When Mumford & Sons Met Bruce Springsteen

'That was better than the Grammys,' Marcus Mumford says of charity event honoring the star

mumford and sons bruce springsteen
Larry Busacca/Getty Images for NARAS
Mumford and Sons perform at the MusiCares Person Of The Year event honoring Bruce Springsteen.
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Mumford & Sons just had the biggest weekend of their career, winning the Album of the Year Grammy for their second LP, Babel. But backstage at Brooklyn's Barclays Center on Tuesday night, the band was even more excited to talk about meeting and playing for Bruce Springsteen. Before the Grammys, Mumford played "I'm on Fire" at a MusiCares benefit gala honoring Springsteen, alongside performers including Neil Young and Elton John. "That was better than the Grammys," says Marcus Mumford. "There were so many songs to choose from, and they didn't even play all the best ones. It was ridiculous. Neil Young and Crazy Horse did 'Born in the U.S.A.' Fuck yeah!"

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Mumford & Sons got a chance to meet their hero when Springsteen stepped outside while the band was taking a smoke break. What did he say to them? "'Shave, you fucking pricks,'" says bassist Ted Dwane with a deadpan smile. "'Have you ever played those instruments, you bastards?'"

Banjo player Winston Marshall joins in on the joke: "[He said] 'Stop pretending,' I think. That was either him or Elton John."

"Just horrible, horrible things," Dwane laughs. "No, he was very sweet. He's a very sweet man . . . I've been on a Bruce binge all weekend, because he's fucking amazing."

Marcus Mumford is a little more serious when discussing the event. "We wanted to do it around one microphone, because we enjoy being able to do that at our gigs," he says. "It's a nice moment to be able to sort of draw a room together, but we had no idea if it was going to work." But the atmosphere was welcoming. "The egos melted away. No one was there to promote their own record or even play their own songs, so the pressure was kind off in a way. Then the Boss fucking gets up and fucking rips it in the last few."

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The band's publicist mentions that he spent his cross-country flight listening to Springsteen's discography. "Hopefully, one day someone will get on a plane from L.A. to New York and try to listen to all of our albums, see how far they can get," Mumford responds with a smile. "That's the dream, really."

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