SUSTO performs at the Vilar Performing Arts Center on Sunday night

SUSTO live in February 2022.
Joel Nienstedt/Courtesy Photo

Sometimes you just can’t escape your calling.

After 10 years of playing in a band, which enjoyed some regional success in South Carolina, SUSTO frontman Justin Osborne walked away from his band, his relationship and his family in an “attempt to run away the music,” he said, “but I was quickly redirected.

Osborne began writing songs as a young teenager and toured right out of high school. But, exhausted by the routine of self-reservation and self-management, he set his sights on Latin American studies. He created an online site for demos he couldn’t quite put down, named it SUSTO, and traveled to Cuba for a 2013 semester abroad.



He quickly befriends Cuban musicians, who see his musical passion and won’t let him give it up. He started playing with them in Havana and reviving himself musically.

“I found this inspiration that was kind of lost in me,” Osborne said of his time in Cuba. “It was refreshing because it wasn’t so much about focusing on making it; it was just playing music.

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Upon his return to the United States six months later, he recorded SUSTO’s debut album. Upon his release, he decided to fully immerse himself in music, “so I got my knuckles tattooed and I haven’t stopped trying to make it work ever since,” he said. laughing.

Writing songs and performing was like an exorcism, allowing him to process the deep fear he felt. In Latin American cultures, the word “susto” describes a condition of the soul stuck in intense fear, or an ongoing spiritual panic attack.

“It’s seen as a popular disease, like PTSD with spiritual overtones,” he said.



While SUSTO’s previous albums have tackled difficult subjects, such as drug addiction, his fourth, “Time in the Sun”, expands on more universal themes like birth, death, true friendship and the promise of life. ‘coming.

He started writing the album while contemplating becoming a father, which led him to consider “high life stuff”, he said. Her writing took a turn towards preparing for her father’s death, which occurred about a year after the birth of her daughter; she came into the world in mid-2019 and he left in May 2020. In the midst of all this, the pandemic and social and political conflicts occurred, stirring the pot even more.

“I was thinking about life. Major events keep you in those thoughts for an extended period of time,” he said. “I was navigating through it all and distilling my own life experience into songs.”

The new album, characterized by lyrical depth, involved more musical collaboration than the previous three, inviting diverse musicians to a common approach.

“It’s sonically expansive, technologically textured and psychedelic blissful,” he said.

SUSTO’s live shows are raw, ranging from high energy to mellow.

“It’s built to feel like a trip. We try to make it dynamic – we bring the songs to life as best we can. We’re a rock band with a lot of folk and a lot of guitars and harmony,” he said. “We change and expand things because the songs keep evolving on the road. As we play them live and people react, we discover new paths.

SUSTO performs at the Vilar Performing Arts Center on Sunday.
Courtesy picture