Guster says the best is yet to come, even three decades later

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The alternative rock group Guster releases their latest studio album Friday, May 17. Titled  “Ooh La La,” it’s the band’s ninth album in 30 years. Their debut album “Parachute” came out on CD in 1994.

Ahead of their upcoming album, the band returned to their old stomping grounds for a free show on Aberdeen Road in Somerville. They played a few houses down from the apartment where founding members Adam Gardner, Ryan Miller and Brian Rosenworcel lived together after college.

Miller looked out at last weekend’s crowd at Somerville’s Porchfest. He waved at what he called, “the most people that have ever been on Aberdeen. Ever.” Porchfest typically doesn’t host bands that played a sold out show at MGM Fenway two months earlier.

For the band, it was both a personal and musical homecoming. “I always have to dip into the feelings jar and talk about, ‘Oh, it’s so weird to be playing here with the Boston Pops when just a few miles away, we started in a dorm room,’” said Miller in an interview with WBUR. “And, and I don’t do that just for the thrill of storytelling. I always feel that stuff very deeply.”

“We all yelled at each other about leaving the dishes in the sink on Aberdeen Road. We parked our van in the front in the driveway and we wrote a lot of songs there,” he said. When the band moved out of the apartment, they threw their couch off the second story balcony and recorded it. Miller also recounts a memory of famed rock music producer Steve Lillywhite coming over to the house and doing pre-production work in the living room.

In those early days, the sidewalk at Harvard Square and the Head of the Charles served as venues for the band. “We would bring a little battery and a little PA,” said Miller. “We would set up and we’d have our guitar case out front. We put our demo tape for $5 … and in ‘94 we put our CD in there and said ‘$10 take one.’”

Songs such as “Satellite,” “Fa Fa” and “Amsterdam” helped launch the band during their first decade of recording music. They continued to have success as they explored different sounds on following albums, and their most listened to tracks on Spotify represent a variety of releases from across the decades. The title of their latest tour, “We Also Have Eras,” playfully hints that Taylor Swift isn’t the only musical act to have exhibited artistic growth.

These days Guster sells out stages as large as Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado and plays alongside symphony orchestras across the country. The band played at Carnegie Hall two days after their Porchfest set.

More than thirty years into their journey together, Guster hasn’t rested on their laurels as fixtures of alternative rock and darlings of college radio. They’re still chasing what’s coming next.

Album cover of Guster's latest release "Ooh La La."
(Courtesy Guster)

“Some bands make their best record and then spend the rest of their career trying to live up to that,” said Luke Reynolds, who joined the band in 2010. “I’m so thankful that’s never been my experience. I feel like my best work is still out in front of me, that the band’s work is still out in front of us.”

Miller shared the sentiment, adding, “I love our willingness to sort of just keep pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone to keep exploring. I don’t love our band because we’re amazing. I love our band because we’re not afraid to keep marching towards the unknown and keep trying to get better at what we do.”

“Ooh La La” tells stories of missing trains, humming old tunes (the album’s title is in part a reference to the famous 1973 Faces song) and chasing fireflies, a lyric inspired by Miller’s time with his children catching fireflies in Mason jars in the woods behind his house.

Miller says he enjoys making music as the band and his audience grow older. “That’s very rewarding that we can kind of keep peppering people, our fans especially, keep peppering them with these things that can serve as a soundtrack to their life.”

“I like this journey for us,” Miller continued, drawing a line between the band’s earliest days of recording music in Boston to now. “I would love for that dude that was in Q Division Studios in spring of ‘94 to be like, ‘Hey bro. Guess what? You’re going to be 51 and still talking to these dudes about how loud the bongos are.’”

This segment aired on May 16, 2024.

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