The past year has been a busy one for The Avett Brothers. Following the release of their first collaboration with Rick Rubin, the time spent touring with I and Love and You has been full of pushing artistic boundaries and stepping out of their comfort zone. The Brothers have also recently taken on their first producing gig for another artist, G. Love.
With a new CD/DVD release, Live, Volume 3, coming out today (Tuesday, October 5) and a Triangle tour stop at Time Warner Pavilion on Friday (October 8), we caught up for a few minutes with Scott Avett to chat about what these North Carolina boys have been up to as of late.
It was exactly a year ago today that I and Love and You came out [interview took place on Sept. 29,2010]. What has the past year been like for the band?
We have literally circled the planet and half way around again. Any time you do something like that, you’re bound to change your perspective a bit.
It’s been really great to develop the songs of I and Love and You. We changed gears to make that album, and had to hand over some control we had hoarded in the past. We were excited to do that – to let go of some things and enjoy the process of throwing ourselves into the wind and seeing where it would take us. We learn a lot doing that letting go both literally and metaphorically, traveling in the movement we do through our songs.
What were some high points along the tour?
We really wanted to look at things in more of a content manner – to let some songs breathe and focus on them and play them more than once a month. The big pro to that is that the songs change quite a bit.
It’s great to go to Oslo, Norway and have people extremely excited about hearing a certain song, or, being really angry that you didn’t play one that they had been waiting on since they don’t know when you’re gonna be back in Norway again. There’s so little time, and the number of songs have accumulated to where it’s very difficult to fit all the songs in, and certain songs drift away, show up and develop, then disappear again.
Do you remember the first shows that you played in Raleigh?
Yeah, I went to ECU so I was popping into Raleigh a lot early on. Seth and I would play anywhere we could. I remember Sadlack’s, the sandwich place [starts laughing]. We probably had our worst heckler there ever. Ever. There was a guy that sat there during the first 8 or 10 songs. He didn’t bother with getting creative with his insults, he just went straight to the bone and told us how terrible we were. Of course we said nothing, we just played and probably trembled a little bit. Eventually, the great people at Sadlack’s caught on to what was going on and told the guy to get out.
You guys played at King’s too, right?
Man. What a great time. Back in 2003, we were playing at King’s quite a bit. That was terrific. It’s funny how places like Sadlack’s and Kings, even though they’re both Raleigh, feel like two different worlds.
King’s was great, I remember back in 2003 playing a show there with Just About to Burn, and thinking “ This is what it’s all about.” It was unbelievable.
It’s crazy to look at how the size progression of venues goes up every time you guys come back to town. The progression from Sadlack’s to Time Warner Pavilion is pretty amazing.
It’s exciting to see that happen. With the way that I’ve always viewed shows, there are so many things that haven’t changed about them a bit. In a lot of ways, that Sadlack’s show is just as, or even more, potent in my memory. That King’s show with Just About to Burn may be more of a memory than some shows that we’ve played for 5,000 or 10,000 people, you know? Those shows are just stamped in my memory, and helped teach us a few things we needed to learn.
What do you miss most about North Carolina when you’re gone on tour?
This time of year; the smell of fall. Man, I just can’t articulate how close and dear that is to me. It’s always painful to be away in October.
How did you choose the songs you wanted to feature on Live, Volume 3?
Anytime we play a big show, we really try to throw outside persuasions and requests to the wind and say, “What is going to make the best show? Period.”
That show was the beginning of when we started to write set lists. We had not been doing that in the past, and it marked the beginning of a new kind of organizing and a new level of, I guess you would say, professionalism. The neat thing about that show is that being home, with all the strains that come along with playing for so many people that know you so well, keeps it honest.
At that point, weren’t at all comfortable yet with the size of the crowd and venue. We were very young to it, and we’ve learned a lot this year about crowds that size and how to work a stage that big. So, there were vulnerabilities about that performance that are evident on the recording, and I think that’s great to document. It’s very real, and something that we’ve always been lucky to tap into.
Reader question: Who DJs on your tour bus?
Oddly enough, there’s very little music played on the bus. More times then not it’ll start with one of us playing just a straight melody. Then we’ll trade verses—singing and just cutting on each other. We’ll have Travis [Hilton], our merchandise guy, give us a thumbs up or a thumbs down. We’ll sit there and play a chord progression and just talk [Scott starts cracking up laughing at this point] bad about each other and make fun of each other. It’s less about who’s the DJ and more about who’s going to perform for us.
Reader question: What’s motivating your music these days? Now that you’ve settled down a bit and are (presumably) no longer the Wayward Sons of Bluegrass, what’s on your mind to keep you writing?
The fact that we are, at any point, in a ‘career,’ as youngsters or as old men, never really plays a factor in why we do what we do. And it shouldn’t. We haven’t really thought about it before, and we should just keep the blinders on. If you’re an artist of any sort, which many people are, you don’t know why you are drawn to the studio. You don’t know why you’re drawn to the paper. You just do it and follow that drive. That’s all there is to it. If it’s driven by anything outside of that pure drive, which is sometimes there, sometimes not, it’s headed for disaster if it’s done for the wrong reasons. I don’t know that we need a reason to write. It’s just what we do. I think I would need more of a reason not to write.
Live, Volume 3, a live CD/DVD collection recorded at the Bojangles Coliseum in Charlotte, is available today. See below for video clips of the DVD. The Avett Brothers play Raleigh’s Time Warner Pavillion on Friday, October 8 at 7:00. Tickets are still available here.
Want a chance to win 2 free tickets to Friday’s show at Time Warner Pavilion? Comment below that you want them, and a winner will be picked at random on Thursday, October 7 at 12:00 p.m.
Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise
I And Love And You
Article Photo Credit: Crackerfarm