Andrew “Scooter” Laubacher 2005-2011

He’s not dead.  Just dead to us.  After six and a half years as Guster’s drum tech, Scooter is moving on to dedicate more time to his many musical projects in San Francisco, where he lives.  At 4350 Geary Blvd.  Just a few blocks west of Burma Superstar Restaurant in Inner Richmond.  When you get to 4350 Geary, hit the buzzer for the second floor, or if the first door is open, which it usually is, enter the vestibule and then push on the second door (knob doesn’t turn) which leads to the staircase. 

I am distracting myself from the point.  Scooter will be missed terribly over here.  Nevermind the fact that he’s an incredible drummer who took a lot of our songs to new levels, musically — but as a person that’s been a core member of our road family since 2005, his unique energy will be hard to replace.  Those of you who’ve seen him play live may have noticed that in addition to his youthful appearance, he has a perpetual glued-on smile — and while a lot of big smilers are really just putting a happy face over some seriously fucked-up inner darkness, Scooter’s spirit just shined purely when he was on stage with us.  He’s one of a kind positive spirit.  His parents did some things right.  He can nap anywhere, anytime, like a kitty.

And so he gets his very own photo collage, just like Pasty did.  Just like Sean did.  Except now we don’t have a graphic person in the office to make it look all pro.  Sorry Scooter, you deserve better than this linear wordpress crap. 

2 years ago |

Nothing Will Stop Us From Rocking Tonight In Indiana. Nothing.


This story begins with the usual whoa-is-me-the-hurricane-cancelled-my-flight drivel that you’ve already read about in everyone else’s road journals.  But on Saturday when Delta announced they’d cancelled my Monday morning flight out of New York, there wasn’t much time to react.  A hurricane was bearing down on us, and we had to be in Indiana by Monday night.  We needed action.   While I was safely tucked away in a cabin in upstate NY, Young Naive Luke was stuck in Brooklyn with no car, no flight options, and no bottled water or cans of chick peas left on the shelves at the plywooded-up Trader Joe’s.  All the staples I needed for a week on tour were stuck in Brooklyn too (mostly finger tape, socks, underwear, and t-shirts)… they would have to be spared.

We spoke on the phone briefly.  “The George Washington Bridge is closing in 45 minutes” said Luke, who was also going on and on about how he had some avocado and wheat bread in his kitchen, but it’s the weird big Florida-style avocados that don’t taste very good, and always get a little runny.  “Get in a cab and make them drive you to New Jersey” I told him.  “Now!” I added, like a dick.

He swears he was the last car allowed over the GW Bridge.  He swears the cab driver had to swim across the Hudson to get home to his family.  The cab was a hundred bucks.  I drove two hours through heavy rain to rescue him at an A&P in Fort Lee NJ, where thank god they had Haas avocados.  I brought him to the cabin upstate, where we ate chicken pot pie and drank wine.  Life was good.  Our friends had rented us a mid size Chevy Malibu one-way to Indianapolis, just before the last local car rental place closed.  It was a 14 hour drive, but we could leave after the hurricane and still get to the show.  We went to sleep.  It was Saturday night.  Then the hurricane hit.

We’d left NYC to escape the drama but ended up right in the belly of the beast.  I felt the winds gusting through the windows at 5am, and heard trees falling in the distance.  We woke up and surveyed the damage.  Trees were down and the little bubbling creek had turned into a raging river.  There was no electricity and there was water leaking from the ceiling.  But the big blow was that Adam’s Monday flight outta Portland ME was cancelled too.  We made him rent a car and drive through the hurricane to Albany, where we could pick him up. 

Or so we thought.  The creek broke its levee and there was a flash flood.  The long dirt road to the property was like the Mississippi River. 



That’s me standing in the “driveway” — why am I smiling?  Fuck if I know.  We were punchy.  We were about to spend a calendar day in a Chevy Malibu.  The river raged on furiously and washed out the road entirely.  Luke and I had to drive the Malibu across peoples’ lawns to get out (sorry) (people of Indiana need us).  Goodbye wife and child who have no electricity or path to civilization.

Getting to Adam was a massive problem.  Just getting to Route 87 was almost impossible.  Roads we needed to not-be-flooded were flooded.  I knew side routes, but there were trees down across all of them.  There was one tree leaning against a power line that I thought we could squeak under.  I also thought it was okay to drive a car over a live downed power line.  Young Naive Luke disagreed and made me turn around.  It took about 9 different tries through back roads to get out to Woodstock.  By the time we got to Woodstock….

