One would be hard pressed to find more honest music than what the Avett Brothers are crafting these days. With songs about lost love, alcoholism, familial bonds and everything in between, the Avett Brothers have their collective finger on the pulse of the common man. Their lyrics are relatable and their delivery is genuine.
In speaking with Scott Avett his enthusiasm for his music and his appreciation for the continued support from the fans keep him and his brother, Seth, working at a high level. Reserved, humble and polite, Scott discusses inspiration, the significance of winning awards and gives his pick on who would win in a street fight between Charles Bronson and Chuck Norris.
OC Weekly: First off, congrats on your big Americana Music Association
award for Duo/Group of the Year. What's the significance of winning something
Scott Avett: Well,
I guess there have been different perspectives for me throughout performing and
getting into the realm where awards are even talked about or even around. I
think that they need to be looked at as extremely unimportant unless you get
one and then you need to be aware of how important that can be or how much it
can mean, not just to you, but for people that support what you do and love
what you do and really make an effort to see that sort of advancement…So it's
kinda like any praise from anyone – you don't have to have that to carry on, by
any means, but at the same time if that sort of thing if is to come to you
there is all the room in the world to be gracious. Kinda like, [awards] only means
something if they come to you, if they don't [the awards] don't mean a thing.
We are careful to be extremely, extremely appreciative of when they come
because it always seems to be a surprise when you get praise, especially in the
form of an award for something you just were going to do regardless.
You guys have a show coming up Saturday here in Orange County and the
bill is pretty punk heavy. While there may be punkish elements to parts of your
catalog you guys certainly aren't a punk band. Speaking to that, what was your
earliest exposure to punk rock when you were coming up?
Well, as far as early exposure, it wasn't as direct to what
really great punk was. We got kind of an indirect draw…For me, guys like Mike
Patton, later forms of Glenn Danzig were things that were turning me on. I
wasn't aware of Black Flag. I don't even know if I can be specific with genres.
We grew up in the country and we just got these tracks and were told 'This is
hardcore, this is punk rock, this is metal.” I didn't even really know, I just
think you can kind of throw a lot of things into the punk realm. I remember
going to a Jesus Lizard and Helmet show in the early 90's that was really
inspiring to me. And once again, you know, Helmet, I don't think falls into
punk rock nor Jesus Lizard. I know their attitude sure was as punk rock as it
could be. They were just really, really abrasive and great.
How did this billing come about?
We had been invited to play some
shows with Social Distortion that weren't on the West Coast maybe a couple of
years ago and we couldn't make it happen because we couldn't afford to make it
happen. We had been on tour and they were like isolated shows where we would
have to take the whole group, fly out and get out there and we couldn't make it
happen. It was really, really hard not to let it happen because it was such an
honor and would've been amazing. So, when it came back around and this time it
was like, 'Hey, we could swap off. You'll do a show in Nashville and we'll do a
show in California.' It'll be kinda like flipping each others home turf and we
jumped all over it.
Have you spoken or met with Mike
I have not, but I know his solo record
that came out years ago was an awesome presence for me and a couple of friends.
These musicians friends of mine were big fans and we can relate to Mike because
punk rock and early country have so many similarities. For us, goin' on the
road with BR549 there were guys that were out on that tour that came to see the
show and they really could have done without us for sure. They were rockabilly
guys, punk rock guys and you know they weren't always pleasant and we'd just do
our thing, put it out there and move on. I feel like with Mike Ness, his music
and what he does out there seems to be in the same vein and in the same spirit
that we and BR549 or many of the country/rockabilly/punk country and some even
folk, these days, put out there.
The term “Punkgrass” has
sometimes been used to describe the Avett Brothers sound. Where did this term
I have no idea. It was more about
early on when we were playing a lot more erratic and fast. We would do
bluegrass tunes and we had some that were originals that we delivered with a
lot of angst and a lot of speed. That was at a time that we were living with a
lot more angst, I mean we are talking like seven or eight years ago and back
then I think that term got thrown out a lot more. I think that there is a
broader approach that we take now.
Up until the Autumn of 2001 you
and your brother were in a band called Nemo which was described as a “neo-punk”
band. With most everything out of print and no audio to be found online what
can you tell us about the band's sound?
We were a five-piece, basically two
big stacks, two guitars, a bass, a drummer and me singing. It was pretty
straightforward. One guitar, a Gibson, was played with a really low, sludge-y
sound and the other was more of a screaming sound that my brother played and we
did do quite a bit of harmonies. There was a lot of melodic singing, but there
was also lot of screaming. At some point, there will be an EP that will be
re-released that we never got out. I hope it will be out in the next year or
so. They are working on it now. [The EP] was the best example of what that
sound was. I would say that if we would have kept going down that path we
probably would have had a similar sound to that of someone like The Mars Volta.
There were definitely a lot of changes throughout the music, but we also had a
Southern rock feel to it that came out some.
I and Love and You was your first
album on a major and marked your first time working with Rick Rubin. You are
finishing up the sophomore effort and Rubin was back at the helm. What was
round two like?
The biggest difference in this
record is our trust with Rick has grown many, many steps to the point where we
trust each other's judgment and work so we're left to work at our pace. The
other difference is we brought well over 20 songs to the table and instead of
just recording what we needed for an album we decided to record everything to
its completion so all 23 or 24 songs were recorded. We are now finished and
working in postproduction with basically well over an album's worth of work,
probably two. Not to say there are going to be two albums, but to say there has
been many more songs to come from it because of that efficiency, work and
Any album name or release date in
No album name yet and we don't have
a release date, but my guess would be that it will be released sometime in the
first half of 2012.
Final question: Who would win in a street fight – Chuck Norris or
Oh man. Umm…Charles Bronson. No doubt.
Because I think he would be willing to bite somebody's nose
off or something. Charles Bronson is a dangerous man. You can just see it. You
can see it in his eyes and you can see it in his mustache. No offense to Chuck
Avett Brothers at
Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, 8808 Irvine Center Dr., Irvine, CA.
Saturday October 22, 6 P.M. $19-$48.25. www.theavettbrothers.com