Guster’s Ryan Miller is movin’ with movies 

click to enlarge Alt-rockers Guster have a new album “Evermotion.” - COURTESY ZOE-RUTH ERWIN
  • Alt-rockers Guster have a new album “Evermotion.”
Guster singer-guitarist Ryan Miller had been wrestling with the question regarding what he’ll do when the Boston band, which has been together since 1991, finally stops touring.

“Because you can’t be on a bus nine months out of every year,” says Miller, who brings the alt-rock combo to The City this week to promote the new album “Evermotion.” He adds, “So there’s always this thing in the back of my brain, like ‘Well, what am I going to do with my life? I’m not going to go work at a bank.’”

The answer seemed ephemeral, until he was commissioned to score his first movie, the 2012 indie hit “Safety Not Guaranteed.”

“That’s when the lightning bolt hit: I was like, ‘I want to do this!’” he says.

Since its 1999 breakthrough, the Steve Lillywhite-produced masterpiece “Lost and Gone Forever,” Guster has viewed traditional pop through a skewed, kaleidoscopic lens.

Miller had no idea that his unique outlook could apply to other genres until five years ago, when director Rob Perez, with whom he’d co-written the flick “Nobody” just for fun, insisted he music-supervise and score the picture as well.

“I’d never used Pro Tools before, but I turned it on and started working,” he recalls. “And two days in, I thought, ‘This is amazing!’”

To date, Miller has composed soundtracks for three more flicks: “The Kings of Summer,” Lake Bell’s “In a World…” and the documentary “Tig,” about comedienne (and recovering cancer survivor) Tig Notaro.

While the scoring process varies, he typically gets a top-secret early cut of the work in progress, and then begins considering textures, themes and significant scenes. As the director revises the material, he refines the music accordingly.

“Writing for movies has made me feel really empowered as a musician,” he says. Yet Miller, 42, started on the ground floor with soundtrack-writing. He hawked TV commercial jingles, but for every 100 submitted, he’d land only five.

“I did a Target Christmas song, on spec, but they ran it two years in a row, and Time-Warner ended up licensing it,” he says.

Although he’s hoping for serious television-series work, he’s content with a PBS show he currently anchors in his native Vermont, “Makin’ Friends With Ryan Miller,” wherein he hobnobs with local eccentrics.

The activities neatly dovetail with “Evermotion” and its cinematic, synth-fluffy ditties “Gangway,” “Endlessly” and ”Simple Machine.”

Miller says, “Going into the studio with this last Guster record, I was so much more conversant as a producer, an engineer and a writer because I’d been spending five hours a day at my computer, for three years straight, all in the service of making music.”



Where: The Fillmore, 1805 Geary Blvd., S.F.

When: 8 p.m. April 1

Tickets: $30 (sold out)

Contact: (415) 346-6000,

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Tom Lanham

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