In anticipation of their upcoming show this Saturday with Sam Roberts, the Campus Times landed a much sought-after interview with Brian Rosenworcel of Guster. The interview was originally set to take place at noon. However, at 1 p.m. there was no word from the band, and I was forced to put my best detective skills to work to track them down.
After some phone tag and rescheduling, the interview went off without further complications. As it turns out, the band wasn’t to blame for the confusion.
“Honestly, I didn’t even know there was a mix-up,” Rosenwor-cel said. “I’m sure there was but I’m the last person that knows anything. They just hand me the phone and say, ‘hey, call this person.'”
Good enough. When we caught up with Rosenworcel for a couple of minutes on the telephone, he was getting ready for Guster’s show in Montreal. We covered everything from the band’s name to ice cream.
Brian Rosenworcel: I’m in Montreal right now.
Campus Times: Yeah, you guys have a show there tonight, right?
BR: That is correct.
CT: Oh, cool. I guess I’ll get started with some questions.
CT: This is a question that you probably get asked a lot. I know the band was originally named Gus, but the name got changed to Guster because there was another musician named Gus. So, I was wondering where Gus came from?
BR: You know, we were 18 at that point and now we’re 30. I don’t really remember. I’m sorry. It wasn’t like we expected our band to continue beyond college or anything we were just very lackadaisical about it. So I don’t remember even where it came from.
CT: All right. So you guys met at orientation at Tufts?
CT: How did you go from meeting to forming a band and playing together?
BR: Well, we were friends first. We all just had our instruments that we brought to college which happened to be acoustic guitars and I had a set of bongo drums. We just started jamming together as friends, you know, even though our instrumentation didn’t quite add up to a traditional band and it just kind of evolved from there.
CT: Did you guys ever have a turning point where you kinda knew that things were going to work out and you were going to be successful?
BR: I think we’re kind of still waiting for that turning point. It’s just been like a whole steady progression for us. We just kept touring since we graduated and more people come every time we play and that’s cool.
CT: What was your most memorable show?
BR: Well, we played that Woodstock Festival in ’99 but we were up against Kid Rock. So he was playing to like 200,000 people on the West Stage and we had like 20,000 people on the other stage. That was like our first super big show. We were so nervous for it. We weren’t quite ready for something that big.
CT: What’s your favorite song to play live?
BR: Well, these days, because the new material is so fresh to us, it’s generally the new stuff I look forward to the most. I like playing “Backyard” and “Come Downstairs and Say Hello” a lot. Those are the two I like the most these days.
CT: Do the other members of the band like those too, or do you each have your own favorites?
BR: I know we all like playing “Come Downstairs and Say Hello.” It’s a song with many overtures and the tempo changes, and there are different textures. It’s definitely one we like to put in the set list.
CT: Do you think you’ll be playing it at the show in Rochester this Saturday?
BR: I think there’s a good chance, yeah.
CT: All right. What’s the craziest thing a fan has ever done?
BR: Well, this one person shot Adam in the stomach.
BR: No, I’m just kidding.
CT: Oh, OK. Good.
BR: I don’t know. I don’t know that we have fans that are out of their minds crazy. We definitely have some loyal, devoted fans.
CT: Do you like cats or dogs best?
BR: I like them both the same. I like them both a lot, but I’m more allergic to cats.
CT: What was your favorite cartoon when you were little?
BR: I was really partial to Chilly Willy. Do you remember him?
CT: Nope, I don’t know Chilly Willy. [I later learned my co-editor, Lewis, does and can sing the theme song.]
BR: He was this penguin who used to eat big stacks of pancakes. He was part of that whole Woody Woodpecker crew, I believe.
CT: If Ben and Jerry’s was to make an ice cream based on Guster, what would you want it to be called, and what would you want to be in it?
BR: It should be called Soylent Guster and it should be made of people.
CT: Made of people?
BR: It’s based on an old Charlton Heston movie called “Soylent Green” where the government started to give people rations of food, and at the very end of the movie they discovered that the food, soylent green, that they’ve been eating, is made of people. It’s like a bad horror movie.
CT: The editors in my office pondered it and one came up with Guster Clusters, that would have vanilla ice cream, caramel swirls and chocolate covered peanut nougat clusters.
BR: That sounds good. That sounds more delicious than Soylent Guster.
CT: I think so, but I think you have a more original answer. What would you want to be if you weren’t a musician?
BR: A fireman? I don’t know. I don’t know the answer to that one.
CT: If you could play any venue where would you play?
BR: I would like to play one day at a venue called Red Rocks which is outside of Denver, Colorado. It’s a natural amphitheater. It’s beautiful and it’s big. U2 plays there and stuff, but, you know, we’re not quite ready.
CT: Soon though.
BR: One day.
CT: Where do you think you’ll be in 10 years?
BR: In 10 years I probably won’t be hitting the drums with my hands anymore. In fact, I won’t be able to grip a spoon.
CT: In your road journal it looked like the Radio City show was a bloody one.
BR: Yeah, that’s just a little cut that opened up. It wasn’t very serious, but I enjoy putting those pictures on the Web site.
CT: Who are your biggest influences? Who did you look up to when you were younger and getting into music?
BR: Personally, I started to get into music in college. We all came to school with our various records that influenced us, but when you get in a room and write together, I don’t know where the music really comes from.
CT: All right, cool. Do you have anything else you wanted to add?
BR: We’re looking forward to it. The opening band Sam Roberts is really good. So come early and check him out.
Egan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.