Showbox Presents: SUSTO w/ Esme Patterson & guests
Wednesday, Dec 13, 2017 8:00 PM PST
(7:00 PM Doors)
Tractor, Seattle, WA
21 years and over
Justin Osborne needed a break.
He'd been writing music and making albums since he was 15, and by the age of 26, he felt like he was spinning his wheels. He knew he needed a change, so he ended his old band Sequoyah Prep School and moved to Cuba. He thought he might be done with music for a while, but the songs just kept coming.
"I had this idea in my mind that I was going to try and join some kind of Latin American Leftist movement. I wanted to jump off a cliff," Osborne says. "Once I got there I immediately started hanging out with musicians and going to shows. I started showing them the songs from this project that was kind of just an idea in my head.
"They were like, 'man, don't throw away your passport, go home and continue to make music,'" he says. "I was encouraged by them to try again."
"I was always afraid of committing fully to the idea of trying to make it. I think in some ways, that's what held my old band back. I thought maybe I'll go to school and I'll be an anthropologist and go live abroad," he says. "Then I did all that, and I realized no, I need to go back to what I'm good at. I got the knuckle tattoos to keep me out of everything else."
SUSTO is a Spanish word referring to a folk illness in Latin America that Osborne learned as anthropology student, meaning "when your soul is separated from your body," and also roughly translates to a panic attack. For Osborne, the music of SUSTO was something he had to get out into the world.
"Going through my life I was just lost, and I didn't have direction, and I wanted direction," he says. Raised in Puddin' Swamp, South Carolina, Osborne moved to Charleston to attend military school, and didn't really get to experience much of the city -- one of the main artistic hubs of the South -- until he left his junior year to tour with his first band.
"I did acid for the first time. I started to gradually grow away from religion. I started to become my own person when I moved to Charleston," he says, adding that it's an especially great place to play music because "people are into all kinds of stuff. They go out to shows. I wouldn't say Charleston is a country music town or an indie rock town, it's just a town where people like cool shit, so I think that people appreciate creativity when it comes to creating a genre instead of working within one that exists."
SUSTO released their debut album independently and toured relentlessly to get the word out. They were an immediate hit in their hometown, packing venues, getting airplay at all the bars and even making a fan of Band of Horses' Ben Bridwell. "I got an e-mail from him, telling me he loved the record and wanted to meet with me and Johnny," he says. "That was actually the day I wrote my professor, and I said, 'I'm not coming in.'"
But that wasn't enough. "I was like, 'we can't just make it in Charleston.' My friends in the band Shovels & Ropes told me once, 'it's a big country and we got to get out there and get everybody.'"