Artist Discovery: Paste Magazine & The Avett Brothers

From up-and-coming artists to well-established headliners, our Artist Discovery Series has taken a look at the range of talent hitting the stages at the Austin City Limits Music Festival next weekend. For the final chapter of our 2012 ACL Artist Discovery Series, Paste Magazine’s Tyler Kane talks to folk-rockers The Avett Brothers about their newest album, The Carpenter.
If you haven’t yet discovered Concord, North Carolina’s The Avett Brothers, it isn’t too late. In fact, maybe there’s no better time than now to dig into the genre-bending folk rockers’ catalog. After all, they solidified their space in our hearts in 2009 by earning our album of the year, and now they’ve released an equally eclectic and lovable album this year in The Carpenter. The album is a celebration of life on “The Once and Future Carpenter” and the aptly titled “Life,” one that raises questions of death and loss on “Live and Die” and one that just plain rocks with “Paul Newman vs. the Demons.”
The band—which features brothers Scott and Seth Avett, Bob Crawford and Joe Kwon—kept some things the same in their approach to The Carpenter, which again saw them working with veteran producer Rick Rubin and continuing to churn out quality banjo-led track after track. The songs are building on Avett musical tradition, which draws from earnest, heartfelt lyrics and a backdrop of roaring keys, acoustic guitars, driving percussion and a drifting cello. “We just kept rolling,” Seth says about working on The Carpenter. “That was just a real natural thing. We took a step after I and Love and You. We just started making more songs, as we always do. There was never a real formal discussion about it. I guess we just assumed that we would just continue on, no obstacles in the way, nothing telling us that we shouldn’t. So we just kept working.” Although some things inevitably have changed for the band. After all, they’re a touring force, one that has many members at the height of family life. It was these experiences paired with their road-worn voices that made The Carpenter a familiar chunk of tracks that sees its vocalists at the height of their game.
“I think with The Carpenter, as far as our experiences, you’re looking at 300-plus performances, shows that change us nightly, change how we approach our instruments and our voices nightly,” Seth says. “With I and Love and You, technically, I think, we’re at a certain point with our ability to sing. Three-hundred shows later, we’re almost different people in terms of singing. Hopefully, I progressed. You would hope that after singing 300 or more shows, that you’d approach it differently, and that you’d approach it with the ability to get what you want with less struggle…I think that, in that regard, I and Love and You was just another stepping stone, just another experience that we had to show us what works and what doesn’t.” It all comes through in their live set, which feels as intimate from the back rows as it does in the front with Scott hammering at his banjo with more intensity than some younger punk acts and the brothers filling any space with their spot-on harmonies. After all, the guys have been doing this for over a decade now—and it’s about time the masses stepped back and took notice. The Avett Brothers will be hitting the AMD stage at 4:15 on Sunday. Don’t miss it!