When Jason Sudeikis called Mumford & Sons lead singer Marcus Mumford, it took the artist six weeks to get back to him because he kept two cellphones — a U.S one and his usual U.K number. Sudeikis had rang the former, a phone he rarely checked.
As it turned out, the actor and EP was seeking a composer for “Ted Lasso” (streaming on Apple TV Plus) where Sudeikis plays the titular character, a fish-out-of-water football coach hired to lead a British soccer team. Despite having never composed before, Mumford said yes.
“The idea of doing something without lyrics was exciting to me because of the freedom that it brings, where you can express yourself emotionally through just music and not have to worry about lyrics,” says Mumford. “The process of just writing melody was a really healthy one for me as a musician. It reminded me of my primary job, which is really music-based rather than lyric-based.”
In addition to writing the score, Mumford got to write the lyrics for the show’s theme song alongside Tom Howe. “The recording of it happened in two days,” says the “I Will Wait” singer. “And I think often those are the best songs, the ones that happen quickest, where you don’t have too much time to ruminate and try to perfect it, because it’s never going to be perfect. It’s got to just have heart.”
His inspiration for the lyrics came from the BBC show “Match of the Day,” which highlights soccer results. He also turned to bands of a certan era. “It needed to have this sound that was somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic that represented both the American and British influences of the show,” Mumford says. “Somewhere between The Kinks and Creedence Clearwater Revival.”
The theme song was written in January 2020 before the pandemic, but when it came to recording the score, Mumford was halfway through the process and had to pivot. The London-based Mumford, who’s married to actress Carey Mulligan, relied on Facetime and Skype to connect with Howe who was in L.A. Running back and forth between his drum kit, keyboard rack and bass guitar, he layered the score from the drums up. The time zones worked to their advantage and he and Howe were able to create around the clock.
That’s not to say there weren’t cultural chasms to bridge. When Mumford introduced a Grime element into the score, he recalls the notes coming back. “They absolutely hated it,” he says, adding that it’s a genre American audiences seem to dislike in general. He was quick to defend his choice, though, pointing out: “These are British football players, they’re going to be listening to Grime, we have to have some sort of nod in there.”