87 was closed.  We had to take half-flooded back roads all the way to Albany.  It took us about 5 hours to get to Albany instead of the usual hour and a half, and Albany wasn’t even on the way to Indiana.  We picked up Adam and briefly thought about testing our luck with a Monday flight to Indianapolis, but carried on with the road trip instead.  14 more hours in a Chevy Malibu didn’t seem nearly as bad as getting fucked over by an airline at the last minute and missing our show.  We’d come this far.

6 more hours in the car.  At some point I got pulled over, for the second time in two days:



I always get pulled over in upstate NY.  The rental car was not registered to anyone who was actually in the car.  The cop didn’t know who “Guster” was, but liked the sob story about Hurricane Irene and let us continue on.  With a ticket. 

At 9pm we were tired and hungry and decided to get Indian food and crash at a Quality Inn in Erie PA.  We loaded the bags into the hotel, and just as I was about to have my first bite of chicken saag (mild) I decided to check the mattress, because the hotel was a little dodgy. 

Bedbugs.

Back in the car, to the Quality Inn (yes, same chain, it makes no sense) on the other side of town.  It’s actually a decent hotel and the guy behind the desk told us that this Quality Inn is completely separate from the other one, which makes you wonder about franchises, and principles, and what bedbugs feel like when they bite you in your sleep.  They should call their hotel chain Varying Quality Inn. 

Monday morning.  Continental breakfast.  How is it possible for eggs to taste this bad.  I made us stop at a Walmart in Ohio so I could have clothes to wear this week.  Immediately I’m attracted to the five dollar pile of solid color Faded Glory t-shirts, but they are all in sizes 3XL and 4XL.  That’s who shops for clothes at the Walmart in Cleveland.  And at the Walmart everywhere else.  I was forced to buy the one medium sized t-shirt I could find, and it says Chillaxin’ on it.

Right now we’re still in the car but it looks like we’ll make it to the show with two hours to spare.  So when you see me out there tonight in my crisp blue Chillaxin’ shirt, while my wife and child wither away on an Irene-induced island, know that it’s because we really really wanted to make this show happen, Indiana.

3 years ago |

We would like to know what love is…

LEFT TO RIGHT:  Ryan Miller of Guster, Andrew McMahon of Jack’s Mannequin, Adam Gardner of Guster, Will Forte stripping off the fourth and final of the four Guster t-shirts he was wearing while belting out Foreigner’s “I Wanna Know What Love Is” in Boston the other night, even though we made the mistake of transposing the song up a half-step to the key of E, where no human can actually sing it… Luke Reynolds of Guster, Brian Rosenworcel of Guster.

Here is me trying to sing it in the regular key three years ago.

And here is our friend Will wondering how long it takes for sharpie to wash off:

3 years ago |

Evolution of the Disco Ball Helmet

The other day in Philadelphia, this was the scene onstage during “This Is How It Feels To Have A Broken Heart”:

It’d be a fair question to ask how it came to this. I mean, yeah it’s our disco song, but Ryan looks less like the human mirror ball we intended and more like a transvestite robot that got the shit kicked out of it.

Let’s go on a brief photographic tour through Guster’s onstage prop history, shall we?  It probably all started at Tipitina’s Uptown in New Orleans in 1998, when Ryan got a hold of a fat suit and discovered that while it looked uncomfortable, it actually felt “right” against his skin:

That same year at the Webster Theater in Hartford CT we created a giant styrofoam (sorry Adam) cake in honor of a fan’s birthday.  I was the special surprise inside.  I was wearing a fireman’s hat.  You know, like how strippers sometimes wear those hats to pretend they are just naked firemen. 

Then, in 1999, while writing Lost & Gone Forever with his shirt off, out of nowhere came a golden retriever.  It had a lampshade on its head and it seemed to be trying to tell us something.

And we responded.  By invading John Mayer’s stage during “Your Body Is A Wonderland” on the last night of our tour, wearing diapers around our waists and Kentucky Fried Chicken buckets on our heads. 

We learned that, like the gypsy golden retriever, you don’t necessarily need to see clearly to have a good time, and to piss off a pop star (sorry John) (end of tour prank).  I realize there’s a massive topless theme going on in this road journal, but I swear that wasn’t the point.  Dismissed as coincidence.

Fast forward to late 2002, and descending from the rafters at the Electric Factory in Philly is a giant paper mache menorah:

It was constructed by Moria-from-our-office’s mother, who was a local art teacher in suburban Philadelphia.  You will want to remember Moria-from-our-office’s mother’s name, because she’s going to return and play an important role later on in this road journal.  Swoop, the Philadelphia Eagles’ mascot, “lights” the menorah with a toilet plunger:

Swoop actually made about five Philadelphia appearances with the band before making a baby and settling down on the west coast, passing the mascot reins to a guy who likes listening to Godsmack and thinks Guster’s a little gay.

