Introducing Gusto Gusto

Gusto Gusto are a folk, funk, world music instrumental dance party from Melbourne.

A mix of funky world music and a Tarantino soundtrack, a sound that they self-describe as 'a party in a castle with lots of sweat and beers', Melbourne's Gusto Gusto are a hypnotic seven-piece collective that will make you dance.

A finalist for Artist Of The Year at 2023 Australian Folk Music Awards, Gusto Gusto have released two EPs of 'happy music', 20022's 'Suitcase Cake' and 'Secret Dance Party' that dropped last month.

"Inside each head a ticking beat, four hundred bones, these dancing feet, headphones pipe the music in, count us off, the record spins, melodies are borrowed, bent, flipped around and played again, no suitcakes here, no lullabies, just music for the better times. These are the songs that play inside our heads," shares the band, detailing the liner notes from 'Secret Dance Party'.

With previous festival appearances at Woodford Folk Festival, Cresfest and Cullulleraine Music Festival, Gusto Gusto have a busy summer ahead that includes a performance at Yarra Valley multiple-day event River Folk Festival.

Here, band member Nathan shares a few band secrets as well as stories from the studio and tour life.

Who is Gusto Gusto... We are West Preston's finest. A raucous, seven-piece instrumental experience. High-energy dance vibes, a hefty dose of audience participation and loud, happy music. Finalists for the 2023 Australian Folk Music Awards' Artist of the Year.

We sound like... A fun time. A jaunty fuzz freakout. A party in a castle with lots of sweat and beers. Think clarinet, violin, trumpet and accordion, underpinned by a rocking rhythm section playing an exuberant mix of original tunes. It's 'music to heist to' and a lot of fun.

Our best gig was... So many to choose from! We played a 3am slot on NYE at Woodford Folk Festival as the final act of the night. It was very loose, there were definitely some naked audience members on the dance floor.

Or we played a medieval themed festival in an actual castle (shot out to Questival and Culture Jam). The band were all wearing capes and there were hundreds of people in elf and jester outfits jumping up and down on the dance floor. When we finished we walked outside to stand in the mist and watch a dragon strut around the parapets.

Or there was this year's launch for our second EP 'Secret Dance Party', which was a sold-out home-town show to all our friends and family. A super wholesome, fun time.

When did you settle on the group's name, and was it a unanimous decision... A band so nice, we named it twice. The ongoing question everyone asks us: 'Is it Gusto Gusto, like you're from Italy, or Gusto Gusto, like you have lots of energy?' We are not Italian, and we do have a lot of energy, so hopefully this puts that to rest. If we ever tour Italy we assume there'll be a lot of confused punters.

In the studio we... Feel cramped. We've made two EPs in the last two years, both in our drummer Nathan's garage. Fitting seven people in a 3x5m room is a challenge but we make it work. There's a loooot of instrument bleed, everything gets in to everyone else's mics, which makes mixing a challenge. Fun, but challenging.

If we could tour with anyone... Fontaines D.C., The National, Black Country New Road, Jon Cleary, Lettuce, Little Feat, The Beths, Slipknot. None of these acts make any sense when you think about the music we play, but it'd be a pretty hilarious tour.

Social media is... Terrible. Delete it. Come see us play live on our national tour instead.

Life on the road can be... The best of times. The worst of times. Touring with seven people is a logistical nightmare, but the card games at the airport are a fun time, and there's always someone ready to have a beer if you're in the mood.

The shows are always amazing, it's hard to have a bad time when there's seven people jumping around onstage, but it's also hard to sleep post-show when there's seven people snoring in one room. The first person off-stage always nabs the last beer on the rider.

If we were coming over to your place, what would you cook us? This band excels at cooking, every rehearsal starts with a meal. Some of this year's highlights: lentil bolognese, kaddu ki sabzi, pumpkin lasagna, creamy fettucine. We cater heavily to the vegos, Jamie Oliver, eat your heart out.

When it comes to pets are you a lover or hater of our furry friends? There's a doggo in the band. She has bad hips so we don't bring her on tour, but she spends most rehearsals sitting in the middle of the room looking worried. She occasionally joins in by slapping her tail on the bass drum.

No matter the expense, send me a case of... Guitar strings. Sam our guitarist breaks at least one per show, often two or more. He's getting good at changing strings mid-song, and we're getting good at stalling!

The last time we saw the inside of a gym was... Touring doesn't leave much gym time, but we've got some avid hikers in the band, a couple of couch potatoes and at least one person who has run a marathon.

Would you ever partake in a reality show? Life is a reality show, baby! We're living our own version of metalocalypse (without the fame, the animation or the metal).

If you'll have us on your bill, all we ask is that our rider contains... A cheese board. Bring on the cheese. And a packet of Lactaid for our lactose intolerant member. Sprinkle some olives and a spicy salami in there too please. Some of those little capsicums with cheese inside. And crusty, crusty bread.

What celebrity/ famous person would you love to be spokesperson of the band... Rowan Atkinson, but only in character as Mr Bean.

What's the one chore you dislike the most? Getting band members to respond to messages. We've tried everything - a Messenger group, Slack, Discord, group text messages. There's still one (nameless) band member who won't lock in a date until we pin them down at rehearsal and physically write it in their diary for them.

Best local takeaway joint for a midnight feed that will leave you with a food coma? Preston is the best for food. Wander along High Street for amazing Sichuan (Tina's) or dumplings (One Noodle Friendship), drop into Labbaik for fantastic Indian, Chew Burger for kick-arse burgers, and of course the hilariously titled Takeaway Pizza for takeaway pizza.

Three people you'd like to invite around for a dinner party... Liam Gallagher. Noel Gallagher. You. Cooooome on, you know you want to be there. They can give us some advice on how to be a successful band. And how to navigate the stress of touring dynamics. Uuuuhh!

If you had to live in a city abroad, where would you choose and why? A Europe tour is on the cards for 2024, so ask us again in a year's time!

Last show you binge-watched? Binge-watching is so 2020. The new thing is putting on a movie and seeing how fast you can fall asleep. Nothing like a big national tour to really hone in those afternoon nap skills.

Gusto Gusto 2023-2024 Tour Dates

24 Nov - Open Studio (Melbourne)
1-2 Dec - River Folk Festival (Yarra Valley)
12-14 Jan - Cygnet Folk Festival (Tasmania)
18 Jan - Smiths Alternative (Canberra)
19-21 Jan - Illawarra Folk Festival (Wollongong)

The River Folk Festival 2023 Line-up

The Maes
Charles Maimarosia
John Flanagan
Gusto Gusto
The Good Behaviours
Mickey & Michelle
Great Aunt
Jo Davie
Emily-Rose Sarkova

Isabel Rumble

The River Folk Festival 2023 is made possible by the generous support of Yarra Ranges Council, the Community Bank Warburton and Yarra Junction, and numerous Yarra Valley local business sponsors.

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