Story Behind the Song: The Avett Brothers, ‘Bang Bang’
It took frank conversation, a failed re-write and some outside opinions to get "Bang Bang" on the Avett Brothers' 2019 album Closer Than Together. However, the process brought the band -- brothers Scott and Seth Avett, Bob Crawford and Joe Kwon -- to a new level in their collaborative relationship.
"Bang Bang" tackles the sadly real problem of gun violence in America, inspired by a movie preview Seth Avett saw. However, his brother wasn't fully on board with the song's lyrics at first; it was Rick Rubin who helped Scott Avett come around to the way the track presents its message.
Read on for the story behind "Bang Bang," in the Avett Brothers' own words.
Seth Avett: It was a reaction to a preview -- just a ridiculous action movie preview -- just being so offended and just taking such exception with the nonchalance that murder gets presented with in film, but it came from a place of deep dissatisfaction, and so I just followed that, and I gave myself permission to just be dissatisfied and disgusted and let that see its way through.
Scott Avett: Every song on this album is, it's a character with a personal relationship with something, and ultimately, all the song really is saying is, "I'm tired of this. I'm turning it off." That's it. It never says, "You should turn it off," and I don't think movies and video games are the cause [of violence]. I don't know that they help, but this is an individual saying, "I don't think i need this right now for me." That's it.
Seth Avett: It's so complex that you can't -- one song cannot give you the answer to the issue of gun violence in the United States in the 21st century ...
Scott Avett: I, personally, had an issue with saying our neighbors, all of our neighbors, did this, or my neighbors did this. And I said, "Well, wait, not only my neighbors, but I have guns ..."
Seth Avett: The song doesn't say that they have guns. It says they have "closets full of machine guns." And you do not have that.
Scott Avett: No, no, no ... but that they would go out and "pretend that they're Rambo," to me, was possibly not true.
So Seth, in his humility, said, "Well, I'm wiling to talk about that. We can change the lyrics if that's something that you [want]."
I mean, I presented lyrics, and it was not -- Seth wasn't loving the [new] lyrics. I think the lyrics were worse. And when Rick [Rubin] heard it, he said, "Whoa, this was super memorable, and now it's not." Which, that's true.
He said, "Have you thought about calling your neighbors? Is this something you would be interested in [doing]?" I said, "Well, I hadn't really thought about that." To give it license, that's something I would have to do, for me to be behind it.
So I called my neighbors, the ones that I was concerned about, and they said, "The fact that you would think about me in this is unbelievable, and we are so thankful for that, I apprentice that, but, heck yeah, that's funny, that's fun, it's cool. There's no problem."
The best part of this story is that, Seth and I both made compromises to go and present it together. This is a disagreement, this is a different way we both think and see things, but it's a huge opportunity ...
Seth Avett: And it's forcing us to go to the next level of collaboration. It's worth a small compromise, to me, to present this thing at full power ...
"Bang Bang," it has ushered us into a different conversation that, in the long run, is going to be really healthy for the Avett Brothers.
WATCH: The Avett Brothers Say "Bang Bang" Brought the Band Closer Together