The Avett Brothers are an indie rock band from Concord, North Carolina. The band is made up of two brothers, Scott Avett and Seth Avett, who play the banjo and guitar respectively, and Bob Crawford who plays the stand-up bass. Joe Kwon, cello, and Jacob Edwards, drums, are touring members of the band.
"We've always been blessed with people who liked what we do," Crawford says about the band's groundswell. "Almost from the beginning, we had people who were very receptive to what we did. We've been doing this for almost a decade now. You build a lot of relationships with people. And now we have the muscle of a major label behind us."
Over the years, the Avett Brothers built up a sizable following based on their rowdy, infectious stage shows. In concert, the high-flying ensemble tears through tunes with unbridled energy, popping banjo and guitar strings right and left while inciting stomping singalongs among audiences that appear to know every word. At times they would seemingly create their own subgenre onstage - “punkgrass,” for lack of a better word. This much is for certain: the Avett Brothers are a grassroots phenomenon, built from the ground up.
The Avett Brothers at Bonnaroo
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[On their LP "I and Love and You":] Instead they’ve constructed something beautiful. An album that’s not merely loaded with ballads, it’s almost wall-to-wall epic ballads. Pianos trickle before the storm, strings ball up their fists, swells and waves of sound wash over the Avetts’ sorghum-sweet harmonies. And this is just in the first song, a goose-bump engorging title-track that could by itself inspire a legion of new fans. It’s like Rubin took everything the band does so well and pumped it full of human-growth hormone.
Rubin, who's known for helping artists get down to the bare essentials, reins in the raucousness that often led to sloppiness on previous releases and encourages the Avetts to experiment, but carefully. The New Wave-y "Kick Drum Heart" and the almost Springsteen-esque "Slight Figure of Speech" vary the flavors here; so does "January Wedding," a straight-up bluegrass tune that Pete Seeger might have sung 50 years ago.
Drawn by the naked honesty of their songs and the rousing intensity of their live shows, legendary producer and talent scout Rick Rubin signed the Avett Brothers – consisting of siblings Scott and Seth, plus bassist Bob Crawford - to his American Recordings label in 2008.
Looking back at their first band Nemo, the brothers describe their Mars Volta-like aspirations as a rebellion against their roots. "We wanted to be that kind of mobile, dynamic band," Scott says. "We were heavily influenced by Mr. Bungle — the metal and the hardcore." But twice-weekly jam sessions wound up bringing the Avetts to bluegrass. "You noticed that something was happening, and I think what was happening was Seth and I were much more natural in this acoustic sort of form," Scott says. "I think we weren't hiding behind anything."
"When we were a full-on electric band, we felt like we could use all the resources," Avett says. "Then we stripped it down and took away some of the resources. When we first started with these acoustic instruments, I think we felt like we were tied to some of their limitations. Now we're starting to feel comfortable using a broader span of resources again - bringing in drums or electric guitar or piano, and maybe taking the banjo or acoustic guitar out of the whole equation. We've come to embrace the freedom we had before, and that's been a good step because it makes it clearer that we're not one particular thing."
He told the band he saw something special in their music and offered to help spread the word. He was soon on board, releasing Carolina Jubilee, a full-length collection of the brothers' tunes, on his own Ramseur Records in 2003.
It's no surprise that Ramseur is from the same town as Scott and Seth Avett - Concord, N.C.
The Avett Brothers - I And Love And You
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What's distinctive about the Avetts -- singing, multi-instrumentalist siblings Seth and Scott and artistically adopted stand-up bassist Bob Crawford, plus a step-member, cellist Joe Kwon -- is a dedication to exploring a specific dynamic: the intense expression of soft emotions.