Brian from Guster here. Ryan did one of these when we released our last album Evermotion so now it's my turn. Our new album, Look Alive, came out last Friday. Listen to the whole thing here:


Comments: 1017 • Responses: 76  • Date: 

ahuhyeah617 karma

How in the hell do you stay in a band with the same people for 27 years?!

cronutlover9 karma

I just realized that I should actually answer this question -- it's no small feat. I think if you're Phish or Radiohead or the Rolling Stones you can find a way to make it work because you're making an insane living, among other things. For Guster, making a more modest living, there's some other fire burning below. It has to do with the music, and its evolution -- we are pretty hellbent on reinventing ourselves with each new album, but the melodies and the lyrics are always there. And so there are threads to cling to if our fans choose to come with us for the ride. But as a band, leaving behind a legacy, hearing our sound go to new exciting places gets us off. And we want each album to do it more and more and hone closer and closer to a perfect pop record, that I still think is attainable. Usually by Year 27 the relationships in the band have frayed, and while we've had plenty of tension there is a deep love and a deep respect between the members of this band, original and new, that allows everyone to create without judgment, fail without worrying about ego, etc etc. I feel like we've put in our 10,000 hours as songwriters together, and we can fall into a place where we create really good stuff easily. And as long as that continues to be the case, why would we stop?

cronutlover343 karma

HEY EVERYONE. I just want to start out by saying I really really love doing this. I love that people care about our band and the music we create. It is a complete joy to do this -- I will answer as many questions as I can and will jump around to the ones that I feel I have the best answers for. Go!

SidIsHuge202 karma

How tough was the decision of switching from drumming with your hands to using sticks, etc.?

Did it feel like you were losing part of your drummer identity at first?

cronutlover389 karma

This is an awesome question, and there is a real answer that is not -- "needed to do it to save my hands" ... yes the hands were in rough shape, but that's not what influenced the decision. It came from feeling like I simply couldn't write percussion parts to support a whole band anymore without repeating myself. And there was a collective band itch to go new places. After LAGF I was feeling like a king, like I could do no wrong, and so I picked up sticks and got really humbled. Using my feet and playing without direct skin contact was difficult. And I was learning to do it in front of large audiences. Who didn't like it. That is part of being an artist though. Sometimes you make unpopular decisions because that is what is inside your creative heart. And we are still doing that today (making unpopular decisions)!

neatgeek83187 karma

The rest of Guster is well-known for side gigs outside of the band. Ryan with his film scores, Adam with Reverb, Luke with solo projects. How does the Thundergod stay busy when he's not Gustering?

leroi765 karma

Also...who is the mysterious 5th guy with the red hair and the beard?

cronutlover239 karma

He should get more introductions on stage. His name is Dave Butler. He is incredible and indispensable. When someone goes from drum tech who occasionally plays shaker -- to learning 20 songs on keyboards and providing the foundation for your live show -- that is amazing. Thanks Dave!

cronutlover141 karma


JRosenworcel123 karma

Wait, Brian, you're hanging out on reddit? Love this place. Please do your sister a solid and make sure the folks here check out my AMA on net neutrality from last month. Oh, and good luck with the new Guster album and tour. Look forward to seeing you in DC!

waterbottlefromhell22 karma

Not that I don’t trust some random stranger on the internet, but, considering your reddit account is 25 minutes old, mind providing some proof?

cronutlover130 karma

I asked her to send this question in. She's my sister. She's cool. Let her past the velvet rope, she's honestly trying to save the internet for everyone. Reddit really rallies around her, as they should:

FrogKidFrankReynolds103 karma

Who is your favorite drummer outside of yourself?

cronutlover158 karma

Outside of myself? I can't just say "me"? I really love Mongo Santamaria for congas. And can't get past Levon Helm for drummers.

neatgeek8394 karma

were you guys worried that playing OVEREXCITED on multiple TV appearances last week would make unfamiliar viewers think you guys are a British band?

cronutlover163 karma

Quite the opposite in fact -- I think we were actively hoping people out there would think we were just some British band with a catchy new song.

celtic74587 karma

Not to be that guy, but I'm gonna be that guy...

Will we ever hear Emily Ivory? Are there other Evermotion B-sides out there that we haven't heard? What happened to Zeno?

