A Visit to My Back Porch: Adam Gardner from Guster

I can’t quite remember how I first learned about Guster. But I think it must be because of their song “Amsterdam,” which is one of my all-time favorite songs. As a writer, how can I not love the line “I’m gonna write you a letter, I’m gonna write you a book, I wanna see your reaction, I wanna see how it looks…”? I vividly remember driving through Times Square in Manhattan with that song playing super clearly on my satellite radio, and thinking that this was a magical moment. Of course, seeing them in concert is also magical and fun. My top fave Guster songs are Amsterdam, of course, but also Satellite, Homecoming King, That’s No Way to Get to Heaven, and On The Ocean.

Adam wears two hats: Guster frontman, and codirector of Reverb, a nonprofit environmental organization dedicated to educating and engaging musicians and their fans to take action toward a more sustainable future. Gardner cofounded Reverb with his environmentalist wife, Lauren Sullivan, in 2004.  Since then Reverb has greened over 100 major music tours, and over 1,800 concert events; kept more than 99,000 tons of CO2 from the air; fueled touring fleets with more than 500,000 gallons of biodiesel; partnered with more than 2,500 environmental groups; and reached more than 14 million music fans.

The artists that have partnered with Reverb to help them go green and activate their fans include Dave Matthews Band, Sheryl Crow, Coldplay, Maroon 5, Jack Johnson, Phish, John Legend, John Mayer, and many, more. Reverb also works with the music industry to improve business practices including record labels, concert venues and radio stations.

While Adam is on tour with his own band playing to sold-out audiences from Radio City Music Hall in New York to the Warfield in San Francisco, he is busy working for Reverb in the back of his biodiesel-powered tour bus (thanks to his cellphone and wireless Internet connection).

What was your favorite comfort food growing up?

My mom’s lasagna–I couldn’t get enough of that stuff!

What is it now?

It’s a three-way tie between gnocchi, polenta, and roasting a Japanese sweet potato and eating it right out of the skin—if you haven’t tried it, you must!!

What’s your must-have food when on the road?

On tour, bands ask for certain foods on their hospitality riders with venues, so that they basically have a stocked fridge when they arrive. Everyday I’m on the road I eat Stonyfield Farm yogurt, Sabra hummus, Mary’s Gone Crackers, and GT’s kambucha.

What’s your viewpoint on organic food?

As an environmentalist, I of course am a huge fan.  As the dad of two kids, I feed organic food to my family almost exclusively. As a food lover, I much prefer the taste of organic food!

Do you do anything in your life organically?

My family is about to move into a house that has a yard, and we all are super-excited to grow an organic garden and eat our own food (especially our 3-year-old daughter!).  Until then, we will continue to cook our meals with organic ingredients and sing the praises of organic food through my band and our organization, Reverb.

Who was your biggest musical influence growing up?


I grew up listening to a lot of classic rock like The Who, Led Zepplin, Deep Purple, The Band, The Beatles, The Stones, Neil Young, Cat Stevens, Billie Joel, and CSN&Y.  I also loved The Cars and Kiss.

Who is it now?


This is always tough to answer—no doubt every band and musician I’ve ever heard and seen has influenced how I make and perform music.  As a band we admire the songwriting of bands like Wilco, and The Shins, and we like when we get compared to them.

If you could write a theme song for any revolution or movement, what would it be?


For me, it would be for the environmental movement.  Of course, it’s incredibly hard to do such a thing and not have it fall flat or come off as cheesy.  I find it much easier to harness the power of the connection artists have with their fans to amplify environmental campaigns, and that’s exactly what I do with my organization Reverb.

Where’s your favorite place to play music?

Ah—there are so many for so many different reasons.  My favorite small room is the Paradise in Boston.  I loved playing Radio City in New York—my parents came and were swelling with pride!  We are going to play Red Rocks this summer outside of Denver, which is a stage built into a natural amphitheater in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

As you travel and tour, what’s one insight about humanity that you’ve gained from your adventures?

People are generally playful and positive.  If you can set the tone at a show, it turns into a big happy party.  People also want to engage in something meaningful.  I’ve been floored by how many younger fans have participated in Reverb’s programs and campaigns—it feels really good for everyone involved.


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2 Responses to A Visit to My Back Porch: Adam Gardner from Guster

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