by Andi Bricklin
“Guster is for Lovers”- a phrase taken as the band crossed the Virginia state line while on tour back in the day that stuck with fans in the form of bumper stickers available for .99 at guster.merchline.com (where you’ll also find oven mitts, guitar capos, dreidels, and a Guster “ugly” sweater). People, their merch game is tight! To say Guster is for lovers is beyond the truth, because hating on Guster is like kicking the cutest puppy in the universe. I had the pleasure of speaking with Guster percussionist/drummer, Brian Rosenworcel, to talk about music, pre-Internet promotion, band evolution and their recently released album, Evermotion.
Guster formed in 1991 at Tufts University, and it was a common scenario in the early ’90s: band puts out independent record, garners fan base, get picks up by a label, and then… well they either made it big or faded away, right?
“We’ve had many bands who’ve opened for us in the past make it big,” says Rosenworcel, naming Rusted Root and Maroon 5 as examples. Even though these bands have been able to use Guster as a building block for their own success, Guster has remained relevant over the years. “I think we feel that we always have something to prove,” Rosenworcel adds. He says that keeping up with records and evolving their sound has been key to their success. “We’re super grateful.”
A Guster live show is a fun night with great music and four guys who you feel like you’ve been friends with forever! The fan base or as Rosenworcel referred to it, “The Church of Guster”, goes deep with the band, and many date back to the days before a simple “thumbs up” on a social media page made you a fan.
“I almost miss those days,” he reminisces. “The Guster Gazette was our newsletter, we had the bulk mail rate, got it copied at Kinko’s and made a day out of folding and applying mailing labels.” Fans looked forward to receiving it! It was a way of giving the fans a personal connection with the band, “similar to when you would buy a CD and read the lyrics and the cover of the CD when listening to the music play.”
Fast forward to the world of Facebook and Twitter and it’s easier than ever to give Guster fans all the “Guster” they could ever hope for- like that time they picked up a fan and drove them around to do their errands while playing their new album. “Putting out good albums, live shows and interesting content” is the way Guster has chosen to step up their social game.
Going back to their origins with their latest album releasing Evermotion as a joint venture between their own label, OchoMule, and Nettwerk Music Group, the band sought out Shins keyboardist/Black Keys bassist Richard Swift to produce the record. “We really like the vintage feel that Swift brings to his recordings,” Rosenworcel says with pride, adding, “we always hope there’s a better record ahead of us.” This is the fuel that keeps Guster going.
Using this tour as a “pay it forward” to all the bands that gave them an opportunity to open a show when Guster was up and coming, the band invited local college and high school bands to submit their music for consideration to open for them on tour. Sifting though over 400 submissions was daunting. “We were floored by the songwriting and commitment these bands are showing at such as young age.”
There won’t be a local opener in Philly when the band performs at the Fillmore this Saturday, the 23rd, but they will be with Old 97’s lead vocalist Rhett Miller and it’s sure to be a great night of music and love.