I loved those first tours. Bouncing off a sweaty stage in an Edinburgh catacomb we then had to get to a gig in Camden by lunch the next day.
We couldn’t fit all four of us and Ted’s double-bass into the VW Polo. I think it was Ben who drew the short straw and had to follow by train with his keyboard.
I remember blitzing it down the M6 through the night, the lads asleep beside me.
We made it but my voice sadly didn’t, completely shot by exhaustion, I had to mime my harmonies. Being in Mumford & Sons was exhilarating.
Every gig was its own adventure. Every gig its own story.
Be it odysseys through the Scottish Islands, or soapbox shows in Soho. Where would we sleep that night?
I loved those first tours. Bouncing off a sweaty stage in an Edinburgh catacomb we then had to get to a gig in Camden by lunch the next day, writes Mumford & Son’s’ WINSTON MARSHALL
Hostels in Fort William, pub floors in Ipswich, even the Travelodge in Carlisle maintains a sort of charm in my mind. We saw the country and then, as things miraculously grew, the world.
All the while doing what we loved. Music. And not just any music. These songs meant something.
They felt important to me. Songs with the message of hope and love. I was surrounded by three supremely talented song-writers and Marcus, our singer with a one-in-a-million voice.
The banjo player banjaxed by a tweet
By Alison Boshoff for the Daily Mail
Banjo player and lead guitarist with globally successful British folk-rock group Mumford & Sons has quit the band — the latest victim of ‘cancel culture’.
Winston Marshall, 33, performed for 14 years with the multi-million-selling group. But in March he attracted a furious online backlash after he sent an ‘innocuous’ tweet backing a conservative-leaning journalist for his book, which is critical of violent far-Left group Antifa.
Marshall, son of multi-millionaire hedge fund manager Sir Paul Marshall, told Andy Ngo: Congratulations . . . Finally had the time to read your important book. You’re a brave man.’
Left-wing social media users immediately piled on to the star, accused him of being a ‘fascist’ and demanded his sacking from the chart-topping band, which has played for Barack Obama.
Marshall apologised — only to attract fury from Right-wingers, who believed he had done nothing wrong — and temporarily stepped back from the band. On Thursday, he posted a blog, republished below, explaining that he had decided to quit altogether.
He said: ‘I failed to foresee that my commenting on a book critical of the far-Left could be interpreted as approval of the equally abhorrent far-Right.’
He pointed out that the accusation of being ‘fascist’ was all the more unreasonable given that members of his own family had been murdered by the Nazis in the Holocaust.
Mumford & Sons said: ‘We wish you all the best for the future, Win, and we love you man.’
The book by Ngo is titled Unmasked: Inside Antifa’s Radical Plan To Destroy Democracy. It was an Amazon bestseller and appeared on The New York Times list for non-fiction.
Antifa (an abbreviation of ‘anti-fascist’) is a widespread, loose-knit organisation that has been involved in violent clashes in several U.S. cities. Donald Trump sought to proscribe it as a terror organisation.
Here we reprint Marshall’s impassioned cry for reason . . .
A voice that can compel in both a field of 80,000 and the intimacy of a front room.
Fast-forward ten years and we were playing those same songs every night in arenas, flying first-class, staying in luxury hotels and being paid handsomely to do so.
I was a lucky boy.
On stage, to my left Ted, a roaring bear, with his double-bass flying high above him.
To my right Ben, pounding at the keys. And Marcus leading us with the might of a hurricane or the tenderness of a breeze, depending on the song.
What a blessing it was to be so close to such talent. It will be with immense pride that I look back on my time with Mumford & Sons.
A legacy of songs that I believe will stand the test of ages. What we’ve achieved has exceeded the wildest fantasies of this S********r from Mortlake.
Who in their right mind would willingly walk away from this? It turns out I would. And it’s been no easy decision.
At the beginning of March, I tweeted to American journalist Andy Ngo, author of the New York Times bestseller, Unmasked.
‘Congratulations @MrAndyNgo. Finally had the time to read your important book. You’re a brave man.’
Posting about books had been a theme of my social media throughout the pandemic.
I believed this tweet to be as innocuous as the others. How wrong I turned out to be.
Over 24 hours it was trending with tens of thousands of angry retweets and comments.
