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Interview With Justin Osborne of SUSTO

Photo: Mishka Pretlow

Update 3/23/20: Hey, this article is from 2016. There is a much more up-to-date and in-depth interview with Justin Osborne here. In 2019 we also published an entire six-part series documenting a SUSTO tour called “On The Road With SUSTO”. Start at Part One here. You can read this, too, but just wanted to give you a heads up. 

I caught up with Justin after his show at the Charleston Library Society, and we decided it would be cool to get an interview together. Since he’s out touring the country right now and won’t be back in Charleston until sometime this fall, we did our interview via the internet. I wrote up a list of questions and sent them over to Justin, and he shot me back some answers. We talked about the growth of the Charleston music scene, SUSTO, Hearts & Plugs, and finally the new SUSTO album, which he confirmed for release before Valentines Day. Read the interview below.

The Charleston music scene is growing fast, and it makes me really excited. Do you have any words about the current state of the music scene here in the Holy City?

I’m very proud of what’s going on in Charleston these days. The whole city is buzzing & the music scene in particular is really turning into something special. Some great music is being made & people are being real supportive of the local community by actually going out to shows & listening to Charleston music. It’s especially encouraging that so many of the people involved in music locally are really collaborative & supportive of each other.

What do you think is the next step for this town?

First is more up & coming bands, I think the successes of some bands in town has got people really thirsty for new local music & I love seeing younger crowds starting bands, or people moving here to play music. It’s important to keep the creative juices flowing & see new faces make their way onto the stage.

Secondly I think Charleston needs at least one good 300-500 capacity venue downtown on the peninsula. Royal American & The Commodore are great places to start out & build fan bases, but it’s a big jump between spots like those & venues like The Music Farm & Music Hall. A venue that can host shows in a 500 cap room would not only be great for helping local bands grow, but would also attract more touring bands to Charleston.

Third & last on my list is more people involved in the industry outside of actually playing music. We need more labels, managers, promoters, booking agents, Ent. Attorneys, Ent. Accountants, etc. to have a local presence & help support the music being made.

I’m loving the SUSTO Stories videos. How did this little partnership with WAV come about?

Thanks! It kind f came about out of nowhere actually. Matt & Dries of WAV had made a video of a solo show I did at Royal a while back & it turned out really great. Then we were looking for a way to create more video content in the months leading up to our new album & the idea for SUSTO Stories came up, WAV was an obvious choice to partner with. We’ve had a blast making them, & the response online has been great too.

How did SUSTO get linked up with Hearts & Plugs?

I’ve known Dan from H&P for a pretty long time just from being involved in the greater SC music scene, since about 2007, and when he released some of my friends albums (Elim Bolt, Brave Baby) I was definitely interested in putting the SUSTO album out with the label. Dan was into the record so we went for it & it’s been a great experience! Dan & Megan are both great people & really hardworking. They care about the community & the music.

If you had to pick one beer to drink with Jesus Christ, other than Bud Light, what would it be, and why?

I’d love a Balboa, that’s what we used to drink in Cuba.

Let’s say its SUSTO World Tour. You’re playing old time hymns all over the United States, Europe and Japan. Who else is on the bill?

I think a Hootie & The Blowfish, Band of Horses, Shovels & Rope, SUSTO world tour would be a nice Charleston showcase. It’d be great company for sure.

And now for the burning question. You’ve been playing songs off the second SUSTO album for a while now. When can we expect to hear some storage unit studio versions of those songs?

We have definitely been trying out some new songs live & are excited to be getting closer to releasing our second record. We’ll be coming out with a big album announcement sometime in the next couple months. All I can say for now is that the album will be coming out before Valentine’s Day. We’re real excited for it.