Monthly Archives: June 2004

06.26.04 – Dave Yonkman’s Interview with Dave Yonkman

Those of you who have the “Guster On Ice” DVD have seen his name but not his face. Dave Yonkman. The man who spent a week documenting life on the road with Guster. The man who spent a month and a half editing the footage from that week. The man who met Guster by emailing the website in 1999 and asking if the band wanted to go tubing on a lake in Indiana on their day off (umm, yes).

And now, years later, as we drive from Milwaukee to Indianapolis, Dave’s mom Cathy Yonkman is on our guest list for the show but Dave is nowhere to be found. Alas, Dave Yonkman is all grows up. On the heels of his groundbreaking documentary work “Dave Yonkman’s Week with Guster,” he’s moved to New York City to work on some new film projects and live in a closet-sized apartment in the Lower East Side.

Dave Yonkman caught up with himself at a cafe recently to discuss, life, love, and Jared from Subway.


(left to right: Jared from Subway, Dave Yonkman)

DAVE YONKMAN: So, first things first. How come you don’t end any of your words in –schizzle, -fizzle, or –izzle?

DAVE YONKMAN: Because I think it’s stupid. Next question.

DAVE YONKMAN: Do you have any tattoos?

DAVE YONKMAN: No, I’m really not that cool. But my twin brother Joe has some Samoan thing on his arm that he’s been hiding from our parents for the last few years. Top of his right arm, I believe.

DAVE YONKMAN: Are you enjoying your time here in the city so far?

DAVE YONKMAN: I fucking love it here! I actually got to see a guy “go postal” in the post office on 14th Street. I mean he went absolutely fucking crazy! Threatening to kill the teller and whatnot. And no one even batted an eye at him, but I was, like, cracking up. It was just so fantastical. That was on my second day here. I hope New York doesn’t ever make me so cold that I can’t laugh at a crazy guy threatening to kill someone at a post office! [laughter]

DAVE YONKMAN: So, the 800lb. gorilla in the room is…what’s up with all those Big Friend-blurred faces in your documentary?

DAVE YONKMAN: There were some release form issues. Some people couldn’t be found or were unknown; others just wouldn’t get back to us.

DAVE YONKMAN: What about the guy who squeals like a pig? That’s the guy from –

DAVE YONKMAN: From the Subway commercials! His name’s Jared Fogle. He’s the one that lost almost seven hundred pounds a few years ago by eating six-inch turkey sandwiches from Subway every day for a whole year. Can you imagine the shits this guy must have been taking? I’ll bet he was pretty regular, though. Anyway, he was a good sport the night we talked to him on camera, but we had trouble getting him to sign a release form. So, somewhere along the way, his face became the Big Friend and his voice became a squealing pig.

DAVE YONKMAN: Why wouldn’t he sign a release?

DAVE YONKMAN: I have no idea. He was actually on my flight home from the New York screening of “Guster on Ice.” He’d been avoiding us until then, but I knew I had him trapped on the plane. So I marched up to first class and gave him a DVD. He sort of played dumb when I told him we had to blur his face and alter his voice. So I told him ‘it’s cool, it’s still really clear who you are and it still totally sounds like you.’ [laughter] I spent the rest of the flight hoping he didn’t have a laptop to watch the DVD on. True story. It was totally bizarre and ironic and weird. I took a picture of the two of us just because I knew no one would believe me.

DAVE YONKMAN: Other than “The Jared Incident,” your experience out on the road with Guster was good?

DAVE YONKMAN: My standard answer to that question is that it was probably as much fun as you think it would be to go out on the road with one of your favorite bands. But it was even better than that. Those were some of the most fun, memorable, and exciting times I’ve ever had. That sounds like sentimental, corny bullshit, but that’s just the only way to say it. The ten people I was on that bus with are ten of the coolest people I know.

DAVE YONKMAN: Any disappointments?

DAVE YONKMAN: Not one.

DAVE YONKMAN: Thanks for sitting down with us.

DAVE YONKMAN: For schizzle.

