You might not have heard of them yet, but just you wait. We talk to hotly tipped folksters Mumford & Sons about their debut album Sigh No More, how they formed, and their plans for the future.

By Andy Welch

The world of music is littered with hype casualties. Bands who, despite the best will of the press, just never made it.

It's hard to pinpoint exactly why some acts fail to succeed. There are those whose music doesn't live up to the hyperbole, of course - but for every Duffy and Adele, singers who have actually managed to exceed the lofty expectations weighing on their shoulders, there are countless 'Next Big Things' forever consigned to the music scrapheap in the sky.

Look at The Bravery for example, the New York band who exploded in 2005 with their single Honest Mistake and topped numerous 'Ones To Watch' industry polls that year. You wouldn't recognise the band now if they served you in Starbucks while whistling their one and only hit.

But Mumford & Sons have played an altogether different game.

Formed just under two years ago, the folk quartet have gone about their business (relatively) quietly. Cliched as it may sound, they've let their glorious music, particularly their live shows, do the hard work.

"It all feels pretty natural really," explains the band's frontman and main songwriter Marcus Mumford.

"We feel like we're going at the pace we want to go at. Our single (Little Lion Man) was played on the radio, which is lovely, but it's not been crazy. It means our gig-goers have just bought the album, which is an amazing feeling. We've worked so hard on trying to please the people who come to our gigs, and have played live in lots and lots of places, and that seems to have come good.

"The album has already sold better than we could have dreamed," he adds, referring to Sign No More, which entered the album chart this week at No 11. Not bad for a new folk band, especially when you look at the names above them in the chart; Dizzee Rascal, Muse, Vera Lynn, Jay-Z, Barbara Streisand and Madonna.

"That's a tribute to the people at the gigs who've been loyal enough to go out and buy it. They're amazing."

There's certainly no shortage of modesty in the Mumford camp. Ted Dwane and 'Country' Winston Marshall, Mumford's double bassist and banjo player respectively, are just as humble when it comes to their recent achievements.

The band has Markus Dravs produce their debut. He's the production wizard whose past clientele includes Coldplay, Brian Eno and Arcade Fire. At the time of recording, Mumford & Sons weren't even signed to a label, yet managed to get one of the hottest producers in the world to work with them.

"We have an amazing manager," is the explanation Winston offers for getting Dravs involved.

Convincing as their manager may be in matters such as this, the truth is perhaps more down the sheer quality of the four-piece's songs.

Sigh No More is packed full of beautifully written, perfectly arranged songs that, each embrace both traditional English folk music and rowdy American bluegrass. Unlikely as it might sound, it's a great party album, a fact proved by their raucous, almost euphoric gigs which inspire foot-stomping and dancing in even the most hard-to-please music fans.

To celebrate the launch of their album recently, the band took 500 friends, family and fans to a field in the middle of the countryside for a barn dance. It's about the most perfect setting imaginable for their banjo-heavy music.

"It was one of the best days of my life," says Marcus. "It was like how our gigs should be all the time. Everyone had gone to such an effort to come along and have a hoedown. It was a proper, old-fashioned knees-up."

As previously mentioned, the band only formed in December 2007. Much is made of their beginnings in the so-called 'Nu-folk' scene that emerged in west London that year.

Other artists to emerged from the movement include Mercury Prize-nominee Laura Marling, incidentally Marcus' girlfriend, Noah And The Whale and to lesser extents Johnny Flynn, Jay Jay Pistolet and King Charles.

The idea of these artists, all in their late teens and early twenties, meeting in a pub, Bosun's Locker on Chelsea's Kings Road, and playing together is a romantic notion, but, as is always the case, the truth is much less exciting than the myth.

"It was just us and our mates really," says Ted, who moved to London from Brighton two years ago in the hope of finding like-minded, aspiring musicians to play with.

"It's been glorified a lot," adds Winston. "It wasn't really a big deal at all. The pub has closed down now because there was no one ever there. It's weird how things perpetuate. There were a couple of nights when it was fun, but it wasn't how it's now described at all, there was no 'scene' as such."

Whatever it was, good things did come of the time, however, such as Ted and Marcus being recruited to Laura Marling's backing band, where Mumford put the band together. He'd known Winston and Ben for years, all of whom had played in various bands.

After a couple of gigs as Mumford & Sons, Marcus decided not to return to university - he was in Edinburgh, studying classics - and concentrate on the band.

"We never had any conversation about taking it seriously," says Ted. "And we never planned for anything, I just concentrated on where our next gig was going to be."

"You can't plan on getting signed," says Winston. "The only ambition should be to make a good album. That's what we've always focused on."

Having just finished a full UK tour, a total sell-out, their second of the year, Mumford & Sons are planning some more recording ("We're already thinking about the next album," says Winston) and then have a two-week tour of India with Laura Marling in December.

"I'm so excited and nervous about that I don't even want to think about that," says Marcus. "I'm exhausted though, we haven't had a moment off for the last five weeks, gigs every day."

The New Year will see them visit Australia, America, and possibly tour the UK again. Marcus better get used to being tired.

"I had the honour of meeting Neil Young in the summer," he says. "I asked him how he's kept touring for so long and he just said, 'It's great, you just need to learn to pace yourself, do things in different ways to make them interesting and it'll be good.'

"I was there with this musical God, and it blew my mind" he concludes.

"And here I am talking about being tired after a few weeks."

Mumford & Sons - Extra time :: Mumford & Sons are Marcus Mumford, 22, Ted Dwane, 25, Winston Marshall, 21, and Ben Lovett, 22.

:: When the band perform, they don't have a drummer. Marcus plays bass drum and tambourine with his feet.

:: Before their recent hoedown album launch party, Marcus dropped his beloved guitar, which he bought just prior to recording the album. "It cracked all the way round and it's broken. I'm absolutely heartbroken," he says. "I had a little moment when it happened."

:: Marcus met bandmate Ben at Kings College School, Wimbledon. Matt Owens of Noah And The Whale was also a classmate.