Monthly Archives: April 2005

04.29.05 – Minneapolis, MN

we don’t go to karaoke bars very often, but “u otter stop inn” in minneapolis feels like it’s been built into the last few tours. it’s a fluorescent little isosceles triangle of a bar full of drunk minnesotans. there’s a scary mural of humans with otter heads on the outside of the building. if you’re driving along central avenue in downtown minneapolis, it’s hard to miss on the north side of the river.

my out-of-tune-peter-brady voice doesn’t always endear me to crowds in karaoke bars the way it seems to when i take the mic at the end of guster shows. for some reason. so i’ve adopted a golden rule of karaoke success that seemed to help me at u otter stop inn last night — just make sure you pick a great song. one that everybody likes and can help you sing along to. last night it was naked eyes’ “always something there to remind me.” at a recent wedding it was a horrific version of “imagine” and it did the trick. but while i got the ball rolling for the guster, i was soon to be upstaged by new guitar tech anderson heath bracht junior.

andy spotted “amsterdam” on a remote page of the karaoke book and submitted his request. and even though he heard the song for the first time two weeks ago at our show in cleveland, he sang every melody and lyric perfectly. except when they printed “shag cd” on the screen instead of “shaggs cd.” at least they didn’t print “shaq cd.” sometimes people think i wrote a song with a shaquille o’neal album reference in it.

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04.28.05 – Appleton, WI

This is a picture of our band sitting at a table with two members of the Boston Pops Symphony Orchestra, who flew out to Appleton WI to see us play yesterday. In case you weren’t aware, Guster & the Boston Pops are playing two nights together at Symphony Hall in June. And while the idea of us joining them on a Debussy tune and maybe a Bach movement or two was discussed, we all figured it was easier if they just learned our music. So that’s what we were talking about at the round table.

Seated at 3 o’clock is Pat. Pat is a percussionist with the Pops. When I asked him if he played triangle and congas and tubular bells, he said “all that stuff.” Pat also has the task of arranging Guster’s music for a 90-person orchestra that will be playing without amplification alongside an amplified rock band. So he took in the live show and made some notes, asked me “how I do that to my hands every night,” and now he has to go write arrangements for the setlist we brainstormed. It really is such a daunting task, it’s hard to fathom. But I’m thrilled to be a part of it. I get the sense that the Pops has never tried anything like this before either.

Seated at about 5 o’clock we have Dennis. Dennis plays trumpet with the Pops and played trumpet with us at the Appleton show. He learned “Dear Valentine” by listening to it once and writing a bunch of lines and bubbles on a chart right before the show. He nailed it too. When Ryan introduced him to the crowd, Dennis got a polite smattering of applause, to which Ryan responded with “He’s a PROFESSIONAL musician!!” Silence. Hello?

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04.25.05 – Mason City, IA

This is one of those mega-depressing days off. It’s cold and rainy and we’re in Mason City Iowa. Generally we enjoy spending days off in remote towns with old man bars, cheap diners, and undiscovered thrift stores (I think it was in Billings Montana where Joe snagged the Hammond organ in his studio for $29). Mason City probably has all those things, but we’re stuck at the Holiday Inn on a stretch of highway that Sprint PCS forgot, where the bitter winds howl and there are Applebee’s restaurants as far as the eye can see. I know they have riblets, but is there anything more depressing than eating at Applebee’s? Maybe eating at Applebee’s and then going to Super Walmart afterwards to spend an hour looking for a little wall hook to hang your headphones on in your bunk. Maybe something like that.

Joe had the right idea. Joe’s sleeping through the afternoon after taking a lethal dose of Jewish Guilt from Dave Schneider of the all-hockey opening band “the Zambonis” yesterday in Illinois. They worked out a dueling guitars schtick in soundcheck between Joe and the Zambonis’ chicken-pickin’ guitarist Steve Tanski. Then Joe proceeded to confuse the order of the opening bands (both Carbon Leaf and the Zambonis opened up yesterday) and completely blew off his cameo appearance. Apparently, Dave introduced “special guest Joe from Guster” last night… and when they were left hanging, he proceeded to put out the call for Joe before every remaining song in the set. He even got a fruitless “Joe! Joe! Joe!” chant going with the crowd. Dave loved every minute of it.


Dave Schneider of the Zambonis

So after a relaxing early evening round of bocce during the Zambonis’ show, Joe wanders up to the backstage carrying the bocce set and Dave delivers the guilt like only the lead singer of a hockey band can. “Joe… is everything okay? Were you… were you… playing bocce!?” Fortunately, Jon Aley of the Zambonis didn’t give us the eye-for-an-eye treatment, and showed up promptly for his guest appearance on keyboards during “You’re My Satellite,” which is starting to come together nicely.

After the show I won more money playing blackjack at the “Pair-a-dice Casino” in East Peoria than I’ve ever won in Vegas. Thanks to the nice chemistry major at Bradley who went out of her way to drive us to the gambling ship.


Pierre LaRouche

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04.22.05 – Purdue

During soundcheck at Purdue the other day I approached my percussion kit and noticed there were blood stains on the tumba drum head. A few drops in the middle and a little red constellation on the outside by the rim.

But like a fry cook at Wendy’s checking to make sure all his digits were in tact (and not in the chili), I examined my hands and found they were in great shape. Barely a blemish after a week of touring. And just as I was about to order a CSI-style investigation, Sean walked up to me with a stigmata-stemming band aid over his palm. While setting up and soundchecking my drums, he bled all over them. Now that is dedication. Now that is someone who aims to soundcheck a drum the right way, because both he and soundman Paul Tozer know my soundcheck volume isn’t even close to my game-time volume. I promised him I’d clean the blood off the tumba, because he’d cleaned up mine so many times before. That is The Deal. You don’t have to wipe your own blood off the drums.

