‘Wonderful’ new directions for quirky pop band Guster 

“Easy Wonderful” — the buoyant comeback from the quirky pop band Guster — has a stamp from the Forest Stewardship Council, certifying that the packaging is 100 percent recycled. It’s there through the efforts of Reverb, a tour-greening outfit launched by band guitarist Adam Gardner and his wife. “There are a million other examples like that, that can make a little difference, and Reverb is there to point them out,” drummer Brian Rosenworcel says. “Like, ‘Hey — you can carpool to the Guster show and meet some strangers in your own neighborhood on the way!’ Because cars are the single most-polluting force at a concert.” The percussionist — famed for his bare-handed style — chats before Guster’s Fillmore gig next week.

Every last note of “Easy Wonderful” is uplifting, ebullient. What was going on in the Guster camp?
The main thing since our last record is that we’ve made five kids. Ryan (Miller, vocalist-guitarist) had two, Adam had two, and I had one — a daughter, Jolene, who’s almost 3. So we’re definitely touring less, but we wanted to not fall into the trap of making a “dad rock” album. We knew it was a trap, we were aware of it, and we were aggressively pursuing the other direction.

What does “dad rock” sound like, exactly? I’ve got to be careful here. But dad rock sounds like Jim Croce meets the Wilco album that first disappointed you. So we didn’t want the lyrics to be about kids, even though that would’ve been an easy way to do it. And we didn’t want the tempos and the energy level to get really subdued, so we just got in a room, and the stuff we were writing definitely felt much more upbeat. So we were happy to go in that direction.

Your chiming single “Do You Love Me” started getting airplay in December. Ironic, since it sounds like a Christmas song, right? Yeah! It’s got those Christmas bells in it. I don’t know that it’s a hit. But at this point, I’ve been doing this so long that I don’t care. We’re super-proud of this record — we went to the dark side and back, and wrote so many songs and really pushed ourselves. And it’s weird — I’m 37, I’ve been doing this since I was 19, and it’s still tough to say why we get so unbelievably motivated to prove ourselves when we have to make a record. But it happens.

Dark side? Yeah. We had a first batch of songs that we did with David Kahne, but it didn’t go well. The thing is, we’ve proven to ourselves time and time again that we do our best work when we just keep it in-house. So Joe (Pisapia, newest bandmember) just built a studio in his backyard and said “Let’s do it here!”



The Fillmore, 1805 Geary Blvd., San Francisco

9 p.m. Jan. 21


Contact: (415) 346-6000, www.livenation.com

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Tom Lanham

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