Marcus Mumford says childhood sexual abuse inspired his new single, ‘Cannibal’

·2 min read

Marcus Mumford is speaking about the painful experience of childhood sexual abuse, which he had long kept to himself and which ultimately inspired his upcoming first solo record.

The Mumford & Sons frontman, 35, told GQ in a new interview that he was just 6 when it happened.

“Like lots of people — and I’m learning more and more about this as we go and as I play [the single, ‘Cannibal’] to people — I was sexually abused as a child,” said Mumford, who shares two children with wife, two-time Oscar nom Carey Mulligan. “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 noted that playing his mother the song was the first time he’d even told his mother about the experience.

“Once we get through the trauma of that moment for her, as a mother, hearing that and her wanting to protect and help and all that stuff, it’s objectively f—king hilarious to tell your mom about your abuse in a f—king song, of all things,” said Mumford.

That conversation fueled the second track on “Self-Titled,” set to release next month: “Grace.”

Therapy — which he embraced during a dark and alcohol-heavy period of his life, culminating in 2019 — was the first time Mumford said he spoke about the abuse.

“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,” he told the magazine. “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 c—tish behavior.”

After learning what had triggered some of his adolescent and even adult behavior, Mumford said he’s spent the intervening years “just ... trying to look at that and correct some balance.

“A part of that for me was wrapped up in, like, overindulging with booze and with food, and part of my journey has been, like, addressing the food stuff, because I leant into it,” he said of some unhealthy habits. “I quit booze, I didn’t lose any weight for a year, because I just replaced the booze with ice cream, right?”

The pandemic allowed Mumford, who shares two children with Mulligan, to “reset, reprioritize, take responsibility, and be still.”