Guster brings me so much joy and I love how cool you guys are with your fans. So thank you for that. And Look Alive is terrific.

cronutlover268 karma

One day we will release "Emily Ivory" into the world (It's an unreleased B-side from GANGING UP ON THE SUN) and you all will realize you've been waiting around for a song that's just kind of ok.

Turdsworth79 karma

About 15 years ago I tried to illegally download one of your newly released songs. I ended up getting your song as sung by cats meowing. I really liked the song and have included it in mixes. Was it a fan made song or did you make it as a prank against free loaders like me?

cronutlover127 karma

Honestly, we made the MEOW MIX version of Keep It Together out of pure fun. Our monitor engineer had a knack for meowing in tune, and so we recorded it. Only after our label discovered this did we think of using it to release a fake album early. People were mad! But the meow versions have a lot of good feline feel to them and are a work of art in and of themselves.

EricInAmerica72 karma

I had never heard of Guster before I saw you open for Dispatch a number of years ago. It remains the only time I've ever gone to a show and left as a bigger fan of the opening act than the headliner! I'll also always remember Ryan (I think?) on stage saying that if people didn't buy his shirt that said "Fuck you, penguin" they'd never let him design a shirt again. Did he end up losing his shirt-design privileges? I'm hoping not.

cronutlover98 karma

Ryan says a lot of things into the microphone, doesn't he? I was never a fan of the shirt that said "Fuck you, Penguin" on it, and didn't have Guster anywhere on it... because like.... what is that shirt? No one knows it's a Guster shirt. What's the point. We fight about merch a lot more than a bunch of middle aged dudes should. Welcome Eric!

cheeeeno55 karma

For a few years, back when Pandora was one of the more popular music streaming services and prior to the release of Spotify, almost everyone that I knew had heard “Satellite” a bunch on the service. It seemed as though any station in the general universe of alternative or indie would play that song. My friends knew all the words, which was rare to see even for a song that catchy.

I love that song and it got me into your music, but I’ve always been curious if you guys had some sort of special licensing thing with Pandora, or if you also noticed that the service would spin that song a lot?

Cheers! Looking forward to the new one.

cronutlover149 karma

We noticed this too. Pandora figured out that Satellite reacted well with a lot of people and played the hell out of it. Thanks Pandora! I remember one tweet from someone that went like this:

Dear Pandora, if you ever play Guster on my Radiohead station again I will stop using your service.

TheChansaw4253 karma

What's the one lyric you've written that you wish you could go back and tweak?

cronutlover114 karma

"You didn't see it coming, now who you gonna wave to? Cause this time, you're not homecoming king." -- I am also regretful about most of Amsterdam.

But in general I feel my lyrical contributions are holding up well!

FormerOrpheus88 karma

When you’ve been making music so long, I bet those older lyrics feel like cringy teen angst to you guys.

cronutlover115 karma


Gusfan2221 karma

Why the regrets about Amsterdam?

cronutlover57 karma

y'know. I was young. it's hard to write up tempo words.

rathernotbedoxed47 karma

I went to a small liberal arts college on the east coast. Guster came to play our spring festival one year and you guys fucking killed it. We got a lot of bands there and it seemed like many of them saw playing our school as a nuisance.

Props and thank you for putting on a wonderful show. I'll remember it always.

Are college shows generally disliked by bands? How do you think about a show like that? Do y'all hate it and just act as if, or do you have real enthusiasm for playing for a crowd like that?

cronutlover100 karma

I can't speak for other bands. But we loved it. It was always the sort of thing where we felt like the audience were our people. We went to parties afterwards and played Flip Cup. We asked for a goldfish-in-a-bowl on our rider and only ever got it when we played colleges. We probably played more colleges than any other band from 1999-2009, when the offers started to dry up. It was a hell of a run, and you can't expect colleges to want men with beards and guitars forever. But we had the time of our lives playing so many schools.

gusterisforlovers143 karma

hey brian any interest in coming to shabbat dinner when you guys are in orlando?

cronutlover60 karma

I really love the idea of Shabbat. The routine, the gathering, the feast, the appreciation of the other people at the table. It is a beautiful thing, and not as a religious thing. I accept.

