The Avett Brothers Interview
Following an incredible gig at Koko, and on the eve of their much hyped Glastonbury appearance, The Music Fix caught up with Seth Avett, one third of ‘The Avett Brothers’, to talk about a musical upbringing, major label deals, and rather surprising influences...
Hi Seth! For those who may be unfamiliar with your music, would you mind describing your sound?
I’ll give it a shot; there’s a stand up bass, a banjo, an acoustic guitar, and sometimes there’s drums, sometimes electric instruments. It ends up being somewhere in the rock and roll realm, but maybe with some ragtime and some country mixed in.
And what about your main influences?
Growing up, probably, you know, a close mixture of what we’re doing now, there was a fair amount of pop music, just what was on the radio. I listened to a lot of Hall and Oates, we listened to Stevie Wonder, and when we became a little more conscious of music we listened to a lot of early Van Halen and Led Zeppelin, But our earliest memories of music would probably be the country music of the day, the country music of the eighties, which is what our Dad listened to a lot of the time. There would have been a lot of Tom T. Hall, George Strait, artists like that. So, a lot of things going on, but the older we got, just the more and more and more influences came along.
Growing up with Scott, did the two of you have a musical upbringing? Did you always know music was what you wanted to pursue, or did you ever consider other options?
Well, we did grow up in a musical family; we grew up with a pretty strong musical environment around us, singing in church. Our grandmother was a pianist, our father played guitar and sang. There was always a piano in the house, that kind of deal, some guitars laying around, so it was definitely part of our growing up. I think Scott considered a lot of different things, but he and I are different in that way. We considered different things growing up. He was always drawn to the entertainment side of things, but I can only answer for myself, that I was pretty sure that this was what I wanted to do since I was a very young child. Probably since I was six or seven years old, I knew I wanted to be involved in music in some capacity, and I was writing music if I could.
‘I and Love and You’ has been released as your major label debut, so how does your experience of big labels differ from that with independents?
Well, there’s a lot more people to communicate with, a lot more people to talk to, a lot of people to keep on the same page so to speak, the same wavelength. It’s been a positive change for us, and a step that we didn’t take until we felt we were ready. But so far it’s been a really positive thing, we’ve met a lot of really great people at Columbia, and at Sony, and everyone’s been really good to us. There’s a lot of folks at the label that are really excited and really genuinely love our music. That’s makes it a whole lot smoother, ‘cos on their own accord, of their own motivation, they get the word out. So we’ve met a lot of really great people, we’ve got a lot of great people in our team and we’ve been allowed to join a good team ourselves.
Rick Rubin has been helming production duties on this record, so what did he bring to the album?
He definitely brought some pacing, some calmness, a nice way of taking time, an element of ‘Let’s take the time that it’s gonna take to make this right’, whereas generally, when we’re on our own, we just record very quickly. Our full length record ‘Emotionalism’ that came out before ‘I and Love and You’, we recorded the whole thing in eleven days, with dubbing, mixing, mastering, the whole deal. So working with Rick was good in a lot of capacities, but he was definitely good for getting the flow down, helping us take the time needed to make things right, not just technically, but spiritually and everything else. That was a major advantage of having Rick there.
You’ve had some pretty profile appearances, from playing on ‘Late Night with Conan O’Brien’ to ‘The Late Show with David Letterman’, but which has been your favourite performance?
Well, I know we’ve played over two thousand shows in the last eight or nine years, so it’s really difficult to point any out. They’ve all been good for one reason or another. But, the most recent, in Koko in London, was way up there, especially for a place we’ve only been to a few times. You know, every night’s different, but every night’s great.
Are you looking forward to your performance at Glastonbury?
Absolutely. The reputation at Glastonbury is worldwide. A worldwide reputation, a worldwide legacy. I understand this is the fortieth year of it, so it’s long running and people get a lot of respect for it, there are so many good bands on the bill. And yeah, it looks like we got some good weather for it, so we’re very very excited about it. The whole trip was sort of based around the Glastonbury performance, so we’re looking forward to that.
Are there any artists you’d like to catch at Glastonbury if you get the chance?
Well, unfortunately, because of our schedule, we rarely get to watch anybody. We would love to catch any of Stevie Wonder that we could. One of my favourite artists, Corinne Bailey Rae, already performed – I keep just barely missing her performances, I’m gonna track that show down at some point. But yeah, maybe Stevie Wonder, if we can make it happen, but our schedule’s always very demanding, especially when we’re in a new place, a new country, we’ll be leaving the next morning.
Finally, do you have anything you would like to say to all your fans?
If I somehow could raise a sign as big as the Hollywood sign that just said, ‘Thank you’ that would be ideal, because all we have for the people that support us is thanks. We’re beyond thankful, beyond grateful to see ‘em, and to meet ‘em, and to have the honour to sing for ‘em. So it’s just a big thank you, and a continued thank you.
‘I and Love and You’ is out now.