Dana Scruggs/GQ Marcus Mumford
Marcus Mumford is opening up about a traumatic experience.
Fresh off the release of his new solo single "Cannibal," the Mumford & Sons frontman spoke to GQ Hype for a cover story interview about his experience with childhood sexual abuse and how it inspired the song's lyrics.
Mumford, 35, recalled creating the song last year, and his mother — who lives next door to him, wife Carey Mulligan and their two children — overheard the "rhythm and melody" through the walls and asked for a proper listen.
"I can still taste you and I hate it / That wasn't a choice in the mind of a child and you knew it," the musician sings on "Cannibal," which he told GQ was inspired by the sexual abuse he endured as a young boy.
Dana Scruggs/GQ Marcus Mumford
"Like lots of people — and I'm learning more and more about this as we go and as I play it to people — I was sexually abused as a child," Mumford told the outlet, noting that he was 6 years old when it occurred. "Not by family and not in the church, which might be some people's assumption. But I hadn't told anyone about it for 30 years."
While playing the song for his mom, Mumford realized he'd never informed her of the experience. "Couple days later [she came back]," he recalled. "[She said,] 'Can I ask what that song's about?' I was like, 'Yeah, it's about the abuse thing.'"
Mumford continued, "She was like, 'What are you talking about?' So once we get through the trauma of that moment for her, as a mother, hearing that and her wanting to protect and help and all that stuff, it's objectively f---ing hilarious to tell your mom about your abuse in a f---ing song, of all things."
Released alongside a Steven Spielberg-directed music video (filmed on a phone!) in July, "Cannibal" eventually became the first track on Mumford's upcoming album, and "Grace," a song he wrote about the revelatory conversation with his mom, is the second track.
David Becker/Getty Mumford & Sons
Elsewhere in the interview, Mumford spoke about Mumford & Sons guitarist and banjo player Winston Marshall's decision to step away from the band last year after endorsing a controversial book by conservative journalist Andy Ngo titled Unmasked: Inside Antifa's Radical Plan to Destroy Democracy.
"I actually really begged him not to leave," said Mumford, noting that he didn't agree with many of Marshall's beliefs. "But I think you can disagree and work together."
When asked about his feelings toward Marshall's beliefs, which have recently included criticizing transgender activists on Twitter, Mumford said, "I just don't think it's the job of musicians to have all those thoughts, and I think Win probably agrees."
Jo Hale/Redferns Winston Marshall
He continued, "I don't know. But I should think he probably agrees. Which is part of the reason why he wanted to quit. Because he felt like his priorities couldn't align in the way he wanted to speak about things and live life. He wanted to do a different thing. And that's why I support him doing a different thing. Even though we disagree on a lot. A lot. And more now."
Mumford then specified they disagree on politics. "With a lot of it, yeah. And the way of interacting," he explained. "It's the way of interacting with the world. I think grace matters in the way that you talk with people. I think if you present like a c--- and you are an angry man, particularly at this time, an angry, older, white man — I'm just f---ing bored of it, man."
The musician concluded, "We need grace. So, I, you know, I don't want to get into an argument with these guys at all. It just feels like a zero-sum game. A race to the bottom. Boring. Mostly it's boring. And mostly it's not my job."
If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.