Mumford & Sons' so-called "indefinite hiatus" is total cliffhanger bullshit

Mumford & Sons at Xcel Energy Center, in September of 2013.
Mumford & Sons at Xcel Energy Center, in September of 2013.
Photo by Tony Nelson

The biggest Mumford & Sons hit single to date is about patiently waiting. Now it's everyone else's turn. Just as they've become one of the most prominent live draws in the U.S., the English group is reportedly shutting down for an indefinite period of time.

To the joy of the haters and the sorrow of their fervent followers, this break could be a month, it could be a decade, or it could be (gasp) forever. But that last option's just not going to happen. Sigh no more: There will most likely be more Mumfy long before Barack Obama ends his second term and Dr. Seuss aficionado Ted Cruz becomes our next U.S. president.

After the band wrapped their tour in Kansas last week, keyboardist Ben Lovett told Rolling Stone, "There won't be any Mumford & Sons activities for the foreseeable future."  And with those words, he triggered questions of how long they would be gone. "We have no idea," he continued. "We just know we're going to take a considerable amount of time off." And as long as folks keep considering, Mumford is pleased.

Sure, there are medical and family reasons that force an artist's hand when deciding to take a rest. But if a group hasn't broken up, and they just have "no timetable," this is often a manipulative (and successful) framing of the most common of events in the life of rock stars. Plus, they're way too young -- Mumford is only 26 -- and so united by strong Christian beliefs to actually disband.

The whole announcing of an "indefinite career hiatus" thing is pretty much PR bullshit most of the time. Instead of just, you know, "working on new ideas," "recharging the batteries after our tour," or whatever an artist can say after they finished something that made a load of money, it's a carrot dangling from an infinitely lengthening pole. Following Babel's Grammy win, the radio penetration of several Mumford songs, and the brilliant "Hopeless Wanderer" video basically catering to the haters, the band had an unprecedented amount of people listening when they abruptly said, "See ya." They had to say something, but so far this announcement has caused an eruption of pearls-clutching confusion for blogger types. And annoyance for this one.

Every time a Mumford fan sings along with their chart-topper "I Will Wait," all the way through, they're repeating the word "wait" 22 times. Conversely, the song also includes the phrase "shake the excess."

A hiatus of any length will seem like forever for one camp and never long enough for the rest of us. But Mumford & Sons have been too intentional about every note, lyric, and public interaction that they've ever created to lead anyone to seriously believe that this is how things end. As the band earnestly strummed through a heart-baring show in St. Paul earlier this month, it was on no one's mind to soak it up while they still could.

A band that has grown to this stadium-filling stature, even in such rapid fashion, would not say farewell without the chance to fully capitalize on it. No way. The financial implications are too huge for an act that made over $6 million in 2012 alone.

Look to one of America's other favorite British bands, Coldplay, for this bait-and-switch hiatus technique in action. In fact, Chris Martin could moonlight as a writer of movie trailer voice-overs with the patently "epic" approach to unveiling his band's inactivity.

"It's going to be a long, long time before you hear a new album from us," he said in October of 2006 after wrapping touring for 2005's X&Y. "We've done a few things, but we're all enjoying having families at the moment. If it takes five years for us to feel ready to record something new, then so be it." As it turned out, it took all of eight months before they commenced recording their follow-up album, Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends, which was released to widespread attention in June 2008. In November of last year, he was at it again.

And from Trent Reznor to Dave Grohl to Justin Vernon to Paul Westerberg to our very first pop star, Jesus Christ, swooning fans will swoon all the more when they are alerted they will have to wait for something. Especially if they don't know how long they must wait.

In this case, it was an excruciating matter of a few dozen hours before they, well frontman Marcus Mumford, returned.
Already! A couple of days after the announcement, Mumfy fans got access to a new song featuring Mumford from the forthcoming Coen brothers' film Inside Llewyn Davis. Coincidence that it is called "Fare Thee Well," or an intentional narrative boost to their supposed exit from pop culture? Either way, why bother with actively promoting the band for a while when a Hollywood movie can do it for them? 

Most of us go on hiatus all the time, and no one cares. It's because we never frame our departures with the weight of a Breaking Bad cliffhanger. Every week between Friday at 5 p.m. and the following Monday at 9 a.m., the 40-hour workers are taking some needed time off to be with their families, quell their frustrations, and maybe even write some songs, but we know they're coming back. Why settle for just "I'm gonna get up and grab a drink at the bar," when a great wave of anticipation can brim and turn to relief upon your return. Throw the word indefinite in there.

Mumford bassist Ted Dwane's health scare notwithstanding, there's nothing that will keep this blockbuster band away from adoring fans like the ones pictured below for long. And in this case, "long" means nothing beyond a regularly scheduled maintenance break of a year or so to record a new album.

Photo by Tony Nelson

If you're currently experiencing either an ache in your gut or a spring in your step because of Mumford & Sons' supposed demise, it is premature and probably for promotional purposes. For Spin, it's already time to ask if this is "An Act of Mercy or Dragging Out the Torture?" The Guardian is already heralding this hiatus as a triumph. "In pop music, it is brave to turn one's back on that easy success -- even if not forever." It has barely been a week! Mumford & Sons are not Guns N' Roses working on Chinese Democracy. Just a little patience, everyone. 

See Also:
50 cool facts about the Minnesota music scene
Top 20 best Minnesota musicians: The complete list
Top 10 must-see Minnesota music videos this week

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