger plans than ever before! The whole community of Seaside Heights has really rallied together with the townspeople, the business owners, and the local media. Everyone has been so welcoming, especially at our pre-party we spoke of! We honestly cannot wait.
The lineups on all of them are killer, with ours including Alabama Shakes, The Flaming Lips, and so many more. How does the process go? Is it bands that you are a fan of, or acts whose sound you think would fit?
Yes, we handpick them all! That’s what makes this experience so cool, and personal. We’ve been really lucky to have some great friends that are musicians, who have all been ready and willing to be a part of these things. We try to make the experience make sense as much as possible, while being able to include so many musicians that we admire and look up to!
The main goal is to always keep it fresh and exciting. For Seaside Heights, we will be joined by an amazing lineup of friends such as Alabama Shakes, Jenny Lewis, The Flaming Lips, JEFF The Brotherhood, and so many more. It will be one for the books.
I think one of the coolest parts about these Stopovers is how engaged the town becomes, and being on the boardwalk of the Jersey Shore, I can only imagine how fun the whole weekend will be.
Agreed, like we said, the goal is to get the community as involved as possible. We couldn’t have asked for a better team of people to work with. There will be so many cool things to do, with live music! What could be better?
Finally, this town has so many aspects of “local” to it, mainly, the music scene. For all of these local bands just starting out who cannot wait to see Mumford & Sons play in their hometown, what advice could you give them?
Yes, we’ve noticed that too! There are so many cool bands around here that we hope to see and meet at the show. They are seriously in an amazing position living down in the Seaside area, and being able to perform there. They need to be as active in their local music community as they can. Then, start to branch out. Play some shows in New York, and Philadelphia, until you maintain a regular following. The possibilities are endless. Keep shifting in and out, and get your name out there. You can do anything you put your mind to—we are living proof!
Ben, thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us. We are so looking forward to celebrating your success June 5 and 6 in Seaside Heights!
Thanks again, Maria. See you there, and all of you there!
Tickets are on sale now for the June 5 and 6 Gentlemen Of The Road Stopover event in Seaside Heights, NJ at gentlemenoftheroad.com. Mumford & Sons will be playing on June 6, and their new album, Wilder Mind, is available now. For more information, go to mumfordandsons.com.