Highly Suspect talks songwriting, Mister Asylum and first records!

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The other night, I headed out to a packed Great Scott to speak with    Brooklyn via Cape Cod transplants Highly Suspect! I was able to grab a few minutes with the band just an hour or so before they played where we talked everything you need to know about the band. They just released their debut full length to an impressive #56 on the Billboard 200 charts as well as finishing up two full runs of the US. As well as two straight tours, the band played Rock on the Range, Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo. All of this happening before the band even dropped their debut record! Catch the guys on their current headlining run before the band blows up and read our interview below!

So maybe a soft one to start, obviously you guys have been really busy. You just did two full US tours with Scott Weiland and Catfish and the Bottlemen. You played Bonnaroo, Rock on the Range. Three things you must have while on tour to survive?

Rich: Underwear.

Ryan: Deodorant and instruments!

Then you guys have had quite a wild year. The record just came out two weeks ago, you debuted at #56 on Billboard 200 but you’ve been touring non stop. Maybe how do you feel it’s been going over? How have the kids been?

Ryan: It’s been amazing. Yeah, it’s been a great response. We just played Philly the night before last and we had no idea what that turnout would be. The people that came in were excited and they were happy and positive.

Johnny: I think it’s weird now knowing that people know the words to our songs. That’s really cool. To watch people singing because they’ve heard the album and that’s something different for us. Usually we’re an opening band and opening is great and you get to play in front of a ton of people but they don’t know who you are. They might know one song. Now these people who are coming to see us, they know all our songs so that’s wild. It’s been going amazing.

Rich: People have started to do like little mosh pits.

Ryan: Yeah mosh pits! We get mosh pits at all our shows.

Rich: Yeah that’s the new thing.

Ryan: It’s incredible!

Then speaking of this record, “Mister Asylum”. How long has it been in the making for you guys. I know it is the debut record but when did you kind of start the process? Were they songs you already had from a while ago?

Johnny: Some of them are. Some of them are brand new. A couple of songs were written specifically for this album and a few of them were just songs that we had written over the years and we kind of just took the best of the best and put it together but also with a theme. The theme being “Mister Asylum”. Every one of these songs is very personal. Very, very personal. So we put together an album that you can play start to finish. It can take you somewhere.

Then maybe are they all songs you write together? Do you bring your own ideas?

Johnny: It’s different every time, you know? Like I think most of the time, I’ll write something and bring it to these guys. Then they’ll flesh it out. Rich wrote “Lost” on this album and brought it to us and we fleshed it out. “Bath Salts” started with a drum beat but I had a lot to talk about so I was able to easily paint over that drum beat but there’s no set formula. For writing songs. Always different.

Then considering how much you’ve done in the past few months, are you even thinking about maybe an EP or maybe releasing another song? Or are you kind of ride this out and see how it goes?

Johnny: Eighteen months! Then we’ll get back to it. I mean there is some other stuff that we recorded that didn’t make the album that perhaps we’ll release but I’m certainly not going to tell you that now. Those are surprises. If that happens.

Then maybe a soft one! The first cassette or first CD you all ever bought as a kid then the first concert you ever went to?

Ryan: First CD I ever bought was “Super Unknown” Soundgarden and the first concert was Lollapalooza. Which actually coincidentally was the first festival we ever played. The first massive festival we ever played. So that was cool!

Do you two remember yours?

Rich: Yeah my first album was Silverchair’s “Frogstomp” and the first concert, I was with Ryan, at Lollapalooza. That was both of ours first concert.

Johnny: Is it CD and cassette or CD or cassette?

The latter but if you want to do both, that’s fine!

Johnny: The first one that I bought I think was Busta Rhymes but I forget the name of it. “Genesis” maybe. It was a Busta Rhymes cassette tape that I bought.

Then just to end it off, what is coming up? Obviously this is your first big headlining run especially with the record being out but kind of what’s in the plans for Highly Suspect? Are you going to be touring more, are you going to be taking a break from the road?

Johnny: Hell no, we’re going to be on this road until we get back into the studio so we’re just going to try and hit like the world. We’re going to do a world tour. Somehow, some way. I know that we’re headed to Europe in January or the UK predominantly. Scotland and then England. The Carnival of Madness and that’s going to be really exciting. Then I know that we also are like #1 on Rock Radio right now in New Zealand so I’m hoping we get over there. Australia and all that but yeah we’re going to go play this album for people the next eighteen months and the first concert I ever went to, I don’t remember but I forgot to tell you that. I have no idea!

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