Look Alive is our 8th album. The bulk of it was recorded in a vintage keyboard museum in Calgary AB, during a January stretch when the temperature reached 30 degrees below zero. We ended up in Canada because our British producer, Leo Abrahams, couldn’t turn around an American work visa fast enough, and we feel lucky to have discovered Studio Bell at the last minute. Despite having access to room after room of well-maintained analog keys, Leo gravitated to a cheap Ensoniq Mirage synth from the 1980’s that made Janet Jackson Rhythm Nation-era sounds from floppy disks. Leo spent countless hours poring over these floppy disks while the band gawked at the mellotrons, harpsichords, and other vintage equipment housed at Studio Bell. It was the beginnings of a stylistic clash that would ultimately play out beautifully. Our band had always gravitated to “warm” sounds. Leo would introduce us to “cold” sounds and the way they challenge us as listeners. He was the perfect complementary piece for Guster.
After working with the late Richard Swift four years ago and discovering a more raw and vintage sound on Evermotion, we fully embraced studio production with Leo this time around. The sheer amount of production on Look Alive grew into its own statement. There is a lot to unpack.
One day in Calgary we arrived at the studio to discover that Leo had put in a few extra hours on our song “Summertime.” He’d built an entire new intro using the Ensoniq Mirage overnight and played it for us. The band reaction wasn’t too kind. Our beautiful song now had a jarring, harsh, disruptive introduction, instead of the soft mellotron flutes we’d known. After some days of light bickering about it, Leo finally shed his proper British diplomatic side and belted out that “the world doesn’t need another fucking Beatles pastiche!” This would eventually become a rallying cry for the album as we strove to make something new and powerful together.
Title track “Look Alive” is an ominous, processed sonic collage with haunting words about waking up and becoming active in the midst of hollow words and fake heroes. “Hard Times,” written in the studio, came out more like the dark pop of Peter Gabriel / Depeche Mode / Tears for Fears than what people might think of Guster. “Overexcited” felt like classic Brit-pop and so Ryan sang it with a British accent over an Ensoniq marimba. Some of Guster's critics will say “but you can’t do that” — and that’s something we’ve heard our entire career. We don’t subscribe to the same musical ideology they do and never have.
Writing songs for the second straight record with multi-instrumentalist Luke Reynolds (who joined the band in 2010) has been a key to our evolution. Working with artists like Leo Abrahams, John Congleton, and Collin DuPuis proved to be inspiring and adds to a “brain trust” that bolsters the songs. With Look Alive the plan is simple. Grow our musical community. Write better and better songs. Keep our minds open. Never repeat ourselves and create a legacy of music that is undeniable.
- Brian Rosenworcel, drummer of Guster
Vaccine Policy and Mask Mandate for the Riviera Theatre
With our return to live concerts and our commitment to producing safe events, all patrons will need to show proof of vaccination (must be 2 weeks past final dose) or a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours from the time of entry along with a government issued photo ID. Proof of vaccination can only include a CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card, a clear photocopy or digital photo of the CDC card. Fans who have either (1) a medical condition, or (2) a closely-held religious belief that prevents vaccination, can still attend the concert by showing proof of a negative COVID-19 test performed within the previous 72 hours that matches the government issued photo ID. Taking this step helps to ensure the safety of our guests, staff, and the artists, and implementing this simple measure minimizes risk and the spread of the virus. We encourage you to get vaccinated if you have not already!
Following updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and based on Chicago’s current local COVID-19 data, the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) is requiring that everyone age two or older, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks in public indoor settings, effective Friday, August 20, 2021. A non-vented N95 mask or other well-fitted mask is strongly recommended to provide maximum protection. We will not allow a scarf, ski mask, balaclava, bandana, turtleneck, collar, single layer of fabric, or any mask that has an unfiltered one-way exhaust valve.
An inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any place where people gather. COVID-19 is an extremely contagious disease that can lead to severe illness and death. You assume all risks, hazards, and dangers arising from or relating in any way to the risk of contracting COVID-19 or any other communicable disease or illness, or a bacteria, virus or other pathogen capable of causing a communicable disease or illness, whether occurring before, during, or after the event, however caused or contracted, and voluntarily waive all claims and potential claims against Jam Productions, Ltd. and the Riviera Theatre (including Riviera Entertainment Properties, LLC and Riviera Productions, Inc. ) relating to such risks.