The Avett Brothers are a band for the new millennium, who sometimes sound like their music is broadcasting from a crackly old radio in the mountains of Appalachia. The Avett Brother’s sound is hard to define and has been described as Americana, bluegrass, folk rock, roots, and alt country, with flavours of punk, rock, pop, and gospel. They are a band that exemplifies the new model for modern day music, building your signature sound slowly, establishing your fan base, playing the festival circuits, getting songs featured in TV shows and movie soundtracks, and building up your catalogue free from the restrictions of commercial business, and then possibly signing on to a bigger music label to garner wider recognition.
In the current era of streaming and apps, it can be harder for musicians to get paid for their work, but the system is also more democratic, musicians can take production, marketing, and distribution into their own control, and thrive outside the influence of big radio stations, and corporate record companies.
At the core of the multi-member band are brothers Scott and Seth Avett from North Carolina. When discussing the magic of seeing sports in small venues, Scott Avett told an Indy Week reporter, “It reminds me of music: You have to work your way up, and if you can get the sponsor, you can get to the big leagues.”
After a decade of playing and recording they caught a huge break in 2009 when legendary producer Rick Rubin started producing their albums.
The band is enjoying a hard earned success, and they have a core group of fans that post in a forum on their website. They have played backup for Bob Dylan and Chris Cornell. Their music has been featured heavily on television series like Parenthood and Friday Night Lights. The Netflix relationship dramedy Love played the song No Hard Feelings, and Bustle called it, “Just a damn pretty song. Also, kind of a bummer, but in a good way.” The Avett Brothers even star in their own Gap commercial.
The band is the subject of a music documentary by long-time fan Judd Apatow. Indie Wire says of the film, “What “May It Last” does get across is how this musical partnership is able to so potently harness the power of the everyday.”
Seth Avett told Rolling Stone magazine that country musician and Grammy Life Time Achievement award winner Doc Watson, who his welder father introduced him to, was a huge early influence, and soon after meeting him the brothers were playing bluegrass music on acoustic guitars and banjos. Writing of their early days the music magazine reported, “The Avett Brothers spent the next few years on the road, crashing everywhere from campgrounds to a drug dealer’s home, playing gigs at Dairy Queens, topless bars and trailer parks. They figured they’d peaked in 2004, when they each pulled in $6,000 for the entire year. The Avetts haven’t completely grown out of their DIY ethos – they even still share hotel rooms.”
Seth Avett told Esquire Magazine, “If it’s a song that doesn’t have gold to back up the cash, so to speak—if it’s a song where someone’s not really telling the truth, if they’re making the song to make money or because they’re under contract or they want to be a famous person or rock star or heartthrob—they have no substance and can’t really help a person.”
He continues by describing how he would like their music interpreted, “As long as we keep the focus simple—which is to be honest in the work, and to be honest with ourselves while we’re making the work—then, yeah, maybe someone’s able to parlay the emotion, sacrifice, love or whatever that went into the song and use it in their own lives.”
Relevant Magazine calls their song lyrics, “thoughtful, doubt-tarnished poetry, brimming with desire and aching wanderlust.”
Here are some of their song lyrics to inspire you on your own journey of finding meaning, and staying true to yourself and your message, as you try to ascend in your chosen career.
“Down in my mind where I don’t care to go, the pain of a lesson is letting me know: if you have love in your heart let it show while you can.”
From Through My Prayers
“If ever anyone says to you, ‘Life isn’t fair; get used to it,’ then you should say, ‘Well, it might be if folks like you would let it be.'”
From The Lowering (A Sad Day in Greenville Town)
“Just do your best. It’s the only way to keep that last bit of sanity. Maybe I don’t have to be good, but I can try to be at least a little better than I’ve been so far.”
From When I Drink
“I’m finally learning why it matters for me and you to say it and mean it too. For life and its loveliness and all of its ugliness. Good as it’s been to me. I have no enemies.”
From No Hard Feelings
“Always remember, there is nothing worth sharing, like the love that let us share our name.”
From If I Get Murdered in the City
“Well we’re all in this together. If I live the life I’m given, I won’t be scared to die.”
From The Carpenter
“Decide what to be and go be it.”
From Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise
“Kill the doubt that strangles my self-worth.”
“Now in the movies they make it look so perfect and in the background they’re always playing the right song. And in the ending there’s always a resolution, but real life is more than just two hours long.”
From Love like the Movies
“I know it gets dark, but there’s always a light.”
From Ain’t No Man
Author Bio: Tara Collum
Tara Collum lives in Toronto and grew up in Muskoka. She is the volunteer social media coordinator for the Death Row Support Project @COB_DRSP and co-writes a web serial at splitsvilleblog.wordpress.com. She is all about tea, books, mumblecore, music, long walks, and self-improvement. Follow Tara on twitter @99percentsun