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Haters can hate on Mumford And Sons’ seemingly overnight success, but those dudes are popular for a reason—they’ve done the work and they’ve captured an authentic scene. Mumford keyboardist Ben Lovett’s been repping the nu-folk movement for years now through his role in Communion, a regular club night in London that’s birthed performers like Mumford, Laura Marling, Johnny Flynn, and more. Now, Communion’s gone international, releasing records and even sending its monthly club night on a tour of sorts. Headlined by Matthew And The Atlas, the tour hits World Cafe Live Nov. 9. Openers The David Mayfield Parade and Lauren Shera round out the lineup, which has been billed as not just a concert, but kind of a collective jam-out experience.
The A.V. Club talked to Matthew And The Atlas frontman Matthew Hegarty about Communion—the tour and the London night—and the resurgence of folk in the U.S. music scene.
The A.V. Club: You’ve been involved in Communion for some time, right? How did you join the gang?
Matthew Hegarty: I met the guys at Communion about two years ago. At the time, they were doing this club night which was kind of just a lot of different kinds of musicians and bands down there, and I guess it spawned from this night called Bosun’s Locker elsewhere. Communion expanded to club nights across the U.K. and then it turned into a record label, which is when we really got involved. It’s just kind of a nice bunch of guys, and they’re really into what they do.
AVC: Is the plan for the U.S. tour to play separate sets or to kind of intermingle as bands?
MH: We were hoping to try and give an audience a bit of a different experience and weave those sets together, so whereas normally one band would just finish, instead of them finishing, before that, we’d try and go up and play on some of their songs. They would play on some of our tracks and slowly leave the stage.
It’s fairly unplanned at the moment, and I haven’t orchestrated too much, but there’s definitely an idea of trying to collaborate. As a band, we haven’t really done that sort of thing, so it should be interesting. We tend to be a little more clinical about stuff and rehearsing, so it’s a bit different. It takes us out of our comfort zone. Hopefully, someone watching the tour will get something unique to that night, though, and those specific bands. You won’t get that again any other time.
AVC: Having known these Mumford dudes for a bit, is it weird to you that this whole Brit-folk thing has blown up here so quickly?
MH: Yeah, it does. It all feels a bit crazy, really. I can see why it works, though. I guess from a U.K. point of view, we see more of it, but I suppose when they started off over here, it kind of felt the same like when they started in the U.S. It felt like it appeared out of nowhere. My band managed to get a support slot with them playing 150-person venues, and now they’ve been touring for a while. They just do it and play every show with their hearts and stuff, so you can see why it works. It seems like it’s out of nowhere, but they’ve been working at it for quite a long time.
I mean, it seems weird, but it’s great for bands like us. I don’t know how much we’d have mainstream appeal normally, but this gives us more of an opportunity than we would have normally.
AVC: You’ve been to America before, right?
MH: We’ve been twice this year. We went to SXSW earlier in the year for the first time as a band, and then we supported Mumford in June on their U.S. tour. We were out for about three and a half weeks. Once we finished that, we went off and did shows on our own.
AVC: It says in your bio that you’re a landscaper.
MH: I haven’t done it for a while now, but that’s what I did for like five years when I was still playing on my own. I’d landscape in the day and write and demo in the evenings. I’d play open mics when no one was there, and that went on for about a year and a half. Slowly, over time, as I started doing more music, and I just stopped landscaping.
I quite like going back to it, though, because it takes you out of the music world, which is quite all-encompassing. You’re stuck in your little bubble, so it’s good to go out and do something else.