Mumford and Sons’ Winston Marshall talks decision to quit band after political backlash: A ‘moral conundrum’

Mumford & Sons founding member Winston Marshall is opening up about his decision to announce his exit from the band so that he can “speak freely” about politics.

The 33-year-old was known as the lead guitarist and banjo player for the band. Last week, he quit the band after sparking a social media storm in March by tweeting admiration for “Unmasked,” a book by right-wing writer-activist Andy Ngo that attacked far-left militant groups collectively known as antifa.

Marshall appeared on Bari Weiss’ “Honestly” podcast this week where he described his emotions ahead of walking away from the band.

“Bloody terrified. Yeah, particularly the last half an hour before I was very nervous, but I feel like it’s gone,” Marshall said (via the Daily Mail).

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He added, “I feel like I got my integrity back and I feel like I got my soul back. I feel good now.”

Marshall goes on to explain that he was in the band since he was 19 years old. Leaving, he said, was “the bloody hardest decision I can remember.”

Singer Winston Marshall of Mumford and Sons announced that he's stepping away from the band in order to speak more freely about political issues.

Singer Winston Marshall of Mumford and Sons announced that he’s stepping away from the band in order to speak more freely about political issues. (Scott Dudelson/Getty Images)

“It was a really difficult thing, but I didn’t see another way out of this sort of moral conundrum that I found myself in. And so this felt like the right way forward,” he added.

Marshall took a break from the band in March. He was also accused online of endorsing the far right, but said in a late June  post on Medium that “nothing could be further from the truth. I condemn unequivocally all political extremism, be it of the Right or Left.”

In his post, Marshall said he had ultimately decided to leave so that he could “speak freely without them suffering the consequences.”

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Meanwhile, the upheaval about Marshall’s tweet didn’t just affect him. The performer said the “swarm of snakes” his tweet unleashed also went after his bandmates.

“I was absolutely, totally sincere in being sorry to the band and remain so,” he said, adding, “What I had done had been unintentional, but it brought a lot of trouble to them. And so I was and am still sorry for that.”

Marshall pointed out that his apology “wasn’t for what I did, it was for how it was interpreted.” 

He said his perspective “was true at the time.”

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Winston Marshall of Mumford & Sons performs during the Okeechobee Music Festival at Sunshine Grove on March 08, 2020 in Okeechobee, Florida. 

Winston Marshall of Mumford & Sons performs during the Okeechobee Music Festival at Sunshine Grove on March 08, 2020 in Okeechobee, Florida.  ( Tim Mosenfelder/WireImage)

Marshall said his fellow band members did not pressure him to leave.

“Emotions were high. Despite pressure to nix me they invited me to continue 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,” he wrote. 

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Despite stepping away from the band to more easily talk about political issues, Marshall previously apologized for his praise of the book in a lengthy statement shared in a since-deleted tweet. 

“Over the past few days, I have come to better understand the pain caused by the book I endorsed. I have offended not only a lot of people I don’t know but also those closest to me, including my bandmates and for that, I am truly sorry. As a result of my actions I am taking time away from the band to examine my blind spots,” Marshall wrote at the time.

He added: “For now, please know that I realise how my endorsements have the potential to be viewed as approvals of hatred, divisive behavior. I apologize, as this was not at all my intention.”

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In his medium post, Marshall noted how his apology merely led to more backlash. 

“Rather predictably another viral mob came after me, this time for the sin of apologising,” he wrote.

Fox News’ Tyler McCarthy and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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