Sunday, May 2, 2010

(614) Magazine

Blogroll Me!

On our way out of BW3's last night I snagged a copy of (614) Magazine. On page 18 is an interview and article about The Avett Brothers titled Band Of Brothers by Travis Hoewischer.

For hardcore fans of North Carolina's Avett Brothers, there've been plenty of stops in our fair city to speak of.

But, how many can say they saw the boys in Hilliard?

Yep, back in 2002, the Avetts set up shop for a "holy-hell-they-played-there?" gig at Sports on Tap, a cool little dive bar that barely has room for a jukebox AND a pool table, let alone a band that just this fall released an album on Columbia Records, produced by THE Rick Rubin.

Pretty cool. Cooler still? They came back and played Hilliard again. Twice.

"That was one of our strongholds," said upright bassist Bob Crawford. "The Avett Brothers have extremely strong ties to Ohio."

Releasing one album a year essentially on their own since 2001, the band has seen its profile increase with an opening slot for the Dave Mathews Band, as well as the aforementioned tip of the cap from Rubin, who helmed their highly-acclaimed fall album,
I And Love And You.

While the new album is a bit more mellow (some fans have lamented the lack of banjo, a hallmark for the band's sound) Crawford said in an interview with (614) that their live show is just as raucous as it has been in the past, piano performances included.

Is it different to tour with a mellower album?

For us, touring-wise, nothing's changed. We started bringing the piano with us on tour about a year and a half before we recorded I And Love and You. We've been making that transition for a while. I don't think, live, it's mellowed at all. Country Was, our first album, and Country Jubilee, which followed it up, were very piano-based.

I think people kind of overlook that a little bit. If you stack every album against each other, the sound, we feel, is a steady progression.

So, do you flinch when people make that observation?

I think people are right in a way, to make that observation. But, for us, it's like, 'Hey, we've been doing this for years!'

It's not like you discovered a dusty old piano . . .

No, and when people ask me what our band sounds like, I'll say we started off as a kind of a roots-y, bluegrass-y, country influence, and now we're more pop. There has been a steady change. It's been moving toward that. I don't condemn anyone for drawing the conclusion, but it's not as abrupt as everyone thinks it is.

Regardless of what genre you would call this last album, it's safe to say it sounds more polished as a finished product.

That reflects the recording we've done with Rick. It's a matter of a difference in technique. When we recorded Mignonette, we'd record a song three times with banjo, guitar, and bass, and find the best take. This time, by the time we recorded them, we've played them 50 times and maybe four different ways. So, if you want to say 'polished,'
I can't disagree with you there, because we've put a lot more time into this record than ever before. Before, we never had consistent tempo, and we had no knowledge of this. We'd speed up and slow down in the middle of the song and, as we got in there and started to play these songs, Rick would point it out. So, really it's about doing all these things that great bands do, that we weren't doing before. This was an opportunity for us to learn how to be a better band.

Tell us how you came to work with Rick Rubin.

The very first meeting, he invited us to his house, and it was mutual respect.
He wasn't just this uber-producer telling these young guys how it's going to be and what he could do for them. He had done the research and he had done the homework. He respected what we've done, and we had all grown up listening to what he's done. It wasn't us riding his folklore. He was never overpowering or oppressive. It was comforting.

It's probably a vote of confidence just that he selected you. Johnny Cash, Jay-Z, Red Hot Chili Peppers - the dude doesn't work with just anybody.

Exactly. I know, the first couple days, there was some self-consciousness, just playing in front of him, but it worked out well. He was there every day, and he cared, he really cared. We feel like what came out was such a good collaboration.

A lot of bands like the Avett Brothers are playing in this throwback folk, roots-y, country whatever-you-want-to-call-it vein in the last 10 years. Why is this music striking a chord now?

Doesn't it feel like it's been brewing for a long time now, though? It feels like it's been on the scene for a long time. I just think it gets more national and mainstream attention now.

Which is good for you guys . . .

Yes, and it's good for a lot of our friends, people we have a kinship with, like Langhorne Slim and (Kent's) Jessica Lea Mayfield.

You are the only member of the Avett Brothers that is not (by blood) a brother.
Are you ever the one playing peacekeeper between Scott and Seth?

I've said this a lot: they have never been violent with each other, and they very rarely are even ill-willed with each other. We all do a good job of keeping the peace.

Thank God. Getting hitting hit with a banjo would hurt like hell.

(laughs) That is true.

The Avett Brothers Perform @ The LC Pavilion

405 Neil Ave.
May 29th, 7 p.m.

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