Avett Brothers Interview: Bob Crawford Talks New Music, Upcoming Tour and Working With Rick Rubin
The Avett Brothers are about to have one of the biggest years of their career: Following the release of a new live album, Live, Vol. Four, in December of 2015, the band is embarking on a spring and summer tour that will include their first-ever appearance at Madison Square Garden in New York City as well as their fifth stop at Mountain Jam, the annual festival at which they have already played four times since 2010. But that's not all: New music is coming soon, too.
Scott and Seth Avett, Bob Crawford and Joe Kwon have kept fans waiting for new material since 2013, the year the quartet released their eighth studio album, Magpie and the Dandelion. For the record's follow-up project, the band once again teamed with renowned producer Rick Rubin; they have worked together on every disc since I and Love and You, the Avett Brothers' major-label debut, released in 2009. And, according to Crawford, fans won't have to wait too much longer to hear the results.
Crawford spoke with The Boot about the Avett Brothers' new album and upcoming tour, as well as what it's like to work with the famed Rubin.
Can you give us any updates as far as a new album, new single -- any sort of new music coming soon?
Sure -- we're thinking summertime. Probably single to precede, but we're thinking -- after the leaves come out and then before they change again, we'll have a record out.
Are you guys in the studio right now, or where are you in the process?
Done. It's done; it's being mixed and mastered and all that stuff.
Awesome! Can you tell me anything about it ... any sort of hints?
No. [Laughs] No, but what I can tell you about it is, we've recorded with a seven-piece band, which we've never done before, so I think right there, that gives it -- it sets it apart from everything else we've done. We worked with Rick Rubin again ... had a great time doing that. The songwriting, I think, is still top notch -- you know, just a bunch of guys continuing to get older.
... You know, I feel like our music is very subjective, and I think different people take different things [from it]. Like, when I listen to music -- when I listen to Bob Dylan or Bruce Springsteen or the Grateful Dead, I'm probably gleaning something, a meaning, that someone else has a different meaning when they listen to it.
So it's hard for me to say -- everybody wants to know what's different about this than what we've done in the past, which is a good question, and I'd want to know it if I was doing the interviewing, but I think being so close to it and being -- I mean, this is our 15th year as a band, so it's just hard to separate. There's the obvious technical aspects of what maybe made this different, and there's the fact that we're all five years older than when the last one came out, or whatever it is; that makes it different because as you grow and change, your music changes and the writing changes. But as far as what a fan or a listener is going to pick out as being unique or different, or better or worse, I don't know that I can really speak to that properly.
That's a good point, though: Your guys' music means so many different things to so many different people, and that's what makes it stand out and earn you fans.
So, what's it like working with Rick Rubin? Because, I mean ... he's Rick Rubin.
Yeah, and when we first worked with him, that was a wall, in some ways. Not on his part -- he's the warmest, kindest [guy]; he wants everybody to succeed, he wants everyone to do well, he wants every record that he works on to be the best record he's ever made. So, definitely not on his part, but when you think about what he's done and how we're also influenced by everything he's done, and then you're there and he's on the other side of the glass, or you're in the room with him, that can initially be a hindrance to your abilities.
But -- and we've been with Rick now for ... seven years, right? We've just worked with each other a lot -- he's just a very warm man, and I think he had a good time. I think he really enjoyed working on this record, and I think he liked that we had seven people, essentially, in the same room for a lot of this recording, and he would come out and give somebody some notes, we'd try it again, he'd come out, and it was kind of like -- it was a real nice vibe. It was really enjoyable.
I think this was -- every record we've done since I and Love and You, the process has gotten more enjoyable, and that may be because we're just getting so familiar with each other and familiar with Rick, and we're happy to do it, we're lucky to do it, and I think that whole vibe and atmosphere, it get on the recording. I hope it gets -- I'd like to say "onto the tapes" -- I hope it gets gets into the Pro Tools, and that it can be picked up by the listener.
You guys have a big tour going on this spring and summer -- playing Madison Square Garden in New York City, playing Mountain Jam and so on. What are you thinking headed into it?
Oh ... good to get back to work! We've been off since the middle of November, and I think we're just excited.
And I've been saying this for years: It's just a very finite thing we do; it's not going to last forever ... That's just the way life goes. I mean, how many more records and releases and tours and shows? I don't want to be taken as morbid and sad or wistful about it, but it's just a fact that you've got to enjoy every day as much as you can. When you have the things to look forward to, and the things we get to do, as people, musicians, and as an organization, as a band, our hearts should be full of joy about it, and so I'm just excited and thankful to be able to do it.
Hopefully, as the years go on, I can continue to kind of nurture a childlike attitude about it. That's where I want to be, and I'm not always there, but that's what I aspire to.
Is there any particular show or venue or city that you guys are really looking forward to?
Well, I saw the Grateful Dead at Madison Square Garden in 1993, I think it was, and so I'm excited to go to Madison Square Garden. It's just exciting, you know? There's going to be a lot. I always love the Greek [Theatre] in Berkeley, Calif. -- we're going to go back there -- Red Rocks [Amphitheatre in Colorado], we'll be back there.
You know, every stage is great. I mean, when you're walking out there and you're doing the thing that you always dreamed to be doing, and it's your job and you do it with such great people -- like I said, I'm just really excited about the work that we have ahead of us and the fact that we get to do it.
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