Steve Alexander

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Rotoworld's Guster Interview

Saturday, February 27, 2010

11. How well do you do in your fantasy hoops leagues? I'm not sure, but I think you told me you've won three straight? I know you play real hoops with some musicians. Anyone with serious skills we need to know about?

BR: I've been in the finals all four years I've played, and I've won twice, though once it was because the guy I was playing forgot it was a 10-day championship week and didn't set his lineup one day. Not having a great season this year, but Andray Blatche will carry us from here on out.

I play in a co-ed basketball (real basketball) league in Brooklyn with a lot of musician friends on Saturdays. I've started to count my stats in a really unhealthy way, too. People from the Walkmen, Ladybug Transistor, Bishop Allen, Essex Green, and the French Kicks have been in and out of the league. We compete, but we don't dive for loose balls or anything.

12. You guys have found a way to remain wildly popular with the college kids and it's been going on for over a decade now. What do you attribute that to? Are the seniors just passing the music onto the freshman?

BR: I don't know exactly why that is. Seems we get older and our fans stay the same age. I think "Lost & Gone Forever" became a record that a lot of people were introduced to their freshman year of college, just like the first Violent Femmes record was a rite of passage for us when we got to college in 1991.

13. What song have you not covered yet, but want to? Care to share your experience in the R.E.M. tribute show you took part in?

BR: We've attempted a lot of covers in our day, some successfully (Brazil), some miserably (I think we once tried to cover a Stone Roses song). The R.E.M. show was a lot of fun -- we played an acoustic version of "Shaking Through" off of Murmur, and put Peter Buck's guitar lick on a banjo. Mostly it was fun to be backstage with people like Bob Mould, Vic Chesnutt, Apples in Stereo, Patti Smith, etc. R.E.M. made a surprise appearance and played a few encores. I was surprised, anyway.

14. What was the first concert you attended and what was the first record you remember owning?

BR: Air Supply, in the round, on a revolving stage in Waterbury CT when I was like ten years old. I was screaming "All out of Love" at the top of my lungs when they finally played it as their last encore. You asked.

15. What is at the top of your list as far as Guster shows go? Let's hear about your favorite three shows you guys have ever played.

BR: A few years ago we played in Boston with the Boston Pops Symphony Orchestra backing us up, and that was really cool -- there were 90 musicians playing our music on everything from bassoons to musical saws. I remember Central Park in the year 2000 was a pretty epic moment for me, as that was the biggest crowd we'd ever headlined in front of, and we were super pumped up the whole night. Oh. And we were Peter Frampton's backing band at the "Jammy Awards" at MSG one year, so I got to play drums on "Do You Feel Like I Do" while Frampton rocked the vocoder.

16. What do you do on the road or in the studio during down times? Scrabble? Video games? Or maybe you'd care to share your band's obsession with Chat Roulette?

BR: I'll take the Chat Roulette bait on this one. Some Russian kid made this program where you're randomly assigned a video chat with someone else anywhere in the world, and you can hit NEXT to move on to someone else at any point. It's not for the squeamish or timid, because one in every five screens that shows contains something crude or disgusting, like a male human body part -- but we've had chat roulette up in the studio for the last week, somewhat religiously. We run into fans, drunk people, weirdos, old ladies from France, etc... lately we make up songs about the people that show up just to get a reaction. It's the height of dorkiness (other than fantasy sports), but it's also what the internet used to be -- wild, unpredictable, and right on the edge of your comfort zone.

17. What are we looking at for the new record? September release? Are you drumming with sticks or your hands? Do you still super glue your fingers? Does the new record have a title yet? Let's break that news here!

BR: It's a Rotoworld NBA Exclusive -- Guster to name new album "House of Blatche" after four year hiatus... no, we don't know what to call it, or what label it'll be on, but man we've worked hard on this record to get it right. We're looking at September, and a balance of stick drums with hand drums and plenty of percussion on top. I haven't super glued a finger in a few years, and I even circulate now when the temperature is above 30 degrees, so the stick move is definitely helping.

18. You guys have had your music used in commercials, movies and television shows. Is that the way bands make money today? People don't seem to pay for music anymore, so I'm guessing touring and television are the best avenues to get paid for your work, right?

BR: That's a good way to make money if you can get licensed for stuff that doesn't make you feel horrible (we'd draw the line at a Coors commercial, or a Jason Terry commercial). If there ever was a "sell out" stigma attached to using your music for TV, that's certainly gone in this era where musicians need to find creative ways to get paid. We make some money touring, and touring colleges in particular. Never made a cent selling records while we were on major labels anyway, so the new regime where people don't pay for music isn't much of an adjustment for us. We just want the music to be out there and spread around as much as possible.

19. What bands would you pay to see live right now?

BR: Devo, Man Man, Sun Ra Arkestra, Pavement, Leonard Cohen, Cass McCombs, Neil Young. I've never seen the Rolling Stones but someone told me if you're a fan of the Stones that you're better off just skipping it at this point. So that's what I'm going to do.

20. Who are some of the most famous Guster fans you've met? You told me about Curb Your Enthusiasm's Jeff Garlin. Any others you'd care to name check?

BR: Garlin's the only one that we've done a podcast with, though I've read that Janeane Garofalo, Brian Williams (NBC), and Barry Zito are into Guster. Also, someone once spotted an Olsen twin at one of our shows.

So there you have it. The new record will likely be released in September and the band is very fired up about it. Having seen the studio where it was recorded and some of the work that went into it, I'm certainly anxious to hear the final result. Here are a few of their videos, which you should check out. Thanks for sharing, Brian. And for the t-shirts and hospitality. You can follow Guster on Twitter at @Guster, and you can follow Dr. A on Twitter at @docktora

Barrell Of A Gun
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Steve "Dr. A" Alexander is the senior editor for the NBA for and a contributor to The 2014-15 NBA season marks his 13th year of covering fantasy hoops for Rotoworld. Follow him on Twitter - @Docktora.
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