Posts tagged ‘Avett’

From Nemo to Avett

The Avett Brothers are gearing up to release their 7th full length studio album this summer. After 11 years together as a band, Rick Rubin is returning, making sure the group reaches its full potential. They seem on top of the world right now, but they started with humble beginnings. Before there was the banjo, there were fuzz guitars and screaming. Before they were the folk-rock band, The Avett Brothers, they were the 90’s grunge group, Nemo.

Nemo eventually transformed and gave way to the band we all know and love today, but to the members and fans, it was a project they will never forget. I had the pleasure of talking to Kenny Graham and John Twomey who were ready to spill the secrets and memories they have from when they played with the Avett’s.

A wild Nemo show

John Twomey and Scott Avett were studying together at East Carolina University. The two came together to form an early Nemo. Seth was living back at home in Mt. Pleasant, a small town outside of Concord, North Carolina with his band, Margo, which was composed of Seth, Kenny Graham, and Noah Warner. The brothers sent their music back and forth between each other and each liked what the other had to bring to the table. Naturally, as the two bands collaborated, they combined. The lineup consisted of Scott singing, Seth and John on guitar, Kenny on bass, and Noah playing the drums.

Twomey cites the band’s influences from “Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Blind Melon, Soundgarden, The Black Crowes, etc.”

“We were just a hard rocking band,” Graham says, “We were a part of music form that died with the change of the decade. There are times in our music where it seemed like it was about to fall apart, but that’s was rock and roll is and that is what it should be!”

As the band continued playing, the live shows set them apart from their competitors. “When we played live, we were unstoppable” Twomey exclaimed. “The energy and emotion behind the music was very similar to what can be seen today at an Avett Brothers show, just on a more aggressive format.”

According to Twomey, after each show, the band would get together and play some soft, slower acoustic jams to settle down. Scott began learning the banjo and started to bring it into these night-time jams. Seth and Scott were brought up playing music on the porch with their father Jim, so this style of playing came natural to the two of them.

Eventually they started playing shows as a three piece and called themselves Nemo Downstairs or The Back Porch Project. “The instruments were easier to travel with and the shows were more up close and personal. It was just a different feeling than playing a rock show and it came natural for the three of us to go in that direction while we were still doing the rock stuff,” Twomey says.

An early Avett Brothers show

As time went on The Back Porch Project gave way to The Avett Brothers and in 2001, Twomey and the brothers released a self-titled EP. To fill the missing void of the bass, Bob Crawford joined. According to Twomey, “for about 3 shows we were a four piece.”

Nemo began to fall apart and the Avett Brothers took off, but without Twomey.  He found his time in bands was over for a while. “For a long time after I left, I didn’t listen to or play any music at all,” he says, “I’m gradually getting the itch back for it again though and picking the guitar up more.”

While Twomey’s musical career ended, Graham’s time was not over. He continued to play in a couple of bands, but he soon returned to the Avett’s once again. “Seth and I wrote and recorded songs in a little studio in his dad’s garage on a 4 track. I actually played lead guitar on the first and third Timothy Seth Avett as Darling1 records, which we recorded in the same studio” he shares.

The Darling series brought Graham back to the stage with Seth as well. “About four years ago we played two consecutive sold out shows in the Concord Courthouse with Nicole Atkins.” he recalls.  “There is some talk of more Darling records in the future, assuming Seth has time, and I will be a part of those as well.”

Graham also was brought back to the Avetts to play in another rock band in late 2003 called Oh What a Nightmare. It brought back some of the sound heard during the Nemo days. “We wrote all of the songs and played about four shows,” Graham says.

Today Graham is in a new band called Lions to Lambs. “I play guitar and Mike Crim plays the drums. Derek Young (Oh What a Nightmare) played bass for us for the album, but has left. Seth heard about the recordings and wanted to help out, so I sent him some tapes. He happened to be touring with Jessica Lea Mayfield at the time, so the two of them recorded some backup vocals and guitar for us. The album will be out very soon and we will actually have something to sell at our shows. I really can’t thank Seth enough for his help!” Graham shares.

The two former band mates don’t see the brothers as much as they used to since they are always away on tour. “I try to go to some of the shows in North Carolina, but in the end, I’d rather just hang out with my friends without all the people around. When they are home Seth and I often grab some food or hang out in Starbucks. The two of us have been best friends since I was 13, so I really miss those guys when they are gone,” Graham states.

Twomey shares similar sentiments. “I go to as many of the Avett North Carolina shows as I can, but mostly to catch up with them before they go on. I’ve always considered Seth and Scott my brothers. We went through so much together as a band and even after I left, they were there for me (by phone) at every major event in my life. I miss them a great deal.”

Readers be ready:  the final Nemo album Vol. 1, is being remastered and will be re-released with a live DVD in late 2012 or 2013, depending on when the next Avett album is finally released.

Timothy Seth Avett as Darling is the name Seth goes under when releasing his solo work

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Finding Nemo

One of the Nemo albums

You might have been able to tell from reading my posts, but I am an avid Avett Brothers fan. Ever since I first saw them play in the summer of 2009, I have been hooked. I picked up the banjo and play along with the albums, I watch videos, I read articles and interviews, and I live for the shows. The brothers introduced me to a new genre of music and a humble, honest way of life rarely seen in musicians.

