Since an appearance at the 2016 Savannah Stopover Music Festival, SUSTO has solidified its core lineup, toured relentlessly and are set to record their third studio album this fall.
The Charleston, S.C., indie-rock, alt-country outfit returns April 28 for a special Stopover in the Yard show, produced by Stopover parent company MusicFile Productions.
Over the past five years, SUSTO has been constantly growing. Frontman Justin Osborne put together the group after returning from a trip to Latin America. He had been playing music for years, and left his home to try and do something different. Instead, he found himself writing songs abroad. The tunes would eventually become SUSTO’s debut album. Osborne learned the word susto on his travels, which refers to a sort of illness stemming from emotional trauma, with symptoms of apathy and depression.
The band’s first two albums, 2014’s “SUSTO” and 2017’s “& I’m Fine Today,” were patched together by Osborne with various friends who came and went in the band’s early years.
“Everybody who’s ever been in this band has been a friend,” Osborne said. “People have left amicably, just because people have had to go do their own thing. So that’s great, too. I love to see some of the people in the band go on to do great things with their own projects. It’s really cool to have this lineup dedicated. It’s clear they’re in it to win it. They want to be here for the long run.”
After solidifying in late 2016, the current SUSTO lineup (Corey Campbell, Marshall Hudson, Jenna Desmond and Dries Vandenberg) has played over 250 shows together. The heavy touring schedule has bonded the group into a unit, and shifted the approach to the band’s next album.
“We feel good together on stage,” Osborne said. “We get along really well together on the road, too, which is important. The road can be grueling and boring. It’s important to be able to deal with the people you’re with.”
Part of a surge of great Charleston bands to emerge in recent years, the band’s second album earned them national attention. They appeared in Rolling Stone, Paste and NPR Music. Last weekend, they played High Water Music Festival between Shovels and Ropes and Band of Horses.
SUSTO has about 25 new songs. After finishing a tour in March, they’ve kept the spring schedule mostly open to focus on prepping for the new album. As the band has become more of a unit on the road, their writing process has evolved. While their tunes start with Osborne, they are taking more time to arrange and write the new material as a band.
“The process for this record is different than it has been before,” Osborne said. “We started to prepare for it more a little early on. The last record, it was a thing that we were recording when we weren’t touring. Right at the beginning of our band, we were on the road a lot. We were still trying to get the band to a certain level.
"I came into the studio with a bunch of songs, like I did with the first record. Some of the songs evolved more in the studio last time. It was the only place they had a chance to. We didn’t have a rehearsal space or anything. Now we’re trying to do a little more prep work, so when we go in to record, we’ll be ready to hit it harder.”
For the third album, SUSTO is scouting out-of-town locations to record, with the backing of Rounder Records (They Might Be Giants, Steve Martin, Rush, Gregg Allman, Doc Watson, Bela Fleck, Alison Krauss) to help with the process of finding the right studio and producer.
“We did the first two records in Charleston,” Osborne said. “I think we’re going to go somewhere else and switch it up. We’re looking at a couple of producers. There are a few cities and great studios on the list. We just kind of have to make our choice. I am excited for that.
"It’s the first time to have the opportunity to have a label behind us that is kind of helping us do it the right way, having people who are familiar with making records and putting them out. To have them support you through the process and also fund it.”
For their Savannah show, expect a few of the new songs along with the material from the first two studio albums.
“We always have a good time when we come to Savannah,” Osborne said. “We’re really excited to come back. It’s also really nice to get out of Charleston to somewhere that feels familiar. Savannah is not too far away. It doesn’t feel too far out of our zone. It’s awesome.”
For several years now, MusicFile Productions has added charitable elements to its shows. This edition of Stopover in the Yard comes with a special opportunity to donate to Planned Parenthood. The $25 admission price includes a $5 donation to the nonprofit. In addition, when you purchase a ticket through pre-sale, there is an option to add a $10, $25, $50, or $100 donation to your ticket. Planned Parenthood has 159 medical and non-medical affiliates in the United States. They are the largest single provider of reproductive health services.