Photo by Crackerfarm

Interview: The Avett Brothers

[FOLK ROCK] The rise of the folk rock artist may be a particularly new phenomenon when it comes to the radio, but there are many who were there before the popular explosion of late. The Avett Brothers, one of the most beloved and sincere modern folk groups out there—comprised of brothers Seth (guitar, vocals) and Scott Avett (banjo, vocals), bassist Bob Crawford, cellist Joe Kwon, as well as a host of touring musicians—have established one of the most consistently honest and emotionally powerful catalogs in modern folk music. Starting in the early 2000s, the band remained mostly under the radar until 2009’s Rick Rubin produced “I and Love and You.” Since then, they’ve joined the cadre of other emerging folk bands in the public eye, but always have remained in a class and niche of their own. Their newest album, 2013’s The Magpie and the Dandelion hit number five on the Billboard charts in its first week, and songs from it will be showcased at the band’s show at Artpark on Saturday, September 19. This week The Public talked with bassist Bob Crawford about the album, the state of the modern folk scene, and the inspiration and emotion behind their music.

The band’s last album, The Magpie and the Dandelion, is comprised of songs recorded during the sessions for the record prior, The Carpenter. What would you say are the key differences between the songs you chose to group on each record?
The concept that became The Carpenter was very much about mortality and the fleetingness of the vanities we find ourselves chasing—and the sand that slips through our hands. There’s a tender morbidity to it. With Magpie, it’s a bit edgier and it’s got more attitude in it, and it’s more sharp-tongued. There’s a youthfulness to those songs.

You guys have been playing more into a lot of different, new styles of songs than just standard folk or folk rock songs. Has it been exciting venturing into that territory over the course of the past few years?
It’s always exciting. We don’t ever see ourselves venturing anywhere, though. Since 2001 we’ve been in a state of movement and flux. It’s organic. The change happens day by day and we find ourselves there. When you have a band like ours, we don’t ever have off, so we’re always moving.

The Brothers’ music pulls from a lot of different emotions, including a lot of sadness and heartbreak. Is it ever emotionally exhausting playing songs like that night after night on tour? How do you recharge?
I think the positive thing about the songs is that regardless of how heavy the content is, the music is very light and we get in the zone. So I’m not always locked into the content of the lyrics. There’s a mechanical switch, and the muscle memory kicks in up on stage.

What are your feelings on the current music climate, with a lot of bands that draw influence from folk and bluegrass kind of rising on the same tide as you?
I feel like we are kind of even past that. My wife has joked that when you look at bands now, we should have re-released A Carolina Jubilee. We were there, and we’re not in sync with the rising tide. We were there before the tide even rose. Now we’re on to something else that I can’t define. We’ve transcended it. We’re always in our roots. All these bands are going to move on to something different at some point. But you won’t be hearing too many Avett Brothers songs on TV commercials. We thankfully haven’t plateaued yet.

What song from the catalog is most resonant with your life experience and why?
I would say “Nothing Short of Thankful.” I’m just so thankful for getting to do this, for the fans, and that I’m with these guys, for my family. I’m thankful for everything I’ve been through and the love I’ve had in life. It’s more than I could’ve ever asked for both personally and professionally.



We're sorry, this event has already taken place!



450 South 4th St.
Lewiston, NY