Feeling Out the Extremes: On the Road with Guster

I think we wear our influences a little more on our sleeve with this record.

It’s been a good year for Guster, although to most of their fans it might be hard to tell. The Boston band has toured sporadically during 2005, but spent most of their time recording their eagerly awaited new album, Ganging Up on the Sun. The follow-up to 2003’s Keep It Together sees singer/guitarists Ryan Miller and Adam Gardner and “legendary conguero” Brian Rosenworcel officially welcome aboard their fourth member, longtime touring multi-instrumentalist Joe Pisapia.

Gardner risked a ticket to catch us up on the state of the next Guster record as he drove the tour van for his new side project, the concept band the LeeVees.

I keep seeing notes online that the new record is done, more or less. What are the plans for that to finally hit stores?

We’re hoping April; it really just depends on the label and their schedule. It’s pretty much done as far as the recording; we might go back and touch up a vocal here or there. But at this time, we just need to mix it, and then hopefully the label will have time to schedule it for April; because of our college-based audience, it’d be nice to release the record while college is still in session. Otherwise it would be in July, probably, but we’re really hoping for spring, not summer.

How does the new Guster record compare with the last one?

This is the first time we’ve had Joe in on the ground floor, so we actually sat around as a band and played as a band and wrote as a band. I think that lent itself to more rock-sounding songs, and I think the record overall is more classic rock-sounding than ever before. I think we wear our influences a little more on our sleeve with this record.

We always write the music first and the lyrics sort of come second, so we have to make up names for our songs just to have some way to refer to them. Before the songs were titled, we had songs that were named “Pink Floyd” and “The Stones,” basically after bands that we think influenced the music. They didn’t start with, “Oh, let’s write a song that sounds like Pink Floyd,” but we’d say, “Oh, this sort of has a Pink Floyd sound to it; all right, let’s just nickname it that.”

That and also, I think it’s more adventuresome. We have our longest song we’ve ever written on this album; it’s over seven minutes long. We have the shortest song we’ve ever written, we have the fastest song we’ve ever written, and the slowest song we’ve ever written. We were definitely pushing ourselves and feeling out the extremes, I think.

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