“Mobility has always helped define America. Don’t settle for where you start. Find a new town, new coast, or new state of mind––then make it yours.” states Justin Osborne of SUSTO on his official bio. Hailing from Charleston, South Carolina, this virtuoso is a thinking man’s kind of musician. An interesting artist with plenty of tales to transmit; and numerous heartfelt tunes by which to convey his anecdotes.
Currently on tour in support of their 3 full-length LP, Ever Since I Lost My Mind, the SUSTO head honcho took some time to interact with us — and gives a small taste of what goes on in his mind.
1.- “Ever Since I Lost My Mind” seems very personal. Very deep and sincere. The first thing I want to know is what was the main inspiration behind the writing of this record? What period in your life are you channeling to the listener?
The songs on ESILMM were mostly written between late 2016 and mid 2018. I was on the road a lot with the band and I think I sank into a constant mild depression due to homesickness, and also beginning to understand just how hard it is to make it in the music industry, how much personal time and energy it requires to go out and play your music for people all over the world. At the same time I was feeling very fortunate to be doing it, and having amazing experiences, so I think the album is a sort of a record of the inner monologue going on in my mind, weighing the pro’s & con’s of what my life was like during that time period.
2.- The Spanish language seems to be common denominator in your musical artillery. From the moniker “SUSTO” to the “Está Bien” track, and the Buenos Aires reference behind “Homeboy.” Can you explain how this sense for the culture became of importance to you?
I was living in Cuba when I started the band, and I felt really welcomed there, at a time in my life when I was not on good terms with my family. I was walking away from the religious views that had shaped my worldview and yet I had no real direction in life so I didn’t feel so much like like I fit in at home in the US. That feeling of estrangement is what attracted me to the word Susto, which I understood to mean a sort of prolonged state of panic, which I felt I could relate to. Then the song Está Bien, was written as a kind of thank you to my Cuban friends who helped me get excited about music again, and who encouraged me to go home to the US and try to break through in the music industry. Without them I don’t think I would be doing this now as my career, and I’m thankful that I have this opportunity. The reference to Buenos Aires is just a truthful story about a friend who moved there, I have never been so I can’t say that there’s any direct influence on me from Argentina.
3.- Another standout element of “Ever Since I Lost My Mind” is just the vast snippets of genre fusions. At majority, you can say there’s an Americana and Twangy vibe going on, but you also listen to several segments like a Spaghetti Western atmosphere on “Cocaine,” to synth and classic rock sensibilities on “Last Century.” Tell us about the process you took when it came to selecting your presentations. What made your songs travel outside the box of what may or may not be considered your genre of specialty?
I guess I’m just a fan of lots of different types of music, and I’ve always loved artists who jump between genres. For me, and the people around me, it’s fun to keep things interesting with the music and I think that has led us to make songs that seem familiar, but are hard to define in terms of what genre they belong too, at least that how I hope it comes across.
4.- In a perfect world, what would you wish each listener would get out of “Ever Since I Lost My Mind“?
Haha — well I guess in a perfect world everyone would think it was the best album ever made and each listener would feel a deep connection to it. It’s very personal for me, and it feels vulnerable having those stories and songs out there in the world, so I think it’s natural for me to want people to connect to them and appreciate them for what they are.
5.- Which track on the new album is the most intimate and close to you as a person? Would you care to share the story behind it?
I’d say they are all equally personal, because each of them was born out of an actual experience or feeling in my life that seemed to me worth writing about. There are high’s and low’s in there, because the whole thing is a diary, and that’s what life is… high’s and lows.
I’ll spotlight one though. The song “No Way Out,” I wrote that at dawn on a cliff in Kentucky. I had been gone from home for a while and I was missing my girlfriend (now wife). The song is about love and how it transcends time and distance, and even life. It’s only 2 chords, and it’s modal. I wanted it to feel primal, because that’s how love feels. Love is like a ghost that’s older than the earth, that’s how I feel about it at least, like it’s the most powerful thing that exists.
6.- What can we expect from SUSTO moving forward?
Well, for the foreseeable-future we will be touring in support of this new album. Beyond that, I’ve got another batch of songs almost finished so I think we’ll try to get in the studio to start work on our next album sometime later this year if we can find the time. Meanwhile, I’m just gonna enjoy the ride and have fun playing shows with my friends!
7.- Lastly, why should any fan spend their hard-earned money to see SUSTO live? What can we expect on the live circuit?
Well, I think it’s always a good idea to see a band live if you’re a fan, because there’s something special about experiencing songs you love in a live setting, surrounded by others who share that connection to the music. Also, we take great care to make sure our shows are a journey for us and the crowd together, we have a great time doing this and there’s a special bond between us and the audience that can only be fully realized at live shows. So, I’d encourage anyone out there to come take part in that experience, whether you’re already a fan or just looking to get lost for an hour or two, we’re here for you, and all are welcome!
There you have it, folks! Be sure to support this amazing band. Catch them live at a town near you, or head over to the streaming services and get a hold of “Ever Since I Lost My Mind” — It really is a small gem of an album.