Photograph by Paul Andrew Dunker
“Musically, I'm in a better place. As a person, I'm definitely in a better place.”
Justin Osborne, frontman for SUSTO, reflected back upon the beginnings of his now-burgeoning music career as he sat contained in the automobile that was throttling him and the rest of SUSTO toward their first gig at South by Southwest. Still basking in the success of their self-titled freshman album, SUSTO has been quickly embraced by the Charleston music scene. “The 2014 album is one of our biggest accomplishments. We didn't know whether it would be received well. We just wanted something to reflect ourselves, what we could do individually, and we think it really did that. It took a life of its own and people seemed to really like it.”
A praise often heard streaming from the mouths of excited Charleston locals is how true SUSTO's live performances stay to the well-produced gritty alternative-folk, counter-country sound that defines their debut album. While they have had their fair share of lineup changes since forming, vocalist/guitarist/pianist Osborne, guitarist/pianist/vocalist Johnny Delaware, drummer Marshall Hudson, guitarist Corey Campbell, and producer Wolfgang Zimmerman seem to be permanent fixtures for SUSTO going forward. Bassist Jordan Hicks, also a member of Brave Baby, will most likely be with SUSTO on a temporary basis. “For the most part, all of those playing for us are plugged in pretty hard at this point, it's our full-time job,” says Osborne.
Nothing has been given to the illustrious artists that comprise SUSTO; it has all been earned through hard-labored part-time jobs and an emboldened belief that they can be bigger than any one of their members—that they can make it. “To get the gig at South By Southwest, we submitted through Sonic Bids. I made a list of people who could help us out. I kept getting in the ears of people who knew our talent. We really had to work for this," says Osborne.
SUSTO played two gigs at SXSW, one at an art space named Yard Dog and a bigger, more exclusive showcase at The Lucky Lounge in Austin, TX. Beyond SUSTO's huge accomplishment of playing at the Austin-based festival, they will be releasing an album entitled Live from the Australian Country Music Hall of Fame on April 1. A live version of the first album, it features Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses, Jordan Igoe, Matt Lohan, and other Charleston music monoliths.
With Live from the Australian County Music Hall of Fame set to debut very soon, SUSTO is also stoked to put out a split 7-inch vinyl EP with Johnny Delaware's solo project on Hearts and Plugs records, as well as a much-anticipated album set to debut in April of next year.
Didn’t make it out to Austin for SXSW? Be sure to catch SUSTO’s first show back in Chucktown at Redux for the Hearts and Plugs Residency on April 8. They'll also be jamming with Brave Baby in May before they resume touring in June.
Justin Osborne and the rest of SUSTO have rocketed past their own freshman-album expectations with their multifaceted approach to music and are enjoying every minute of their Charleston lauding. A band of their skill set, heart, and drive simply does not stay anchored to the ocean that clings to the Charleston shore. Adds Osborne, “Things keep coming our way. We'll see where this train takes us.”