Lollapalooza Interview: The Avett Brothers discuss working alongside Rick Ruben and playing with the Violent Femmes in Milwaukee
B: It has been a while since you were last in Milwaukee. Do you have any fond Milwaukee memories you would like to share?
Scott: Oh sure, we love Milwaukee. We have really enjoyed visiting Milwaukee. The first time we went was probably 2002, on our very first tour. One of the last times we were there was tough to forget. We won’t be able to forget it. We played with the Violent Femmes. It was a very special night.
Seth: And we went to a Brewers game!
Scott: Yes we did!
B: Well, we definitely love to have you here! On a day like today, I gotta ask. How do you feel about playing in the rain? Pro? Against?
Scott: We are pro playing in the rain!
Bob: We like it, but our rugs don’t like it.
B: This is clearly not your first rodeo. You guys have eight studio albums out now, so how do you feel the concert setting compares to the recording process?
Scott: They are different animals completely. We play so many more concerts than we do release albums so it’s one we’re more used to. It’s more like breathing than making an album is. The main answer would be, they are very different. We love them both and don’t prefer one over the other.
B: How does a big festival like Lollapalooza compare to a smaller, more intimate setting?
Scott: We tend to think it demands more sound from us. We try to extend the bigger moments to be bigger than they were in a smaller setting. The reach is further so we try to reach further and give it a little more than we might be capable of giving at times.
B: Just swinging back to the recording process for a moment, I know you guys worked with Rick Rubin on your last record. I’m a big fan and I was wondering if you could say a few worlds about the process?
Scott: It’s a very comfortable process for us. I don’t know if was as comfortable when we first started working with Rick, but we have a few years under our belt now working with him. In the beginning there was probably a moment of professional intimidation that we brought on ourselves. You know, just from respecting Rick so much and respecting his catalog of work. We find it to be a really great process. It’s a really suitable process for us. We get along with him very well. It’s much easier being in the studio with someone you like. Logistically, and performance-wise, you feel like you can always get there given enough time and the right spirit. Rick is a like minded individual and we really enjoy working with him.
B: In which setting do you feel most creative?
Scott: I don’t think we think so much about that. We go through seasons, I’ve noticed that our band and us as individuals, go through more creative times in our lives. We have to learn to be however creative we can be wherever we are setting-wise. I think that comes anytime.
To contradict what I just said, I think we also find that the calms after the heavy travels and the heavy storms and the harder times in life sometimes provide a lot more expression and more things to document.
B: Okay, this is a bit of an odd ball question, but what is one word you would choose to describe a world devoid of music?
Bob: Empty. Non- Exsistent.
B: Are there any songs that you guys can’t stop listening to?
Scott: There is. Mine would be any song on Loudon Wainwright III’s album, History. The whole album has been over in rotation for me.
B: What makes this album so significant?
Scott: The time in my life, I think. I have two small children and there is this surprise relation that I have to this album because he was an older person when he made this album and sometimes I wouldn’t expect to relate to some of the things he is saying. But, the times in our lives are very similar and it’s just like hearing about my own experiences. It’s very, very interesting.
Seth: I am listening to "Are You Lonesome Tonight" a lot. Elvis Song. Just because I’ve been learning it. I love it to death. I respond quite a lot to the sentimental, late 1950’s rock n’ roll. With a touch of the dramatic in there. I’ve been listening to that one a lot.
Bob: I have to empathize with Scott’s pick of Loudon Wainwright.
Seth: Wait, not with the one I mentioned?
Scott: Different time zone. Seth is only 19 years old (laughing).
Bob: I just began this diatribe, Scott’s newfound excitement of Wainwright is infectious and has reignited my own love of him. Loudon Wainwright is more vulnerable than most singer/songwriters out there. But, to not co-op Scott’s choice I am going to say Gene Harris Quartets version of Masquerade. I heard it for the first time the other day and it is one of the most amazing jazz compositions I’ve heard in my entire life, and I’ve heard many.
B: What have you got for us, Joe?
Joe: Because of Scott again, I’ve been listening to a lot of Ryan Adams, at home. I’ve never listened to him and picked up a couple albums. There’s a lot of stuff out there. It’s been great.