A Chat With Highly Suspect's Rich Meyer
I’ve been a fan of Highly Suspect for years now, their lyrics grab you by the heart and demand you listen to their intensity, whilst their instrumentals defy expectation as much as the band defy convention.
The triple-nominated Grammy band burst onto the scene with their heavy sound and lyrically explosive tracks in 2015, when they released their first studio album, 'Mister Asylum', earning the newcomers a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Album, up against acclaimed artists including Muse and James Bay, alongside a further nomination for Best Rock Song.
But Highly Suspect have much earlier beginnings, forging their start as a cover band in Cape Cod, before they descended upon New York City, full of drive and a determination to prove themselves in an often over-saturated market. They managed to bring something entirely unexpected, cementing themselves as an essential part of music history, so their nomination came as no surprise for a band with this much raw talent and grit.
Since then, the boys have toured the globe, and released three studio albums, with their latest release in 2019, 'MCID' exploring a realm of new, genre-bending sound.
The band, comprised of Johnny Stevens, twins Rich & Ryan Meyer, and Matt Kofos, aren’t afraid to speak up for what they believe in, with Johnny rocking an ‘Impeach’ jacket at the 2017 Grammy’s red carpet. These boys aren't scared of making some noise.
I’ve always respected them as artists, but their integrity and commitment to fighting for what’s right is what impresses me even more. Their track 'Canals' sums up this fight for justice, as Stevens belts "Donald's a bitch and Vlad Putin is too. Like how can you stomach the shit that they do?"
The band refuse to be silenced by those who want to keep the music industry plastered in bubble wrap. They’re the good guys, fighting for the minority in what can seem like a losing corner, and that, paired with consistently brilliant music, is what I call a real rock band.
They’re set to launch back into our lives next year, with an upcoming album, and I couldn’t be more excited. I caught up with Rich Meyer, the band’s bassist and backing vocalist, who blew me away with his song ‘Arizona’ on the last album. His haunting voice lingers on your eardrums, gently running its course down your body as his lyrics captivate you. Rich also spends his time running Venice Guitars, where he builds guitars from scratch, producing exquisite custom pieces.
Hey Rich, great to speak to you. First things first, what’s on your playlist this month?
This month, I'm listening to Phoebe Bridgers, Bon Iver and the new Kacey Musgraves album. I also really like Doja Cat – she’s awesome.
Sum up Highly Suspect’s sound in 3 words.
Fuck you Karen.
Brilliant. Right, favourite song you’ve ever made?
On the new album that you’re going to get to hear next year, there's a track called “Love Like This” and it’s hard to explain why it's my favourite, but it’s just awesome and I really hope you feel the same way.
Anything you can tell us about the upcoming album?
The next album is really going to be about giving the fans what they want, whereas the last was us trying to do something different, which is great, and it’s a really healthy move for any artist to experiment. But on this album, we all just thought, let’s give the people what they want, some rock and roll music. We put some alternative in there, there’s even a metal song, and we’ve just added an acoustic too. So we’re hitting all the bases, covering an array of stuff. But the general bulk of the album is just what our fans like, and wanting to give back to them with that.
What got you into making guitars? Have you always liked having a practical talent?
I've always been a carpenter, I used to build houses, then moved to New York and started to build furniture, and I was always juggling either a construction company or furniture company whilst pursuing Highly Suspect. That was always difficult, because you’re working on someone’s house, or they’re waiting on a piece of furniture from you, so there’s more responsibility, whereas, making a guitar feels like constructing a piece of art, I can take my time. Also, it came naturally because it’s the two things I love doing combined – I love building and carpentry, and I love playing music, namely the guitar.
What are you up to when you’re not making music?
If I’m not making music, I’m either working out, at a gym or running, or hanging out with my dog, Jolene. The last year’s been a weird one, so I've played a lot of video games over that.
Your voice on ‘Arizona’ is sublime, you have a real talent. Will there be more songs where you’re the main vocal lead?
Thanks! There's another sad, acoustic song coming up on this album that I sing, so let’s hope you all like it…
Why does making music matter to you?
It matters to me because it’s always been the most important thing in my life, I don’t know where I’d be without music, I wouldn’t see the point without it. I know that sounds dark, but can you really imagine what life would be like without music, I think it would be pretty awful to be honest.
What do you want to be remembered for?
I’d like to be remembered for making music, as a musician who was in a band that changed people’s lives and influenced artists for generations to come, if I could be remembered for that, that would be pretty dope.
Check out Highly Suspect below:
TRACKS FOR DIFFERENT MOODS:
Hits You In The Heart:
If you've got time... some of Highly Suspect's most poignant lyrics...
"Everything's changing, and I am changing too" - Wolf
"You think you know me, I wish I did too" - Wolf
"Love lost its way" - Lost
"And I could never be, what you want from me. So we'll die, but I've still got to try" - Arizona
"How long must I justify my pain through these songs?" - Little One
"I don't want to be in my skin. Everybody, everybody's trying to get in" - Mister Asylum
"I'm washing all my history away. I don't ever want to feel the same." - Freakstreet
"You are the one that I used to love. And I'm still in love, but I've never loved you the most" - Lydia