Marcus Mumford is sharing his trauma.
In a new interview with GQ Hype, the Mumford & Sons frontman opens up about being a victim of sexual abuse as a child, and how trying to improve his mental health led to his recent single “Cannibal”.
Looking back on the period after the band’s album Sigh No More became a worldwide hit, Mumford admits that he doesn’t remember much.
“I don’t think I was hugely present in those really intense years of the band’s touring,” he says. “I was always thinking about the next thing.”
Even winning Album of the Year at the Grammys in 2013 has slipped through Mumford’s memory.
“I remember we mocked Justin Bieber in the elevator at the Grammys,” he says. “We were quite c***y, and not massively present.”
In recent years, Mumford had struggled with alcohol, poor eating habits, and with “trying to find connection in the wrong places.”
Friends intervened in the summer of 2019, pushing him to go to therapy, where he finally opened up about the childhood abuse he suffered, which inspired “Cannibal”.
“Like lots of people–and I’m learning more and more about this as we go and as I play it to people–I was sexually abused as a child,” Mumford says, sharing that he was six years old at the time. “Not by family and not in the church, which might be some people’s assumption. But I hadn’t told anyone about it for 30 years.”
After playing the song for his mom for the first time, the musician realized that he had never actually told her about the abuse.
A couple days after listening to it, his mother came back to ask him about the meaning behind the song.
“’Can I ask what that song’s about?’” he recalls her asking. “I was like, ‘Yeah, it’s about the abuse thing.’ She was like, ‘What are you talking about?’ So once we get through the trauma of that moment for her, as a mother, hearing that and her wanting to protect and help and all that stuff, it’s objectively f**king hilarious to tell your mom about your abuse in a f**king song, of all things.”
In the interview, Mumford also talks about the departure of band member Winston Marshall in 2021 after he praised controversial conservative figures Jordan Peterson and Andy Ago on Twitter.
“I actually really begged him not to leave,” Mumford says, explaining that he didn’t share many of his former bandmate’s beliefs. “But I think you can disagree and work together.”
Mumford adds, “I just don’t think it’s the job of musicians to have all those thoughts. And I think [Winston] probably agrees. I don’t know. But I should think he probably agrees. Which is part of the reason why he wanted to quit. Because he felt like his priorities couldn’t align in the way he wanted to speak about things and live life. He wanted to do a different thing. And that’s why I support him doing a different thing. Even though we disagree on a lot. A lot. And more now.”