Let’s Talk Rock - Getting To Know Highly Suspect
There’s new music to be excited about, and Highly Suspect will tell you all about it. The Brooklyn-based rock trio - fueled by Johnny Stevens (guitar, vocals, synth) and brothers Rich Meyer (bass, vocals) and Ryan Meyer (drums, vocals) - released their first full-length album to the world a couple weeks ago, Mister Asylum (via 300 Entertainment). If you dig strong, gritty guitar riffs paired with a hypnotically thumping rhythm section, you’ve caught the right group. There is no doubt that these men are rapidly rising to their triumph after the creating and recent debuting of Mister Asylum. Intrigued by their melodious presence that is often said to mirror artists like Kings of Leon and Queens of the Stone Age, we craved a more in-depth look at who Highly Suspect is and spoke with the group’s musical glue, bassist Rich Meyer.
How and when did you decide to form a band?
About seven years ago, could even be eight, not sure… Johnny was going to play an acoustic gig by himself at a bar owned by one of his high school friends. A few days before the gig he asked me if I would play it with him and I did! A few years later Ryan joined the band and the rest is history!
Are you highly suspicious? How did you get your name, anyways?
I personally don't think we are that suspicious, what you see is what you get. It's the rest of the world that's highly suspicious, try not to believe everything that you see or hear.
Rich, Ryan… How do you feel about being siblings and working together in a band? Who keeps the peace?
I've never been in any other band so I don't know what to compare it to but I can say confidently, so far so good! It’s pretty easy, a lot of times we have the same thoughts before even discussing issues. We're both pretty peaceful people, I wouldn't say either one of us is THE peacekeeper necessarily.
What impact/influence has Cape Cod had on your music?
Well, I have learned how to play instruments in Cape Cod's public schooling systems for 12 years, so there's that. Cape Cod's music scene included the band "Roots Down Below" and "Shango Axe" at the time that I first started going to the bars and watching bands they were my heroes, they still are.
Congrats on your first full-length album. How did you feel finally receiving YOUR record on vinyl for the first time?
Being handed my first album on vinyl was surreal, still hasn't fully sunk in yet. I love the pink! Still haven't listened to it on a record player...
What was your favorite part of working on this record? Any noteworthy stories to share about your experience in the creating process?
It's hard to pick out one moment of the last couple years and say that it was my favorite. Two years of living, breathing, being highly suspect is what created this album. There were fights, break ups, hours spent exhausted in the van cost trying to make it to the next show… And there were also amazing times spent hanging out with fans, old friends, performing, seeing all the sites along the way… It's been an amazing journey.
What has been your biggest challenge and how did you overcome?
One of our biggest challenges has been paying the bills while still making the band number one priority, meaning that it's difficult to keep a steady paycheck when you can't be a hundred percent reliable to any employer. But there is a way, there's always a way… I built lofts and furniture for my neighbors to pay the bills for the past three years and we've managed to scrape by.
I see you’ve had quite the year on the road! What was your favorite festival to play and why?
I really loved playing Bonnaroo, what a great crowd! Gary Clark Jr was playing on the main stage while we were setting up for our little show. Unfortunately, we played at the same exact time that My Morning Jacket did - people still showed up though! To show them our appreciation we covered MMJs song "One Big Holiday"
Now that ‘Mister Asylum’ (iTunes) is released to the public, how do you plan on spending the rest of your summer?
We have a tour booked for August!
What other musicians do you listen to? What do you guys like to do when you’re not making music?
I like to longboard, ride bikes, exercise, read books, I have a beard... I like to listen to Queens of the Stone Age, Action Bronson, London Grammar and Daft Punk
What is your dream collaboration?
I'd be psyched just to hang out with John Paul Jones. Just that will be enough for me, if he wanted to jam or whatever that would be a bonus.
What’s your favorite part about Brooklyn and how do you see your relocation to NY influencing your sound and direction?
Moving to Brooklyn had a huge effect on the sound - We went from beachy reggae punk to straight up rock and roll.