SUSTO and Cereus Bright -- Zanzabar | Louisville, KY | 3 February 2017
Photos Courtesy of: Emily May
SUSTO are in the midst of a tour in support of their latest album & I'm Fine Today. They stopped by Zanzabar in Louisville, KY on Friday night and played a long and varied set to a packed room of enthusiastic fans. They were in good spirits, towards each other as well as the crowd, seeming genuinely surprised at the amount of people who were packed into the venue. The crowd was treated to a fun and energetic set full of their favorite songs, both old and new. SUSTO is a phenomenal live band and I think we can expect to continue seeing great things from them!
Interview with Jenna Desmond of SUSTO:
1) You all are about to embark on a fairly lengthy tour! Is this your first headlining tour? What are you looking forward to the most?
Yea! We just started tour on January 13th, and will be on the road until April-May, (probably forever). We've done a few small headlining runs throughout last year, but this is definitely our biggest headlining tour. I'm looking forward to reuniting with people we've met along the way, and old friends who live in new places; getting out on the west coast again.
2) For part of your tour, you will have a few dates opening for The Lumineers. To be able to open for such a huge band is a great opportunity! How did that come about?
That's right. We'll be on tour with them for the whole month of March, starting in Texas and headed to Edmonton in Canada. It is a beautiful opportunity, we're all very grateful to be on the tour and to be playing in front of so many people. We share the same booking agency as The Lumineers. They were looking for support on this tour, and heard both of our records. They really liked it so they handpicked us to join their tour.
3) How has the reception been so far to the new album? What inspired you all to create a different sound for this album?
The reception has been really great. We're all really excited about how many people have been coming out to shows and already know the words to the new songs, with the record only being out for two weeks. The sound of the new record isn't different, per se, but a progression and exploration, incorporating more genres of music. Our producer really pushed us in expanding on the sound of the first record.
4) What was the process like when making the new album? Was it a collaborative process or did everyone have specific contributions?
We recorded the album in a storage unit in downtown Charleston. Justin Osborne, as the lead singer and primary songwriter, has created the SUSTO narrative based on anecdotes from his life that depict the painful and beautiful moments of human existence. We all really relate to these songs, and I think it unifies the writing process. Justin will bring a song to the studio and it takes off from there. In terms of collaboration, Johnny Delaware played both songwriter and co-producer, and had a role in creating a lot of the soundscape on the new record; Marshall, our drummer, wrote one of my favorite songs on the new record "Diamond's Icaro." Corey studied music in college, he's a musical wizard. He was responsible for a lot of the instrumentation on record and writing out parts for the strings. Wolfgang Zimmerman, our producer, is also a ghost member of the band, he is a huge part of the creative process, he and Justin have been working together for a long time. As for me, I actually joined SUSTO, right around the time the record was finishing up, but I did get to sing some back-up vocals on the record.
5) How has everyone adjusted to no longer having Johnny Delaware in the band?
It's been a positive thing on both ends. We have a new guitar player, Dries Vandenberg, and we're really excited to have him along. He’s a talented guitarist and people really like his vibe.
Johnny has since started a new project called,'The Artisanals.’ We’re all happy watching him pursue his path as a front man, and hopefully run into him on the road.
6) Which festivals are you playing this year? Are there any that you all are especially excited for?
We just found out that we're playing Pickathon in Oregon, alongside some acts like Charles Bradley, Dinosaur Jr., Deer Tick, Andy Shauf, Sunflower Bean etc. There are some major festival dates in the works, so keep on the look out for us this festival season.
7) How do you all come up with the ideas for your music videos?
Dries, our new guitar player is also a photographer/videographer. He worked with us to come up with some ideas for the "Waves" video. We ended up shooting a lot the footage in our hometown, Charleston, SC.
For "Chillin' on the Beach with My Best Friend Jesus Christ," a lot of the ideas stemmed from Justin growing up in a Christian household, and wanting to release a playful music video for a summertime single.
8) How have things changed for the band now that you all have national managements? Has it been hard to break away from the DIY approach or has the transition been smooth?
Justin until recently had been booking his own tours in bands since he was 16, including SUSTO's tours. So working with Paradigm for booking has been huge for us, in terms of getting in front of people, and playing killer shows all over the nation. We're working with Missing Piece/Caroline too, but this record is still an independent release for us, and there still are a lot "DIY" vibes. We all feel very grateful to have such a strong team behinds us.
9) How long have you been involved in the music industry? Have you found yourself facing any specific challenges as a woman in the industry?
I had played in a few bands before SUSTO, but none that were serious touring bands.
I've had sound guys have to double check with me that I'm in the band, or men say stupid sexual things to me (but that's a given). I think the biggest challenge I've faced is learning how to be more assertive about what I want. A lot of women in their careers and life in general are focused on making other people happy and sacrificing their needs to avoid conflict. I've definitely been intimidated to speak up for myself at times, and then at the the end of the day I'm unhappy. Being on the road and performing every night has definitely taught me to give way less of a shit about what people think, just do what I need to do and be present, instead of projecting fake fears onto myself.