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Susto sways into their sophomore release with Southern rock and soul

The Charleston-based band gets emotional with "& I'm Fine Today."

Paul Chelmis

Here's a line to remember: “I had a dream we were doing hard drugs in a street alley, you were lying dead next to me.”

It's the opening line for Charleston-based Susto's track, "Hard Drugs," from their second album "& I'm Fine Today," which drops this week. It's a break-up song at heart, teeming with twang, emotion and whipsmart production. The same can be said for the remaining tracks on their sophomore release — reminiscent of peak Lemonsheads, which, trust us, is a good thing — making the Lumineers' latest opening act one to watch. We chat with frontmanJustin Osborne in Florida about the band's buzzy spring.

What inspired “& I’m Fine Today”?
Our songwriting style is very confessional. It’s usually based on situations we’ve been through: Issues like cancer, rehab, and I had a brief marriage, and it all comes into the narrative. I find dealing with traumatic things in particular is better if I can write about it.

Did you deliberately juxtapose “Hard Drugs” lyrical harsh reality with a pretty country tune?
I like to take dark subject matter and wrap it in something uplifting. It’s a recollection of a friendship lost. You find you have to separate to save yourself. I wrote it about one of my favorite people in the world. No one made me laugh more, but no one made me cry more.

The album has a lot of elements: rock, pop, and funk. But will a country sounding song dub Susto a country band?
I am southern so maybe we’ll be called southern rock. I like taking traditional Americana and fusing it with electronic, Caribbean, pop music, and ‘90s rock. We’re a rock and roll band just like the Rolling Stones are — they made country songs.

What does the band’s name mean?
I studied Latin American and Caribbean culture, that’s when I found the word susto. It has this almost PTSD meaning, but so much so that the soul gets scared out of your body.

Do you think The Lumineers and Susto make for a good match?
We are extremely excited. I loved their first album so much. And “Cleopatra” is like the perfect song on an album filled with more perfect songs. We are not The Lumineers and they are not Susto. We are a professional band and we will just do the best we can. The dates are sandwiched between our headlining dates, so we start in 300-person rooms, and I love that, and then do 1,000 seat arenas. This year feels like a new chapter for the band and we can’t wait.

If you go:
With Heyrocco and American Trappist
Friday, January 20, 8 p.m.
Boot & Saddle
1131 S. Broad Street.
$10/$12, bootandsaddlephilly.com

Susto
With Heyrocco
Tuesday, January 24, 6:30 p.m.
Mercury Lounge
217 E Houston Street.
$12/$15, mercuryloungenyc.com

Susto
With Heyrocco and These Wild Plains
Wednesday, January 25, 9 p.m.
Great Scott
1222 Comm. Ave., Boston
$10/$12, greatscottboston.com

SUSTO - Hard Drugs from Daniel McCord on Vimeo.

 

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