Artist Interview: Highly Suspect -Beachland Ballroom, Cleveland, Ohio

“M.C.I.D! M.C.I.D!” chants the ever-swelling fans of Brooklyn’s Highly Suspect. Being new to their family of supporters, I had to ask vocalist Johnny Stevens before their Cleveland show for clarification. Showing the tattoos across his knuckles he says “my crew is dope . . .our fans are our family.” This is a philosophy that tells you everything you need to know about the guys. “Come hang out with us after our set . . .we are just like you.” Many times during their roaring set, friends who travel with the band crashed the stage to snap pics, drink tequila, and smoke a popular plant recently struck down by the Ohio voters. This strong unity between the band and their crew is genuine and brimming with energy.

 

Their crew has greatly grown recently due in a large part to their activity on social media which has given the band the opportunity to relate to their fans in meaningful ways. Their hit “Mom”, which is an ode to broken families, has became a rallying jam for the guys who love the unity that it brings. “We get messages everyday. It’s cool to help people in a small way with that song. Being close to fans is the only way to be. I don’t understand bands who aren’t connected,” explains Stevens.

The band are currently in the thick of an extensive tour that began well before the July release of their acclaimed first full-length “Mister Asylum” and will continue with shows overseas in the new year. It has to definitely be a challenge to keep up their patented energetic live shows. I asked drummer Ryan Meyer his strategy: “I drink a lot,” he states with earnestness. “You have to hold on to your energy . . .reserve it up to show time” adds bassist Rich Meyer. The result is always a blistering set of their seamless blend of progressive rock blues. Asked for their favorite track to play off the record, Ryan and Rich state “23” which is admittedly “a lot of work but has a good vibe.” Johnny mentions album closer and bass rich “Claudeland” “It rips. Now that more people know our lyrics, we’ve been getting more mosh pits” and this is fodder for a pit. Always thinking about their family, the guys mention a need to keep the girls in the venues safe.

Starting originally in what they labeled as PG rated Cape Cod, the band originally had a more laid back and acoustic feel. I asked them how moving to Brooklyn shaped the new album. “It is the album,” states Johnny. “Staying up every night, drugs . . .I met Lydia one week into our move there.” Speaking of their smash hit “Lydia”; they were blown away to hear that it currently had over six million streams on Spotify. “Wow. We never could imagine that,” states Ryan. “We can die happy knowing that some pretty cool shit has happened for us,” he adds. Pointing at a nearby issue of a Charlie Sheen blanketed Rolling Stone, the guys reflect on the headline story about “The Regrets of John Mayer”. “Taylor Swift? Katy Perry? Ripping off Stevie Ray Vaughan?” the guys laughingly consider. This is the same seminal magazine which named the band “Artists you need to know” in 2015.

If you get a chance to check out Highly Suspect on tour, definitely do it. They have a classic rock persona complete with kick ass riffs, drum solos, and boundless energy that makes them one of the best current rock acts to catch live. We here at Ear to the Ground can get behind any band that puts so much into their shows. Behind the stage, they are humble, personable, and incredibly engaging. It is no mystery to why their crew is expanding daily. M.C.I.D. M.C.I.D.

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