The Avalanches

The Avalanches haven’t released an album in about 11 years, but that doesn’t mean they’ve stopped paying attention. And since that album was Since I Left You, people pay attention when they make a fuss. Recently, The New York Times posted an interview with Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon in which Vernon essentially calls the Grammy Awards meaningless. (The interview was conducted months ago, before Bon Iver got nominated for a buttload of Grammys.) And in a series of posts on their Twitter this morning, the Avalanches have called out Vernon for maintaining that stance while, at the same time, appearing in ads for Bushmills whiskey.

Here’s what they had to say: “a musicians ’art is compromised’ if he/she desires a grammy .but endor$ing a product with proven devastating health risks is ok? a product which kills 100k p/a in the US kids look up to you. # rememberwhenitwascoolNOTtosellout

Vernon’s response: “talk about ’desire.’ do u drink whiskey?”

And the Avalanches’ response to that response: “actually vodka is more my thing, but this aint no rock n roll pissing contest. i have seen alcohol destroy many families … including my own.. and you are making money off this shit . dont try and justify it.”

Then, Vernon: “I’m not. I was asking questions. Fucks sake. Glad I get to play guitar tonight.” Also: “literally not upset at you or anything. Was kinda into a talk.”

The Avalanches: “same here …” The story develops!

Ah, Twitter. May you enable utterly random musician-on-musician public throwdowns until long after we’re all dead.

Comments (46)
  1. If this is what passes for a musician feud these days, then rock and roll is truly dead.

  2. My god, your headlines are misleading.

  3. So it’s morally reprehensible to associate yourself with an alcoholic product now (other than Miller Lite)?

    They seem to be more upset about his ‘selling out’ than anything, which is just embarrassing. They seem to still be stuck in 2001, when it was possible for a band to actually make money via selling albums. Must be why they still haven’t released a follow up since then.

  4. Top Indie Internet Quarrels of the Year:

    5. Marissa Nadler vs. some random college kids
    4. Sara Quin vs. Tyler, The Creator
    3. Patrick Stickles vs. Kurt Vile
    2. All six members of The Avalanches collaborating on a single Twitter account vs. Justin Vernon
    1. 1000TimesYes vs. Gorilla vs. Bear

  5. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  6. Bon Iver makes plenty of money from his albums and touring lets get real. Dude is huge.

  7. This is low-level trolling at its absolute worst. First you have a double standard that doesn’t exist (what on Earth does one have to do with the other?) and then is all “ALCOHOL IS EVIL HOW COULD YO—sorry? Oh, vodka straight, thanks.”

    Do us a solid, yo: uninstall Tweetdeck from your phone and record another album.

    • I like Bon Iver….i’m going to the show tomorrow in Toronto, but I think The Avalanches make a worthwhile point. We’re talking about the selling of image…some artists are comfortable with this negotiation between commerce and art, others are not. Apparently, (as tweeted)The Avalanches turned down ad-revenue that would have dug them out of a steep financial hole, because of artistic ethics…i applaud them.

      • Really? Because I don’t think they make any point whatsoever and it is one of the silliest things I’ve read today. Besides the fact it is a hilarious double standard that it is revealed in their vodka response, what on earth does it have to do with the Grammy nomination? If anything call the dude out for his previous stance on the awards. Crying because the dude likes whiskey and is getting paid for it is a hilarious reach. Don’t get mad because someone else isn’t 130k in debt and petulantly impose your beliefs on them.

  8. Was I the only one merely excited to know The Avalanches are still alive?

    • without a doubt you were

      • This could be THE feud of 2011. You guys still have 26 days left to make it happen!

      • rj: “Is donnytilla ill today?”

        mt: “raptor jesus, donnytilla’s in school!”

        I’m afraid he’s not, Miss. Tilla
        donnytilla’s truancy problem is WAY out of hand
        The Stereogum County School Board has decided to expel donnytilla from the entire Internet School System.

        Oh raptor jesus! I’m as upset as you to learn of donnytilla’s truancy!
        But surely EXPULSION is not the answer!

        Ooooo I’m afraid expulsion is the only answer.
        It’s the opinion of the entire staff that donnytilla is CRIMINALLY INSANE!

  9. Ugh who cares?

  10. The Black Keys had an interesting interview recently talking so-called idea of “selling out.” Check it out:

  11. Isn’t it misleading for Stereogum to say that “The Avalanches” attacked Vernon? The _individual_ who runs their Twitter actually used the word “I” in reference to himself in his second tweet…

    As for the the discussion between the two men, as much as I adore The Avalanches, I think I have to side with Vernon on this one. Desiring or not desiring a Grammy is a separate issue from using one’s image to sell a commercial product — the two are just unconnected. It is not logically inconsistent for one to think that the Grammys are dumb and not care about the opinion of the Grammy voters while at the same thinking it’s OK to sell whiskey. I like whiskey. I’m glad that people sell it to me, and it causes me no pain at all to see Vernon’s handsome mug in an ad.

    And by the way, alcohol per se does not kill anyone. People kill themselves in may different ways, and alcohol is simply one means that one might use to facilitate that. Individuals are responsible for their actions, and each person chooses whether or not to use a particular substance in excess. One can enjoy an occasional glass of whiskey without harming himself. In fact, the vast majority of people who consume alcohol are not binge drinkers who abuse the substance.

