Last summer I was contracted by glossy guitar mag Fretboard Journal to write a cover story on North Carolina band (and FMB favorite — see here, here, here) The Avett Brothers. I met the band outside the Paramount Theater in Seattle, where I got to interview them, watch a photo shoot, and witness a private concert on the sidewalk. It was … awesome. Just awesome.

Anyway, that issue of the magazine has been out for a while but the story just went online: “The Forward Motion: For the Avett Brothers, progress means looking back and slowing down.” Give it a read.

The Avett Brothers

Here’s a taste from the piece:

By their fifth album, Emotionalism, the early tension between street-performer spontaneity and rock classicism had begun to resolve itself–decisively in favor of the latter. Do they worry about losing that scrappy, seat-of-the-pants attitude? What will happen without those fortuitous mistakes?

“I don’t think we ever need to worry about not making mistakes,” Seth laughs. “Between each record, you’re looking at a few hundred shows. That’s bound to change how you approach your instrument. It’s bound to change, God willing, how well you play your instrument, how well you sing the notes. Some of the rawness and scrappiness will stay there as long as our enthusiasm is there for the music. But as far as the rawness of making mistakes and letting it go, that would be about as likely as going back in time. Some of the things I let go back then, I just can’t imagine letting it go now.”

Adds Scott: “We try to recognize when it works and when it doesn’t. We just aren’t willing anymore to allow it to pass without our critical thinking toward it. You can’t ever go back.”

“You can’t go back,” Seth quickly agrees. “If you taste every kind of root beer, you’ll find out what root beer you love and the reasons you love it, and then you just want that root beer.”

Root beer? That must be the Carolina coming out of you, I tell them.

Seth: “Let me choose a more universal example: barbecue.”

Scott: “Of course! Everybody knows barbecue.”

Go read the whole thing!

Here’s they are playing “Signs” (a song their father wrote) on the sidewalk for me, an editor, a photographer, and a few stunned fans who happened to be wandering by:

For you fans who have read down this far, check out the band’s recent acoustic set for CMT. The whole thing is great, but the highlight is a new song from their upcoming album (expected in early 2012) called “The Once and Future Carpenter.”

Here’s another new one they’ve been playing lately, which I absolutely love, called “Skin and Bones.”

And here’s yet another new one, called “Die, Then Grow” (terrible video but good audio):

Finally, from the great site Cover Me, here’s a list of The Avett Brothers’ best covers. My favorite is the John Prine song.