The Avett Brothers

Aug 1, 2012 9:00 AM, Mix, By Tom Kenny



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Photo of the Avett Brothers.

The Avett Brothers.

Real bands become bands on the road, and it takes less than one song to realize that the Avett Brothers are a real band, one that has spent a good part of their adult lives in the back of vans and buses, night after night after night, playing off the energy of the crowd and crafting their new material at the same time they belt out fan favorites.

In the midst of an eight-month tour that has crisscrossed America more than once, stopping in at festivals and benefits along the way, the Avett Brothers will release their seventh full-length, The Carpenter, on September 11 (American Recordings; produced by Rick Rubin, engineered by Ryan Hewitt). Mix caught the band—brothers Seth and Scott Avett on banjo, guitar, accordion, piano, standing kick drum, standing hi-hat and about everything else; stand-up bassist Bob Crawford; cellist Joe Kwon; and drummer Jacob Edwards—on June 23 at the Greek Theater in Berkeley, Calif.

Photo of Justin Glanville.

FOH Engineer Justin Glanville

“With how dynamic and energetic these guys are, I guess my mix philosophy is just to hang on with both hands!” laughs FOH engineer Justin Glanville, who has been with them for the past seven years. “It’s a very active mix, and I have to use at least some compression on just about everything. I try to use as little as possible, and I try to mainly ride faders from song to song. But, for example, I have to crush Seth’s hi-hat downstage. There are no sticks involved, as his hands are busy playing guitar, but there are a couple of songs where he kicking the cymbals, not stepping on the pedal.”

Despite the success of 2010’s I and Love and You, and a sometimes back-to-back-to-back tour schedule in venues ranging from sheds to arenas to festival stages to Art Deco theaters, the band carries very little on the road—instruments, mics, DIs and a “stick/show” for Glanville’s settings. “I use the plug-ins from board to board,” says Glanville, “and I mostly request Avids now to be consistent. That said, my old live rack is gathering dust—a few dbx 160s, two dbx 166XLs, an ART VLA PROII, T.C M-ONE, T.C. D-TWO, and a Lexicon MX300. I miss using that gear, but not dragging it around.

“I really do enjoy delays, especially tape delays, though I use them very lightly,” he continues. “And multiband compressors/limiters have become my favorite tool. They can help with everything from a singer constantly grabbing the mic and screaming into it, to a banjo that’s being attacked by metal finger picks as Scott repeatedly stomps his foot through his kick drum pedal. I recently got a tip from an engineer friend who showed me parallel compression by way of auxes. Very handy on drum kits and multiple electric guitar mics.”

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