Mumford & Sons guitarist Winston Marshall has been working on a new approach for his latest record. Basic Rights caught up in his London home to talk about his projects, an obsession with discovering new ideas and what informs the clothes he wears.
“I’ve been trying to find new ways to work, ways to keep things fresh.” At the front of his mind is a collaboration he’s recently been in the studio working on, a project with artists from contrasting backgrounds. “I've been involved in recording session with Johan from ‘The Very Best’ and Baaba Maal who I met out in Senegal a few years ago. Some other great London musicians we met touring I’m not allowed to mention by name quite yet. They’re all seriously talented. It’s a great group.”
How does it differ from other projects? “It's how we're doing it. Studio time is often hard work because there are these long stretches of boredom punctuated by moments of creative intensity. It's hard to switch it on and off when you work like that and so we've been working to get rid of the boredom... and just have the intensity,” he says.
The project brings together different musical perspectives into one record but gone about without much structure or planning during the recording process. “There are a lot of ideas flying about for sure.”
For the sessions the group has taken over multiple rooms at the legendary London recording studios RAK. “There’s about ten of us all going full throttle constantly, going from room to room in the studio, all these voices giving their input. The second we get stuck we’re onto the next song. There's no let up.”
The intention he says is to find ways of uncovering new ideas while avoiding the danger of getting stale. “I can no longer write songs only with an acoustic guitar,” he says. “It’s just too boring.”
There's a huge value he says to opening up to new ideas and sounds from the outside. “I find myself getting obsessed with new artists or albums. Find an album, listen to it until it’s completely worn out then move onto something new.”
What is he obsessing over right now? “‘A Deeper Understanding’ is that new record from ‘The War On Drugs’. It came out a couple of weeks ago and I’m not listening to anything else right now. I’m sure I’ll run it dry at some point.”
The War On Drugs, ‘Thinking of a Place’ from 2017 Album 'A Deeper Understanding'
There must have been something that started everything off? “‘Tres Hombres’ by ZZ Top. That one had a huge impact. I found this old vinyl in my mum’s collection.” Until that point he talks of listening to nothing but pop punk - Blink 182, The Offspring.
“I remember putting that record on and hearing the way that guitar riff kicks off on the first song ‘Waiting For The Bus’ and how it blew my mind. It sent me into this totally new direction of rock. It was like falling down a rabbit hole. Since then it’s always been an important record to me.”
1973 Album 'Tres Hombres' by ZZ Top
There are others of course. “I’ve found myself in a few Bob Dylan holes. It’s easy to fall down those. I’ll be back there soon I’m sure.”
We ask whether he sees in himself a theme of immersion. “Oh for sure. It’s just how I am. It bleeds into everything including the way I dress. I lean heavily on a few pieces. I go deep with them.”
Is this what style is to him? “Yeah it is. I like what Freddie said about why he started the label with David [David Chambers, tailor to Basic Rights]. That he was in the studio every day and didn’t want to stress over what he was wearing. I get that.”
“I know that black jeans, these shoes, this shirt… You just don’t have to think. You can just wear it and feel comfortable and look good. When that’s off the table you have so much more headspace for the other things.”
We ask which pieces from the collection do this for him. “The heavy weight t-shirt is as good as they come. It’s a killer. I haven’t come across another one that keeps its shape in the same way, doesn’t matter how often you wash it.”
The Heavy Weight T-Shirt in white.
He has a taste for tailoring too. “I love the high waisted trousers. It’s a great material and a great cut. This is David’s style isn’t it?” It is, we tell him. “Well you can tell. I love them. They’re part of my uniform now. They’ve become the things I lean on.”
Winston Marshall is a musician based in London and New York City. He wears pieces from the Basic Rights FW/17 and Core collection.