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For a band who had gigged pretty much nonstop since forming, Mumford & Sons’ five-month hiatus – which began when they completed their world tour for the Babel album in September 2013 – was their first proper break in almost five years.

There is a minimalist yet panoramic feel to the new album, whose sound Marcus describes as “a development, not a departure.” Which came about how – by accident, or as a result of a conscious decision? Towards the end of the Babel tour, we’d always play new songs during soundchecks, and none of them featured the banjo, or a kick-drum.

And demoing that song with Aaron meant that, when we took a break, we knew it wasn’t going to involve acoustic instruments.

And that’s not a bad habit to learn – on a personal level as well as a creative one.”“It was probably the most fun record to make out of the three,” says Marcus. “It was just a much more democratic process,” Marcus continues.

“We were all allowed to have an informed opinion on what the others were doing, and I think that made us more vulnerable, but more willing to accept other opinions, too.

Eight years ago, we’d be going, ‘What’s compression again?

’”The band who once told an interviewer that if they didn’t play live they weren’t a band at all now accept that the deeper perspective that that five-month break – and those writing sessions at Eastcote Studios – gave them was something they needed in order to progress.Moreover, in stark contrast to Babel, none of the new songs has been road-tested live: fans will come to them fresh. “It’s an invitation,” laughs Marcus, “not a challenge.” “Working with Aaron,” says Winston, “his approach to making music is that you chase every idea; chase it to the end.Even if you don’t like the idea, stay with it, follow it.”“He taught us more about collaborating, too,” adds Ben, “in terms of working with each other. It encouraged us to celebrate each other’s ideas, and never abandon something.Just singing – without an instrument in my hands, or bashing a kickdrum, or a tambourine.And the same thing happened with Believe; I felt like a singer.We didn’t say: ‘No acoustic instruments.’ But I think all of us had this desire to shake it up.

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