ATLANTA – With three shows under its belts at Smith’s Olde Bar in the early 2000s, folk-rock band The Avett Brothers were starting to gain some notice around Atlanta.
But it was a show at the Drunken Unicorn to celebrate the grand opening of 13 Roses, a tattoo shop, that sticks out for singer-banjo player Scott Avett.
“That was a night I’ll never forget,” Avett said. “The whole thing was kind of bizarre but beautiful. (Tattoo artist) Watson Atkinson’s got a knack for putting on an event. He was very instrumental in bringing us to more people in Atlanta.”
The North Carolina-based group – which also consists of Scott’s brother Seth on guitar, Bob Crawford on bass and Joe Kwon on cello – certainly has come a long way since then. They’re touring behind their eighth full-length album, the Rick Rubin-produced “Magpie and the Dandelion,” with openers Emmylou Harris and Gov’t Mule. The tour is working through cities in the Southwest, then curves to the Pacific Northwest before wrapping up Sept. 12 in Sacramento, Calif.
Scott Avett discussed his take on success, his relationship with his brother and his passion for creative outlets other than music from his art studio in North Carolina.
Q: You have a degree in painting and you’re a pretty serious artist. With the success you’ve found in music, why is it still important to you to continue to paint?
A: To me, “making it” or success as far as in the creative world, that to me is complete baloney. Everything that I do, from songwriting to writing poetry to painting, each thing leads me to the next. There’s always room for development and progress and really just creation. I’m trying to create as many things as I can.
Q: You’ve tried out for a couple of movies recently, including a role in the Coen Brothers movie “Inside Llewyn Davis.” How did you decide to pursue acting?
A: It’s not something I have any knowledge in; it’s not my business. The opportunities I’ve had as far as auditioning for certain roles have come to me, and I thought, “What’s the difference?” It’s just another form of creation. It’s bizarre. You just find yourself in positions where you’re reading with someone and you’re like, “How did I get here? What in the world am I doing?” I read with Anne Hathaway, and that woman is brilliant, while I have zero experience.
Q: You’ve been playing with your brother in bands for more than a decade. How has your dynamic evolved over the years?
A: Seth and I are very different people. We have very different ideals. People might not know that part of what we do relies on those differences, they might think it’s all in harmony. But I think our differences are as much a tool in what we do as anything. ... Sometimes, if fans are really observant, they’ll notice a fight happen on stage, but it’s really subtle. It might be a look, it might be a gesture and it can mean a lot of things to us, but other people might not notice.
Q: You have a fairly active Twitter account. A few months ago, you tweeted, “If you are good ... it’s best not to know it.” What did you mean by that?
A: I can’t remember what drove me to write that specifically, I want to say it was an interaction with a younger artist. I immediately reflect on myself and put it on me. I try my best not to judge anything. Judgment of other people is completely limiting and paralyzing.