Guster is an American Jangle pop band that is known for its live performances, humor, and cult following formed by Adam Gardner, Ryan Miller (musician), and Brian Rosenworcel in 1991 while attending Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts.
The band stayed “underground” for their first two full-length albums, Parachute (album) (1994) and Goldfly (album) (1998), but broke into the musical mainstream in 1999 with their third studio album Lost and Gone Forever, with the single song "Fa Fa", which made it onto the Adult Top 40. The band has enjoyed moderate success on the charts with Keep It Together, their fourth album, with two singles in the Adult Top 40 ("Careful (song)" and "Amsterdam (Guster song)"). Joe Pisapia joined the official lineup for "Keep It Together", and the second album following his joining, Ganging Up On The Sun, peaked at 25 on the Billboard 200. The band's music has been featured on many television shows and movies, such as Martian Child that featured their song "Satellite", Disturbia, Wedding Crashers, Life as a House, which makes several allusions to the band throughout the film, The OC, and a Guster song became the slogan for Weather Channel (United States).
Guster's tours were originally local, but began to spread as the band gained popularity. In 1999, Guster gave their first performance in Canada, becoming an international act. Guster followed up on their international success with a 2004 tour in England with four shows in London and one in Manchester. 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, which have sold very well.
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 themselves "Gus" and booked their first gig. The band independently recorded their first album in 1994, entitled Parachute (album). 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 they 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 themselves Guster.
In 1996, the band independently recorded their second album, Goldfly (album), releasing it early the next year. In 1998 the band signed to 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. The band released their first music video, for their song "Fa Fa," around that time. The band released their fourth album, Keep It Together in 2003, with the first single, "Amsterdam (Guster song)", getting significant play 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 their 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 their website. More recently, they, along with the Barenaked Ladies, participated in the latter's "Ships and Dip" cruise.
Guster is often recognized for their choice of instruments during their earlier years: two members playing acoustic guitars and one member playing Drums and various percussion. 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 their 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), their live shows generally retained the same lineup until tours supporting their 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 the bare hand percussion (which can lead to nerve damage). Following the release of Keep It Together, multiinstrumentalist Joe Pisapia, who had been touring with the band, became a full-time member.
Guster's live shows have a style unto their own. For encores, the band has sometimes featured drummer Brian Rosenworcel moving to the front mic and singing covers. These have ranged from Temple of the Dog's "Hunger Strike" to 4 Non Blondes' "What's Up?" to the theme song from the TV show "Cheers." Guster has toured with many other artists, such as Ben Folds, Nickel Creek, Ben Kweller, Pete Yorn, John Mayer, and Rogue Wave.
On September 27, 2006, Guster won Album of the Year (Major) at the Boston Music Awards.
Fan reception Rectify
Guster has a very intimate connection with their fans. The band regularly updates studio and road journals on their website, guster.com, and signs autographs after their 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 their career, Guster managed to sell more than 10,000 copies of Parachute and Goldfly through little more than word-of-mouth. 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, they have since opened for themselves in costume as a "jam band" called "Trippin' Balls".
In 2004, Guster guitarist and vocalist Adam Gardner and his wife Lauren Sullivan co-founded Reverb (non-profit), an organization dedicated to assisting touring artists by making their touring 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 their inception, Reverb have worked with (among others) Jack Johnson (musician), Barenaked Ladies, Bonnie Raitt, the Dave Matthews Band, and of course 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 their April 16, 2007 issue.
In 2006, Guster named their spring tour the Campus Consciousness Tour. They toured with The Format. They powered their 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 support act. The tour promoted eco-friendly “green” initiatives while educating attendees on ways to help the environment. The tour stopped at fifteen colleges, including 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, Georgia Southern University, Murray State University, Vanderbilt University, Indiana University, and Williams College.