The Avett Brothers are back with a mission statement for their next release, Closer Than Together, arriving on October 4. But what’s the inspiration behind “High Steppin’,” their first video from the album?
A release announcing the video describes it this way: “The video for ‘High Steppin” shows Scott Avett as a ‘rhinestone cowboy’ and Seth Avett as what some could describe as ‘death’ as his passenger. The two ride together and encounter a stop in the road where Bob Crawford and steppers are waiting for them. In a spoken word interlude Seth Avett notes that ‘you can only live one day at a time, only drive one hot rod at a time, only say one word at a time, only think one thought at a time….’ A meaningful commentary on life that finishes with a hopeful ending.”
Check out the video for “High Steppin’,” then check out the statement posted below.
A statement from Seth Avett:
The last thing the world needs is another piece of sociopolitical commentary. We, as a species that boasts at least some semblance of consciousness, are entering an odd new form of fatigue: one that encompasses not only our observance of the behavior of others (nefarious and otherwise), but also our seemingly unlimited endurance to loudly judge and wax philosophically about it. Of course, in each instance, regardless of its nature or circumstance, our own personal opinions are presented as the clear, correct, and only perspective on any given subject. We speak as if we are not one body, though we are. We judge as if we don’t value the judgment of others upon us, though we do. We forget to put our feet into the shoes of our neighbor, and curse them for making the same ancient mistake.
My brother and I have never been more aware of our own failings in the department of golden-rule navigation. We see it in ourselves and we are accustomed to seeing it in our neighborhood, our state, our country, our planet. We speak daily with each other about the lunacy of the world in which we live… the beauty of it, the mystery of it, the hilarity and the unspeakable calamity of it. We talk about God and community and evil and what forgiveness is and what it means to aim for unconditional love in a land (and body) full of conditions. Sometimes we feel better just from speaking about it with a loved one. Sometimes we don’t and we go to our little bunks on the tour bus and continue to process the latest example of fear-inducing news that our phones have indiscriminately handed us. We then simultaneously endeavor to forgive ourselves for being in the fortunate position of having bunks in a tour bus to lie down on. In whatever way we process both personal and universally-affecting events, at some point, these conversations grow melodies and find themselves stepping back into our lives in the forms of songs.
As our records tend to be, the newest — entitled Closer Than Together – is certainly led by the personal narrative of our own lives. In this way, there is no massive departure from our continued artistic language. This chapter however, perhaps in part because of our age or our time, wanders inevitably into hallways both social and political. These are songs developed through and inspired by not only what we see inside our homes and our travels, but by the connections we are blessed to nourish, the conversations by which we are surprised and intrigued, and by the far-reaching experiences of our distant brothers and sisters. We are family men with good and evil in our hearts, and the pains and joys in this world are mirrored on the small scale of our own personal existence. The songs herein are reflections of what we are. ‘We’ meaning Scott and me. ‘We’ meaning this family and this band. ‘We’ meaning the strangers we’ve had (and will have) the honor of encountering all over the world. ‘We’ meaning ‘We the People.’
We didn’t make a record that was meant to comment on the sociopolitical landscape that we live in. We did, however, make an album that is obviously informed by what is happening now on a grander scale all around us…because we are a part of it and it is a part of us. Closer Than Together is a record of obvious American origin — a creation that fittingly could only come about through hard work, measured freedom, awe-inspiring landscapes, and perfectly flawed individualism.
The Avett Brothers will probably never make a sociopolitical record. But if we did, it might sound something like this.
Photo credit: Taylor Vaughn