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06.22.04 – The Meowstro Has Left The Building

Along with the onset of the exciting new Ben Folds, Rufus Wainwright, & Guster tour comes the very sad end of the Matt Peskie era. You might remember him as the happy-go-lucky Guster engineer who mixed our monitors night after night and sometimes meowed over our music. Matt is moving on to other projects, and a home without wheels.

If the name’s not ringing any bells, perhaps a brief slide show will jog your memory…

launch slide show

Thanks for the memories Matt. We’ll miss you terribly. And we’ll miss new monitor guy Chris Russo terribly too when he quits in two years too.

Chris “Mad Dog” Russo — wait ’til you hear him bark!

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06.16.04 – Orlando

Where did all this Florida love come from!? I’m beginning to think we’ll have to drop the “you hate us, we hate you, let’s just get this over with” approach we’ve taken with this state.

One group at the show was actually from Massachusetts. They came down to see the concert and soak up some sweet Florida culture (Wolfgang Puck Cafe! Virgin Megastore! Rainforest Cafe! Planet Hollywood! Orlando has it all!). They even made t-shirts for the occasion, featuring the Big Friend with a Red Sox hat and a cartoon martini, with gratuitous use of the word “wicked” in there to boot…

…but there were actual native Floridians showing us love last night too. One girl said she “was going to make us cookies but had a really busy week.” That was nice. It’s the thought that counts. Not the soft delicious cookies.

And then while waiting for our check at IHOP at 1am, our waitress showed up with a plate full of sloppy lines of ketchup. I was about to say “no, we didn’t order the nasty ketchup plate, we’re waiting for our check” when I noticed that the ketchup spelled something. It spelled “y’all is a trip” and came courtesy of a table of young Gusterrhoids seated nearby. How thoughtful. There was even a note attached to the plate that read “from your black Guster fan” — insinuating that he’s the only one that exists, but alas our ketchup-composer friend is mistaken. There is one in Virginia too. And we used to have one in New Jersey.

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06.14.04 – Bonnaroo

Today is Bonnaroo recovery day. Even though our set wasn’t until Sunday, we were there from Thursday night on, soaking up the culture and listening to great music… like many of you, I hit the Walmart (one of the Walmarts, anyway) between Nashville and Manchester TN to stock up on bottled water and beef jerky, pitched a tent in the mud at the venue, piled my crap on top of your crap in the port-o-potties, and ended up with mud-caked shoes on my feet and mysterious bruises on my body at the end of the weekend. Like many of you, I had to be careful not to step on passed-out wookies on the way to the various stages.

Unlike many of you, I had a laminate that gave me access to an air-conditioned artist hospitality tent with fruit, cookies, open bar, and all-you-can-drink vitamin water, which really isn’t water, but that’s a topic for another road journal altogether. So when the going got rough… when the monsoons swept in… when the afternoon heat became unbearable, I kicked back on a fuzzy couch with a plate of pineapple, a microbrew, and a bunch of people who had just taken showers in their hotel rooms. It was a wonderful way to experience Bonnaroo, but I wasn’t keeping it real by any stretch of the imagination.

Special thanks to those who showed up for our set on Sunday… there was an incredible energy in the tent and it felt great to be back on stage. In general, Bonnaroo crowds are super receptive to bands, friendly to each other, and a big part of the reason why the festival is such a success. Here’s what I chose to see in my 72 hours at Bonnaroo:

Galactic: I hadn’t seen these guys in years. We befriended the Galactics on the Horde tour in 1998 but haven’t crossed paths much since. Maybe because we’re a pop-rock band and they’re a funk-jazz band. In any event, those guys only get better and Stanton Moore is one of the best drummers I’ve ever seen. He was the highlight of the 48 minute drum jam that took place when Galactic and Guster opened for Widespread Panic somewhere in Florida in 1998. I was the guy tapping my djembe and wondering how it was possible that the jam wasn’t over yet.

