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Avett Brothers older, wiser since last Mountain State appearance

Courtesy photo
Bob Crawford (left) and brothers Scott and Seth Avett make up The Avett Brothers. The folk trio headlines a sold-out show at the Charleston Municipal Auditorium Saturday.

WANT TO GO?

The Avett Brothers

WHERE: Charleston Municipal Auditorium

WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday

TICKETS: SOLD OUT, though some may become available last minute at $40 to $50

INFO: 800-745-3000 or www.ticketmaster.comCHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Avett Brothers have been playing shows in West Virginia for years. The band arrives at the Municipal Auditorium in Charleston Saturday night, but it was one show in Huntington where everything sort of changed for the band.

"It didn't make sense, but we had a night off, and we were going through Huntington," said Scott Avett, one half of the brothers in the band's name. (Seth Avett is the other.)

So they decided to escape their motel rooms and check out the city. After a little food and a lot of drinks, things got a little wild --but not too wild, Avett said.

He laughed. "It really didn't amount to anything except some embarrassing moments in a bar -- and at an Outback Steakhouse."

Still, they ended up partying pretty hard and staying out way too late. The next day, still feeling the effects of the previous night, it took a lot of effort to crawl out of bed. They were late for sound check.

"It was kind of a moment," Avett said. "We realized we were there to put on a show for the people of Huntington, not to invite ourselves to the party. There were other evenings along the way and many conversations, but that's the night where that [lifestyle] ended."

The Avett Brothers have evolved, he said, or grown up a little maybe. The show still looks the same -- like a tribe of wildmen has picked up string band instruments -- but the guys are different off-stage than they used to be.

Avett said there are still plenty of nights of beer and pizza to be had, but just about everyone in the group has a family at home. They all try to eat right, get as much rest as they can and when their schedules allow, exercise.

"I think we all wish we could do more weights," Avett said. "What we do is kind of hard on your back."

They're also a more peaceful band. There was a time when they weren't so peaceful, when Scott and Seth sometimes fought, not unlike Chris and Rich Robinson of the Black Crowes or Liam and Noel Gallagher of Oasis.

"The things that some people could have written about us, and did, all happened when we were on a much smaller stage and in front of fewer people," Avett said. "Seth and I really worked those things out."

But conflict between brothers is nothing new.

"Seth and I have deep differences," he said. "We've known each other since the beginning of our lives, and our differences started years ago."

Those differences, he said, get aggravated when mixed with long tours, the wear and tear of life and maybe a little substance abuse.

"It all leads to some great arguments."

Avett said he and his brother are certainly still cable of that, but they've become a lot more aware of how they feel toward each other and try to give each other space. However, just because they have their arguments and differences, there's a lot they can agree on.

Avett said they're both proud of how the band came through this past year, after standup bassist Bob Crawford temporarily left the band to tend to his 2-year-old daughter, Hallie, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

"It was very difficult," he said. "It was bittersweet. We learned a lot, and when we came back together, I think the whole band came back much stronger, much more equipped to deal with any hardship like that."

Avett considered it slightly less of an accomplishment, but still noteworthy, that the band managed to get its new album, "The Carpenter," released during Crawford's hiatus. It's the band's second record with super-producer Rick Rubin.

Rubin arrived in music in early 1980s and helped bring hip-hop into the mainstream. In the past 30 years, he has worked with a veritable who's who of major mainstream recording artists including Kanye West, Johnny Cash and Adele. Rubin won a Grammy for his role as producer on Adele's, "21."

Still, Avett said the band isn't looking to go more mainstream exactly.

"Nobody has discussed it," he said. "Seth and I have just always wanted to improve what we do and just make better art."

Avett acknowledged what constitutes better art is open to interpretation. Sometimes better art means staying away from the mainstream, but often it doesn't.

"It doesn't take the art educated or the music educated to recognize great things," he said.

And with Rubin, Avett thinks they are making great things right now.

Crawford is back with the band. His daughter's condition is much improved, though she's not cured yet, and Avett said all of them are looking forward to a busy year.

"Our return," he said. "We're just excited to be back."

Reach Bill Lynch at lynch@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.


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