Tag Archives: Susto

Ever Since I Lost My Mind – SUSTO

By Matt Harrison

We were passing around a post-show doobie-joint in Louisville, watching the security guard of the neighbouring property drive the perimeter of his jurisdiction with a burnt out taillight. “We’ll play the new album for ya tomorrow on the way to Nashville” SUSTO frontman Justin Osborne said to me from the front passenger seat. I sat in my same back row seat the next day when we hit the road and I first heard Ever Since I Lost My Mind.

The sounds of silence hang momentarily before the sharp pattern of acoustic strumming brings listeners into the newest SUSTO album. “Homeboy,” the first track on the album, is a rhythmically fluid and lyrically evocative anthem of the rising tide among Osborne and those he’s come up around in the prolific Charleston music scene. It’s a catchy and inspiring track that causes one to consider their potential, be they a musician or otherwise.

Rolling in as a light alternative, “If I Was” will have you shoulder dancing along before the lyrics come in. “If I was a saviour,” Osborne begins, “I’d help all the people get saved/ Dunk their heads under water just to make sure that they’re all okay, they’re all alright.” The song carries on this theme of giving in the lines “If I was a writer, I’d try to suck you all in/ Put out some real page turners that you’ll never ever wanna put down again.

As the song comes to a close the instruments gradually drift and mingle, seemingly on their own. The band was sharing an LSD trip in the studio and the music took that wavelength for a ride. At the song’s natural conclusion those final notes hung together, floating along in an unchoreographed stream of celestial interconnectedness.

At the midway point is “Last Century,” a powerhouse track that puts SUSTO’s rock and roll aptitude on display. It’s the sort of groovy tune you’ll turn up every time you hear that first sliding note. In the latter half of the song the band drops into another gear, putting listeners under a psychedelic trance of slow-motion rock and roll euphoria before the tempo picks back up and roars into the closing chants; “Hey man, you got the last century, the last century right; Hey man, I’ll see you on the other side.”

You may have missed too many episodes of Dora to understand what “Está Bien” is about, so I’ve gone ahead and written up the drunken translation Justin gave me on the last night I was on tour with his crew in Macon, Georgia. Once you’ve read it, you’ll see how the song is not only aesthetically beautiful but deeply mantric. “I hope Esta Bien can be used as a tool to teach simple Spanish while sharing a positive message” Justin explained to me that night in Georgia, “something parents can share with their kids to teach them something good.”

After tiptoeing through the dreamscape of the seventh track, “House of the Blue Green Buddha,” you will be ripped back to reality when “Livin’ in America” comes on. This song captures the enjoyment of turning up the amps, subsequently pissing off your neighbours and scaring the dog. “It’s meant to come across as sarcastic,” Justin said while he, Van the Good and I smoked a 5 am joint in Macon. “America is fun as fuck. I mean, I get we’re fucked up, but it’s fun.”

And then you’re back, neck deep in the mellow, lost again in the serenity of the album. The title track, “Ever Since I Lost My Mind,” brings a fleeting scent of freedom; the equanimity of nomadity. “This is our fuckin’ hymn out there on the road,” Justin said, looking out the same windshield through which endless miles have passed him by. “You’ve just entered this life” he nodded to newly appointed tour manager, Van, “and you’ve sampled it,” he nodded back to me, “but this has been my life for 15 years.”

Before you know it you’re at the end of the ride. “Waiting on the rain to just stop/ I’m three weeks off cocaine and that’s rough” Osborne sings, shameless in his humanity in the final track, “Off You.” What many connect with in Osborne’s songwriting is his unrelenting and continual honesty. His lyrics offer personal insight that emboldens the understanding that those who struggle within themselves are not alone. “I can’t seem to get myself off of you” are the words the album closes on, shedding a final streak of light on that which Osborne still works to overcome.

Songs unmentioned here were cut for the sake of relative brevity. Among them is the third track, “Weather Balloons,” which was written the day after an acid trip during a Charleston snowstorm that shut the city down. Much of this album can be heard on repeat until your headphones give out. However, when listened to as a single entity, this album reflects the mind of an artist working through his pains who recognizes the beauty and bliss around him.

