Nobody can make a banjo rock like Scott Avett. His band, the Avett Brothers, has purveyed a new blend of Americana that’s rooted in old-time and folk with a heavy volume of punk irreverence and an equal dose of heart-on-your-sleeve honest balladry. The sound of the North Carolina trio, which also features Scott’s brother Seth Avett on guitar and Bob Crawford on acoustic bass, has resonated with a large following of fans that is starting to gather in the thousands for the group’s raucous hoedowns. A little road weary from a recent West Coast tour that included sold out shows from Seattle to San Francisco, Scott Avett gave BRO a quick call from a truck stop to talk fests and future plans.
BRO: GROWING UP IN NORTH CAROLINA, DID YOU HAVE A FAVORITE FESTIVAL?
SA: Festivals started for me with an awakening of Doc Watson in my late teens. I started going to Merlefest and Galax and educating myself on the different scenes. Merlefest is very much like home. It’s tough to beat as far as the welcoming vibe.
BRO: WHAT CAN YOU REVEAL ABOUT THE GOSPEL ALBUM THAT YOU RECORDED WITH OTHER MEMBERS OF YOUR FAMILY?
SA: We were a blue collar family. My father was a welder, and most of the music that we got into was at home and through church. Older gospel songs were branded in my father’s life, and as he gets older they need to be documented. He’s the main voice on the record, and we serve as his backing band. We’re still trying to figure out how to give it a proper release. It’s not something that needs huge promotion. It’s going to be special to certain people.
BRO: WHAT ELSE IS PLANNED FOR THE STUDIO?
SA: For the past eight months we’ve been preparing for our next recording. We’ve recorded 30 demos. In the process of that we finished an EP, The Gleam 2, which was just sent to New York to be mastered.
BRO: YOUR LAST ALBUM, EMOTIONALISM, INCLUDED ELECTRIC GUITAR AND DRUMS. ARE YOU EXPANDING OUT OF THE ACOUSTIC WORLD?
SA: We didn’t grow up with bluegrass. We found that throughout our journey. From the beginning we’ve tried to approach the songs with the right instrumentation that’s appropriate for the songs, not necessarily for our reputation or a particular genre. As long as we’re progressing and changing, we’ll stay alive and breathe well. Our vision has gotten bigger.