Starting the journey in South Carolina and now heard and loved across the world, it's a surprise that SUSTO's was musical career was very almost short-lived. The brainchild of frontman Justin Osborne, after many years of perseverance, self-booking and self-management he was ready to turn his back on music entirely, he played a farewell show and packed his bags for Cuba. The passion and fire of local Cuban musicians reinvigorated his creativity and he returned to the U.S. in less than a year to record their debut album, and the rest is history. Ever Since I Lost My Mind is the third chapter in their story, and we had a chat with Justin to understand his long and winding journey a little better.
Hey Justin, thanks for taking the time to speak with us. To start with, how did you get into writing music?
It’s a pleasure, thanks for taking the time to interview. I began writing songs when I was about 12. When my grandfather died, he left a guitar to my 3 brothers and me. He never played, but he owned this little Yamaha parlour guitar because he was obsessed with Country music and was always taking trips to Nashville. So the guitar became like a family heirloom and my parents hid it from us because they were afraid we would destroy it haha. Eventually, though, I found it and I would sneak to play it whenever I could. My parents found out, and instead of being angry they were actually supportive and glad that I wanted to learn to play. So they let me use the guitar whenever I wanted, and even though it only had 3 strings at first, I began writing my own songs right away. No one in my family played the guitar, so it was slow going in the beginning because I was teaching myself, and it was a little before the days where you could learn to play via YouTube. I really enjoyed writing and playing though, so I kept it up and eventually started a band in High School. One thing leads to another, and here I am today still writing and performing, and still loving it.
Your music walks the line between a myriad of genres, in your own words how would you describe it?
It’s hard to describe SUSTO in terms of genre because it’s always been important to me that we not be pigeonholed into one genre or another. I think dancing between different sounds, allows us the freedom to surprise ourselves and listeners, album to album and song to song. That being said, I think there are a few primary genres that I’m most comfortable with, which could probably be useful in describing our sound. I would say that we are a Rock band, with heavy folk/roots influences and a dose of Psychedelic texture. You could probably say we are Alternative/Rock/Folk/Psychedelic but there’s a little electronic, reggae, and Spanish folk mixed in there too. Also, I’m from South Carolina, so sometimes I can’t help but sound like a Country Singer haha. It sounds so complicated when I try to describe it, but I think the result of all this fusion is a pretty smooth and fun sound.
You've just finished a tour in the UK, how do shows compare here to the US?
We did, and we’ve had a great experience so far playing to our small but dedicated UK fan base. We are definitely playing bigger shows in the US because we’ve already spent so much time touring and developing the band there, but I’m encouraged by these early UK shows, and we’re excited to begin touring the UK more often and hopefully making more fans.
We're loving 'Ever Since I Lost My Mind', can you share some insight into the motivations behind it both musically and lyrically as a project?
I’m so glad to hear that you guys have enjoyed the album, its really nice to finally have it out in the world and to be playing the songs live. This album was a lot of fun to make, and I was lucky to be surrounded by a team of incredible folks who all helped create a wonderful sonic landscape, to support my songs and narrative. The album was produced by Ian Fitchuk, and I can’t say enough about how great it was to have Ian helping me through the process, he really made me feel at peace, even when I was making hard decisions about recording. Lyrically, the album feels very sentimental to me, because it’s confessional and autobiographical. But that’s not really a new thing, I’ve been writing in that sort of personal way since the beginning of the band. The content was a bit different for this album though because my own experience has shifted. This is our third album, so at this point in my life I’m already very much “in a band” and my life over the last few years has been mostly spent on the road. When we are travelling away from home for several months at a time, I struggle with homesickness, depression, and substance abuse. There’s also always the pressure of being my own boss and stressing out about keeping everything afloat for myself and the rest of the band — so those feelings kind of shaped the mood of the album, and we all worked together to create a musical backdrop to support and reinforce those emotions.
The title “Ever Since I Lost My Mind” is very telling I think and also has several meanings. Sometimes when I’ve been far from home I’ve asked myself if I've “Lost My Mind” by chasing this dream and this feeling as a performer. Beyond those feelings though, the title has other meaning too. In a way, it’s a reference to the current political climate in the US and how difficult it can be to have real conversations with people who hold different views than my own, people I use to be very close with, now it’s like we are living in 2 separate worlds and it also makes me feel like we’ve all lost our minds. Going even deeper, aside from current politics and the pains of touring, the title is also a sarcastic reference to the urban legend that taking too much LSD will make you “lose your mind”. I microdose LSD from time to time to deal with anxiety & depression and I find it very useful and positive. I’ve also had stronger more intense Psychedelic experiences in the past, which I believe have made me a more loving, empathetic, peaceful and connected person. So I think part of my overall message is also sharing about those experiences, and how LSD has been helpful for me in dealing with depression and life.
What can we look forward to from you next?
Well, I’m actually due to become a father any day now, so for the next couple of months, I’ll be laying low and spending time home with my family. While I’m home though, we plan to release some new music! We have some special recordings that we’ve made and hope to share with everyone later in the summer. We will also be getting back on the road by the end of July, doing some cool festivals and headline shows in the US and Europe. I’ve already begun working on the next SUSTO album too, so I also plan to spend time exploring my new songs and new vision while I’m home.
Stream Ever Since I Lost My Mind below.