The Avett Brothers

Sep 1, 2012 9:00 AM, Mix, By Blair Jackson

CREATING THE CARPENTER WITH RICK RUBIN & RYAN HEWITT

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The Avett Brothers

From left: Scott Avett, Bob Crawford, Seth Avett

In the decade since the Avett Brothers’ first full-length album, Country Was, the North Carolina country/bluegrass/folk/rock group has grown steadily in popularity, more on the strength of their live performances (and live recordings) than on the success of their studio albums. The acoustic trio—Scott and Seth Avett and standup bassist Bob Crawford—started to turn a corner with the outstanding 2007 disc, Emotionalism, their first to include cellist Joe Kwon (on a few songs).

But it was 2009’s I and Love and You, produced by Rick Rubin for his American Recordings label, that really changed their fortunes. All their previous albums had showcased the brothers’ solid songwriting, sweet and soulful harmonies, and instrumental versatility. On I and Love and You, all those attributes seemed to come into sharper focus. It’s a testimony to the Avetts’ talent and their broad, youthful appeal that I and Love and You made it into the Top 20 of the Billboard 200 album chart, and the Top 10 on that magazine’s Rock, Digital and Folk album charts (hitting Number One on the latter). Relentless touring and prestigious TV appearances sealed the deal.

I and Love and You was recorded over the course of about three weeks at the beautiful but now-defunct Malibu studio called The Document Room. According to engineer Ryan Hewitt, Rubin had an enormous impact on that album and the way the Avetts approached their songwriting.

From left: Bob Crawford, Ryan Hewitt, Scott Avett and Seth Avett on a break from their Laurel Canyon video shoot.

From left: Bob Crawford, Ryan Hewitt, Scott Avett and Seth Avett on a break from their Laurel Canyon video shoot.

“The thing Rick brings to every record he does is that he is a song guy,” Hewitt says. “He doesn’t play guitar, he doesn’t sing, but he’s the mega music fan, and everything revolves around what’s best for the song. With the Avett Brothers, they’re young guys and they’d always gone into a studio and made a record in three or four days, and never really considered: ‘Should we change this? Is this the best verse to have here? Do we need this fifth chorus or this seventh verse?’






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