British indie act Mumford & Sons return with fourth album “Delta” which, according to the band, redefines what they do and who they are. (Nov. 12)
In fish-out-of-water comedy “Ted Lasso” (premiering on Apple TV+ Friday), Jason Sudeikis plays an affable Midwestern football coach who’s unexpectedly hired to lead a British football team (i.e. soccer). The character first appeared in a series of promos for NBC Sports’ Premier League coverage back in 2013, which went viral with more than 20 million views on YouTube to date.
Mumford & Sons frontman Marcus Mumford was already a fan of those sketches when his longtime friend Sudeikis asked him to co-write the music and theme song for “Ted Lasso” with composer Tom Howe (“A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon”). Mumford, 33, talks to USA TODAY about scoring his first TV show, “diehard” soccer obsession and life in lockdown.
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Question: How did you first meet Jason Sudeikis? Was it through the “Hopeless Wanderer” music video?
Marcus Mumford: No, we first met Jason at “Saturday Night Live” the first time we played it. We did that Beatles sketch with him, and we just became friends. So when the idea for the “Hopeless Wanderer” video came about, we asked him (to star) and he thankfully said yes. And we’ve just remained friends. Despite being an American comedy great, Jason has a real British taste in his sense of humor. So that’s one of the reasons we hit it off, for sure.
Q: When did he come to you about doing the music for “Ted Lasso?”
Mumford: He loves leaving a long message, that one. But he left me a very long message on my U.S. phone, which I don’t keep on when I’m in the U.K. So I actually missed it and it had been in my phone for a couple of months, and he thought I was just ghosting him. So when I finally picked it up, I called him and was like, “So sorry, man, but I’d love to talk more about your TV show.” And then I eventually went to set while they were filming in the U.K. before I started the music, and that’s how the story went.
Marcus Mumford of Grammy-winning folk-rock band Mumford & Sons. (Photo: Amy Harris/Invision/AP)
Q: Are you a big football fan?
Mumford: I am. And you know what my team is called? AFC Wimbledon. And of course, Ted Lasso’s team is AFC Richmond, and Richmond and Wimbledon are in the same part of London. So it felt like serendipity to me because I’m a diehard AFC Wimbledon fan. So if it offers me an opportunity to talk more about football and AFC Wimbledon, that’s basically the long game with this whole thing.
Q: How do you feel about American football?
Mumford: Well, you see, I’m an undercover American citizen. I was actually born in the States and grew up watching American sports. I always prefer basketball, but in the last few years, I have indeed become a bit more obsessed with football. That (“QB1: Beyond the Lights”) show on Netflix has really helped me understand it more over the years. I love the game.
Q: What were the challenges of scoring a TV show compared to writing a Mumford & Sons album?
Mumford: Obviously there’s no lyrics, but that was actually quite freeing to me, after having just finished the “Delta” (album) tour. I really enjoyed being able to try my hand at different instruments to build emotional moments and comic ones. I’d never written music for comedy before, which was a challenge but pretty interesting as well. I like that it broadened my palette as a musician. The scoring of it was (done during) lockdown, so halfway through the process I lost my engineer and had to learn how to do all that recording myself, which is a skill I should have learned long ago.
Q: How long did it take you and Tom Howe to write and record the “Ted Lasso” theme song?
Mumford: The theme song came together in a 24-hour period. Tom came over to my house at the beginning of January, and it was really fun. I think sometimes good songs don’t take too long. There’s a slightly throwback vibe to it – it’s got a ’60s/’70s feel. We didn’t want to overthink it: It needed to feel natural and not overproduced.
Q: And how are you and your family holding up in lockdown? (Mumford and his wife, actress Carey Mulligan, have two children, Evelyn and Wilfred.)
Mumford: You are sweet to ask, thank you. We are well. We’ve spent a lot of time together, and that’s been a great privilege. Despite it obviously being a really difficult time for so many people, I think many of us will also look back at this as a time when we got to connect with our families more than we might have otherwise, which can be a blessing. So we’re counting it as one.
Q: Have you picked up any new hobbies in quarantine?
Mumford: I think like everyone, we’re trying our hands at vegetables. It seems like everyone is doing that, but convincing children to eat vegetables is a beautiful but difficult thing.
Q: Do you have any tricks for getting them to eat veggies?
Mumford: Grow them yourself! That’s been our method, and it seems to be working.
Q: What has been your comfort TV during this time?
Mumford: Well, it feels like a long time ago now that we were all obsessed with “Tiger King,” right? That’s a big one. But I go back to “30 Rock” and “Veep” a lot. We just discovered “The Deadliest Catch,” which is blowing my mind. We enjoy television in our household.
Q: Aside from “Ted Lasso,” have you and your bandmates discussed any new Mumford & Sons music? (Their last album, “Delta,” was released in 2018.)
Mumford: We’re always talking about it! We were lucky in the way that we were coming toward the end of a big tour for “Delta.” So we were coming up on a break anyway after the summer, and missed the spring and summer (shows). But we’re always talking about new music.
Q: Is there any chance you might cameo on “Ted Lasso” at some point?
Mumford: I’m not sure acting is for me, man. I’m not sure I can deal with the insecurity that’s involved. There was an idea (for a role) at one point, but it was pretty difficult logistically because I was on tour. So I’m going to remain happy with my Beatles cameo. I’m good with that for now.
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