The Elliott Music Hall at Purdue University is the largest theater for live music in the country, supposedly. People at Purdue are quick to point out that it has like one seat more than Radio City Music Hall. After soundcheck we played wiffle ball home run derby off the stage into the seats of the Elliott Music Hall. Guster vs. The Zambonis. None of us could reach the upper deck, though special guest strobe light button-pusher Michael “Pasty” Corcoran reached row J and Peter Katis of the Zambonis (who you might know better as the guy who produced “We Gotta Be Clean” & “Donde Esta Santa Claus” & both Interpol records at his house in Bridgeport CT) — Peter hit row L. While chasing down wiffle balls in the seats of the theater, I realized that all the student volunteer ushers and security guards — while sitting in the back of the theater being lectured on their responsibilities — every last one of them was watching us play wiffle ball.

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04.16.05

our crew decided it was silly hat day at rhodes college in memphis today. i don’t think they discussed it, i think they just reacted to the hot noon sun bearing down on their scalps while they were setting up for an outdoor show. is there a better day to introduce the new crew members to the guster-consuming public than silly hat day? i think not.

this here is josh, and he’s our monitor guy. if he looks young, that’s because he’s 21. if he looks ripped, that’s because he’s wearing a wife-beater. everyone looks ripped in a wife-beater.


josh

and this here is seth, our new tour manager. pasty plans to show him a thing or two about running the lights at some point, so seth will eventually wear more than one hat. though, as you can see, just one is working quite well for seth. you have to respect a man in a silly hat with a serious expression on his face.


seth

finally, we have with us a new guitar tech by the name of “andy,” or “anderson heath bracht jr” for short. andy’s rocking the visor and the elf power t-shirt today. like seth, he worked for the polyphonic spree before he worked for guster. our crew has more indie cred than ever before, and our crew is more jewish than ever before. we gained two jews in the three-man crew exchange, making the bus ratio 50/50. anderson heath bracht jr is not one of them.


anderson heath bracht jr.

even veteran guster crew members sean lynde and paul tozer got in on the silly hat action today.


sean and paul

sean is borrowing a bit of shade from paul’s hat in this picture, though his thick hockey-helmet-like hair generally protects him from the sun’s most carcinogenic rays. we will discuss the hockey-themed part of this tour another time.

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04.08.05 – Farewell Pasty

He’s not dead. Just dead to us. After 6+ years on the road, Pasty’s calling it quits. He wants to live in a house without wheels. He wants to sleep in a bed, not a coffin-sized bunk. He wants someone else to push the strobe light button during the crazy bongo man moment at the end of The Airplane Song.

A little history, if I may…

Michael Corcoran was 17 when he first emailed our band. We had just changed our name from “Gus” to “Guster” and launched a website. Michael became one of the first Guster Reps, helping us distribute Parachute cds to his friends when we couldn’t get them into stores. His Guster-given rep name was “Pasty” — a name we assigned him before we ever met him. And when he approached us after a show at the Wetlands in New York City in 1995, he had fair skin and white eyebrows and we knew there was something karmic about him.

Michael got accepted at Villanova University, where he began booking our band to play in the dining hall while taking over the live bootleg trafficking responsibilities at guster.com. We played Villanova every year — sometimes twice a year — until Pasty graduated, and then we never played Villanova again. Michael spent a few miserable months as an accountant after graduation and then called me about helping us out on the road in 1998. We were still touring in a van, but we needed someone to help carry our gear and sell our merchandise, so Pasty came along.

Soon after he joined us we got the opening slot on a two week tour with Semisonic (surely you all remember “Closing Time”), which earned us our first upgrade to a tour bus thanks to tour support from our record label. Highlights from those formative two weeks can be seen on the Guster Too Hot For TV video, at the bottom of the multimedia section of our website. When 1999 came around we recorded Lost & Gone Forever, and we made Pasty our tour manager even though he was only 23 and had no experience. It was one of the best decisions we ever made.

1999 was a big year for us. Pasty moved into our apartment in Somerville MA with us. We put his face on the cover of our first rep-only EP, “The Pasty Tapes Volume 1.” His popularity soared. At Woodstock ’99, Pasty convinced a bunch of wayward Playboy models roaming the backstage parking lots that they should “party on Guster’s bus.” Again, his popularity soared. (This is where the Behind The Music voice chimes in with “it was like Sodom and Gommorah” even though it wasn’t anything like Sodom and Gommorah).


The Pasty Tapes, Volume 1

Pasty taught himself how to do lights while we were on the road and helped us take the live show to a whole new level. When Pasty realized that I was watching Mets games through pitch-by-pitch text updates on the internet, he made a phone call and got the MLB Satellite TV package for the bus. Most of all, Pasty put his heart into his job the same way we all did and it showed. He was there for just about every big moment our band has ever had. We’ll miss him. It feels weird to write him a “farewell road journal” because he’s been in the studio with us just about every day in Nashville and he’ll still be working with us on the management end of things. But “Seth” is our new tour manager starting this week. That’ll take some getting used to.

I know a lot of you got to know Pasty over the last 6 or 7 years, so if you’d like to send him a note I’m sure he’d appreciate it. Even if it’s just to say “you wouldn’t let me tape the UConn show, you prick.” I set up farewell_pasty@hotmail.com. So, Michael, if you’re reading this, the password to your new email address is the same as our password for the Guster Wireless Internet system when we’re on tour.

Farewell Pasty!

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