Editor’s Note: This article contains mild profanity.
Twenty-five years, six albums and their own holiday, Boston-based Guster is opening Pandora’s box in 2016.
Promoting their recent chameleon album, Evermotion, which features only one acoustic song, the band’s winter tour has fans scrambling to see the alternative rock band that started at Tufts University.
Lead singer Ryan Miller chatted with The Writer’s Bloc about Firefly Music Festival, the evolution of their sound and superhero powers. Guster will be performing at the 9:30 Club on Jan.20 to a sold-out venue.
With Richard Swift [producer and member of The Shins and The Arcs] producing Evermotion, how was the process different for this album from the other six?
R: I think the biggest takeaway was that it was really fast. We made a real effort to not spend a year making a record like we’ve done before. Richard also pushed us really hard not to make decisions and keep moving and not sort of “oh we’ll figure it out.” He was like “no, we’ll figure out what’s best now.” Often times, we were kind of like, “Oh we could do this, and this” and we could do everything, that’s what technology allows you to do. So that was a good thing to not get caught up in and all that.
Definitely. Also the sound completely evolved but the song “Gangway,” you used an acoustic guitar. Why’s that?
R: That was very purposeful. I spent a lot of my career writing on an acoustic guitar, and it was a very purposeful thing early on. As a songwriter, you know whatever you’re writing on has a lot to do with what you write.
What were your top three tracks of Evermotion?
R: I know “Farewell” is one. I like “Kid Dreams” a lot. “Doin’ It By Myself” is kind of weird.
Yes! In talking about “Doin’ It by Myself” and the music video—toward the end, he seems finally comfortable with himself. Is that a symbolism for Guster, have you guys achieved that level of joy and sense of freedom?
R: Well, you know this is funny and I don’t know if this is a cop-out answer, but you know when we were looking at our videos and we found out that they weren’t the best, it was — we wanted to find a record that had a point-of-view and style. I never even spoke with her [Sundeep Toor]. She had this idea … it definitely worked with our band. At least for me, at this point, I look at the record and find someone to execute your vision.
What were some of the milestones for Guster in 2015? Evermotion came out [and] the mayor of Boston declared January 15 “Guster Day.”
R: Personally, next year is going to be the 25th year of being in a band. Now the conversation of the band is a part of who you are. For me, it’s been coming into terms with who we are and what we do and what people expect from us and how the record fits into that conversation. We had a great tour, we had a great year, we went to Europe for the first time. But I don’t think it was an excel year, though.
I saw that you guys covered “Earned It” by the Weeknd at one of your concerts. Is there any other song that’s out right now that you’d love to cover?
R: [laughs] Well, that wasn’t because we loved the song it was like, “let’s have a song to murder in front of the audience.” If you just watch it, you’ll see. We played it really well. But to cover … that was the only goofy one. I’m sure there are some real ones we’d like to do but I don’t know.
The winter tour is coming up and in June you’ll be playing Firefly music festival. Is there going to be things that will resonate with longtime fans and attract new fans?
R: We try to make a pretty holific experience so that it’s not just, “here’s 75 minutes of our new album.” We play fan favorites, and having seven records that we can pull songs out of, I think for our old fans, they have really been into the entity of the shows they saw this year.
How do you guys keep it weird? A while ago, you released a fake version of one of your records that were remixed with cat meows.
R: It’s all relative. I don’t feel like we’re making Miley Cyrus’ records or things like that. But you know, it’s usually a part of our personalities. It’s not a marketing thing where we’re like, “We have to do something super fucked up so people will like it!” We’re just being ourselves, and that’s what I also appreciate about other cultural things, just people who are unafraid. Also maybe with getting older–you worry a lot less what people think about you and more about what you want.
Guster had an interview with Marvel, and I was wondering if you were a superhero and had to fight one of the Avengers or anyone else, what would you be?
R: Do I have to be an existing superhero?
You could be or you could be your own, but who would you have a duel with?
R: Oh a duel? If I had to choose a superpower, I would really want to be a time traveling superhero. That would be something I’d like to mess with, but maybe only in my own lifetime. I don’t know if I would like to go to the 1860’s or something. But I would kind of like to tweak my life over and over.
R: Not that my life is bad [laughs].
Check out the rest of their tour here.
Featured Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Flickr user Mike.
Karla Casique is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.