When Guster made its debut on the music scene in the ’90s, the Boston-based group emerged and soon became kings of the indie-pop world. Its single “Fa Fa,” off its third studio album “Lost and Gone Forever,” propelled the band to critical acclaim.
Now, just under a quarter century since the group first performed together, the quintet remains an active and influential voice in the industry. Guster currently has a planned stop at Ithaca College on Nov. 3 in Emerson Suites.
Staff Writer Marissa Framarini spoke to Guster’s lead singer and guitarist, Ryan Miller, about the band’s history, its musical influences and its motivation.
Marissa Framarini: What’s different about Guster in its 20-year-long run?
Ryan Miller: Everything, probably — I would hope. We started the band at 18, and we’re now all going on 40. The better question is, “What’s the same?” I think the only thing that is similar to where we started is our sense of melody, our instrumentation and personnel. The three of us that started are still in the band, and that’s probably about it. Same dudes with a similar sound.
MF: Why have you guys decided to maintain such a liberal taping policy that allows users to tape and trade away your music, so long as it’s not for profit?
RM: I don’t want to say that all music should be free, but it definitely has helped the band. I think the policy speaks for our willingness and belief as a band to make music available, especially when we first started. Allowing people access to your music for a low cost, or nothing at all, helps the spread of music.
MF: Who and what have been your biggest musical influences?
RM: There’s definitely been a line of bands that have held careers outside of the mainstream spectrum that have been influences in terms of, “Yeah, you can do this,” or, “You don’t have to be a jam band.” Musically, though, I think it’s all over the place. We’re really up on contemporary artists and a lot of music coming out today that definitely influences what we’re doing now. Then there are bands that we go back to and listen to that are huge for us, like The Band, The Kinks, Harry Nilsson, Wilco and The Shins. We all listen to a lot of music, and we all keep an open mind, and I think a lot of those influences make a way into our music in some way.
MF: You’ve done many covers of songs. How do you choose them?
RM: It’s usually songs that we like. Well, it depends. If Brian [Rosenworcel, drummer of the band] is singing, we choose a song that we all hate the most, and if it’s not Brian singing, it’s a song we believe we can have a fresh perspective on and that we can learn by trying to do it as an exercise in songwriting.
MF: What other plans do you have with the band besides the show at the college?
RM: We’re working towards a record, so right now we’re just getting a bunch of songs together, and I think we’re going to start recording at the beginning of next year. We also generally try to play a few shows Thanksgiving weekend at the Beacon Theatre in New York City, which is kind of our home court, and that weekend has always been very great for us. We’re going to try and resurrect the concept of album shows, where you play an album through in its entirety, which I think can be really interesting. We have so many records, so we’re going to do “Keep It Together” on Saturday [Nov. 30] at the Beacon and “Parachute,” which is our first record, on Sunday [Dec. 1].
MF: What can we expect from your upcoming show at the college?
RM: You know, a bunch of dudes in their 40s playing musical instruments.