Forming in 2009, Johnny and twin brothers Rich and Ryan Meyers decided to form Highly Suspect as a creative outlet from their mundane lives in their hometown Cape Cod, Massachusetts. “It was something to do,” Johnny explains.
“We had a bunch of day jobs that we didn’t really like very much. We decided we could make a bit of extra income playing bar rooms and cover songs. We did weddings, stuff like that. We liked playing music; we figured it’d be cool to take it out to the public.”
After years of playing covers, the band’s ambitions grew: they moved to Brooklyn, changed their sound to heavy rock, and started writing original songs. All of these changes led to last year’s release of their debut album, ‘Mister Asylum’, which was nominated for the Best Rock Album at the Grammy's (they also received a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Song for the hard-hitting blues-rock song ‘Lydia’). The band were just as surprised as everyone else. “It was exactly as you’d imagine; pretty surreal. It still blows my mind. No one saw that coming.”
After a massive 2015 with a world tour, anyone else would have planned for a long break before getting back to work. Highly Suspect planned for everything but a break, writing and recording their sophomore album, ‘The Boy Who Died Wolf’. “We decided not to stop. “We’re loving life right now. We like to create, we like to make art, and we wrote the album in ten days when we got off tour in the spring. I’m really happy we did that instead of taking too long between the release of albums. If you work really hard, you can get more art out.”
For their second album, the band worked once again with producer and fellow Cape Cod resident Joel Hamilton, who has also worked with The Black Keys and Tom Waits. The new album sees a growth in sound, moving from the bar-room rock of their debut to experimenting with more textures and layers to create psychedelic-infused tunes ready for stadiums, as heard on singles ‘My Name Is Human’ and ‘Serotonia’. “We went down to Bogota, Columbia, and recorded it.
“There wasn’t as much pressure. Everyone was like, ‘Did you feel pressure because of the Grammy's?’ But it was quite the opposite; we felt validated. People liked what we were doing, so we decided to continue to explore. Joel was able to say, 'Hey, could you get the glockenspiel there. Let’s switch out this ride cymbal. Have you ever used an amplifier, but put it on a stack? Put a tarp over it and do a rain dance.’”
Highly Suspect will continue their rise with a return to Australia early next year, with Johnny saying audiences can “expect skipping work the next day from rocking too hard”.
‘The Boy Who Died Wolf’ is out now.