Every key that is hit on the piano, every chord that is strummed on the guitar, every high tom-tom and snare drum that is banged on, every vocal chord held for a period of time- all these key components in an album are thought out so much you would get tired of counting time. That is whats makes an album so worth waiting for. It is somehow personal, spontaneous,and meticulous. It often depicts the dark side of life in the prettiest ways. The notes unravel a story that bend and twist to tells someones chapter in life. That is exactly what SUSTO’S new album depicts. Personal life stories. Connections from past friends, lovers, lies, love, cigarettes, and just a really god sense of what music is. The album is spectacular in every sense of the word. The song “Cigarettes, Whiskey, and Wine” is a master piece. I was so excited to have a chat with Justin from the Charleston, South Carolina Band- SUSTO. They are now touring with The Lumineers and will make their stop in Texas tomorrow to play the Verizon Theater! While you wait until tomorrow to see this electrifying band live here is our interview. We mostly talked about what went in to make their latest album come alive. Check out our interview with the Justin from the band below:
MWN: First off I wanted to take the time to thank you for chatting with us. The reason I love your music is because it comes off very honest. For me the magic of music often lies in the lyrics, because for me it is an escape into another world- sometimes even deeper into my own world. Was this album a recollection of stories in your life?
SUSTO: As a writer it is, not like a diary, but it’s like a recap. Chapter by chapter, song by song. Our very first album was like that too. We kinda recorded things as they were happening, this album is like autobiographical.
MWN: I know musicians/ bands never really stick to one way of writing songs. It is creativity and well you know creativity can flow in so many different directions. For this album was there a collective group when composing the songs? What was the experience as band?
SUSTO: It was definitely very collaborative and a group effort. Our first album too, it is kind of like the way our process works. However the songs come about, they come about. I think going into making a record there’s a certain amount of ideas that I have or kinda of like a layout or sketch of what we want it to be like. Some of them are whole songs that we just need to remodel or edit carefully, some might just be ideas, and sometimes it is just the idea of what direction we want to take. Sometimes its ideas that capture things that are happening in life at that moment and you sit on and meditate for a while. Sometimes we come into the study and catch up by like writing songs I think lyrically whenever you can sit down and write something is like your recapturing that same type of moment but you are capturing it by writing about it by yourself, and doing this in the studio makes you realize a lot more, then you have to meditate on it for a while and let yourself get in the moment and then the song comes to you.
MWN: In general lyrically how do you sit and write songs? Are there bits and pieces that you just think off during the day and then make them into songs?
SUSTO: For lyrics especially I like to let them kind of flow as much as possible, like a stream of consciousness kind of way. I like to sit down and write a couple of lyrics, then play for a little bit and then kid of start with that and while you might not get a song perfectly in that part of the process you get into this train of thought and are able to kind of create like a little conversation of a song and from there you can kind of sketch the song out. At least for me is more about finding a story and carve out of stone as I go about the process of writing. See, its because you might have the raw emotion, the raw feeling of the situation and you can capture that first and then kind of sculpt it out or polish it.
MWN: Do you ever go back to old songs and wonder what you were thinking when you wrote that song? Or maybe find yourself saying “I can’t believe I wrote that?”
SUSTO: I think there is a part of becoming a songwriter that you have to be really critical of yourself. I use to be really critical, especially of my own self, and I was like that for a long time. And now my process is more like off of a trail, you can follow a story. I can’t always identify myself for a while, or with a period of my life, but I have the songs to help me remember that part of my life, and then you remember the things I learned from those lessons.
MWN: See I remember my first recollection of music- I was probably five years old and my mom loves John Lennon so she would play his albums nonstop. I remember knowing all the lyrics to it by the time I was six or seven. So can you tell me what your first recollection of music was?
SUSTO: I feel like I connected to certain songs from an early age. But I think the first time I connected to a song was, I used to watch “All That” that was a show in Nickelodeon that would have like musical dance, that was it. My parents were not really all that into music. Also, when I heard the song “Creep” I was just like “ that is so bad ass” I am also really into this band called All 4 one, and they have this song called “ I can love you like that” and I loved that song, and also TLC, I remember I made my parents go out and buy me all these albums, it was really funny because here I am a little white kid in South Carolina and I am listening to TLC and All 4 one, but it is so soulful you know? but you know I was in love with like the Spice Girls and shit too and there are just so many moments in my life that the band or a song or the genre that I liked changed so much over the years. It’s gone from like singer songwriter type of music, to hip hop, to hard core rock, to reggae and that is one of the things that I love about music there are so many different exciting corners that are waiting for you to find them.
MWN: I believe the root of what we like in music is implemented at home when we are young and as we grow and start discovering who we are we start listening to what speaks to us. How do those influences shape or change your band?
SUSTO: To be honest, everyone in the band and the producers back home, and basically everyone involved in this creative process has a wide variety of influences and musical backgrounds. They just kind of overlap, all the way from electronic, to pop, country music, to rock and roll and indie rock and punk rock. We kind of try a little bit of everything, and have fun with it. I think it is cool and entertaining for us because we are able to challenge ourselves in trying to find or put our own spin on it. I think there are a lot of genres that we draw from, we all have different takes, influences and backgrounds that we can feed off of. I think that you can hear all the people and their parts on the record, I think we do a good job or we try to do a good job in capturing all those different signatures and putting them together.
MWN: I know their might be many answers to this question, but what moment has stood out the most to you in the journey thus far?
SUSTO: I feel like such a blessed person because honestly there have been so many cool moments in the journey and over the years. So I have been trying to live in the moment, and appreciating every moment as much as possible. There is this thing that happened a couple of days ago. So our record came out the last month and we have gone out in like a month long tour around the east coast. And we got to play a headliner show in our hometown, in Charleston, and it is just kind of like a mile stone if you can sell out the venue, it is just so cool, I was like “I know this is my hometown,” but it was just such a special moment. We sold it out and I loved playing there” it just was something really special. This are the moments that are surreal and really special.
MWN: The way you talk about your music and song writing process is beautiful. No wonder I fell in love your music from the start that love really shines through your songs, and the new album really shows that musicianship that every band member has. Thanks so much for chatting with us!