INTERVIEW: Guster's Adam Gardner sits down with the Concordy
(Comtex Community Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)SCHENECTADY, N.Y., May 26, 2006 (Concordiensis, U-WIRE via COMTEX) --Concordy: What are your thoughts on the whole music piracy/file sharing situation?
Adam Gardner: For our band, I think, the consensus within our group is that it helps us as much as it hurts us. It helps spread our name, so that's a good thing, [but] it hurts our numbers. The reality is we're signed to a major label, so we don't really make a lot of money off of our record sales anyway, but where it does hurt us is that it affects the number of records that are "sold," and so marketing dollars toward our band [decreases]. I'm all for the technology of MP3's, I don't even listen to Cds anymore. I'm all hard drive all the time.
Concordy: You haven't released an album since 2003, what is the deal with the new one?
AG: Yeah, we're done with it. Its coming out June 20th, it's called "Ganging Up on the Sun." That's what we've been doing besides touring for the past three years ... writing and recording that record. This is the first record we did with Joe (Pisapia), who is the fourth member, it used to just be three of us for a long time, and then we brought in Joe after "Keep It Together."
Concordy: Could you describe the Campus Consciousness Tour?
AG: This is nonprofit project that my wife and I started ... it's called Reverb. It's an environmental non-profit group whose aim is to spread environmental awareness through touring bands. We started with Alanis Morissette and the Barenaked Ladies, and since then we've done Jack Johnson, and Dave Matthews and Avril Lavigne, and OAR, String Cheese Incident, Bonnie Raitt, a bunch of bands. For the Campus Consciousness Tour, this is the first time we've done this on campuses. The web site is www.campusconsciousness.org
Concordy: You have an Online Road Journal. Any recent memorable stories you'd care to relate?
AG: (laughs) The one I've been getting a lot of attention for lately is last week I cracked my head open on a tampon dispenser at Michigan State University. I have four staples in my head right now actually.
Concordy: You guys are fairly closely associated with the "college rock" genre, how do you feel about that and how do you think it came about?
AG: (laughs) I didn't know that existed. That's a good thing for us because college students live on top of each other, so it's a great way for our band to be spread through word of mouth. College students are the ones that are spreading music than anybody else, so I am glad that that community has embraced us.
Concordy: How would you characterize your fans?
AG: I'd say in general our fans are college-aged. I would say 16-26 is kind of our age range. But as far as who they are, they seem to be a little bit smarter than your average concert-goer, not necessarily the coolest kids in class, but just the next layer down from that (laughs). Because our band is popular and not famous, they have be into music and seek it out, otherwise we won't show up on their radar.
Concordy: What is it like playing at lots of colleges?
AG: I like it. A college tour for us, especially this tour with all the opportunities, is really cool; bringing this consciousness element along with it, where we can actually have an impact on students, where it's more than just us showing up and feeding our egos, taking the school's money and leaving. I think it's really cool that we're able to bring some awareness and a message along. ... But even before that, college tours were fun anyway. They're relaxed, they're low pressure, kids just wanna come and have fun and that's what we try to provide.
Concordy: What music have you been listening to lately?
AG: We're label mates with the Flaming Lips, and I've just been checking out their new album lately.
Concordy: How has your sound changed since Guster's conception, and where do you see it going?
AG: It's changed a lot. Every record for us has been really different, if you go from Parachutes, which we made when we were college students ourselves, to this last one Ganging Up on the Sun, which is about to be released -- sonically it's expanded tremendously. We started with just a couple acoustic guitars, and bongos really, and after we made "Lost" and "Gone Forever" with Steve Lillywhite, we felt like we finally captured that sound well. After working with Steve Lillywhite, as far as the acoustic guitar and hand percussion thing, we felt like "OK we finally captured it, let's move on." So that's when we started incorporating standard drum kit, bass and it was sort of "anything goes" as opposed to limiting ourselves to just acoustic guitars and bongos. "Keep it Together" was kind of the revolutionary step for us where we opened up our palate to just any instrument we could get our hands on. There was a huge learning curve on that record, because Brian had never played a drum kit before, Ryan had never played bass, I had never played keyboards really before, so we were kind of a beginner band all over again.
Concordy: How would you summarize your own college experience?
AG: My college experience was pretty heavily influenced by the band, because we all met the first day of school. I liked it, it was good, I was traveling a lot because when I wasn't doing the band (we were Gus at the time), I was also in an a capella group that traveled a lot. The year that I was there we won the national a capella competition, whatever that's worth, so we traveled and toured a lot, so even when I was a freshman and sophomore I was touring. I finally left the a capella group when I realized the band was going to be something that I could continue professionally.
Concordy: So you knew that in college?
AG: In college, yeah. We were really lucky. We met freshman year, wrote some songs, we played on the streets in Harvard Square, you know we put out a guitar case and people threw us change and stuff. And then we made a demo tape, we made enough money from that demo tape, believe it or not, we sold it for like five bucks out of our guitar case and we made money off of that, and that funded our CD. And then we also started playing other colleges in New England and so by the time we graduated, we had a CD, we had enough money for a van, and we just went on tour the moment we graduated. So at that moment when everybody's freaking out like "what do I do with my life?" we already had it all set up, so we were really fortunate.
Concordy: What kind of experiences have you had touring at other colleges? Do you ever go out on campus?
AG: Yeah, we're getting to that age though where we're the creepy old guys at the keg party, so we don't go as often. We still do that sometimes for sure. This tour especially we're starting to feel like we're not in college anymore, because its been a long time, I've already had my tenth-year reunion. It's the first time I've felt like I can't pass [as a college student].