Guster coming to Clifton Park Thursday

Now family men, Guster band members still willing to "get weird."
The band Guster will be playing Upstate Concert Hall on Thursday, Jan. 14. (Photo: Zoe-Ruth Erwin)
The band Guster will be playing Upstate Concert Hall on Thursday, Jan. 14. (Photo: Zoe-Ruth Erwin)

Ryan Miller, lead singer of alternative rock band Guster, may not know what Clifton Park is, but he has a feeling he’s going to like it.

The rock band, long a favorite with college kids, will be rolling into Clifton park to play at the Upstate Concert Hall Thursday night..

It’s been 23 years since three Tufts College students got together to form a band, and a few years later released their first album, “Parachute.” Since then, the band has released six more albums and gained widespread popularity with songs like “One Man Wrecking Machine,” “Satellite,” and “Amsterdam.”

The three original members, drummer Brian Rosenworcel, lead singer Ryan Miller, and guitarist Adam Gardner, welcomed guitarist Luke Reynolds into the band in 2010. Reynolds replaced Joe Pisapia who played with Guster between 2003 and 2010.

Guster

WITH: David Wax Museum

WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday

WHERE: Upstate Concert Hall, 1208 Route 146, Clifton Park

HOW MUCH: $28

MORE INFO: upstateconcerthall.com

Miller, now 43, moved to the Northeast from Texas at 18. “I’ve always had some sense of wanderlust. I like to meet new people and do new things,” he said.

That wanderlust has carried Miller to Vermont, where he has started a PBS Show called “Makin’ Friends with Ryan Miller.”

“I came here and was meeting some people but I was interested in meeting weirder people. The people tucked into the corners of Vermont.”

Miller has searched the far corners of the Green Mountain State for “high-functioning weirdos” for his show. He’s met “mad scientists,” folks living off the grid, round house builders, the founder of Circus Smirkus and hot air balloonists. Miller said he has made a lot of friends, “actual real deal friends,” from the show. “It’s kind of the whole point of the thing,” he added.

Miller has two kids, 5 and 7, and said becoming fathers has made band members more careful about where they choose to tour and for how long. “We don’t want our kids to grow up without dads,” he explained.

Band members have brought their families along for sections of tours in the past, an experience Miller describes as “good on every level.” The greatest takeaway, he said, is they get to see what he does when he’s not home. “Now when I call them and say ‘I’m doing sound check’ they’ll know what that means.”

Miller says the addition of Reynolds in 2010 added a “new aesthetic, keyboard textures and a new set of musical influences” to the band.

They’ve also been working with a new producer, Richard Swift, who Miller called “kind of an outside choice.” The band loved Swift’s work but had always chosen to work with more established producers in the past, according to Miller. “Swift was kind of out of the box,” he said. Previous records took a year to complete, but the latest, “Evermotion,” was done in less than four weeks. “It was a home run in terms of what we were hoping to achieve,” said Miller.

GETTING WEIRD

Guster’s willingness to get weird is one of the many reasons fans keep coming back for more. The band has been known open for themselves in disguise.

“We haven’t done that in a while,” laughed Miller. “It’s an extension of us kind of always wanting to do stupid things that will make us laugh and be exciting for the fans. We love jokes that not everyone gets. Sometimes people don’t realize it’s us opening.” He added, “We’ve been a band for a long time. We have to get weird when we can. We never get bored.”

At the end of each set, drummer Rosenworcel sings a cover of a popular song, mostly for laughs. “Generally we pick our least favorite song in the world like “Hunger Strike” by Temple of the Dog or “What’s Going On” by 4 Non Blondes,” Miller explained. Recently, Rosenworcel covered R&B artist The Weeknd’s song “Earned it” which was featured in 50 Shades of Grey. “I actually really like the Weeknd song,” Miller said. “But I thought he’d be really bad at it and he was.”

After spending years on the road touring, Guster guitarist Adam Gardner and his wife, Lauren Sullivan, started a nonprofit called Reverb to combat the negative environmental impact of touring.

Miller explained, “It started off as a way for us to mitigate some of our horrible impact on the planet as a touring band.”

Reverb helps touring bands become more environmentally friendly, including promoting biodiesel buses, hosting online carpooling info for fans and reducing waste.

3 QUESTIONS FOR MILLER

Q: Who would you tour with if you could tour with anyone?

A: I’d really like to tour with The Kinks.

Q: What sort of bands did you listen to when you were first getting started?

A: I was listening to a lot of the beginnings of alternative music. New Order, Depeche Mode, The Smiths. A lot of that stuff which I still really like. Haven’t really grown out of it.

Q: When did you first begin playing guitar?

A: When I was 12. It was because of that Scorpion song “Still Loving You.” It was a heavy metal power ballad. Saw them in concert when I was living in Texas and I was like ‘Oh, I want to do that.’ I can make no claims for [the song’s] timelessness.

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