Monthly Archives: April 2003

04.24.03 – Don’t Eat Us

We just discovered a quarterly kids magazine put out by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), where under the headline “On Our Radar: Rock Icons, Indie Darlings, and Cool Bands Agree — Meat Is Murder!”… was Guster’s very own Ryan Miller. Look:

Not to be insensitive to vegetarians or people who believe that animals should be treated ethically, but I’ve known Ryan Miller for twelve years, and in those twelve years Ryan Miller has eaten more animals than most people eat in a lifetime. There is not a more carnivorous band out there than Guster. But because we made fun of a crunchy pin we got at an Earth Day show in April of 2000, we end up being cast as vegans in a PETA article. This is gold! Gold!! This is the very definition of irony!!

And not to be insensitive to “Morrissey,” an artist we admire, respect, and rip-off to no end… but you’re not making a strong vegan case with the “vegetables taste better than meat” argument… go with the “if we grew wheat in the pastures where cattles graze we could feed the world fifty times over” argument or something. Have you ever tried to eat a salad without covering it with dressing? Broccoli or cauliflower without salting, peppering, and cooking it first? I’d rather eat one of these garnished chairs you’re always talking about! No one can come up with a good argument for eating animals? What about these sharp, predatory, gristle-grinding incisors in my mouth, Morrissey!? What about all the good times we had!? In other Guster vs. Nature news, I woke up the other day in Winston-Salem NC and saw THIS out the bus window:

It’s a huge blown up photo of a kitten… and a baby… of a kitten SPOONING a baby. There’s a photo lab right next to the Ramada in Winston-Salem where they attract customers with a huge blown up photo of a kitten spooning a baby.

(Did you see that PETA? I’m promoting a picture of a kitten! Put ME in your next quarterly! Love Kittens, Don’t Eat Them! Put my face on the pin!)

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04.18.03 – Houston, TX

Of all the cities I’ll miss visiting when my drumming days are through, I’ll miss Houston Texas the least. I mean this, of course, in the “best possible way.” Here was tonight’s situation… I was in Houston, I was hungry, and it was 11:30 pm. Discuss.

It doesn’t seem like such a desperate set of circumstances, but we have very little mobility on the road. Our bus is always anchored where it is, I wouldn’t know how to drive it if I were even allowed to, and we can rarely get Michael to pull over at Wattaburger or anywhere else when we leave at two in the morning for the next town.

The Hickory Hollow BBQ place where we ate lunch was closed, so I went into a bar called Cosmos Cafe and asked if they were still serving food. They weren’t. I asked where I might find something to eat in the neighborhood and learned there was a Jack In The Box up Washington Street a ways. Is it within walking distance? This question stumped them. Who would ever walk somewhere in Houston?

I would. I walked a goddam mile and a half with my shirt stuck to my back and sweat rolling off my forehead until I found the Jack In The Box, and when I got there the door was locked. They closed at 11, so my only hope was the 24 hour drive thru. But I wasn’t in a car. And so I did the thing that many of us have done at some point in our lives… I pretended I was a car. I inched my way along the drive-thru line between two pick-up trucks until I got to the menu.

I decided I would have two Jumbo Jacks and two chicken sandwiches. I was “hungry” and I’d just walked a long way in the humidity. I said hello to the speaker and the speaker said nothing to me. What the fuck? I kicked it, because that oughtta get their attention.

Nothing.

Sensing that the pick-up truck with the gun rack behind me was growing impatient, I decided to continue up the line to the window to actually talk to a human. A few minutes later I got there and a woman with a Jack In The Box hat and headset rolled her eyes at me and said “sorry, no walk-ups.” Wait a minute. Walk-ups? There’s a fucking name for people like me? This pretending-you’re-a-car phenomenon has a name!? I tried to make this woman understand… I’d walked for a half an hour past barbwire-enclosed car dealerships with doberman pinchers barking at me the whole way, just to come to this very Jack In The Box so I could spend my four dollars on four meat and mayonnaise sandwiches. My money’s no good here just because I’m on foot!?

