Monthly Archives: July 2006

07.31.06 – Pancake Mountain

Q: What is Guster doing in the above picture?
A: We are filming an episode of Pancake Mountain.

While you should still You Tube and Google that combination of words, the nutshell goes someting like this: Pancake Mountain is a kid’s show on Washington DC cable access television that’s not just for kids. There are puppets interviewing the guests and little toddlers running around in circles while you perform your song, but Pancake Mountain tends to book diverse indie rock artists on their show and has a hip older following on the interweb. Our appearance follows in the footsteps of Henry Rollins, Arcade Fire, Bright Eyes, and other bands that are cooler than us.

When Ted Leo filmed his episode of Pancake Mountain, he started playing “The Wheels on the Bus” until the kids interrupted him and said they didn’t want to hear it, they’d rather rock… then he launched into his own song. Something like that. Nothing that cool happened yesterday, but we lip-synched along to “C’mon” in front of a blue screen for a couple of hours, while cute kids and their parents jumped up and down in between us.

In the green room next to the studio, I found the bag of donuts where the kids got all their energy from:

And this is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen:

Her name is “Olive,” she’s one and a half, and she rocks a one piece custom-made Styx/Peter Frampton Summer Tour 2004 sundress with big pink earmuffs and British flag slippers better than most adults.

Anyway, all that youthful energy was addictive, and after the shoot I thought it’d be a good idea to reward all the kids by giving them free copies of our new poster featuring the members of the band with a bunch of cute puppies and kittens:

No not really. That’s a PG-13 poster, and I still have nightmares about the girl who turned into a blueberry in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. But no kidding we really actually took that burning building pet-saving idea to completion — I found out the other day when someone came up to me after a show and asked me to sign their poster.

Me: Jesus. We really went through with this?
Him: Yeah, it’s awesome.

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07.26.06 – Costume Changes

We rented a bunch of ridiculous outfits and wore them on stage at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville the other night. There’s a guy in town named “Manuel” who’s the guy for sweet western suits in town. That red costume Joe’s wearing says “Devil Without A Cause” on the back of it, and was originally custom made by Manuel for Kid Rock. Adam is very carefully wearing a pair of pants with skulls at the ankles and a $2500 price tag still hanging from the pocket. The goal here was to look Gram-Parsons-classy while at the historic Ryman, though I think Ryan’s patriotic jacket evokes Haven Hamilton from Robert Altman’s film “Nashville” more than anything else.

Haven Hamilton

skulls at the ankles

We rented these costumes a few nights before our Nashville show, and left them in the closet on the bus to tempt us for days. We gave in the very first night, at 2 in the morning, and suited up and went out for a beer at “The Gold Rush” on Elliston Place in Nashville. In our minds, we’d be sitting at the bar, drinking beers all non-chalant and stuff, while people whispered about who we might be and otherwise made us feel glorious. Instead, we walked into the Gold Rush and no one even looked at us. Without even making eye contact, the bartender gave us a sarcastic “Howdy boys!” followed by a “working the late shift at Manuel’s tonight?”

Glory! We played pool by ourselves for an hour.

Last night we played in Interlochen Michigan, at an amphitheater on the campus of a world famous band camp (damn you, American Pie, we’ll never be able to say “band camp” again without quoting your goddam movie). Set on a big beautiful lake, the immediate vicinity of the venue was teeming with uber-talented kids in light blue polo shirts, red belts, and navy blue bermuda shorts. Every last one of them a better musician than all the Gusters combined, we were lucky enough to nab a few to join us as a last-minute horn section on Fa Fa:

LEFT TO RIGHT: the back of trombonist Joe’s head, the back of trumpet player Ari’s head, the back of saxophonist Robert’s head

So naturally this led to our second costume change of the tour… four sets of Interlochen Band Camp uniforms draped over chairs, awaiting us in the dressing room between the regular set and the encores:

Fortunately, Dave Yonkman was on-hand to capture the mad scramble in the dressing room… in a situation like this you change clothes as fast as humanly possible out of fear that the encore applause will die down and you’ll have these silly outfits on and a really anti-climactic stage return. In this picture, Seth is helping out by attaching Joe’s monitor pack to his shorts… every second counts!

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07.17.06 – Brooklyn & Philly

Have fallen behind with the road journal.

Last week we played in Brooklyn for the first time ever, and while I’ve taken the F train from my apartment to our concerts before (Radio City, Bowery Ballroom, etc)… I’ve never had to take the F train TOWARDS CONEY ISLAND to one of our concerts. So that was very exciting. Also exciting was that the show was outdoors on one of those “severe weather alert” kind of days. Gross, muggy, and threatening all afternoon, the skies opened up during soundcheck and dumped torrents of rain on us until the Fruit Bats took the stage at 6:30. Somehow with the first note of the evening the rain stopped and the sun came out. People showed up, someone somewhere saw a rainbow, and the rock concert went on as planned.

The rain held off for Ray LaMontagne’s set and our set too. Well aware that there was a hard curfew at 10:30 in Prospect Park, we were surprised to see Seth, our tour manager, on the side of the stage at 10:15 telling us to cut the last three songs of our set. He was going on about a new weather system coming in or a doppler pattern or something.. it didn’t matter. We did the right thing and ignored him completely. We played the entire set list, ending the night with Lightning Rod at 10:28.

At 10:29, we’d barely walked off the stage when the head of the “Celebrate Brooklyn” concert series ran out, didn’t really gather himself or take a deep breath, and pretty much yelled “RUN! EVERYONE RUN!” into the microphone. Maybe there was something in there about a severe weather front coming through and everyone getting home quickly… but there was panic in his tone, and we all thought he was crazy.

Until two minutes later when that flying cow from the movie “Twister” landed on the catering tent and the most ridiculous monsoon I’ve ever seen overtook Brooklyn. I don’t think everyone made it to the subway before the rain hit, but I can’t believe how lucky we were to even get a show in that night.

And I can’t believe how lucky we were to see so many manboobs in Philly the next night.

How did this happen again? It was another muggy night, Ryan saw a guy with big breasts topless in the crowd, and then said we wouldn’t play any encores unless we saw five sets of manboobs by the end of “Fa Fa”? Something like that. Whatever he said, they started popping up before the first chorus… topless men, suddenly liberated from their t-shirts, riding the shoulders of other men, free… free at last! It was gross. Ray LaMontagne looked on in horror. A whole summer of this! We did the right thing and came back for an encore with 8 manboobs of our own, but only because we were in the city of brotherly love.

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