With a 20-plus year career composing harmony-laden indie pop tunes, creating an open relationship with their fans that knocked down the fourth wall from the beginning and infusing interviews and concerts with an offbeat yet organic sense of humor, Boston’s Guster released their latest record, Evermotion, last month. After enlisting big shot producers such as Dave Matthews Band’s favorite Englishman Steve Lillywhite on previous albums, Guster turned to Richard Swift, keyboardist for “life-changing” songsters the Shins, to produce their first full-length LP since 2010’s Easy Wonderful.
The band also left the majors to release the album on Nettwerk Records and their own label, Ocho Mule. Songs such as lead single “Simple Machine” show an always adventurous, but more relaxed Guster, accomplishing their goal of becoming “something else completely” and answering to no expectations except their own.
We spoke to drummer/percussionist Brian Rosenworcel via email in advance of their return to Birmingham. We discussed the production process for Evermotion, being a band for over two decades and their strong, undeniable bond with their fans, affectionately referred to as Gusterrhoids.
Weld: Besides an EP and the acoustic live album, we haven’t heard a new full-length Guster album in four or five years. What took so long?
Brian Rosenworcel: We’re not like a high output kind of band. We get on the cycle with the presidential elections, World Cup, Olympics and it just feels good.
Weld: What was the production process like, what songs jumpstarted the record, and what’s the story behind the title Evermotion?
BR: We recorded this album out in remote Oregon with Richard Swift and gave ourselves over to his process at his home studio. It was entirely different recording his way — whereas we like to obsess over details, second-guess ourselves and take 12 months on our albums, we pumped this one out in three weeks without editing much at all. It’s raw, committed, and definitely a big change for us.
Weld: There have been some lineup changes, but the core of Guster is still intact after more than 20 years. How have you been able to “keep it together”?
BR: I see what you did there! You know, every time it comes to writing songs, we still have a little fire in our belly — something to prove and new places we want to go. Touring is also still fun. We have awesome fans and our band has grown into a supportive family. You’re going to need that if you want to be in a band for 20+ years.
Weld: You maintain a very open and involved relationship with your fans. How did that start and when did the Internet come in?
BR: We were a college band, so our fans were just our friends at first, and the mentality behind that just stayed with us as we grew up. There is no fourth wall, and we’ve always used the Internet to give people access to our personalities. It’s just a part of who we are. I think we put up a hilariously bad website in 1996 and when we saw our first few t-shirt orders come in through it, we were giddy with excitement. Technology!
Weld: You debuted the new songs and record through SoundCloud. It’s easy to see the cons, but what do you think are the pros of streaming and Music on Demand services?
BR: I actually don’t know of any cons. Anything that gives people exposure, access or the ability to share our music is a plus, as far as we’re concerned. We’ve been doing this a long time, but we feel like there are still so many people to reach.
Weld: What are five albums you can listen to from start to finish at any point?
BR: Cass McCombs — A
The Poison Tree — The Poison Tree
John Lennon — Plastic Ono Band
Kevin Morby — Harlem River
Pavement — Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain
Guster will at Iron City on Monday, Feb. 9 with Kishi Bashi performing a solo opening set. Tickets are $27.50 and include a digital download of Evermotion. The show is set to start at 8 p.m. For information, visit ironcitybham.com.