Interview – Highly Suspect

Brooklyn-based rock band, Highly Suspect, recently released their debut album. The trio formed back in 2009 and is comprised of Ryan Meyer (drums/vocals), Rich Meyer (bass/vocals), and Johnny Stevens (guitar/vocals/synth). The band originally formed in Cape Cod and is influenced by other artists including Banks, St.Vincent, and Little Dragon. Highly Suspect’s direct and seductive rock approach really comes to life in their recent release, Mister Asylum. The debut full length was released this past July and is comprised of 10 different tracks. In January, Highly Suspect released a music video for their single “Lydia.” Learn more about the band and the work they put into Mister Asylum below.


How would you describe your music to others?

A collection of experiences narrated with instruments.

How did you guys meet?

Ryan and Rich met in the womb. I grew up one town over and wound up in the same high school and after that we just went for it.

What made you choose the band’s name, Highly Suspect?

We didn’t over think it. We were just stoned and used the word “Highly” in a band name generator online. “Highly Suspect” just had a cool ring and could take your mind to a lot of places. It’s not some savage rock name … Could be used for any type of music. Could be a hip hop crew, could be a DJ, could be a rock band. We always make sure not to pigeon hole ourselves.

Who and what influences your music? Why?

Oh man. Everything. Like literally everything. We all read a lot in our downtime. Our brains are very much immersed in westerns, scifi, beat, and classic Americana literature. I think having a stoic or romantic sense instilled in us the way we do helps fuel our manifest destiny. We aren’t a band.. We’re modern day explorers. You’ve  got to have an imagination in this life. We’re doing more than writing songs. We’re building a story in pop culture in order to return and preserve the romance for the next generation.

How would you describe your writing process?

I wish there was a writing process.

How often and how long do you practice together?

We don’t practice in the sense of “Hey, let’s meet every Tuesday and Thursday at 3pm”… Never have. We just live together, travel together.. If I come up with a riff on the couch, the other guys start getting it in their brain here and there from hearing it over and over casually, they maybe bring it up at sound check and say “I got this beat I wanna try with that lick”.. Then there are times when we have been off the road for a month so a few days before we go out we run through all our songs a couple times.. Lastly there is album creation time and that’s when you really buckle down and get it in, write, create, practice.. That’s when no one shaves.

From start to finish, how long did it take to create Mister Asylum?

Depends on how you look at it. One could say our whole lives led up to it. But on a technical studio start/end timeline, it took us 2 months to record, another month or two to mix and master, couple months to really line up the artwork and overall aesthetics and release plan.

Can you talk about the inspiration behind some of the tracks on Mister Asylum?

I think if you hear a song we’ve done you will find out the inspiration just from the lyrics. People ask me sometimes if Lydia is about drugs OR* a woman. And I’m just like “Yes”. There isn’t any big veil or hidden message here. It’s all very transparent. Bath salts is about that time I did bath salts. Mom is about my mom. Etc..

What new did you learn from the recording process?

That Joel Hamilton gets better and better each day he lives.

Do you play covers at practices or shows? If so, which ones are your favorites?

We played “One big Holiday” from my morning jacket at bonnaroo. We had our set at the same exact time as they did that day so we felt bad for the people that came to watch us when they could have been watching them. We were like “sorry your missing out on the best band here, we will play one of their songs right now for you so we can all pretend we’re over at that other stage”

What do you typically do post-gig?

Rage. Of course.

What image do you think your music conveys?

New Americana. Neo Beat Generation. I think we represent a side of people that maybe they never get a chance to express, which is a no fucks type of vibe.

What has been your biggest challenge as a band?

Are you kidding? Everything is a challenge. In life. For everyone ever. Just got keep on swinging that machete through the brush.

What has been your funniest or craziest fan experience?

That’s for us and our fans to know. We have our own shit together that we keep out of the media. #MCID


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