She closed the window on me. I fucking loved when she did that. I had no choice but to plead with the cars in line behind me to let me tack on a few sandwiches to their orders. I was determined. But no one even rolled down their window for me. In fact some of them rolled their windows up as I approached. Even after I showed them my money and everything. They must have thought I was nuts. True, I was sweaty, angry, and my shirt was missing a few buttons so I may have been showing some nipple. But come on Houston. Have a heart.

I spent the long walk back to the bus wondering what I would do if I were in a car and a walk-upper approached me. I know what I’d do now.

Back on the bus I found some bread and cheese and a George Foreman grill to make me happy.

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04.16.03 – Dallas, TX

Desperately searching for a way to make our third visit to the Gypsy Tea Room in Dallas different than our first two visits to the Gypsy Tea Room in Dallas, we declared tonight’s show “wig night”… which is kind of like “opposite day,” except things aren’t opposite. And everyone’s wearing wigs.

Ryan almost looks a bit like the lead singer of The Peace Soldiers with that wig on. Anyway, we thought we’d be playing to a sea of wigs tonight in Dallas, but no one else really participated. There were like five people in the crowd who came with wigs and everyone else just kind of stood there, perplexed, watching while our entire entourage played out an inside joke. I guess we needed to be a little clearer as to what Wig Night meant.

Wig Night means we’re getting bored of a certain venue and the only thing that’ll spice up the night is a room full of hairpieces. And maybe some more cowbell. So if we ever play the bloody Newport Music Hall in Columbus Ohio again, have your wigs ready.

In other news, not one member of Guster remembered to call into their family’s seder via cell phone tonight. Bad jews! Bad jews, Guster!

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04.13.03 – St Louis, MO

tonight i finally got fed up with all the special darks clogging up the chocolate bowl on the bus, so i went through it and removed them. every last one of them, even the pastel-colored easter-packaged special darks. they’ll be a gift for the people of st louis. as i was separating them, sean said “hey what are you doing with the special darks… i like special dark” and adam chimed in “me too.” i pretended i didn’t hear them. if they like special darks so much, how come they’re always the last thing left in the bowl? eating up valuable krackel-space. they’ll taint our bus no more with their sophisticated but boring special dark flavor.

six solid color t-shirts: $40.00 roll of duct tape: $2.00 going to the guster concert in style: priceless

and to those of you who’ve written and suggested that i’m cruel to be offering less than flattering images of my cohorts (ryan circa 1995, sean circa half-asleep) in the journal without showing my own weaknesses, i offer this — the less than flattering image to end all less than flattering images:

go ahead, make a screen saver out of it. i don’t care.

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04.07.03 – San Francisco

Someone was kind enough to give Guster two days in the Bay area on this tour. We spent Friday out in Sausalito visiting the studio where we recorded Lost & Gone Forever in 1999. Anticipating our arrival, a couple of the studio staff members showed up in their Guster shirts, the same ones we’d given them the day we left four years ago. I couldn’t help but notice how the shirts had become pilly, the logos flakey and faded, the sleeves tight and shrunken… has anyone else noticed that Guster t-shirts circa ’99 quit on you? Here’s to Guster Inc. profit margins…

We thought it’d be funny to take another photo on the couch in the control room at the studio, as pictured on the back cover of Lost & Gone Forever.

Just like the Beatles on that balcony! Except they all had longer hair the second time around and we pretty much look the same, just four years older. The angle of our photo is a little off too, and someone (me) was sure that Ryan had a computer in his lap on the back of the album. oops.