Nagadha38 karma

What do you say when you come downstairs?

cronutlover85 karma


jestopher35 karma

What happened to the two-sided Brian from the Boston show? That thing was incredible! On a side note, thanks for live-streaming that show!

cronutlover46 karma

It's in a road case somewhere! It might make another appearance!

FormerOrpheus33 karma

Where did you get that sweet purple and blue hoodie?

cronutlover94 karma

There was some guy named Sam backstage after our Madison WI show in November and he was wearing it and I had on a generic heather gray hoodie. And I said "cool sweatshirt. wanna trade?"

And he said "sure" -- thank you Sam. You totally downgraded your wardrobe. Everyone always says "sure" when I do this.

leroi733 karma

Brian- Great show at HOB the other night. What is going through your head when Ryan goes on one of his inevitable off the cuff songs mid show?

cronutlover37 karma

I am usually trying to get his vocals turned up in my monitor so I can follow the words and add starts / stops / flourishes. I have barely-any-vocal in my mix most of the night.

Theandric32 karma

What’s your favorite odd time signature to play?

cronutlover89 karma

I don't do well with weird time signatures. That's never been my thing. There's a weird thing going on in Two Points for Honesty, and a couple tricky spots in songs like Rocketship and Hello Mr Sun, but in general, I am a 4/4 caveman.

Hopper1331 karma

Do you ever think about writing a book or a memoir at all?

You are an incredible writer and your sense of humor really comes through. The Guster Road Journal is essential reading for everyone.

Also, thank you guys for all that you do.

cronutlover64 karma

Thanks. I do think about it. But the Guster VH-1 Behind the Music would be so PG-13 it's hilarious. We have had a strong run, and great friendships, and plenty of creative tension. But you need more drama to write a memoir, no?

abeNH29 karma

The last two On the Ocean weekends were a blast! Please keep them coming, it's slowly becoming a reunion weekend for a bunch of us who have spread out. What kind of ideas are you all spinning for this coming summer?

Got any sneaky tickets for the Portsmouth show this spring? They sold out in like 6.5 minutes.

cronutlover36 karma

I have no sneaky tickets :(

GTg480b27 karma

Hard Times has the classic Guster thoughtful dark lyrics with "send our sisters to the sacrifice; A cruel conviction; Sinister systems keep us satisfied." Curious if the #MeToo movement was an influence, and if not, what was? Thanks Bri!

cronutlover23 karma

I think it crept into the lyric, since it's a song about our deep institutional problems. Send our sisters to the sacrifice and such... but Ryan is the ultimate source for lyrical questions.

Janalori25 karma

I was wondering how your kids (and the kids of the rest of the guys) must feel when random people run up to you when you're with them, all breathless and excited, just to meet their dad! Have they ever said anything to you about it? (Can't wait to see you on Wednesday in Rochester!)

cronutlover63 karma

I try to see this experience through their eyes. In their day to day of demanding food / love / water WITH ICE IN IT, they tend to forget that we are public figures to an extent. My daughter gets so into it, and generally demands to BE IN THE PHOTO AS WELL. That'll change when she gets a little older in all likelihood, but since this doesn't happen very often, it's a bit of a thrill for the kiddos still.

kickingtelevision24 karma

What is your favorite restaurant in Somerville, or one that you miss from your Tufts days?

Guster has, after all of these years, avoided becoming a nostalgic act. How do you balance wanting to keep trying something new with the temptation to do more of the same?

cronutlover34 karma

Used to love the no-place-like-homefries at Sound Bites. And yeah, there is zero "temptation to do more of the same" in this band.

eahennessy23 karma

What's your favorite song to play on the new album? Favorite song to listen to?

cronutlover44 karma

I still like every single song on the album. I really dig listening to Leo's production on Summertime. And it's fun to play Overexcited right now because it's so fresh.

theresthatmanagain22 karma

How many rolls of tape do you go through a month for taping up your fingers for a show?

cronutlover52 karma

I no longer use the Johnson n Johnson COACH athletic tape on stage (they sponsor me) (just kidding) -- it's hard to play the trap kit with sticks and tape on your fingers. So over the years I just gave up on taping. Back in the day it protected me from splits and cuts, but now I just play at a sensible volume and switch around. Longevity!

