10 Questions with Highly Suspect, having released their long awaited third album MCID via 300 Entertainment in November last year, we got the chance to have a quick chat with Johnny.
1. Thanks for your time. You’ve been described as “turning rock music on its head”, how do you feel about that statement ?
I’m not sure how to feel about that statement. I don’t think we’ve completely turned it on it’s head just yet. Every day I hear younger bands pushing the envelope and it inspires us to push even further. I think we came along at a time when mainstream rock was getting a little stale, and we have a hip hop background so even i’m songs as early as bath salts and Lydia I think you can hear that within the beat. I’d say we definitely pushed hardest toward developing the genre in our latest album MCID but truly we have only just begun to unlock what’s possible. Rock and Roll has never had rules, only people that try to impose them. So as long as people are saying “you can’t do that..” it’s just going to push us to prove them wrong. Again if you dig deep you’ll find we aren’t the only ones turning Rock on its head… we’re just lucky to have a fan base that seems to spread our music far and wide. I guess to answer the question simply tho, we take it as a compliment.
2. Some would say that it can’t be rock music without guitars as was the case with your single “16”. How would you answer that accusation ?
I would say that they are right. Not that rock music needs guitars, that statement would be ignorant.. guitars aren’t what define rock.. however, I personally agree. I don’t think 16 is a rock song. I think it’s just “a song” but we’re popular in the rock community so people have claimed it for their team. When we wrote it, we certainly didn’t see it getting any love from Rock radio.. and then it went number one in the states.. so what the fuck do I know (laughs).. were just making songs. The genre tagging seems a bit out dated:)
3. Given that your sound takes inspiration from a range of genres, what kind of music fan do you think your music most appeals to ?
I think the range of genres produces a range of fans. Plain and simple. Because we do rock, hip hop, borderline electronic music like freakstreet.. It’s like we might just have the most versatile fan base of any modern band.. it’s really cool to see all the different faces come together at our shows. You might have one guy that rode in on his Harley and graduated high school in 1974 standing next to a 14 year old girl that found us because of our collaboration with nothing but thieves and next to them a kid that is just starting his rap career because he heard our song with Tee Grizzly.. It’s all over the place. I love it.
4. Lyrically, you explore many personal subjects but, given the personal nature of your lyrics, what kind of messages have you had from fans experiencing those same difficulties and issues?
I’m not even gonna come close to telling you what’s in my DM’s
5. From your own personal perspective, what do you get out of writing lyrics of a deeply personal nature ?
I get catharsis during the process and then I get haunted having to relive the moments after the feeling has passed. Case in point, Little One is about my “ex” and “Lydia” is about a different “ex”… Now that time has passed I’m great friends with them again.. so it’s weird trying to play those songs and find that headspace again when it’s so outdated. Same with the drug songs. Everyone has this fantasy that Im some big time drug addict… but it’s like no, I wrote those words about isolated fuckups, it’s not my daily routine to be fucked up. I would never be able to do the things I do if that was the case.
6. Your current album, MCID, is the third of your career and you’ve been promoting it heavily. How have your plans been affected by the current world crisis ?
I mean you all know exactly what’s up. MCID tour is over and any artist that doesn’t use this time to create is fucking up. So.. yeah, there’s the silver lining. It’s a shame this was such a short touring cycle but like hell im gonna sit around and cry.. I got too much music to write.
7. During a time like this what will you be doing to promote the band ? Any plans for online gigs or anything like that ?
We have discussed it, but we live in different parts of the country and currently it’s not cool to be traveling. So possibly? But for now Im gonna just stay in my creative space and get as much done as I can before I see the boys again so that they can help me finish off the songs and get y’all something fresh. Even tho MCID is easily the freshest album out and 10 years ahead of its time. (laughs).. time to make something 30 years ahead of its time. I would imagine tho that we will do some streaming shows. It’s not a new model. It’s kind of weird that it took this disaster for musicians to realize that was even an option. Girls have been getting paid to be naked on live stream for ages now. Fuck it, maybe i’ll quit music and just start doing live porn.
8. You’ve collaborated with a number of artists so far – is there one artist you would you truly like to collaborate with and why that particular artist ?
Grimes because she’s an alien like me and has absolutely zero concept of “rules” in art and Baby Goth because she’s super hot. Doja cat has an insane voice so i’d love to get her on a song. Louis Bell is a dope producer that we’ve known for years and he’s crushing it. Honestly I’d work with anyone out right now. Music is really good at the moment.
9. Just for fun: What is the weirdest thing you have seen in someone else’s home?
I’m not gonna tell you what it is but it’s in Jessie Hughes’ house.
10. Finally, thanks for your time. Any message to your fans during this time ?
Please remember YOU are in control of your mind and how you choose to react to outside information is entirely up to you. Be safe, be kind, but never let fear win. Use this downtime to create a new life strategy. You’d be amazed at how far imagination can take you. Love you all so much. Except for racists, transphobic people, homophobic people, violent abusers, supporters of hate rhetoric and impatient teachers.. those people can go straight to hell.