High on our own paper mache prowess, we commission that giant matzoh-filled pinatas of Brian, Ryan, and Adam be created and lowered from the ceiling at Hawaiian themed shows that year in Providence, Philly, and DC… yes, I know my chronology is off.  Suck it.

We narrowly avoid a tragedy at the 930 Club in DC when Ryan’s paper mache head fell from the ceiling mid-set, luckily hitting no one, and luckily spewing delicious matzoh all over the front rows. 

Here is a picture of my daughter dressed as a bumblebee:

I am clearly losing focus at this point, and I need to bring it all home.  We’ve wanted Ryan to become a disco ball during the instrumental break down of “Broken Heart” for a while, but until recently all we had was a glittery schmata that Ryan wore like a scarf.  Confusing, underwhelming, but good enough as a stand-in for what we were going to one day do.  One day.

That day came a couple weeks ago in rehearsals in Taunton MA.  After Adam sliced an actual disco ball in half, only to realize it weighed twenty pounds, was impossible to fit on a human head, and made Ryan’s neck bleed… we began construction of a styrofoam (sorry Adam) disco ball helmet:

Megan, our awesome and helpful merch lady, glued bits of mirror to it, and Moria’s mom’s art class did the rest, with the umm, oblong body suit…

And voila… instant Spinal Tap.  Thanks for listening.

3 years ago |

RT@

How did Ryan Miller miss this Re-Tweet?  How did I forget to mention, in my Week Recap, that he walked on stage with some guy’s puppy in his arms in Newport?

Here’s the blog where I stole the picture from.  Thank you, nice lady, for posting this important moment in Guster history on the twitter-net.  The puppy was returned to its owner after being exploited and traumatized during our entrance.

3 years ago |

Week in Review

Cape Cod Melody Tent 8/2:

As promised / threatened … in my first “revolving” concert since I saw Air Supply on a rotating stage in Connecticut when I was ten, the band let me sing “All Out of Love” for the encore in Hyannis.  Will Forte joined us on beautiful, sincere vocals.  No lettuce was harmed during the performance of this song.





Danbury CT 8/3:

It was raining, and we were playing in a gazebo suspended on a pond.  Most of the people on the lawn had found their way down to the white plastic seats closer to the stage when Ryan Miller took off his socks, removed his watch, unhinged his belt, took off his pants, and asked “how deep is this?” before wading into the waist-high moat in front of the stage, where he sang Stand By Me, and maybe some other songs.  After the show he skipped the “Meet n Greet” and checked himself for leeches in the shower.  There’s a video, and one commenter claims to have seen his “kern”…



Newport RI 8/4:

Some nice lady invited us to sail on a yacht that afternoon and so we did.  After the show we went to “Reggae Night” in the basement bar beneath our hotel.  The keyboard player for the reggae band was absolutely out of his mind and surely believed he was part dragon.  Newport is a place where you eat ice cream and look at fancy houses.


Portland 8/5:

Another fun show at the State Theater, which is where we filmed our live DVD many years ago.  There were plenty of high points, including Ryan singing “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac, off the cuff, and me singing “Under the Bridge” (that one was actually on the set list), but for us the real highlight was the first Guster Family Summit since the three girls were babies.  Take a look at our collective spawn now!

{clockwise from top, center — Sloan Gardner, Jolene Rosenworcel, Julian Gardner, Dash Miller, Leo Miller}

3 years ago |

More sweet than bitter

I know there are a lot of people out there with not nice things to say about the airport in Denver… that there are “murals” about the “extinction of races”, that the “runways” are shaped like “swastikas”, that there’s a “bunker” beneath the airport the size of China that will house our leaders when the “apocalypse” comes, that the “zombie death horse with the crazy red eyes represents the New World Order but you must not criticize this because the artist that created him died in the process by impaling himself on his own horse"… (hey I just work here) (if there was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich-works store at the Denver Airport, I’d gladly write about that instead) (but there isn’t)…

…but can we put all that aside for a moment and agree the best thing about the Denver Airport is the little boogie woogie piano sound that the tram makes when it departs for the gate?

Whenever it happens I look around at the other people on the train with me to see if anyone else is getting there rocks off from it.  Nope.

Speaking of rocks, hey, we played at Red Rocks, finally.  Red Rocks is an outdoor amphitheater built in 1941 in the cove created by giant natural red boulders.  It’s an extraordinary place to have a concert, and the people who attend shows there revere the venue — it feels like you’re in the desert of Arizona or Utah, when you’re actually just miles from Denver, with a view of the city skyline from up atop the rock bleachers.

