Guster

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Guster
Guster at FleetBoston Pavil.jpg
Guster playing a show in Boston in 2004
Background information
Origin Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Genres Rock, alternative rock
Years active 1991–present
Labels Aware, Palm, Sire, Reprise, Warner Bros., Columbia
Associated acts The LeeVees, The Zambonis, Yukon Kornelius, Jeff Garlin
Website www.guster.com
Members Ryan Miller
Adam Gardner
Brian Rosenworcel
Luke Reynolds
Past members Joe Pisapia

Guster is an American alternative rock band from Boston, Massachusetts. Formed in 1991, the group is known for its live performances and humor. Founding members Adam Gardner, Ryan Miller, and Brian Rosenworcel came about to begin practice sessions while attending Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. The members met during the freshmen Wilderness Orientation program in August 1991, playing publicly together as a trio two months later at the Midnight Cafe coffee house set in the common area of the Lewis Hall dormitory. While attending Tufts, the band lived at 139 College Avenue in Somerville, Massachusetts.[1][2]

The band stayed "underground" for its first two full-length albums, Parachute (1995) and Goldfly (1997), but broke into the musical mainstream in 1999 with its third studio album Lost and Gone Forever, with the single "Fa Fa," which made it onto the Adult Top 40. The band has enjoyed moderate success on the charts with Keep It Together, its fourth album, with two singles in the Adult Top 40 ("Careful" and "Amsterdam"). Joe Pisapia joined the official lineup for Keep It Together, and its follow-up, Ganging Up on the Sun, peaked at 25 on the Billboard 200. A variety of television shows and movies have featured the band's music, including Martian Child, which featured their song "Satellite"; Disturbia; Wedding Crashers; Life as a House, which makes several allusions to the band throughout the film, The O.C.; and one of the band’s songs was used in an ad for The Weather Channel.[3]

Guster's tours were originally local, but began to spread as the band gained popularity. In 1999, Guster gave its first performance in Canada, followed by a 2004 tour in Britain that had four shows in London and one in Manchester.[4] Guster maintains a liberal taping policy and has a very dedicated and active taping community. Despite this policy, the band has released several live shows via iTunes.

History[edit]

The band members met during freshman orientation at Tufts University in 1991. A year later, after writing a few songs in their dorm rooms, the band named itself Gus and booked its first gig. The band recorded its first album independently in 1994, titled Parachute. This album established the band as a favorite of the same 1990s scene that became popular through bands such as the Dave Matthews Band, The Disco Biscuits, moe., Phish, and Widespread Panic. The band was still in college when it recorded the album. Shortly after the release of Parachute, another artist calling himself Gus signed a deal with a major record company, forcing the band to rename itself Guster.

In 1996, the band independently recorded their second album, Goldfly, releasing it early the next year. In 1998 the band signed with Sire Records and re-released Goldfly. A year later, the band released the album Lost and Gone Forever, produced by Steve Lillywhite. With the backing of a major label, the band appeared on shows such as the Late Show with David Letterman, and it released their first music video for their song "Fa Fa." The band released its fourth album, Keep It Together, in 2003, with the first single, "Amsterdam," which got significant airplay[5] on the radio. A live album/DVD, Guster on Ice, compiled from two shows in Portland, Maine, in December 2003, was released in 2004. Guster released its fifth full length studio album, Ganging Up on the Sun, on June 20, 2006. The single "Manifest Destiny / Sorority Tears" was released in November 2005 on the Internet.

Alongside Ganging up on the Sun, the band released a documentary comedy series called Joe's Place on its Web site. More recently, the group, along with the Barenaked Ladies, participated in the latter's Ships and Dip cruise. In 2009, Guster took part in a similar event with musician John Mayer called Mayercraft Carrier 2 aboard the Carnival Splendor[6]

On September 27, 2006, Guster won Album of the Year (Major) at the Boston Music Awards.

Guster released their sixth studio album "Easy Wonderful" on October 5, 2010.[7] Mixing for the album commenced on March 15, 2010 according to an update from the band's Twitter account.[8] On April 30, Guster released "Jonah", an outtake from sessions for their then upcoming album, on the "Download to Donate for Haiti" compilation album.[9] On July 20, Guster released the song "Bad Bad World" as a free download on their website.[10] Before starting their 2010 fall tour, Guster announced that Joe Pisapia would not be touring with the band. Instead, Joe would be touring with k.d. lang, with whom he had been writing songs. It was also announced that Luke Reynolds would be filling in for Joe starting September 12, 2010.[11]

In early 2014, it was announced that Guster was recording its seventh studio album, under the production of The Shins keyboardist Richard Swift.[12] Guster announced that the album was finished on April 8, 2014 and will be independently published on their Ocho Mule label.[13]

Guster will be releasing their latest studio album, "Evermotion", on January 13th, 2015 with Ocho Mule/ Nettwerk Records. [14]

Style[edit]

Guster is often recognized for its choice of instruments during their earlier years: two members playing acoustic guitars and one member playing various percussion instruments. Brian Rosenworcel, the band's percussionist (affectionately dubbed the Thundergod by fans), added to Guster's unique sound with a combination of bongos, cymbals, and other drums, playing live shows using only his bare hands. While Miller played rhythm parts, Gardner would often play a bass line on his guitar. Guster's sound is recognized for its vocal harmonies, with both Miller and Gardner singing lead vocals on different songs; in songs such as "What You Wish For" and "Happier," the two members sing different lyrics simultaneously.