When reading, I learned about a band that Scott and Seth Avett were apart of when they were younger, Nemo. Nemo is an enigma. Their music is near impossible to be found or heard. After extreme searching it seems all I know is that they were a hard rock outfit. For those Avett listeners out there, this makes a lot of sense. The brothers are known for screaming and beating the hell out of their instruments.

I started to grow very frustrated. I wanted to hear the band behind my favorite band!

One day a couple of weeks ago I got a random friend request from a band on Facebook called Lions to Lambs. After looking around I learned that this is Kenny Graham’s band. The name Kenny Graham meant nothing to me until I did a little research. Graham was a member of Nemo! An opportunity fell into my lap.

As luck would have it Graham agreed to an interview, I then came across another member, John Twomey who agreed as well.

I then learned that Twomey was not only a member of Nemo, but also the original 3rd Avett Brother. He played shows with them before Bob Crawford (bassist) came along and even recorded an EP with them. Twomey also agreed to an interview.

In the next couple of weeks I will be releasing my dream post. A historical look at Nemo and the early Avett Brothers. I can’t wait to share it with all of you

Mayfield Leads the Parade


About a week ago I wrote about my experience at a David Mayfield Parade concert in Dayton. At the show we talked and he agreed left his phone number so I could conduct an interview. After many attempts to contact him, I learned his phone was broken. I threw together this interview via email. David provides his witty charm even over the computer. I hope you enjoy what took a while to put together

1. At what point did you know music was your career?

I always knew I wanted to be a musician.  I grew up with musical parents, all my friends were musicians.  I never once thought of doing anything else.  I couldn’t if I wanted to, I have no other skills.

2. How did you join Cadillac Sky?

Bryan Simpson called me, he got my number from a great musician and friend Tyler Grant.  Tyler told Bryan I would be a good fit, when the previous guitar player left Cadillac Sky.  I remember I was in Oregon with my sister when I got the call.  I wasn’t really familiar with their music, but I looked it up and was very interested. I met up with them in Nashville for an audition and they asked me to join the band shortly after that.

3. When did you decide to go solo?

Well, I have always had a solo career on the side of my other projects.   I made my first solo album back in 2003.  I was working on the Parade album before It was clear that Cadillac Sky would break up, when that became clear I knew it would have to go from a side project to my main focus.

4. How did you put together the Parade Band?

Well I found them all in different ways.  Wes my guitarist was introduced to me by my dear friend and manager Josh Joplin.  I thought Wes was a real dick at first because he just seemed to nice.  I thought it was insincere, but once I got to know him its like wow, this guy is awesome.  He turned me on to Kristin and Joe, and Shelby we all found together at a jam night in Nashville.  She was playing bass and we were all huddled in the corner saying “yeah thats the one”

5. Has their been a rebuilding process of your fan base?

A period of starting over? Oh for sure.  I would say only a small percentage of my fans now were Cadillac Sky fans.  The Parade is just playing different music and we are doing something so different its just a whole new world.

6. Where does your energy and goofiness come from?

Well I have always had lots of energy on stage, I’m not sure where that comes from, maybe sitting in a van for hours at a time has something to do with it.  As far as being goofy, you know I’m just a big believer in entertainment.  I love performers who are comfortable in their own skin and don’t think they are too cool to have fun.  You know, the ones who stand there with sun glasses on, never smile, it just seems so silly.  There was a time when performers who sang, danced, and were funny were the cool guys!

7. Explain the Phish incident and the possible response from it?

Well, Trey and Mike from Phish saw us play in North Carolina and bought T-shirts.  They wore them the next day at their show and then put my face up on the big screens and said that I was their God Icolus.  It’s been pretty cool, there have been lots of Phish fans come see us since then!

8. What led you to play drums for Avett at Bonnaroo 2010?

I was there at the first show the Avetts ever used a full drum set at.  I think I was also the first person to play drums with them other than Scott or Seth, which is kinda funny because I’m not really a drummer! When there current drummer Jacob got pretty sick last minute, Scott called me and asked if I could fill in at Bonnaroo.  I said sure and then took my ipod to guitar center and practiced on one of the electric drum sets cause I didn’t even own a drum set!  It was an amazing experience!  I sat in Mumford & Sons the next year on the same stage at just about the same time on the same day!

9. What’s the best thing about touring?

food

10. What’s the worst part about touring?

food

11. How long have you been growing your beard?

I started growing it almost 4 years ago and trim it way down short every few months or so and then grow it out long again.  I’m kind of a beard harvester.

12. Where did you learn all of your crazy guitar tricks?

I just made them up.  It helps that I really don’t give a shit about technics or learning other guitar players riffs and stuff.  It made me a lot more open to just doing my own thing early on.

13. Cadillac Sky is technically on hiatus, what are the chances of a reunion?

Ha!  That word Hiatus, it seems like every other band is on “Hiatus” these days.  I’m done with Cadillac Sky forever.  It was fun sometimes, and I’m happy to have been a part of it.  I learned a lot from those guys and I’m proud of the record and EP that we made, but I’m so much happier now. I might consider a reunion show someday only if Bryan does it too, that would be fun.  I do miss singing with Bryan sometimes.

14. Who are your influences?

My parents, Randy Newman, Paul Simon, Johnny Cash, Doyle Lawson, & Jimmy Driftwood

15. What was the Communion Tour and what was it like?

It was a tour that Ben from Mumford & Sons set up.  Us and a band from England called Mathew and the Atlas, and a gal named Lauren Shera.  It was a lot of fun.  We all played with each other and the transitions from one act to another were seem-less so we just sort of blended all three into one show.

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