SUSTO Heading to Mercury Lounge on June 7th

Interview by Corinne Casella

South Carolina-based SUSTO has been gaining recent momentum, after spending the winter touring with Future Birds and Heartless Bastards. Since then they have made their debut at Stagecoach and have recently been added to Austin City Limits and Americana Fest.

SUSTO is the brainchild of Justin Osbourne, who began playing his mix of Americana, indie and alt-country in and around South Carolina and Cuba. SUSTO’s line-up consists of Corey Campbell (Guitar, Keys, Vocals), Johnny Delaware (Guitar, Keys, Vocals), Jenna Desmond (Bass Guitar), Marshall Hudson (Drums/Percussion) and Justin Osborne (Vocals, Guitar, Keys). We had a chance to speak with Osborne about the band’s mission and recent successes. Check out their performance at Mercury Lounge on June 7.

Can you explain a little about your band’s mission and musical influences?

Justin Osbourne: I’d say that our mission is to make music that we both believe in and enjoy playing live. Connecting with an audience who can relate to our songs and to us as human beings is more rewarding than I can express, very good for the soul I believe. Influences vary. Everyone has such a different musical, regional and cultural background so the list of influences is much too deep to explore. Speaking of this, I do think it’s important to draw on a number of diverse influences and I think that is one of the strengths in SUSTO.

Personally, I’ve been influenced heavily by the poet Robert Lowell, the authors Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Mikhail Bulgakov, and the Trova style of songwriting in Cuba, plus artists or groups such as Bob Marley, Jim Croce, Operation Ivy, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Cat Power, The Grateful Dead and The Kinks. Plus, many many more

Getting added to the bill for Austin City Limits and Americana Fest is a big deal. How did the additions came about, and what are you looking forward to/hoping to achieve?

JO: We are very excited for both events, we’re very fortunate to have a strong booking team at Paradigm who have played a huge role in securing slots like these for us, while we are still very much unknown; many thanks to them. They believe in what we’re doing as much as we do and I think their efforts combined with our own dedication to touring and making authentic SUSTO music has opened some very cool doors for us such as ACL and Americana Fest.

Hopefully playing these two major festivals will draw more attention to the band from potential fans and industry folks. We’ve found that these types of events serve as powerful tools for music lovers to find bands that may have been under their radar, hopefully that will be the case for us as well. Also, we are excited to be able to hang out and enjoy both festivals. We’ll be playing early I imagine and that will leave plenty of time to see all the great bands playing later; bands that we’ve respected and loved for years.

What is your creative process? Is it more collaborative or an individual process?

JO: There’s no standard process for song creation in SUSTO. Sometimes I (or another member) will bring a song to table that’s mostly written, sometimes I’ll just bring an idea…then sometimes we’ll start from nothing and create something new with whoever is in the studio that day. It all depends on the song, the mood, and what we’re trying to do that particular day or week.

The only requirements for songs in this project are authenticity and quality. If a song or an idea comes from an authentic place and it’s good, doesn’t matter who wrote it or had the initial idea, we’ll finish it and record it.

What was your inspiration for the new album?

JO: Our new music is inspired by the last few years of living, just as our first record was inspired by the few years leading up to its birth. There are stories, questions, declarations…all thoughts and memories from times past. Mostly from 2013 to now, but some that have roots further back in time. It’s been a joy to make this record and I can’t wait to share it.

We are calling it and I’m Fine Today as a follow up to the first record which we called SUSTO (even before we adopted that name for the band). SUSTO is an intense and lingering sense of fright and misdirection – a phenomena which I felt I was suffering a few years back, but making that first record and finding myself in the music has helped me a great deal and I’m Fine Today.

What do you see as the band’s next evolution?

JO: It’s hard to see the future, I just hope whatever happens is a positive experience for everyone involved. I’m excited to see what’s to come but also grateful for everything that has already happened. | Charleston