    The Avalanches bro is out of line attacking Vernon.

    • * many different ways

    • “Individuals are responsible for their actions, and each person chooses whether or not to use a particular substance in excess.”

      I’ve attended AA meetings, not for myself but for a paper I was doing research for. Not every individual is capable of choosing whether they will or will not drink to excess. Alcohol can create physical and mental dependencies in people which make them incapable of making those decisions. So I think your statement was either ill-informed or wasn’t fully thought out.

      • Alcohol is a hell of a drug, for sure. A friend of mine is in the hospital right now with liver failure from drinking too much. Sure, addiction happens. People feel an extremely strong compulsion to use certain drugs, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is still a _choice_ to continue drinking.

        Some people may not REALIZE that they have the power within them to stop drinking (especially if they are far along in their addiction). . . but they do. Speaking of AA, it’s a shame that they brainwash people by having them say (paraphrasing), “I am powerless over my addiction.” Hogwash. If people only knew how powerful they are. . .

        The human brain is probably the most complex and brilliant thing on this planet. The idea that a human being is powerless over a fucking drug is an insult to humanity.

        • While I believe AA is a scam used to to convert people to religion, there’s a reason people both in and out of the system “fall off the wagon.” You don’t just choose to stop drinking and beat alcoholism, just like you don’t choose to stop being depressed. As you pointed out, the human brain is complex and brilliant; but, that works both ways. The psychological component to alcoholism renders the alcoholic incapable of making a choice to just stop. Recovering alcoholics, people who have been sober for years, can relapse off of a simple trigger and be back into habits they thought they broke.

          • I think we mostly agree, but we’re speaking in different terms. I view addiction and alcoholism as a chemical/physiological/psychological force that pulls a person toward using a drug that he shouldn’t. I just happen to believe that each person, whether (s)he realizes it or not, has an opposing force of will/attitude within himself which is potentially stronger than the addictive force. And it is up to him/her to decide which force will ultimately win out.

  12. 2012 will be a beautiful year if The Avalanches, D’Angelo, OutKast, and Animal Collective all drop new joints.

  13. Would have respected the Avalanches’ comment a little more had they not messaged both @boniver and @blobtower with the same freaking complaint.

    Maybe there is such a thing as bad publicity…

  14. So… Does this mean that there’s going to be a new album?

    • All it means is that the Avalanches are douche bags and that Justin Vernon is misled. all art is compromised by what the artist wants out of it.

      But I don’t think Vernon wrote any song for the specific purpose of playing it in a whiskey commercial like some people might write pop songs just to win grammys, although I don’t find that likely either.


  16. @ seanjean ‘ Really? Because I don’t think they make any point whatsoever and it is one of the silliest things I’ve read today. Besides the fact it is a hilarious double standard that it is revealed in their vodka response, what on earth does it have to do with the Grammy nomination? If anything call the dude out for his previous stance on the awards. Crying because the dude likes whiskey and is getting paid for it is a hilarious reach.’

    I dont think you have any understanding seanjean about alcoholism and how it can rip peoples lives
    apart. In certain people the addiction is so strong they will drink themselves to death even if they have young kids, a wife and everything in the world to live for. So the Avalanches say they (or one member ) drinks vodka? Big fuckin deal.We all do. But they ain’t getting paid SHITLOADS to sell it to kids. Big, Big, fuckin difference. Bon Iver said musicians ‘sell out’ chasing a grammy and the Avalanches correctly pointed out that there is no bigger sell out than endorsing a product that causes a hell of a lot of damage to a lot of families. No offence, but you really have no idea what you are talking about,
    Regards, Johnny.

    • I don’t think you have any understanding about how the reply button works. ZINGBANG.

      And yes, I understand alcoholism. I also live on Earth. I also understand car crashes, morbid obesity, and not swimming right after eating, but that doesn’t mean I act like a self righteous douchebag about what people do with their lives. Alcohol doesn’t rip families apart. The abuse of alcohol does, just as the abuse of many other things can. He isn’t endorsing Alcoholism. And that isn’t even considering their hilarious double standard.


  17. damnit s’gum, quit yanking chains…that was NOTHING, you didn’t mention ‘over advertising’ blah blah, thus the person assumes (and licks their chops) that it’s gonna be a total ripfest, but NO!! haha, i was so hoping they were gonna rip Iver to shreds for being an over-rated douche, tsk tsk, pitty.

  18. there is no moral center in pop music. artistic integrity is a middle class privilige anyway.

  19. Their stereotypical dudebro lingo makes them both sound 14.

  20. Omgz like, then what happened?

    Stereogum is becoming the TMZ of music blogs.

    • I agree, this was boring. I did however enjoy the report on Grizzly Bear tweeting “I promise to never have a song named ‘Intro’” in reference to M83′s new album.

  21. So nothing about a new album?

    /beats joke like dead horse, but still cries daily knowing the Avalanches exist without a second album

  22. Bon Iver is not rock n roll…..who cares how he makes his money. At least he is making music.

  23. bon iver is a lllllleeemmmmoooo;)nnnn

  24. So… where does Lana Del Rey come in to play here?

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