What do you set your sights on when authorities as varied as NPR and the Daily Beast say you’ve just conquered the almighty South by Southwest?
In the control room of Montrose Recording, things have slowed down just long enough for Avers to explain the recent spike in media attention, Internet trolls, and the prepping to mix the anticipated follow-up to “Empty Light” with Peter Katis, of the National and Interpol, at his Connecticut studio.
If you’ve ever seen Avers play live, you know there’s a nonstop swirl of motion, dissonance, guitars and dizzying light. It’s not for show — it’s more like the natural trajectory of Avers. This is a band of constant motion, full-speed ahead.
“We like doing things really fast,” says bassist and singer Alexandra Spalding, a California native who moved to Richmond with her boyfriend, Adrian Olsen, also a singer and guitarist in the group. “We get high off that feeling of finishing stuff.”
On the way back from the Austin festival, the band was asked to open for Tune-Yards and Son Lux at the National, and premiered a new track, “Vampire,” on the Onion’s A.V. Club just a few days later. It also got a little dose of piss and vinegar.
“We had our first really mean Tweet that said we were hipster noise shit,” Spalding says, laughing. “We simultaneously looked at each other and said, ‘Yes! We have a hater!’”
The vitriol spitting has kept to a minimum, though, with most feedback being favorable and critics comparing the band to bands as varied as the Dandy Warhols and Sonic Youth. For Avers, the focus remains on getting the new album out there.
“For the first record, we met each other while recording a project,” Olsen says. The lineup and the sound have since firmed up. “This one is definitely an Avers record that sounds more like us, especially for people who are used to seeing us live now.”
The band member cranked out a song a day for “Empty Light” while the yet-to-be-named follow-up has been in the works for years. The band started this one before the last record even came out. Several songs were written at a relative’s house in Nags Head, while others were born out of late-night jam sessions in the studio. With 18 songs tracked, it’ll be making some difficult decisions to trim the list to 11.
Sampling a smattering of new music reveals Avers is further harnessing its ability to make expansive songs that unfurl and take flight as well as those that groove ridiculously hard. Add a guest appearance by well-known local brass man Reggie Pace and you have something special that could open the band up to a much wider audience.
“We’re obsessed with adding stuff,” Spalding says.
“Are there 100 tracks on each song?” adds drummer Tyler Williams, whose membership in the widely successful band, the Head and the Heart, has given journalists nationwide something to latch onto when covering Avers. Spalding says that they don’t let any press depictions of the group as a Williams side project provide any distractions.
“People who have written thoughtful articles or reviews of us out of a love for what we do never even mention [the Head and the Heart] or barely state the name,” she says. “It hasn’t hurt us so far. Anyone looking for [their sound] in Avers may be sorely disappointed. We’re pretty different beasts.”
Most recently, the band shopped around for someone to fine-tune things before agreeing to work with renowned engineer, producer and mixer Katis. “It’s a personal goal of mine to find someone who can beat our own mixes and I think Peter is the guy,” Olsen says.
Even with the current momentum, members don’t know when the album will be released. “It’s hard to say,” Williams says, “because we’re still talking to labels and figuring how the record will come out.”
“It’s funny because people can reach out after reading South by Southwest press or releasing one tune, but what they really want to hear is a record front to back,” Olsen adds. “I don’t think [labels] take risks like they used to.”
As usual, Avers will forge ahead with plans to tour through the fall and likely next year. Williams is quick with a reminder that one thing is for sure: Everyone is fully committed.
“This is not a side project,” he says. “This is a band.”
Avers performs with Strand of Oaks on June 14 at Strange Matter.