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Pop Quiz

A quick check of your pop-princess savvy

Xtina, Paris, Jessica and Beyoncé have all just released records. Are you up to speed on your pop pabulum?

1. "Freakum Dress" is:
a. A song on Beyoncé's new album
b. Something Bill Clinton would just rather forget about
c. The title of the new Devendra Banhart record
d. The name of next week's Project Runway episode

2. Whose current or former Music Mogul boyfriend would win in a fight?
a. That knob from Sum 41 that Paris blew
b. That knob Nick Lachey that Jessica humped
c. That knob Jordan Bratman that tells Xtina she's pretty
b. Jay-Z, who apparently "used to bag girls like Birkin bags," whatever that means

3. What do Scott Storch and Mark Ronson have in common?
a. They've both produced one or more tracks on one of the above diva's albums
b. They're both talentless hacks who happen to know their way around an MPC 4000
c. They've both shagged Paris Hilton
d. All of the above

4. An "Autotuner" is:
a. A girl's best friend
b. Responsible for modern Top 40 radio as we know it
c. The only way Paris and Jessica could ever make music
d. All of the above

5. Which of these movies most proves that just because you can wear a thong to the VMAs doesn't mean your mug's ready for the big screen?
a. The Pink Panther
b. The Dukes of Hazzard
c. House of Wax
d. All of the above

Match the diva to how she got her start in showbiz: 6. Beyoncé 7. Jessica; 8. Xtina; 9. Paris.
a. Touring the Christian Youth Conference circuit (yes, such a circuit exists)
b. Performing with her then-group Girl's Tyme on Star Search
c. Appearing on The Mickey Mouse Club
d. Fucking some guy

Answers: 1. a; 2. b; 3. d 4. d; 5. d; 6. b; 7. a; 8. c; 9. d. -- Garrett Kamps

Between the Cracks

The pop band Guster's guitarist, Adam Gardner, is a busy guy. Besides Guster tour duties and a starring role in Joe's Place (a pseudo-sitcom taped during the band's recent four-month recording stint at member Joe Pisapia's home studio), Gardner heads up ReverbRock.org, a nonprofit organization that promotes alternative energy, including the greening of music tours for artists such as the Dave Matthews Band and Bonnie Raitt.

Houston Press:I already know that "Guster" doesn't mean anything, it's just a word the group picked. What do you usually tell people who still make the mistake of asking you about that?

Adam Gardner:We give a variety of lies as answers to that question. For you, I believe the lie is "Guster" in some Scandinavian language means "to eat and enjoy." You'll recognize it as the root of "gustation."

HP:Who does your band sound like?

Gardner:If you have a band that's original-sounding, then there's no easy answer for that. And that's good, I think. If we said, "We sound exactly like Sting," people are going to think, "What's the point of seeing Guster? I'll just go see Sting."

HP:Are there genre labels you can use to describe your music?

Gardner:We consider ourselves pop, pop in the same way that the Beatles are pop: They wrote three-and-a-half-minute songs with strong melodies. This is record No. 5 for us, and each record is pretty different from the others, but the one common thread is melody. We really focus on that. Even if it's not a vocal melody, even if it's just a guitar line, they all have melodies that are catchy.

HP:Describe your songwriting process.

Gardner:All of us write, contribute. Some songs start with just a sound. Or an effect or a drumbeat, a bass line. For our band, it's always the music first, it's never the lyrics first. We won't even have an idea of what a song is about, that conversation never happens. For us, it's always about the music. We sit down, music comes out of us and then we think, "Okay, what's the mood of this music? What lyrics convey that mood?"

HP:What's a song you wish you had written?

Gardner:Wow, there are way too many. There's so many I can't possibly narrow it down to just one--

HP:Okay...

Gardner:--but I will. "God Only Knows" by the Beach Boys.

HP:Please describe what it's like to be on stage.

Gardner:It's sort of like having sex with a thousand people all at once -- and it's going really, really well.

HP:Who would be in your dream band?

Gardner:Any band that has backed Beck.

HP:Tell us about Joe's Place.

Gardner:On our Web site, Guster.com, there are links to little episodes, like five minutes long, of us recording this last CD at Joe's house. It's sort of a mini-sitcom, with somebody trying to record bass line while somebody else is microwaving popcorn in the next room, for example. It's just us, but it gives you an idea of what recording is like.

HP:If they made a movie about your life who would play you?

Gardner:Who's the guy who played Chandler on Friends?

HP:Matthew Perry?

Gardner:Yeah, him. He could play me. And Jennifer Connelly could play my wife.

HP:Would you rather be rich or be beautiful?

Gardner:Beauty gets you wealth, so I'll say beauty and then that will get me rich.

HP:Tell us something people don't usually know about you.

Gardner:I can pick my nose with my tongue.

HP:Ew!

Gardner:I know. [Laughs]

HP:Football or foosball?

Gardner:Foosball.

HP:Bert or Ernie?

Gardner:Ernie.

HP:Who would you rather marry, Nancy Reagan or Ru Paul?

Gardner:Nancy Reagan sort of looks like my mom, so Ru Paul.

HP:Anything else you want to say to Houston?

Gardner:You know that big water wall you have?

HP:The Williams Water Wall? Over at the Transco Tower?

Gardner:Yeah, that's it. I really like it. I've seen it a couple of times before. So please tell Houston I'm looking forward to checking out the water wall. Oh, and come to the show. -- Interview by Olivia Flores Alvarez
Guster appears Saturday, September 16, at Verizon Wireless Theater, 520 Texas, 713-230-1666.

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