I was standing outside the door of Rialto Row on my last day in Charleston, still fairly stoned and about to head to the airport. SUSTO was inside for their first full band practice since recording the album. The peak of “Last Century” roared through the door with the same force found on the album. What the future holds for SUSTO remains to be seen but those last lines I heard through the door paint the picture of expectation; “Exercise in the early mornin’/ Let’s try and get one for the radio.”


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Support SUSTO with a purchase of Ever Since I Lost My Mind: HERE

Previously published work from the SUSTO Stories Tour:

Another Day on the Road

Aimlessly Wandering Through Chicago

Esta Bien Translated

Check out the original article HERE

In this life there are so many problems

There is pain and there is suffering

Those things make me afraid

But they do not scare me

When you are with me


(Chorus)

It’s alright

It’s alright

When it’s alright with you

It’s alright with me


Also in life, there is friendship

There is pure love and beauty

I know when

I know when the rain arrives

We will be okay, everything will be okay


It’s alright

It’s alright

When it’s alright with you

It’s alright with me


Those things bring fear

But I do not have any fear

When I am with you


It’s alright

It’s alright

When it’s alright with you

It’s alright with me

Another Day on the Road

By Matt Harrison

December 10th, 2018

9:46 am

Mobile, Alabama

Today marks the fifth day I’ve been on the road with Justin Osborne, Jordan Igoe, and Van ‘The Good’ Robinson. Myself included, this stretch of acoustic performances has the SUSTO crew slimmed down to four. The purpose of my being here is to act as a weed smoking, van packing, fly on the wall tasked with writing about the experience of being on the road. While here I’ve been helping load and unload the van before and after shows in exchange for my meals which allows me to save my dollars and cents for more pressing issues like records, state shaped key chains, and when the weed and cigarettes run too low to manage.

A very good question was asked last night while the four of us sat in the van beside the hotel, passing around two joints that Jah had provided. “Matt Harrison,” Justin said to me over the music and through a laugh, “how did you get here?”

Shit, I thought, unable to keep a straight face, that’s a good question.

It wasn’t all that long ago I saw SUSTO perform for the first time during spring in Winnipeg while they were on tour with the Lumineers. A few months later, in August of 2017, I finagled -lied- my way into an interview with Justin. I pitched the idea of coming on the road with him as a writer in a letter I gave him along with a copy of an article I’d written about & I’m Fine Today. I signed off the letter with my contact information and the lines I cost nothing and I stow anywhere.

I saw Justin and a few members of the band standing outside the venue after the show that night. I thought of going up to say hi but I felt there was a good chance we’d meet again some other time. A premonition or perhaps something much less, you be the judge. It’s just a thought I had as the car pulled away down Osborne Street.

Conversations from last night come back in random spurts. “I don’t know how you did it,” Justin laughed, his eyes lost in a smile, “but you’re part of the SUSTO family, now.”


“How was the Charlie Horse Doctor?” I asked Jordan once I’d crawled into the van and thrown my bag in the back.

“It was a very passive approach but it was very relaxing” she said through sunglasses in the rearview mirror.

“How do you feel?” I replied, curious about what exactly she meant.

“Very hungover” was all she said.

That checks out, I thought to myself, looking back to last night when her and Justin had two shots and a half empty bottle of booze -tequila for him, whiskey for her- sat in front each of them. Times this good are sure to come at a price. It’s a good thing they’re professionals.


December 15th, 2018

East 16, Mile 121, Georgia

3:42 pm

We met in Chicago, the centre point between our two cities. Everything between there and here has been about good music, good people, and guten tag. At every stop is another beautiful or deeply historic venue and another group of interesting, unique, and open minded people. I’m lucky to be chillin’ in the van, singing along to the tune of the day or makin’ one up as we go.

There’s nothing I can point to that shows the moment I became just another buddy on the road. What I have instead are the pieces of a picture painted in words. Moments caught in the moment. 10 days of rolling into somewhere and out to anywhere with my shithead friends.


December 10th, 2018

12:46 pm

Mobile, Alabama

The operating strategy for the day is to smoke a joint and make friends with the local wildlife. Luckily, there’s a nearby park with a tribe of obese squirrels who can be hand fed. “I’ll run to the bank while y’all are connectin’ with the squirrels,” Jordan says as we pile out of the van, armed with saltines and wonder. Just another day on the road with Justin, Jordan, and Van the Good.

