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Guster Not Letting Fans Dictate Musical Direction

Of the Oakland Press

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When Guster toured with Barenaked Ladies, the latter group’s Ed Robertson had some sage advice for the opening act.

“He told us that the only thing worse than selling out to The Man is selling out to The Boy,” says Guster’s Adam Gardner.

Translation? Make the music you want to and don’t try to second guess either what the record company or the fans want the band to do.

“I always keep that in the back of my mind,” Gardner, 33, adds — and that was particularly true while Guster was making its fi fth album, “Ganging Up on the Sun,” a markedly lusher and more intricate affair than the breezy, acoustic guitarbased pop that established the band with its exuberantly loyal following.

But, Gardner says, “You can’t really worry about your fan base. You’ve just got to do what you’ve got to do and hope they grow with you as you grow musically. At this point, every record’s been so different that we anticipate losing some folks.

“There are still some fans who come to the show who think our first record is our best record. Well, good for you. We don’t agree, but fi ne. And then we get the, ‘At fi rst I wasn’t thrilled, then it grew on me and now I love it.’ That seems to be the general response from the Guster fan who’s been with us from the beginning, and that’s fi ne, too.”

Gardner, who co-founded Guster in 1992 at Tufts University with Ryan Miller and Brian Rosen worcel, credits much of the band’s recent evolution to new member Joe Pisapia, who began touring with the band two years ago and is now a fullfledged part of the group.

“Joe gave us some perspective on our process,” Gardner says. “He represented the whole, ‘Don’t overthink this. Let’s feel it, and if it feels good, let’s leave it.’

“It’s interesting having his influence not only musically but even from the actual approach of how we do the songs and how we write. He’s made a big difference.”

Guster, Ray LaMontagne and the Fruit Bats perform at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Meadow Brook Music Festival on the campus of Oakland University, Rochester Hills. Tickets are $32 pavilion, $20 lawn. Call (248) 377-0100 or visit

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