I failed to foresee that my commenting on a book critical of the far-Left could be interpreted as approval of the equally abhorrent far-Right.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Thirteen members of my family were murdered in the concentration camps of the Holocaust.
My Grandma, unlike her cousins, aunts and uncles, survived. She and I were close. My family knows the evils of fascism painfully well.
To say the least. To call me ‘fascist’ was ludicrous beyond belief.
I’ve had plenty of abuse over the years. I’m a banjo player after all. But this was another level.
And, owing to our association, my friends, my bandmates, were getting it, too. It took me more than a moment to understand how distressing this was for them.
Despite being four individuals we were, in the eyes of the public, a unit. Furthermore it’s our singer’s name on the tin.
That name was being dragged through some pretty ugly accusations, as a result of my tweet.
The distress brought to them and their families that weekend I regret very much. I remain sorry for that. Unintentionally, I had pulled them into a divisive and totemic issue.
What a blessing it was to be so close to such talent. It will be with immense pride that I look back on my time with Mumford & Sons
Emotions were high. Despite pressure to nix me they invited me to stay with the band.
That took courage, particularly in the age of so-called ‘cancel culture’. I made an apology and agreed to take a temporary step back.
Predictably another viral mob came after me, this time for the sin of apologising. Then followed libellous articles calling me ‘right-wing’ and such.
Though there’s nothing wrong with being conservative, when forced to label myself I flutter between ‘centrist’, ‘liberal’ or the more honest ‘bit this, bit that’.
Being labelled erroneously just goes to show how binary political discourse has become. I had criticised the ‘Left’, so I must be the ‘Right’, or so their logic goes.
Why did I apologise?
‘Rub your eyes and purify your heart — and prize above all else in the world those who love you and who wish you well.’ — Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn once wrote.
In the mania of the moment I was desperate to protect my bandmates.
The hornets’ nest that I had unwittingly hit had unleashed a black-hearted swarm on them and their families. I didn’t want them to suffer for my actions.
Ngo’s (left) book Unmasked claims to expose Antifa – the name for protesters in the US who arrive at far-right marches to oppose them – as a ‘violent extremist movement’. Pictured right: Marshall’s tweet
Secondly, I was sincerely open to the fact that maybe I did not know something about the author or his work. ‘Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak,’ Churchill once said, ‘courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.’ And so I listened.
I have spent much time reflecting, reading and listening. The truth is that my commenting on a book that documents the extreme far-Left and their activities is in no way an endorsement of the equally repugnant far-Right.
The truth is that reporting on extremism at the great risk of endangering oneself is unquestionably brave. I also feel that my previous apology in a small way participates in the lie that such extremism does not exist, or worse, is a force for good.
So why leave the band?
On the eve of his leaving to the West, Solzhenitsyn published an essay titled Live Not By Lies. I have read it many times since the incident at the start of March. It still profoundly stirs me.
Writing on Medium, Mr Marshall said he ‘failed to foresee’ that his praise of the book Unmasked: Inside Antifa’s Radical Plan To Destroy Democracy ‘could be interpreted as approval of the equally abhorrent Far-Right’
Mr Marshall’s father Paul’s tweet saying he was ‘very proud’ of his son for his post announcing his departure from the band
He wrote: ‘And he who is not sufficiently courageous to defend his soul — don’t let him be proud of his ‘progressive’ views, and don’t let him boast that he is an academician or a people’s artist, a distinguished figure or a general.
‘Let him say to himself: I’ am a part of the herd and a coward. It’s all the same to me as long as I’m fed and kept warm.”
For me to speak about what I’ve learnt to be such a controversial issue will inevitably bring my bandmates more trouble.
My love, loyalty and accountability to them cannot permit that.
I could stay and continue to self-censor but it will erode my sense of integrity. Gnaw my conscience. I’ve already felt that beginning.
The only way forward is to leave the band. I hope in distancing myself from them I am able to speak my mind without them suffering the consequences.
I leave with love in my heart and I wish those three boys nothing but the best. I have no doubt their stars will shine long into the future.
I will continue my work with Hong Kong Link Up [buddy system for HK people settling in the UK] and look forward to new creative projects plus speaking and writing on a variety of issues, challenging as they may be.
Winston Marshall has given his fee for this article to his local food bank.
Tips to Find Low Priced Luxury Holiday Package Deals Fast