Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Exclusive Interview: Scott Avett of The Avett Brothers
Today I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to speak to Scott Avett of The Avett Brothers. As I've mentioned before, The Avett Brothers just released their brand new album yesterday titled I and Love and You. They just got signed to a major label, Columbia, and the infamous Rick Rubin produced their album. They played Late Night with David Letterman just two days ago. The Avett Brothers make wonderful music with heavy influences from bluegrass, punk, folk and alternative music. Their new album is a bit of a departure from their more raw, off the cuff punk style but I think this is a good thing. This is a band that truly deserves a wider audience. They are making some of the most honest music in the business today and their lyrics are poetry. Thankfully for me, Scott Avett is a completely nice and humble dude and he agreed to chat with me over the phone.
Firstly, congratulations on the release of the new album and playing Letterman, the performance was phenomenal! That was your first live television performance if I’m not mistaken? Were there any on stage nerves?
Scott: Actually we did one show out in LA that won’t come out to the 6Th of October. Letterman was the first to actually air for this record. It was a really, really exciting experience and environment. About half way through the performance my adrenaline was definitely pumping
Was that performance the first time you have played as a 5 piece band?
Scott:We’ve played as a 5 piece band before. Rick actually recommended Mike Marsh from Dashboard Confessional to play drums for us, and he also recorded with us on the new record.
How did the band get paired up with Rick Rubin, arguably the most sought-after record producer in North America, if not the world?
Scott: We always had the mentality as a band that if we kept doing what we were doing and were true to the music that good things would come. This feels rehearsed but it’s the honest truth. We just kept faith in the band and in the music and kept writing and playing shows. Rick found us and asked to work with us on the new album.
Rick has produced records for virtually every genre of music. Was there any fear that the band’s unique sound wouldn’t mesh with his ideas? Or did you have complete faith in Rick?
Scott:Oh man, we had complete faith in Rick. The guy is a genius so we had to trust him.
That said, how much was Rick really involved in the recording process on a day to day basis?
Scott: Rick was there every day in the recording studio with us. He would stay with us for 7 or 8 hours a day every day for the entirety of the recording process. We bounced ideas of each other and respected each other’s creativity.
The album is certainly a bit poppier than older albums like Four Thieves Gone and the Gleam, but it no doubt sounds like The Avett Brothers through and through. Do you find that as a maturing band this more “radio-friendly” sound was the direction the band was always heading towards?
Scott: Me and Seth have always been writing music and this album was just a focus on trying to write more good songs and good music.
Marketing a successful album is perhaps one of the biggest challenges in the music industry today. Where did the idea for releasing short chaptered videos come from?
Scott: That idea kind of came from everyone who we work with. It came from the band and our management. We just wanted an original way to show off the fans and the music. We also had a million ideas for cool things to put up on the website and the short chaptered videos kind of just came out as the best ones in the end.
Integrating your fans and brief clips of the songs into these videos really gave the viewer a sense of how close the band is with their audience. Ultimately was the goal of these videos to display this intimacy perhaps even more so than the new music?
Scott: Yah those videos are amazing. They’re actually kind of difficult for me to watch. It’s tough to believe that something you make can have such a strong impact on people. We have a close tie to our fans and we know they love the music we make. I try and distance myself from those clips when I watch them because they are simply overwhelming to an amazing extent. A dude named John that actually used to go to my high school produced the videos. He now works out in Los Angeles but he’s a big fan of the music and spent countless hours on the road filming fans and the music. He’s doing some amazing things and we can’t thank him enough.
Being a Canadian myself, it’s always interesting to see a band play a single show in Canada. I hate to lump you guys into the jamband scene but I do believe you exist in it even if you’re just on the fringe. Most bands in this extended family do not gig in Canada for the quote unquote “safety of its fans” if you know what I am getting at. Does your fanbase extend to Canada or will this be a one-off show?
Scott: We don’t mind being lumped into the jamband genre. I think that the term “jamband” is very loose. We actually know that at least a handful of our fans are going to make the trek out to the show. We had a show booked in the States and had to cancel it, so we rescheduled it to Toronto. We saw some of our die-hard fans out in New York and they told they had booked flights out to Toronto or were driving in. We know we have fans in the U.S. and we hope after this show tonight in Toronto that the fan base will expand at least a little bit.
Unfortunately due to some digital noise issues with my recorder, some of the interview was inaudible. What you just read was the bulk of the interview that I could transcribe accurately.
I strongly encourage everyone to purchase the band's new album from either their website or itunes. My review of the album will come shortly.
Here's a video of The Avett Brothers playing the punky "Kick Drum Heart" and an older tune "Famous Flower of Manhatten". Directly below is the edited version of "I and Love and You" played on Letterman