Mumford & Sons Discuss New Sonic Direction, the State of Rock, Kanye West in “Billboard” Cover Story

Image Courtesy of Big Hassle It was big news when Mumford & Sons announced their third album, Wilder Mind, but it was even bigger news that the band would be moving on from the folk-rock, banjo-driven sound for which they're known in favor of an electric, straightforward rock record.

"We'd been itching for a long time to do something different, and we picked the right time to do that," frontman Marcus Mumford tells Billboard in this week's cover story. "Well, maybe it was a bit late. Because we'd been a band almost as long as The Beatles, and this is only our third record, you know?"

In an era where the state of rock is supposedly in peril, what would make Mumford & Sons want to pursue a purportedly dying genre?  "There will always be a f**king huge rock band," guitarist Winston Marshall says. However, he does admit that the state of rock is currently in flux.

"There's a lot of rock out there. But it's no longer...I don't think it's what our generation will be remembered for," Marshall says. "I think it'll be [rapper] Kanye West and [pop star] Rihanna."

"I think Kanye is sick," Mumford responds. "He's the only rock star left."

Regardless of whether Mumford & Sons consider themselves rock stars, their new sound appears to be resonating with fans -- lead Wilder Mind single, "Believe" currently sits atop Billboard's Alternative Songs chart. The band will also launch one of the summer's biggest rock tours with their Gentlemen of the Road Stopover dates, which will feature appearances by Foo Fighters, Alabama Shakes, My Morning Jacket and The Flaming Lips.

"It's much better to do the thing you love and give it everything you've got," The Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne says of Mumford & Sons.  "I see them doing that with their music and their shows. That, to me, is punk rock."

Wilder Mind will be released May 4.

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