Justin Osborne of Susto

By Matt Harrison

It was shortly after 6:30 on a warm August evening that I sat down with Susto front man, Justin Osborne. Leading up to the interview, I sat in the empty lobby of Winnipeg’s Park Theatre, eavesdropping on a run through of ‘Jah Werx’ being performed in soundcheck while trying to look busy, shuffling papers and writing notes. Once the song wrapped up Osborne walked through half of a set of double doors and sat down to tell me a little about his band, Susto.


Undoubtedly the biggest contributor to the gain of popularity and success Susto has seen in the last year was being granted the opportunity to tour with The Lumineers across the United States and Canada early in 2017. When Susto first learned they would be openers for the mega band, they were in Niagara Falls, Canada, enjoying the scenery before their first Canadian show in Toronto. Drummer Marshall Hudson, who had stayed in Toronto to do graphic design work, was the first to receive the news as he was the only member with cell phone reception. It was on the way back to Toronto that one of the members who had gone to the Falls turned the data on their cell phone back on and found a message saying to contact management immediately.

JOSusto
A shot of Osborne performing live with Susto at Winnipeg’s Park Theatre on August 12, 2017.

Asleep in the back of the tour van at the time, singer Justin Osborne was the last to hear the news. Upon first learning the band would be travelling with the Lumineers, Osborne was, to say the least, sceptical.

“They woke me up to tell me” he said with a grin, “and I was like ‘that’s bullshit. There’s no way.’”

As they drove back toward Toronto, and a stable WiFi connection, they received more details about the tour and the truth began to sink in. The shock and disbelief read clearly on his face even as he told me the story so many months later.

What shocked the members of Susto particularly about the whole scenario was they had no idea they were even in contention for the opening gig.

“It was a complete surprise to us. But apparently [The Lumineers] were diggin’ our new record before it came out” Osborne told me reminiscently.

What had happened without any of the band member’s knowledge was the booking agent for the Lumineers had acquired Susto demo tapes as a result of working in the same office as their own booking agent.

With their new album, & I’m Fine Today, being released in January of 2017 and the tour starting the following March, the timing of the tour was perfect.

“We got to be on national television before that tour and everything” Osborne told me. “Everything was a really good PR storm.”

The fallout from this storm included a record deal in Canada before the tour even began, just for being a part of it. The wheels had begun to turn for the band that had made their first record -self titled Susto, released in 2014- in a storage unit “because that’s what [they] did for fun.”

For Justin Osborne, performing and songwriting have been passions of his since he was in high school and well into adulthood thus far. Many of the songs written for Susto were penned in his mid-twenties, beginning around the age of 22. For him, songwriting is a manner of expressive creativity that can be used to channel raw emotion with poetic coherence. Some songs, including pieces off their new album, ‘Havana Vieja’ and ‘Hard Drugs’, have even helped him to mend the fragmented personal relationships that inspired their creation.

One song story Osborne shared with me comes to mind every time I’ve heard the tune since our conversation. From the album Susto, ‘Dream Girl’ acted as a rhythmic dreamcatcher for a recurring nightmare Osborne dealt with.

“I probably had it four or five times in a month. I was waking up from one dream and then I’d think I was awake. Then I’d realize it was kind of surreal. I would be held by this giant woman who had this motherly vibe. But then she would smile at me when I looked at her and she would start eating my hands. When I wrote the song, I never had the dream again.”

Osborne described how many of his other songs are expressions of him “working shit out” in his life. However, not all are based on his problems.

“Songs like ‘Jah Werx’ and ‘Waves’, those are more like mantras,” he explained. “It’s like I was getting out how I really feel and getting to sing that and yell that every night… it revitalizes the idea. The idea of approaching life in search of peace and understanding.”

For anyone who has heard the 24 songs Susto has released, there are many songs that touch on Osborne’s “very Christian” upbringing. This upbringing followed him into adulthood where, while in college, he was confronted by a roommate who asked him, “you don’t really believe this stuff, do you?” From there, Justin tumbled down a rabbit hole of questioning what he had been raised to believe. In a band he was in prior to Susto, Osborne says he can be heard questioning parts of what was then his religion. This period of his life lead him to meeting people and seeing places that no one who had raised him to follow Christianity had ever experienced before. Eventually, these new experiences and ideas culminated in what he referred to as being a moment of rejection.