Before the show I was standing next to a couple of security guards in yellow t-shirts, and one of them listened in to his walkie talkie and then said “I gotta go, there’s a rattlesnake on the south ramp” — which I took to be code for something, like “someone spilled a Sprite on the south ramp, we need a mop, right away” etc etc… and then I asked the other security guard what it meant. Real rattlesnake on the ramp where people are walking into the concert.  Happens all the time.

"How do you deal with a rattlesnake?" I asked.

"Catch him with a stick.  Put him in a bag."

I wish I could impart to you just how bored this guy seemed with my question.

Here’s a photo from backstage at Red Rocks. 

One day, if my band headlines Red Rocks, you should come.  For now, we’re grateful that Big Head Todd & the Monsers gave us a chance to play there as the support act.  It’s kind of been a dream of ours to headline there, but opening up a show was sweet too.  More sweet than bitter.

3 years ago |

Fenway

We got a sweet last minute hook-up and were able to check out the Red Sox game Saturday afternoon at Fenway before our Boston show.  Kind of perfect because the House of Blues is now a giant club on Lansdowne Street behind the Green Monster, and not a cute little music shack in Harvard Square.  You could hit the House of Blues with a towering home run, if you were Manny Ramirez, before your third violation for using a substance that was banned by major league baseball. 


Anyway, we got to the game in the top of the third inning, just as the LL Bean tarp was being spread across the infield, kicking off a two hour rain delay.  We almost caught the whole thing (the whole rain delay) but after an hour and a half we had to go to soundcheck.  All was not lost!  Fenway franks really live up to the hype… and here’s a bad iPhone photo of the rarely executed “hot dog cheers” where condiments, nitrites, magic, and spit fuse together for a cosmic moment of ballpark hot dog superiority…


(Can you see I am serious!  This is no place for loafers)

That’s our good friend Samantha being cute in the middle, Ryan Miller looking ornery on the right, and that’s Luke Reynolds doing his best impression of the guy on the cover of “The Bends” on the left.



We should eat Fenway Franks before every show because Boston was the best show of the tour.  And for more strange crossover between Guster and Fenway Park, please watch this video:

3 years ago |

Whyyyyyy!

Our bus on this tour has a shower in it.  This is not a good thing.  No one is going to shower on the bus.  It uses up most of your water tank, for one, and then you’re all naked and exposed in a claustrophobic closet around your crew, which now includes two ladies (“Megan” who sells our merchandise and “Fallon” who is searching for Brita Filterers). 

Every inch of space is precious when you are traveling with a full bus and so we use the shower to store a few bags.  Ryan’s bags.  Adam’s bags.  Do you see where this is going already?  Because it went there.

Ryan was pulling his bag out of the shower and the strap got caught on the water valve and turned the shower on.  Water pouring down on their stuff, including Adam’s computer bag.  Ryan panicked and didn’t think logically.  He couldn’t figure out how to turn the valve off and so he cupped his hands around the shower head, making the water spray and drip and reach the bags through less direct avenues. 

Then he started yelling “Nooo!” and eventually “Whyyyyy!” but never thought to just pull the bags out of the shower.  Scooter had to come do that.  At some point they got the water shut off.  Adam’s computer still works.  And here is another classic Scooter photo from backstage in Cleveland:



3 years ago |

The penis of Tyler

I have been off of the BNL cruise ship for a week now, but my legs are still wobbly and certain sounds and images won’t go away:


The casino dealer, offering up “insurance” before testing the ace of spades in the little blackjack-tester.  “Sorry,” says the casino dealer.

The breakfast buffet, at first a cornucopia of colorful fruits, tasty sausages, and omelette-chefs in klan hats.  Yes I’ll take a fresh plate for my next trip.  But by the end merely a monotonous line-up of diarrhea suspects — was it you CRACKLE? et tu, SNAP?  — I suppose the Rice Krispies are blameless but the scrambled eggs get my squinty eye. 

The voice of Ed, several times a day over the in-cabin PA system, louder than a truck dropping a piano in a PT Andersen film, reminding me of all the recreational opportunities on the vessel.  Reminding me that I shouldn’t be napping.  Reminding my two year old that she shouldn’t be napping either.  Lazy!  If only the words that he were speaking were less funny, I could be mad at him. 

The penis of Tyler, and this is something that we all share, Ships & Dip 4-ers.  Because while technology and D.F. Yonkman make it possible for anyone to experience the cruise ship from the rhea-free comfort of our homes, the actual, uncensored, bouncing-fruit-and-nuts of a 43 year old man is something we, and only we, have to celebrate.  L’chaim!

Tyler Streaks Guster from Dead Elm on Vimeo.

And while we’re on the subject, please revisit this modern day Yonkman classic from 3 years ago on a Thundergod-free boat:

Jojo’s Birth - Live Via Satellite | SD3 from Dead Elm on Vimeo.

3 years ago |

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