Pensacola, Florida
Tuesday September 26th 2017

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Hangout’s ‘Sickest’ Band

By Shelby Smithey

Susto is a word in Latin American cultures for a cultural illness, characterized by anxiety, listlessness and emotional trauma. It’s also the name of Charleston-based indie-rock band Susto, fronted by Justin Osborne.

“The literal translation is soul loss,” Osborne said. “It’s a medical term, wrapped into Catholicism, describing a stressful moment or panic attack or just not feeling quite like yourself.”

Osborne majored in Anthropology, with a focus on Latin American studies, in college.  That’s where he discovered the term.

“I totally related to that feeling,” he said. “I had been in a band that wasn’t going anywhere, I had just lost my religion and was going through a breakup. My life was in a serious transitional phase, so it was a very fitting name.”

Osborne started to write songs and played his first show in ninth grade, and from there was in a couple of punk bands in high school. At 17, Osborne started the band Sequoyah Prep School which he played in until he was 26. The band had some local success, but starting Susto, Osborne said, has given him a wider audience and a national draw.

Osborne has been living in Charleston since 2005, but was born and raised in a rural town an hour and a half away.

“My granddad had this guitar he gave us when he passed away,” Osborne said. “It only had three strings, and he left it to me and my siblings. My parents kept it in the closet, and we weren’t allowed to touch it because we would always break shit. But whenever my family would leave I would say I wasn’t feeling well so I could stay home and I would pull it out and learn how to play it.”

Osborne grew up in a religious household, and he said that his decision to leave the church was a difficult time in his life.

“My family wasn’t super strict or anything, but the belief was there,” he said. “We went to church every Wednesday and Sunday, and we all went to church camp. Being from the south that is so many people’s experience and it’s so much a part of the cultural fabric, so when I started to go through moments of doubt I was like what the fuck? My mind was blown.”

Osborne said that it was a process that he had to come to terms with it.

“Something happened to where I fundamentally stopped believing, and that’s hard when everyone you grew up with still does,” he said. “That’s why the band has been so nice to have an outlet and to talk to people that have been through the same thing.”

Band members include Corey Campbell, guitar, piano and backing vocals, who has been with Osborne since the beginning,  bassist Jenna Desmond, guitarist Dries Vandenberg and drummer Marshall Hudson, who was Osborne’s neighbor and wanted to join the band after hearing the their first album.

“Our bassist Jenna started playing only four months before joining the band, and now has played close to 400 shows with us,” Osborne said. “Lastly is our newest bandmate Dries who is from Japan and used to be in a band called Human Resources. He also is our videographer. Everyone from the band comes from a different background.”

What inspired him to initially start Susto was living in Cuba for a few months.

“I first went there on a school trip and loved it, so I came home, sold some of my stuff and went back,” he said. “I made a record there with some people and really got inspired. I came back and dropped out of school.”

The band just released a new album called “& I’m Fine Today” at the beginning of this year. Osborne said that he likes to take a couple of years to make records, but that a new one is already in the works.

“The process of songwriting and planning timelines has already started,” he said. “The more I’ve made music my job, the more I’ve started to really enjoy songwriting. The times that I get to sit down, reflect and write are so therapeutic so it’s been a wonderful creation process.”

Osborne said that he’s looking forward to recording the upcoming record in a brand new studio this time around.

“We’ve been recording on a shoestring budget in a storage unit, but a friend of ours just built a new studio, so a lot of positive shit is going on,” he said. “Our music community is in a good spot right now.”

Susto has an upcoming tour of Florida scheduled with fellow Hangout band The Head and the Heart and is excited to get a taste of the Gulf Coast.

“One of my friends has got a couple of new members in his band which I’m excited to check out,” he said. “I’m also excited for the beach of course. Anyone we’ve talked to in the music business or who just has even been has told us that it’s the most fun festival. The best part is getting to see so many great artists all in one place.”

Susto
4-4:45 p.m.
Saturday
BMI Stage

and
12:30-1:15 p.m.
Sunday
Fitz’s Stage