Eagle2015Mom22 karma

Who are your parents more proud of, you or your sister? For the record, you're both pretty bad ass in my book but if mom is bragging on you in the grocery story, how does her narrative go?

cronutlover41 karma

My parents are proud of both of their moderately-famous children. Equally. Is this where I type about my badass sister? Or is there another specific question about the FCC somewhere else in the list?

WastingMyLifeHere219 karma

After so long of drumming, how is your hearing?

cronutlover78 karma


MillBeeks18 karma

What is your favorite BNL song, and what is your favorite personal story about BNL?

Also, can’t wait to check out the new album.

cronutlover57 karma

I have such immense respect for those guys as performers. They have been naked on our stage, and we have been naked on their stage. Once in Toronto they spotted us watching their set in the crowd, and they spotlighted us and said "available for autographs" "now signing with sharpies in row 15" "everyone, it's Guster" -- and we just got mobbed. Ed was laughing so hard on stage.

Fadeley18 karma

Huge fan of Guster, have been for years. How do you feel about the synthesizer vibe the last two albums have vs. something like Keep It Together where it was heavy alt-rock? Do you prefer the new feel?

cronutlover49 karma

I like not repeating ourselves. I'm not going to be here saying "Oh yeah, the future is dark icy synth, FOREVER!" -- in fact, I'd like to return to using more percussion on future recordings. BUT, it would never be similar to early albums in the way it's used -- it'd probably be more electronic or sparse or warped or world-beat or whatever is FRESH and NEW and helps us feel like we are entering fearful territory. That's key for us to continue writing and recording.

JewlzInFL18 karma

Hi Brian! When and why did fans start calling you Thundergod?

cronutlover53 karma

I started calling myself Thundergod and demanded our fans follow suit, many many years ago after discovering that Rick Allen, the one armed drummer for Def Leppard, was called the Thundergod. Pretty lame of me, yeah? I once got a pic of myself with the original Thundergod. Can I post it here? Probably not.

gigafishing18 karma

When is Trippin’ Balls making its triumphant return?

cronutlover30 karma

Those guys are still in extended rehab, from what I can tell.

thisdopeknows42315 karma

Any plans to reissue Keep It Together on vinyl?

cronutlover68 karma

I think it would be silly to keep ANY record off of vinyl these days. I am going to make a point of releasing every single record on vinyl forever and ever. I love my record player.

Opreviously15 karma

I interviewed you guys back in 97 or 98, I think, when you played in St Louis at Cicero's. At the time, you all told me that you have a disturbingly good memory, and that you would remember our conversation in the future. you?

cronutlover45 karma

Cicero's was where Uncle Tupelo used to play back in the late 80s, early 90's -- it's legendary. Hard to believe we played there. Yes, I remember our conversation.

Junkstar13 karma

If there were such a thing as a band that only played songs about hockey, who would be the best of those bands?

cronutlover14 karma

Hey Dave, I thought you said you had to work today?

ScruffyMonkey3613 karma

Favorite drum shop in America? Thanks for the great music!

cronutlover35 karma

I don't know if it's there anymore but there was a crazy warehouse in Tucson AZ that had endless drum bits, as far as the eye could see. You needed to shower your entire body after being in there.

Jonathan44332213 karma

Luke is always in the background but it is particularly clear in concert that he adds a lot to the band. Could you talk about the effect Luke has had on Guster since joining?

cronutlover38 karma

Luke stands up front these days, as he should. Part of making creative leaps with each album is writing with new people. So Joe Pisapia helped us write two albums (GUOTS and EW) that were a real stretch for us. When Luke got on board and wrote with us for Evermotion it was clear we had whole new places to go. I think Look Alive is a more realized version of what we can accomplish with Luke. He is an incredible musician.

cordialsavage12 karma

What’s your favorite cover song that the band has done?

cronutlover33 karma

We've played a bunch of silly encores that we let our drummer sing, but as far as proper covers we've done, it was really bizarre to try playing "Brazil" for a tour with Joe. We never quite got good at it the way we did with "Nothing But Flowers" but it definitely challenged us.