While Guster's studio albums included more instrumental variety (e.g. violin, bass, drum kit), its live shows generally retained the same line-up until tours supporting its album Lost and Gone Forever, in which the band diversified by playing different instruments on some songs. At this time, Rosenworcel began introducing a more traditional drum kit into the stage and studio performances in an effort to move away from bare-hand percussion. Following the release of Keep it Together, multi-instrumentalist Joe Pisapia, who had been touring with the band, became a full-time member.

Guster's live shows have a style of their own. For encores, the band has sometimes featured drummer Brian Rosenworcel, who is not known for his vocals, moving to the front microphone and singing humorous covers. These have ranged from Temple of the Dog's "Hunger Strike" to 4 Non Blondes' "What's Up?"[15] to the theme song from the TV show Cheers.[16] Guster has toured with many other artists, such as Ben Folds, Nickel Creek, Tally Hall, Ben Kweller, Pete Yorn, Nada Surf, John Mayer, Rogue Wave, Good Old War, The Submarines, Jack's Mannequin, and Rufus Wainwright.

Other traditions at live shows have been developed over the years. For example, at the end of "Airport Song", people in the crowd throw ping-pong balls at the stage, in reference to the studio recording, where the audio of a table tennis game can be heard in the background.

Fan reception[edit]

Pisapia signs his autograph for a fan.

Guster maintains a close relationship with its fans with regular studio updates and road journals on their web site, guster.com, and signs autographs after shows.

Guster once maintained a rep (representative) program, through which fans received promotional materials for upcoming concerts and albums to sell. Reps were rewarded with a special, rep-only series of EP's called The Pasty Tapes as well as invitations to rep-only concerts. Early in its career, Guster managed to sell more than 10,000 copies of Parachute and Goldfly through little more than word-of-mouth.[citation needed] Following the release of Ganging up on the Sun, the band formed a new program called the Wrecking Machines, through which fans are able to receive posters for advertising nearby concerts. Guster is a constantly touring band, often playing up to 250 shows a year.

The band's humor is noted by many fans. For laughs, the three members of Guster opened a number of their own shows as the Peace Soldiers, three redneck-looking musicians. With the addition of Joe into the band, it has since opened for itself in costume as a jam band called Trippin' Balls. During a 2001 show in Rochester, NY (which was oddly enough opened by Joe Pisapia's band Joe, Marc's Brother), the band started their show with an empty stage. The music to The Price is Right played over the sound system, and a voice called each of the band members down from where they had hid themselves in the audience. Upon hearing their name, each member played the part of an enthusiastic game show contestant all the way to the stage. During a show in 2002 when Guster played with John Mayer and John Butler Trio in Memphis, TN, the band danced around on stage with KFC buckets covering their heads while J.B.T. was playing their set.

On July 26, 2011, Ryan Miller went onto turntable.fm to give live previews of tracks off of Guster's On The Ocean EP and listen to music with fans.

Guster has also been known to play humorous covers of recognizable songs during their encores, some of which Brian Rosenworcel has sung lead vocals. A few of these performances have included: "Under the Bridge" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, "Where Everybody Knows Your Name", the Cheers theme song, "Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler, "In the Air Tonight" by Phil Collins, and "Firework" by Katy Perry as a 2013 4th of July closer at Milwaukee's Summerfest.[17]

Activism[edit]

In 2004, Guster guitarist and vocalist Adam Gardner and his wife co-founded Reverb, an organization dedicated to assisting touring artists by making activities more environmentally sound. It operates from within the music industry as well as the environmental world. Reverb greens artists’ tours and the music business at large while raising awareness and support for the environment through an interactive eco-village. Since its inception, Reverb has worked with (among others) Jack Johnson, Barenaked Ladies, Bonnie Raitt, John Mayer, Dave Matthews Band, and Guster. In July 2006, both Gardner and Sullivan were interviewed about Reverb by The Green Room magazine, which would later interview Gardner alone in coverage of a Guster show. Newsweek did a similar profile in its April 16, 2007, issue.[18]

In 2006, Guster named its spring tour the Campus Consciousness Tour. The band toured with The Format, and it powered its buses and trucks with biodiesel and aimed to use the tour to teach audiences about the environment. Participation in early 2007 IZStyle Winter Tour is similarly goaled.

In fall 2007, Guster headlined the Crocs' Next Step Campus Tour with Brett Dennen as a supporting act. The tour promoted eco-friendly green initiatives while educating attendees on ways to help the environment. The tour stopped at fifteen colleges, including the University of Puget Sound, Gonzaga University, the College of William and Mary, North Carolina State University, Michigan State University, Pennsylvania State University, the University of Vermont, the University of Florida, Furman University, Georgia Southern University, Murray State University, Vanderbilt University, Indiana University, Williams College, and the University of Rochester.

In spring 2009, the band continued the green initiate touring, performing at colleges including University of New Hampshire, Northeastern University, University of Arkansas, University of Wisconsin, Fordham University, Union College, Colby College, Ohio State University, University of Dayton, Albright College, Marquette University, Clark University, University of Richmond, and the University of Pennsylvania.

Band members[edit]

Guster performing "Jesus on the Radio (unplugged)" at Ohio State University in 2006
Past members

Discography[edit]

Main article: Guster discography
Studio albums

References[edit]

External links[edit]