It always needs to be new. It always needs to be interesting. We don't have a lot in common with jam bands but we've never had a setlist from day one.

-Bob Crawford


The Flow of Brotherly Things

While the core instrumentation suggests roots music – banjo, acoustic guitar, double bass – there's a wide sweep of styles that makes them impossible to fully pin down. Emotionalism has Django Reinhardt jazz skip ("Paranoia in Bb Major," "Pretty Girl From San Diego"), twisted bubblegum hand-clappers ("Die Die Die," "Will You Return?") and the CBGB's electric smackdown hiding in the backend of "Pretty Girl From Chile." You sense their varied personalities in the compositions, which are always credited to the group rather than an individual.

The Avett Brothers
"Someone will bring the skeleton of an idea – a few words or the chords – and it takes a band to flesh it out," says Crawford. "More and more, Scott and Seth trade off ideas. A lot of it is a 50-50 share lyrically. I hear these stories about brothers that fight, brothers that are jealous of each other, and I've never seen that with them, not even in the smallest ways. Their father told them when they were real young that there's enough people in this world that'll be against them in life and they should be each other's best friend. They carry that through and share it with the rest of us. It's not 'us against the world' necessarily but it is us going through this together and ego isn't an issue."

The Avett Brothers
The ladies continue to be a fertile source of ink for their pens, with Emotionalism adding three more to their ongoing "Pretty Girl" series. "I think the initial inspirations fade away and they take on a greater symbolic life," Crawford observes. "I can't speak for the guys on this but the song goes on to have its own life. It might mean one thing but could mean something completely different for someone else. That's how it is with music I like and have brought close to my heart. I could interpret it to my life and what I needed it to mean at the time, and from talking with people I think some of them do that with our songs."

Regardless of any newfound sophistication, The Avett Brothers retain a wonderful hootenanny charisma where you halfway expect to be handed a jug of home brew during their shows.

The Avett Brothers
"None of us, except for Joe Kwon, are virtuosos. People see us and think, 'That's something I could do!' I watch someone like Edgar Meyer play bass, and I love it but I could never do that. I could never be like Oteil [Burbridge] or Victor Wooten, not if I stopped at 36-years old what I'm doing now and went home to practice 14 hours a day. We're not too good at playing with other people, sitting around a circle and jamming. We don't know a lot of the songs but we know where they come from," says Crawford.

Critics of Emotionalism have been bringing up the Beatles a lot but Crawford says it hasn't fazed them a bit.

"I haven't read too many reviews. We try not to pay heed to it. That's the best way to do it. It's nice that it's said but I don't buy it. When you compare somebody to something that's come before you're talking about a moment in history where many factors converged. The playing field was right for a certain thing to happen that never happened before, and it created sounds and melodies that'd never come before. I guess history bears things out. I can tell you no one here is buying it. We've never done anything but what we do. Ever. The sound that comes out is us."

JamBase | North Carolina
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[Published on: 5/31/07]

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aburtch starstarstarstarstar Thu 5/31/2007 08:33PM
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Great Article! The Avett Brothers are absolutely the best thing going right now. They've been rockin' NC for years and are just starting to spread their wings outside the Southeast. Their shows are amazingly high energy which makes for a great time. One time they played down east and the entire crowd was shouting every word to every song...they seem to have that effect on people. "Emotionalism" is a fantastic album. I recommend it along with "Mignonette" and "Carolina Jubilee." Thanks for the fresh look at an amazing group.

pbandJAM7 Thu 5/31/2007 11:04PM
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man oh man! i can not get enough of these guys. i am getting the chance to see them play two nights in a row in knoxville then chattanooga. this new album is phenominal. long live the avett's

GrantedProductions starstarstarstarstar Fri 6/1/2007 02:07AM
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yo... great article denis cook! cheers!

GrantedProductions Fri 6/1/2007 02:07AM
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dennis... sorry

avetts1 starstarstarstarstar Fri 6/1/2007 06:52AM
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The Avett Brothers are the best! Great article!

torn&treyed Fri 6/1/2007 08:36AM
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they should play with yonder

drew52deal starstarstarstar Fri 6/1/2007 08:38AM
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Great band doing great things....and deserving it all....Definitely go check these guys out as soon as possible...you will be impressed - guaranteed

great article

OysterDead starstarstarstarstar Fri 6/1/2007 07:31PM
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Amazing Lyricists... not to many bands out know make you feel the way they do. Kudos to them.

"I want my soul to feel brand new"
"I wanna keep runnin' all day and all night even when my mind tells my body thats enough...."

A Gift for Melody Anne check it...

Emo starstarstarstarstar Fri 6/1/2007 08:32PM
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The only thing better than the Avetts is Toubab. Not a bad time to live in the carolinas...

Him starstarstarstarstar Mon 6/4/2007 01:44PM
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Great Artical. They just killed it at the Asheville Music Jamboree this past weekend. People were Ragin' to their sounds! Nice guys also, and true to life as it should be.

Alway a great New Years Eve gig at the Neighborhood Theatre in Charlotte for the hometown fans too!

intracoastalwaters starstarstarstarstar Tue 6/5/2007 10:56AM
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I too saw them at the Asheville Music Jamboree and was completely blown away. I had never seen or even heard of the Avett Brothers before, but they are now one of my favorites. Their show had so much raw energy. It was just plain old fun. "Backwards with time" & "Drop the Hammer" were two of my favorites they played.
Great article and interview. I especially like the quotes from Bob Crawford.

dedliug Wed 6/6/2007 06:41AM
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just dug into the discography (thank you rhapsody) and saw the live show energy (thanks youtube) and can't wait to see these guys at the soiled dove here in cowtown in august

avetts = WOW!

bertolet Wed 6/6/2007 08:31AM
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I just read this article and felt compelled to pick up "Emotionalism." Blown away. And I am not easily blown away. This is soul-cleansing music for people honest enough to realize our souls are all a little filthy. Thanks for writing about The Avett Brothers.

Meatcampjon Sun 6/10/2007 05:23PM
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These guys are just amazing. I saw them at Asheville Music jamboree two weeks ago and it was just something else.


aburtch Fri 6/15/2007 12:54PM
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Yeah, I like to call it Bill Monroe meets Black Flag!

moejoerisin Sat 6/23/2007 02:39PM
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more like indie punkgrass... it's great stuff - saw them at moe.down last year and they really knocked my socks off.. these guys are the real deal

Sinister Vinister starstarstarstarstar Sun 7/1/2007 12:31PM
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Sinister Vinister

Just saw them for the first time at Telluride. Awsome! Can't wait to see them again and again.

Sheryl Wed 7/25/2007 11:28PM
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This band is worth your attention and hard earned cash.