‘‘Country’’ Winston Marshall of Mumford & Sons joked in an interview last year that he turned to the banjo for more practical reasons: ‘‘Not many play it in London so it’s much easier to get a gig. And once you've got the gig there’s not much competition, so you stick around.’’
Folk music was a novel sound the band turned to after hearing the ‘‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’’ soundtrack produced by T Bone Burnett.
The soundtrack ‘‘really sort of pierced through our teenage films, and especially for Winston and I, I think that became kind of an obsessive record for us and also opened avenues for us to explore artists like Emmylou Harris and also like Gillian Welch and Alison Krauss, and then through those guys really the OCMS guys ... so they were like our gateway into sort of Americana really.’’
They've echoed those sounds back at a new generation, one that seems open to sad songs that resonate deeply — like ‘‘Ho Hey.’’ The song has surpassed 70 million global listens on Spotify and incongruously, Schultz said, it’s been showing up as a first-dance song in weddings.
‘‘And that’s not where it came from,’’ he said. ‘‘The feelings that made it come out were not necessarily about finding love, but losing love or missing love. I think that’s what’s interesting about songs. You can come from a dark place, but people see light in there and they can identify different parts of it.’’
Follow AP Music Writer Chris Talbott: http://twitter.com/Chris_Talbott.