Wilco: It’s fun to see your favorite band, even when it’s 94 degrees outside in the middle of the day. They’re a six-piece now and sound bigger and better than ever. “At Least That’s What You Said” brought me to the brink of tears. The brink. I didn’t cry. At the end of “Spiders/Kidsmoke” (I skip it on the album but I loved it live!) Tweedy threw down his guitar and walked off stage. There were two more songs on the set list. I don’t know what was wrong. They sounded incredible, but the crowd was comatose from heatstroke. I kept thinking that if he wasn’t schvitzing in that denim jacket the whole time we may have gotten to the last two songs. Oh well.

Gillian Welch: I like Gillian Welch. But after two songs I went to see Yo La Tengo. Life is full of difficult choices.

Yo La Tengo: This band made an album called “I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One” in 1997 and my life hasn’t been the same since. I got there in time to hear “Stockholm Syndrome” and then they went on a five song binge of very mellow and/or experimental jams that lost a chunk of the crowd. It’s a two-sided coin for me… on the one hand you want to hear the songs you love and on the other hand you want bands to remain adventurous, defiant, and experimental… you know, to keep practicing the things that make them artists and lead to new terrain. So it was hit & miss for me. They went in to “Deeper Into Movies” and never looked back. Twelve minute version of “Nuclear War” blew me away to close the set.

Calexico: This was the best band I saw all weekend. I’d heard the albums and liked them but wasn’t prepared for a live show that infectious. I couldn’t believe it. Go see Calexico. If every song on the next Guster album has a trumpet on it, now you know why.

My Morning Jacket: My Morning Jacket were the band on stage when the first monsoon of the weekend swept in. They were having a good set with a big crowd when giant black clowds rolled in, loomed overhead, and winds started gusting. For a song or two everyone was just waiting in anticipation, stage techs scrambling to cover guitars and electronics… and then you saw it… you could *see* the rain before you could feel it… coming at you like a swarm of bugs. When it hit, the crowd let out a roar but stuck around, and the band kept on playing while their guitar pedals and drums got soaked, bringing the energy up to the point where everyone knew they were witnessing something special. It was a great moment. The only thing that ruined it for me was seeing some guy in bermuda shorts with chicken legs running around the stage taking pictures with his camera-phone (Ryan Miller).

Grandaddy: They played a great set list, including covering “Here” by Pavement (with the introduction that they were playing a song by a band with the good sense to bow out gracefully — I loved that), but the sound never quite came together for them during the set. Don’t get me wrong, I love this band with all my heart and would jump in front of a bus for them, but I’ve heard them sound a lot better.

David Byrne: Yeah, so we all had our visions of kicking into Nothing But Flowers only to hear a roar from the crowd as David Byrne (surreptitiously souped-up with a set of in-ear monitors and a wireless mic from our in-on-the-secret crew) ran on stage and took over the first verse for Ryan, but there was no such luck. He was getting ready for his set on the big stage with a string section, horns, etc… he closed with “Life During Wartime” and he’s still one of my heroes. He sounded fucking great.

Beth Orton: I was surprised by how much I liked her — from the songs to the affable British accent to the choice of M. Ward as extra guitarist. She covered “Buckets of Rain” by Bob Dylan and let M. Ward sing every other verse. Back stage in the air-conditioned artist hospitality tent I didn’t have the balls to talk to either of them. What do you call him, Mr. Ward? M?

Medeski Martin & Wood: This is Sean’s favorite band in the whole world and he was packing up my drums while I was watching them. (Is there no justice?) Like me, Ryan and Adam, Medeski, Martin and Wood play music for a living. That’s about where the similarities end. These guys are musicans on an entirely different level. They float around in a musical universe where Joe might be allowed in. I love watching them interact and communicate on stage too. They just know each other so well, musically.

Cracker/Camper Van Beethoven: I didn’t actually see their set, but as I was being golf-carted past their tent en route to our gig, I heard David Lowery singing “Victoria” by The Kinks and it made me happy. What a great tune.

Ween: I made my way over to Ween at about 1am when the Dead started their drum jam. I caught the last two hours of their set and wished I hadn’t missed the first hour. Two hours just wasn’t enough. I can’t think of another band as versatile as Ween… every song has such a unique identity. I used to play the shit out of their first album (God – Ween – Satan) in college, though I don’t think they played anything from it in their set. They closed with “Poopship Destroyer” and it was beautiful.

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