Sitting at a stop light, with no one but himself, he said aloud, “Fuck you, God.”

“I would never say that now because it’s a dumb thing to say and there’s no reason to say “fuck you” to anybody who hasn’t done anything to you.”

He went on to explain how, in that moment, he realized for the first time that nothing was going to happen to him. “A lot of it was fear. I was afraid of what if I was wrong? What if I burn in Hell for all eternity? Then, eventually, I just stopped being afraid. I have close friends and family who are religious and I have a lot of respect for people’s religious beliefs. A lot more than I did in that moment at the stop light.”

From that moment, Osborne has been able to release the resentment he once felt towards anyone who taught him the religious life he had. He’s since come to terms with his upbringing, telling me “it’s not like they were ever trying to pull one over on me. They just really believe those things.”


As of now, Osborne is on tour in Europe, alone. The budget simply isn’t there yet to allow Susto to bring along the entire band. While across the ocean, he plans to “let the songs do their thing” in these solo performances with the hope of “opening up some new ears.” Upon returning home, Osborne will return to touring with his bandmates across the United States starting in Raleigh, North Carolina on September 9th.  The hope for the future is to spread the word of Susto. So long as fans are willing to come out to shows, Susto will stay out on the road. Performing thought provoking rock and roll and sharing a message of spiritual exploration and personal discovery woven into hymns for the religiously ambiguous is what this band of friends knows how to do best.

Check out Susto:

Facebook.com/SustoIsReal

Sustoisreal.com/

Twitter.com/SustoIsReal

Susto – & I’m Fine Today

SUSTOOriginally Published in Stylus Magazine, Volume 28, Issue 4

By Matt Harrison

Standing in the thirtieth row of a partially filled MTS Centre, dressed to the nines (or at least the sixes), on a narcotic propelled rocket hurtling my mind through some forgotten corridor of the cosmos is when I was first introduced to Susto. It was as though my experience was tethered to an otherworldly elastic that, at the moment of its choice, pulled me back down to earth and into my mortal self while the chorus of Susto’s Waves roared through the arena. The lights danced in unison as though they themselves were drowning waves. “It comes in waves” sang front man Justin Osborne, reminding a select few of every time they ever felt the ‘waves’ come on at the outset of what will surely be a good trip.

Waves is the third track on Susto’s newest album & I’m Fine Today, released in early 2017 by Dine Alone Records. As a whole the album is mind bendingly passionate and profound. The instrumental pieces carry a deceptively cheery tone while the lyrics are unabashedly authentic. Take, for example, the playful piano intro in the song “Hard Drugs”  which includes such lines as “I don’t care who’s askin’ I’ll tell ‘em the truth/ I’ve had a long time struggle with substance abuse…I’m just glad that I found you/ and sorry that I couldn’t keep you around.” The contrast of musical vibes and lyrics, often times teetering into the realm of psychedelic, is what creates the sound that can best be described as simply being Susto.

There is no shortage of other phenomenal songs on this album, ‘Mystery Man,’ ‘Cosmic Cowboy,’ ‘Wasted Mind’, ‘Diamonds Icaro’, and ‘Jah Werx’ to name a few, but none are as heart wrenching as “Gay In the South.” As the title undoubtedly implies, the songs tells of the struggles faced by gay individuals living in the southern United States who were close to the songwriter. The first chorus paints a telling picture of the turmoil many are forced to deal with, saying “They promised us/ You were going straight to hell when you die/ I don’t even think it’s a real place.” The contrast of up-tempo music paired with deep, often times thought provoking lyrics is what will lead Susto to success in the future.

Listening to & I’m Fine Today is good for the mind, good for the soul. In a hectic, unpredictable world of unknown horizons, Susto is a sturdy reminder that, in some crevices in the world, there is still good to be found. If more songs were written with this sort of exemplary honesty and depth, surely the world could be a better place. Until then, Susto will lie in wait for the cosmic surfers who, in spite of increasingly hazy global climate, feel fine today.

Check out more from Susto:

Sustoisreal.com/

Twitter.com/SustoIsReal

Facebook.com/sustoisreal