A season of drastic change is what brought SUSTO frontman Justin Osborne to the band’s fifth full-length LP, My Entire Life [New West Records]. There was a divorce, difficulties re-building his band after the pandemic, and the pain and helplessness of witnessing family members struggle with addiction and mental illness. Despite these challenges, Justin ultimately found himself in a new landscape, with new love and a deeper perspective, all of which is masterfully projected into My Entire Life.
While navigating some major life changes, Justin understandably experienced a surge of creative energy. He channeled this into writing and recording with the people closest to him, even as the tides of his personal life continued to shift. Primary collaborators included longtime producer Wolfgang “Wolfy” Zimmerman, SUSTO Co-founders, Johnny Delaware and Marshall Hudson, and his fiancé/co-writer Caroline Foyle.
Much of the album was recorded at The Space, in Charleston, SC, but major sessions also took place at Echo Mountain Recording in Asheville, NC, and Chase Park Transduction in Athens, GA.
Johnny had moved to Mexico shortly after work on the album began, so some tracking was done at his home studio in Mexico City.
The band also took a “recording pilgrimage” to the Mexican town of Tepotzlán (mythical birthplace of mesoamerican deity Quetzalcoatl), where they turned an airbnb into a remote recording studio, with help from members of Mexican Institute of Sound.
The combined result of these efforts is a compelling blend of rock, folk and psychedelia, with vivid country-esque storytelling. It’s as raw and real as anything the band has done so far and everything you’d hope for from a modern rock ‘n’ roll record.
The album’s namesake and lead single, “My Entire Life” is melodically tearful, with an urgency
“to keep living.”
As a whole, the album documents Justin’s personal journey through highs and lows in his life, with many of the details on full display. He narrates the demise and aftermath of an almost decade long relationship, while celebrating the joy of falling in love and the hopefulness of starting over. There is a playfulness at times, but always a clear desire to distill wisdom from experience.
“SUSTO’s narrative has always been confessional, and songwriting is my way of trying to make sense of the chaos—good and bad—around me,” observes Justin. “These songs cover the spectrum of everything that’s happened in my life the last few years. There’s been a lot of change, which can be painful, but there’s also been a lot of joy and hope, along with everything in between. I figure that’s what life is.” He continues “…it’s a mosaic of all the good, bad, and mundane things we face as we make our way from birth to death. Along the way we ride the waves, but if you stay true to yourself and push through, I believe you can get to where you really want to be, and you can shape that mosaic into something that fulfills you. There is a lot of hope in that for me. This record is my story of navigating a bunch of chaos, but finding ways to carry on and manifest my own happiness…the last few years were a challenge, but I look back and see that I made it through, a better, truer, and more realized version of myself.”
It’s been quite the ride for SUSTO. In addition to achieving widespread critical acclaim in recent years, the group has built a diehard fan base through captivating live performances and compelling songs.
For as much as My Entire Life is the ultimate vision of what the band can be, it’s also a classic story of one person rising from the ashes, wiser and fiery than ever…
“Writing and performing has long been central in my life, and this season of change has only heightened my desire to connect with other people through songs. I’ve crossed a mountain, so I’m ready to charge forward, and share that story. Everybody goes through difficulty one way or another, we all get worn down, we all chase dreams; songs are there to remind us we aren’t alone in that. In my case. I’m thankful for lessons learned, and excited for the future. The privilege of sharing these songs with our audience is something I’m incredibly grateful for.”