Marcus Mumford revealed that he was the victim of sexual abuse as a child — an experience that informed songs on his upcoming solo album Self-Titled — in a new interview.
Speaking to GQ, Mumford said that his new single (and Self-Titled’s opening song) “Cannibal” was written while Mumford confronted what had happened to him starting at the age of six.
“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 GQ. “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.”
Mumford continued, “That thing that happened when I was six, that was the first of a string of really unusual, unhealthy sexual experiences at a really early age. And for some reason, and I can’t really understand why, I didn’t become a perpetrator of sexual abuse—although I’ve done my fair share of cuntish behavior. String of really unhealthy shit when I was under the age of 12, which set my brain up in a way to deal with stuff later on in life in an imbalanced way. And so the last three years has just been trying to look at that and correct some balance.”
The singer also told GQ that his own mother didn’t learn about the abuse until she herself listened to “Cannibal” and its lyrics; the conversation that followed between Mumford and his mother about what happened is captured in Self-Titled’s second song, “Grace.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Mumford speaks at length about the departure of Mumford & Sons banjoist Winston Marshall, who left the band in June following an uproar months earlier after he praised a book by an alt-right social media personality; years earlier, the band was thrown into a similar situation when controversial self-help author Jordan Peterson shared a photo of himself in the studio with the band.
“To remain in the band and self-censor will gnaw my conscience, erode my integrity. By leaving I hope to speak freely without them suffering the consequences,” Marshall wrote in June of leaving the band.
Mumford admitted that he “really begged [Marshall] not to leave” Mumford & Sons, but “‘[Marshall] 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.”
“And this is why I don’t like Jordan Peterson. One of the reasons,” Mumford told GQ, harkening back to that viral photo. “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 cunt and you are an angry man, particularly at this time, an angry, older, white man — I’m just fucking bored of it, man. We need grace.”