Winston Marshall, the former banjoist and guitarist for Mumford & Sons, says he "lost a lot of friends” and was "condemned" by other artists following his controversial 2021 tweets that led him to his exit from the popular rock band.
In a new interview with the Sunday Times Magazine, Marshall, 34, discussed having "been canceled."
“I’ve met a few other people who have been canceled, whatever that means, and they talk about a couple of years later people who were part of the mobbing get in touch and say, ‘Hey mate, are you around?’ They helped destroy your life, but it was done so casually they don’t even remember,” Marshall shared. “I was surprised at how other artists condemned me. I lost a lot of friends.”
Marshall left the group in June of 2021, citing a “difficult decision first brought about by an unintentional Twitter storm." That storm began that March, when Marshall congratulated controversial conservative journalist Andy Ngo on his new book about the far-left anti-fascism movement known as antifa. At the time, the musician shared a photo of Ngo's book, Unmasked: Inside Antifa's Radical Plan to Destroy Democracy, which features an endorsement from Fox News host Tucker Carlson.
"Congratulations @MrAndyNgo," Marshall said in his tweet, which he subsequently deleted. “Finally had the time to read your important book. You’re a brave man.”
As a result of his tweet, Marshall and the rest of the band faced backlash. While he soon fired off an apology, the damage was done. He says he struggled to sleep and lost weight amid the fallout, and returned to practicing Christianity. Ultimately, he soon came to re-think his decision to apologize.
“Your initial reaction is ‘I’m so sorry I’ve offended you,'” Marshall told the Sunday Times Magazine. “I apologized because I felt like maybe I don’t understand this topic fully, and I need to understand it.”
“As I continued to research I felt more and more that I’d participated in a lie,” he added. “That really affected my conscience. … Those few months between apologizing and quitting were psychologically very traumatizing.”
His bandmates were also upset about being pulled into the controversy as a result of their friend's tweets.
“They were getting dragged under the bus with me; that was a horrible experience for them,” he shared.
Finally, Marshall realized he would have to choose the band or his newfound beliefs. Despite rumors that he was fired from the band, Marshall maintains that he "stepped out" on his own.
Marshall also revealed that he has been sober for three years. He and actress Dianna Agron divorced in 2020 after four years of marriage, around which time he said he "came to Christ again.”
“I don’t miss fame, I don’t think it was real,” he said. “I was seduced by it. I got pulled into it. Particularly through this recent experience I’ve realized that a lot of my friends in that world weren’t my real friends.”
Free from the constraints of the band, Marshall said that he "got his soul back."
"I felt I could sleep again, it’s amazing the effect that had on me. It has been completely liberating, he said. "I feel like it was the right decision.”
He's chosen to take up censorship as his main focus, writing an editorial called “When Artists Become the Censors" for writer Bari Weiss’s Substack.
“Obviously artists have a right to boycott. The difference now is that it’s ‘silence him or I’m out,'” he explained. “This feels so bizarre and I don’t think it ends well. Musicians’ careers are all about self-expression, so how can they think that’s going to work if they’re not up for people expressing themselves?”
Despite his new venture as a blogger, Marshall admitted leaving the band he once loved was "incredibly difficult."
“I imagined being in my 60s and still playing with the band,” he said. “That’s one reason it was so hard to leave. I thought we’d always be together.”
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