Avett Brothers I and Love and You takes the cake
The album marks the band's entry into a new era.
The Avett Brothers' I and Love and You on Columbia Records is a major achievement for the North Carolina-based band used to playing in small bars.
Cellist Joe Kwon said seeing the band's work in a tangible form was the biggest change from being small bar band.
"To see the actual album, to see the artwork, to see it in its packaging before even listening to it — it was a huge accomplishment to hold it in my hands," he said.
Since its latest album was recorded with Columbia Records, The Avett Brothers had ample time to perfect its songs, which hasn't always been the case with past albums. With I and Love and You, they had the chance to work passages until they were exactly perfect.
"Before, the albums were very homegrown," Kwon said.
With the chance to perfect their work came the challenge of keeping their focus during long studio session.
"It is a psychological game of keeping your head inside the studio and not thinking about things outside, really trying to keep your mind where you are at the time," Kwon said.
Even with ample time, the writing process changed very little.
"The actual writing of the music doesn't change much," Kwon said. "Some of these songs may be 5 or 6 years old, they just haven't been recorded yet. They just happen to fit into the style or idea of the album."
Some of their work evolved throughout the long recording process.
"The only pace change was that each song at times matured before getting into the recording stage, and other songs were brought into the studio, and we'd never played them live," Kwon said. "That's a completely different beast because you don't know the little nuances of the songs until you've played them 200 times."
Working with Rick Rubin was also an integral part of the recording process. Kwon described the experience as nerve-racking, but he learned Rubin was ultimately very balanced.
"You kind of go in with this expectation that he is going to turn into some beast and pound you down if you do the wrong thing, but he's completely the opposite of that," Kwon said of the producer. "He's very kind and hands-off in the studio. He wants you to do what you do."
I and Love and You features Donnie Herron on fiddle and Mike Marsh and Simone Felice on drums, which added a variety of song styles on the album.
"Donnie Herron's an amazing everything player," Kwon said. "It seems like he doesn't even need to hear a song to know what it's going to sound like."
In addition to touring relentlessly and churning out albums, The Avett Brothers had the chance to do something most bands don't get to do: be on Food Network's "Ace of Cakes."
"For me being a big food guy, that was one of the coolest experiences of my life," Kwon said. "I'm a devout food eater."
Good food is something The Avett Brothers miss when the band is on the road, so it becomes a high priority when at home. Kwon has a food blog, tasteontour.com, for which he writes when not on tour.
Kwon said the best food in the world couldn't ever come before seeing friends and family.
"Most importantly, spending time with your family and loved ones is irreplaceable," Kwon said of his time at home.