If you go
What: Avett Brothers
When: 7:30 p.m. on Thursday July 28, Friday July 29 and Saturday July 30
Where: Red Rocks Amphitheatre, 18300 W Alameda Parkway, Morrison
Cost: Tickets start at $49.95
More info: redrocksonline.com
Since the release of the band's first EP in 2000, the Avett Brothers have gone from playing tiny coffeehouses to headlining amphitheaters — including a three-day stint at Colorado's famed Red Rocks July 28-30.
"Before you know it, we'll be coming up on 20 years as a band," says Seth Avett, who fronts the rocking roots-music band with his older brother Scott. "We're in great working condition at this point."
The Grammy-nominated band also features long-running members bassist Bob Crawford and cellist Joe Kwon and is augmented by additional musicians on tour. At the heart of the group is the close relationship between the two dark-haired siblings. The Avetts maintain a strong bond and keep their personal and artistic partnership on an even keel.
"Scott is my closest friend," says Seth. "When struggles come along, we talk about them. There's no judgment. There's only love."
Known for raucous and upbeat live shows, the band is touring behind its current album "Live, Vol. 4" and is gearing up for a June release of its next studio album, "True Sadness" (American/Republic Records).
Seth Avett discussed the band's rise into a star touring act and the blue-collar ethic that pilots their career.
Your tour this summer takes you to some impressive venues: Madison Square Garden in New York City, the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles and Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado. When you were coming up as a band, were there touring artists you studied for stage inspiration?
Scott and I saw Bruce Springsteen years ago. We were there as students. We wondered, "How does this man take a room that is better fitted for an NBA basketball game and make it feel intimate?" He treats the arena as if it's a club. He connects with people. Springsteen doesn't stick to a script. He has a history of taking people's requests. There are some acts that make you feel like it's a put-on, like they're doing quote-unquote "rock star moves." If Springsteen is doing that, you can't tell it. He doesn't seem to be posing. His everyday personality comes through onstage. It's not about being precious with your instrument and your image. It's about allowing yourself to be yourself and have fun. It's about bringing the rock 'n' roll.
You and Scott are known for being very hands-on with your career. How did you learn to run a successful business as a band?
Our dad ran a welding crew of five or six guys for 35 years. They built bridges. Really hard work. I saw him get up at 5 o'clock every morning and not come home until the work was done. I saw my mom cut the checks for his guys. My brother and I had a front-row seat on how to run a blue-collar business. So when we started our band, in effect, we started a blue-collar business. We got everything straight with our taxes. We became a corporation. For our first tour, our dad let us borrow one of his Ford trucks, and we put a camper on it. It's kind of ridiculous how workmanlike it was and still is in a lot of ways.
Was there a learning curve as you went along?
We had 15 years to grow our business one employee at a time. We learned step by step how to do that. That meant contracting out pieces of the puzzle as if we were a contractor. Where a contractor would hire a plumber, electrician and landscaper, we had separate agreements with our booking agent, management and distribution. We were eight years in when we signed to a major label, and we were already playing arenas. So we had leverage. We knew we could do it on our own, so we didn't have to make a whole lot of compromises.
You have an intensely devoted fan base called the Avett Nation. It has been likened to the Deadheads who followed the Grateful Dead. How did you develop such intense loyalty among your followers?
For the first 10 years, we went about it like the NASCAR circuit. We grew up 10 miles from the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. The whole NASCAR mentality is about going out and shaking every hand and showing your appreciation to the fans. That's a very real thing for us. It isn't manufactured. We love meeting people. It has become a little more difficult and trickier over the years with the growing popularity of the band. It's one thing to play for 100 people and then talk to 50 of them who stick around after the show. It's another thing when you play for 10,000 and 1,000 stick around.
Scott and I take turns having our hearts broken when we can't go out and see (our fans). But our connection is very real. By and large, Scott and I are writing about our own lives. Intense and genuine interactions happen often. People tell us that their mom had cancer and our music helped them with that. It's incredible to have that happen, to realize we originated something that inspired people. (The fan interaction) is very special. We partake as much as we can and honor it.
On the band's website, you have written very eloquently about how you and Scott pursue "a purposeful path" of embracing change. How do you go about achieving that?
Scott and I have one long continuous conversation that is happening at all times. We have never stopped. In a very fluid way, the topics get tackled. We look at self-betterment as an imperative part of our lives. We're not of the belief that you make great art on drugs or because you're drinking a lot. That's not our kick. We put a lot of time into trying to live good lives. We find that we make better songs when we do.