Saturday at the Warfield in S.F. was easily our best performance so far this tour. I’m getting over a cold, so during soundcheck I kept ending up with chunks of loogie in my mouth, and I kept spitting them into the nearest container — my bottle of water (can’t be swallowing that stuff now, got to get it out of the system). Eventually I got thirsty though, so I had to get another bottle of water for drinking not spitting. But when the water levels in the bottles evened out I started to get nervous about which bottle I’d put where, and I had to examine the contents of each bottle before drinking or spitting. When I almost drank my own phlegm for the fifth time, my brilliant drum technician Sean Lynde walked over to the spit-water and drew a skull on it with his sharpie.

And for the rest of soundcheck, that wasn’t an issue. You’d think I’d
have the decency not to post unflattering images of Sean considering
what an attentive drum tech he is.

On the way out of San Francisco, Michael Stook hit a hawk with his
windshield and had to drive the whole way to Los Angeles with a cracked
front view. But don’t worry. The hawk stuck to the windshield, bled
for a while, and then flew away to be with its family…

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04.03.03 – Portland, OR

If you look carefully at the picture on the right you’ll notice that there’s a face on Adam’s t-shirt. We’ll call this face “Curtis.” Curtis is someone who lives in the Portland area and did a favor for

Adam once. That sounds a lot sketchier than it needs to, but the details are insignificant. The important thing is that Adam devised a plan whereby he’d thank Curtis by creating and wearing a t-shirt with his face on it at the Crystal Ballroom show. Adam actually convinced

Curtis that for his guest list pass we’d need a close-up photo of his face (standard security procedure for Guster shows)… Curtis came through and Adam learned how to use Photoshop, isolated his head, burned the file to a disc, and created a t-shirt at Kinko’s.

This is why Adam was wearing his Face of Curtis shirt in Portland last night. And if you want to know why Adam will continue to wear Face of Curtis throughout this tour, it’s because Curtis didn’t even show up at the concert, and because t-shirts are generally valuable commodities that you wear when you have them.

After going to such lengths for a joke that yielded no fruit, Adam poured hot water in one nostril and let it leak out the other into the sink on the bus.

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04.01.03 – The Midwest

Some people have started to point out that I’m wearing the same t-shirt on stage two nights in a row a lot on this tour. I did it in Detroit/Milwaukee and I did it in Chicago/Minneapolis last week. You all don’t know what it’s like on the road though… the bus lulls you to sleep while you’re wearing what you wore on stage, you wake up and you have things on your mind other than “changing your clothes” and the “ever-darkening pits of your shirt.” Who needs life to be complicated and confusing?

My wardrobe aside, we’re trying to make each show more of a unique experience this time around… take Chicago for instance. We showed some dirty underwear to the people of Chicago, in the form of our never-before-seen old “Window” video from May 1995 that we shot as a Northwestern student’s college project on the Chicago Navy Pier. We’ve had it under lock and key for eight years. And it still isn’t quite ripe. Which is to say, we’re still not ready to laugh about it, but we projected it and played along to it even though many of the video’s images areĀ less than flattering.

With all due respect to the video’s director, who was a very ambitious and talented student, we look really young, eager, and stupid in the video. We’re singing to the ocean, arms outstretched, and we’re just so OVERCOME WITH EMOTION while we play the song — I think Ryan does a spin at one point. Also, there is a “story line” going through the video, featuring a hired actor who we never met.

When the song was over (we actually timed it pretty close to the video), the audience laughed, clapped, and snorted, and we opened up the room (the stage, rather) to discussion. Patrick the guest violinist from Blue Merle delivered his line adequately: “Umm, I didn’t get it.” Then we let Joe go on a philosophical odyssey into the mic… he offered Patrick some explanation… I just remember him talking about the protagonist chasing his childhood, man versus nature, loss of innocence, and I swear at one point I heard him say “reverse Oedipal metaphor.” We started playing “Either Way” while Joe was still talking.

In the scintillating climax to “Window,” the protagonist hired actor guy literally chases his metaphorical childhood all the way to the edge of the ocean where his childhood leaps off into the unknown.

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