Raxil1010 karma

What album should I listen to RIGHT now?

cronutlover27 karma

"Harlem River" by Kevin Morby. "Poison Tree" by The Poison Tree.

Ravenclaw7910 karma

  1. How are your hands these days? Now that you’ve been playing a kit this long, do you prefer it to bongos?

  2. Has anyone in the band ever been injured by a ping pong ball during a show? (And what happens to them all, anyway?)

cronutlover44 karma

My hands are in great shape, thanks. I'm amazed I didn't do more damage.

There was once a flaming ping pong ball thrown on stage, right under Scooter's drum throne. There was a mini fire and our guitar tech ran over and stomped it out. What a hero! Don't throw fire at Guster!

Songbird42010 karma

I just want to say I love you guys and my favorite movie is life as a house and I love that your music is in that movie! How did that happen?

cronutlover33 karma

That movie was written by a Guster fan who imagined the opening scene following the lyrics to What You Wish For. It made me cry, that movie. Cancer movies, man.

bobcady729 karma

Can you share the dates for On the Ocean 2019?

cronutlover41 karma

Aug 9-10. OH mama, I am in trouble for this one.

Inkin9 karma

Seeing this has caused me to start re-listening to this epic Guster show from my past where Ryan seems drunk and everyone just sorta screws around chanting Thunder Pussy and singing about pepporoni nipples. Do you remember shows like this or does it all just become a blur after some point?

cronutlover12 karma

did this happen for real? it probably did. I am not clicking on that link

_____KALROG7 karma

Hey there! Love your music.

What's the hardest part about putting out an album for your group?

How does the label treat you? (I'm always fascinated by the business side of music production)

Thanks for your time!!

cronutlover25 karma

I think the hardest part is often the release -- managing expectations. We put so much into every album, and in order to get to the finish line you really have to think your music is THE SHIT. And so when you go through the process of releasing it and so-and-so chooses not to review it, or this or that festival doesn't like it and doesn't book you -- it's hard to reconcile with your own prideful feelings about your art. I realize we're artists and we're sensitive. But we'd be better off not knowing anything about how our music is received and just soldiering on down our own vector.

lawofgravity7 karma

What is your go-to breakfast on and off the road?

cronutlover25 karma

Trying to avoid the cereal-soy-milk thing. Some avocado or yogurt with granola does me right these days. If there is "birthday cake" on the bus that works for breakfast too tho.

spicyv7 karma

Any plans for Woodstock 2019?

cronutlover20 karma

I think that we are probably not invited to that one?

cote1127 karma

Would you cover a hit 80's song to get in with the kids?

cronutlover40 karma

You mean like Weezer did? No. Oh wait, yes we would. Come on Eileen. One day.

whiteytommie69ey7 karma

Following up with the Christian question, I was recently listening to "Two at a Time". Is that about Noah's Ark?

cronutlover13 karma

yup. rock n roll.

jpb11116 karma

Hi Bri, Any arthritis in the hands yet? What does your doctor say about them? Fan since 98,, fifty plus shows...oh, it's my birthday today....

cronutlover9 karma

happy birthday! no arthritis! I think that's more of a genetic thing.

toonytoon1806 karma

Do you know Thanks to Gravity? My dad played with you.

cronutlover10 karma


celtic7456 karma

Did anyone record the improv show you guys did at UCB last week?

cronutlover8 karma

yes but we are not releasing it because improv is property of THE ROOM

lucyny120136 karma

I'm a huge fan, love the new album - it has been playing non stop. I love when Guster collaborates with orchestras. One of my favorite recordings is Come Downstairs and Say Hello with the Colorado Symphony. Any plans to collaborate again with another orchestra?

cronutlover10 karma

Feb 8th in Omaha we are playing with their symphony! It's so fun.

yonsung6 karma

Hi, Brian! Are you still a cronut lover?

cronutlover29 karma

I have never tried one, and I just randomly threw that out there when I joined reddit, and now everyone knows that's my handle. Oh god. Don't read my past comments. But I love reddit, with all my heart. Above the fray. Plus, the doggies and kitties.

