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The Avett Brothers - The IndieLondon interview

The Avett Brothers

Interview by Rob Carnevale

SCOTT Avett (pictured right), of American music sensations The Avett Brothers, talks exclusively to IndieLondon about their latest, critically-acclaimed album, I and Love and You and some of the inspirations behind many of the songs.

He also talks about working with producer Rick Rubin, the brothers’ approach to songwriting, and why guitars and banjos had to be the instruments of choice when they first started up.

Q. I and Love And You is a great album, of which you can be justifiably proud. How long did it take to write in total?
Scott Avett: Hard to say, Over a period of “off and on” writing, which we never really stop. Maybe a year though.

Q. What was it like being approached by someone of Rick Rubin’s stature? And what was he like to work with?
Scott Avett: He was, and is, the best to work with. We were greatly honored that he approached us and happy to accept his offer.

Q. The songs are all personal, all very insightful and reflective of your maturity now that you’re hitting your 30s. How has the journey been for you both up to this point?
Scott Avett: So far, life has gone many different directions for us and what we do for a living is irrelevant to the journey. It is relevant, in the regard that we can talk about the changes and reflect in a helpful way for others in good and bad. It seems as though there is no destination for us… just a passing through and a disappearing when it is our time.

Q. What are the greatest lessons you’ve learned? And have their been any mistakes that taught you as much?
Scott Avett: I once read that wisdom through experience is the hardest to obtain. I believe that and sometimes am amazed at how many mistakes it takes for me to learn the simplest truth. The greatest lesson I am learning is more listening and less talking.

Q. One early favourite is Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise – what inspired that song?
Scott Avett: The temporary nature of the architecture popping up all over the place which, in turn, is much like the temporary nature of many of our relationships this day and age. It is frightening and causes much despair when I think too much of it.

Q. Likewise, I love the romanticism surrounding January Wedding. Can you say a little about the inspiration behind that?
Scott Avett: A lovely wedding. Simple as that.

Q. On The Perfect Space you sing “then love me for the man I’ve become, not the man that I was”. How true a sentiment is that when applied to you?
Scott Avett: To the core. In all ways personally and through what we do for and with our fans.

Q. Which type of song do you get the most enjoyment from actually performing – something slower burning such as I And Love And You or the breezy likes of Kick Drum Heart?
Scott Avett: Variety is the spice of life in that regard. I like to scream and I like to sing… it just depends on the weather.

Q. Tin Man is both upbeat and layered instrumentally – what inspired that (another of our favourites)?
Scott Avett: That song was written between Philadelphia and New York City while I was driving an RV full of artist and musicians sleeping in the back. I recorded on my hand-held and tried my best not to crash and pay tolls as they came. It was inspired by the numbing of emotion and inspiration as we age.

Q. Likewise, Slight Figure of Speech… is it good to sometimes just kick back and indulge in a little pop?
Scott Avett: Absolutely. Just listen to Evan Dando!

Q. What do you think of the mainstream scene?
Scott Avett: Makes no difference to me. What’s good is good, what’s bad is bad and people sort that out over time… always.

Q. Following on from that, how useful a tool has the Internet been in getting all kinds of music and new acts out to people? Is it something you’ve used a lot, either to get your music out there, or discover new acts?
Scott Avett: Both, I stay away from it more now than I used to but it serves as the primary tool these days to hear and find and promote music. I do have my reservations at times though.

Q. When it comes to songwriting, who is more prolific? And how do you work together? Do you always see eye to eye? Who’s harder on who?
Scott Avett: We are both equally prolific and always writing. Beyond that, we both work differently. I don’t focus as much.

Q. Instrumentally, what do you like about playing guitars and banjos?
Scott Avett: They are easy to carry. Originally, that is exactly why we played them because we played many street corners and travelling swiftly. I think we both enjoy playing piano and drums the most!

Q. The folk and bluegrass scenes appear to be in rude health at the moment. Is that something that excites you? Do you follow acts like Mumford & Sons?
Scott Avett: I have recently heard about Mumford and Sons and think they are great.

Q. What’s been the most pleasing/surprising reaction you’ve had to I And Love And You so far?
Scott Avett: We have experienced some extremely heartfelt exchanges with folks that say very nice things about the music on I and Love and You. It is beautiful.

Q. Finally, what are the 10 tracks that are never far from your iPod player at the moment?
Scott Avett: Benji Hughes – Vibe So Hot
Dolly Parton – Here I Am
Fugazi – Waiting room
John Conlee – The In Crowd
Langhorne Slim – Leaving My Love
Pixies – Where Is My Mind
Ryan Adams – Strawberry Wine
Townes Van Zandt – Rex’s Blues
Sam Quinn – Strange Wave
Bonnie Prince Billy – I Am Goodbye

The Avett Brothers’ I and Love and You is now available in all good record stores and from download sites.