Clemen115 karma

What are some songs you made that you consider a must to listen to?

cronutlover23 karma

Ruby Falls, I Spy, Hang On, All the way up to heaven

skidv255 karma

Why did you switch the position of the drum set and keyboards on stage for your most recent tour?

cronutlover11 karma

too much cymbal bleeding into luke's vocal mic!

sluttttt5 karma

What is your favorite song to sing/butcher at shows? I personally would like the Cheers theme to make a comeback for this tour.

cronutlover32 karma

Cheers theme was pretty solid, but you're really only gonna drop that in Massachusetts, right? I enjoyed singing "Bridge Over Troubled Water" -- we did it once with Ben Folds on drums. And singing "All Out of Love" with Will Forte on a revolving stage is a life highlight.

DweadPiwateWoberts5 karma

Do you remember playing at a summer camp in Wellesley, MA when you guys were new? I was a counselor there.

cronutlover9 karma

Explo! We did it so many times. We were just students ourselves.

wherethecolorsr5 karma

How much thought goes into sequencing your albums? I can't pinpoint why, but the last song on all of your albums really stand out to me. Not for Nothing off Look Alive is incredible. I really enjoy the synth solos.

cronutlover11 karma

I mean, where else are you going to sequence "Not for Nothing"? -- we are pretty predictable putting the long slow epics last, but DO WHAT YOU WANT is a pretty cool exception.

Jonathan4433225 karma

Feeling guilty that Guster is my favorite band, even over the Beatles. Is there a cure?


cronutlover17 karma

More cowbell?

josh5hockey4 karma

When are you going to recreate more hilarious YouTube videos like Grape Stomp Lady?

cronutlover16 karma

Dave Yonkman was really the inspiration behind a lot of our best stuff (including the GSPN video with Buccigross and the amazing cruise ship video where I "miss the birth of my first child" while explaining my djembe part on Backyard).... miss you Dave!

senecant4 karma

I hear you guys recorded this latest album here in my town of Calgary. How did you enjoy the city? Anything in particular stand out for you?

Also... you'll come record here but not come back on tour???

cronutlover10 karma

We really had a great time in Calgary. We found some amazing restaurants and friendly people and really Studio Bell is such a lucky place to stumble upon. We had access to rooms upon rooms of analog keyboards and pianos and synthesizers and drum machines and while we couldn't ever check out every one of them, we felt fulfilled and welcomed. Would record there again. Doubt we'll ever play a show in Calgary since we can't even draw anyone to Toronto (sorry, it's the truth)!

musicmerchkid3 karma

How much do your hands hurt and where do you buy your superglue?

cronutlover15 karma

My hands don't hurt much anymore, as I've made some changes to my style, and split the duties between drum set and percussion set nowadays. Back in the day I would put Crazy Glue in my cuts to seal them shut before a concert. Don't put Crazy Glue in your cuts.

dazedwit3 karma

I used to work in Harvard Square 23 years ago. One day you guys set up a busk in front of my store and it was awesome. I knew who you were but I don't think anyone did.

Do you still do random shows like that? Or did you ever do random sets like that or was it just a one off thing that day?

cronutlover7 karma

We had a great run in Harvard Square while we were in college. mid 90's ish. Eventually we got noise tickets and had to stop, but we met a lot of people. Head of the Charles was a big day for us, we'd play the same 8 song set like ten times!

theorangekeystonecan2 karma

What are your thoughts on Kerhonkson?

cronutlover5 karma

The Kerhamptons? Lotta ticks up there.

jonny_walkman2 karma

Do you ever wish you stuck with the name GUS?

cronutlover7 karma

Not really. It's not a very good band name either.

whiteytommie69ey2 karma

Can you explain a bit of what's gonna go down during the symphony concert in Omaha? Specifically with your newer music, are you gonna allow your synth vibes to come out, or will it be all orchestral?

cronutlover7 karma

When we play with orchestras it's a real adjustment, so that their instruments can speak. You wouldn't score a symphony along with a rock band playing "Amsterdam" say... the electric guitars would cover them up. We generally include the synth parts in what we provide our front-of-house mixer, and then hope that he can get the strings etc up over the synth. Certain parts that really shouldn't be doubled get left solely to the orchestra. It's really a song by song thing. The goal is always to let the real musicians behind us speak if it's possible for them to speak. And to choose your deepest and sparsest songs so they can shine.