Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Grammys, Tattoos, and Hair: An Interview with Rich Meyer of Highly Suspect

I heard Fran's voice on the other end of my cell phone saying, "This is a good thing, Steph!"  He had called me on a Wednesday night to tell me that I had an interview with the band Highly Suspect on Saturday night.  I had been binge listening to Highly Suspect for around a month, after a friend of mine turned me onto them.  You can read my review of their album here and the concert I attended here.

My silence on the phone line worried Fran because, frankly, I'm not usually silent.  I told Fran that I was processing the news, attempting to not freak out and show him what a spaz I am.  He reassured me that he already knew I was a spaz.  I love him like a brother, y'all - that brother you put at the kid's tables at Thanksgiving and put in the very back of family pictures.

I had three days to prepare for the interview, not knowing which band members I would actually get to interview and knowing that this would be their first show since the Grammy Awards.  I knew they'd be "whooped" as we say here in the South.  So my questions centered around things I'd like to know as a fan and as a music blogger.

My husband, E, was with me and we were met at the front bar of Rock Bottom American Pub by Tim, who works with the band.  He took us to the Highly Suspect tour bus, and told us along the way that I would interview Rich Meyer, the bassist of the band.

We entered the tour bus and saw what I imagine to be pretty typical of rock and roll tour buses. Chips, drinks, even a lime half littered the tiny counter next to the couch, where Rich was sitting, waiting on us.  I looked down the bus into the sleeping quarters, where dirty socks, sneakers, and hoodies littered the passageway between the bunks.  The mother in me resisted ordering someone to pick them up.

I sat down on the couch with Rich, who was wearing baggy sweat pants and a MCID sweatshirt.  He looked tired, just as I expected him to after the week the band had just finished.  They not only attended the Grammy Awards but also performed "Lydia", which was nominated for Best Rock Song. I had 10 minutes, so I sat down next to him and got going.

Fans of Highly Suspect know that Johnny, the lead singer, has a cat named Pam.  I bought some really cool cat toys filled with catnip to give to Pam.

Stephanie Murphy Posey:  First things first. Is Pam on tour with you?
Rich: No, I wish.

Can you get these presents to her?
That's awesome. Thank you so much. She will destroy these!

I know but they're hers to have fun with.
(Looking at the cat toys) Whoa.

You'll give those to her, please? We'll leave them in your trustworthy hands.
Yes. Thank you so much.

You're welcome. Grammy Awards, what was it like to perform for all those tuxedos? I watched the performance and y'all nailed it, by the way.
Thank you, thank you. That was kind of nice. Almost every other time we've been on TV, it's a whole bunch of anxiety, worrying about what you're going to wear, what you might do, what you might say, blah, blah, blah. Then when the day comes, you get there and everything happens for you because it's a huge production. Even if you have your own gear, they'll just rent gear and they'll put it on the stage and have it all set up before you even get there. All you have to do is walk out there and sound check. The technician's always really professional, so that's easy. It's always way easier then you think it's going to be.

Was the crowd hard to perform for because they were all in tuxes and evening gowns and very stiff as opposed to a normal concert where fans are going wild?
I had my fancy get up, too, so it wasn't so bad. You know what I mean? Joe Woolfe was our stylist.

Y'all looked great.
He dressed us up. We all felt great about ourselves. That wasn't a little thing either, you know what I mean? If I had been wearing this (looks down at his sweats) yes, I would have been self conscious in my sweat pants.

How many songs do you have written for the next album so far? I know Johnny does almost all the lyrics, right?
We've got a few, two or three that are pretty much finished. Then we've got another three or four in the works.

I know you're still wound up in this last album. As a fan, I'm already looking for the next one. When will y'all be able to get back to the studio to concentrate efforts on the next album?
Hopefully late summer we'll hit the studio again.

I'm all about when a new album will be out by the bands I love because Deftones keep postponing their new album and it's driving me crazy.
I think we do a show with them soon, them and Chevelle.  Hold on, I've got it somewhere (looks through his phone).  A friend just texted me. He said, "You guys are playing with Chevelle and Deftones in May at Pointfest."  I didn't know anything about that!

(Laughing) Now you do.  You've already toured with Deftones and Chevelle, two of my favorite bands.  What was it like touring with those guys, to see that level of fame and the craziness that's associated with it and how they handled it?
Deftones was an experience. We opened for them at The Fillmore Silver Spring in Maryland.  It was fun and everything but we didn't really get to know their whole production whereas when we played with Chevelle, it was a different story. That was great. They're really great guys, all family.  You know what I mean?

Two are brothers and the other one ...
The bass player's their brother-in-law, I think.

Right. My daughter and I saw Chevelle last year in concert and they were amazing. 
They're incredible live. Their live performance is just so ...

They are. They're just as good live as what they are on the albums and in videos.  Back to y'all, Johnny writes all the lyrics.  Does he come in with just words, poetry on paper, and then you three jam and hammer out the rest?
A lot of times, yeah. A lot of times, he has the words and basic riff and structure.

Like in his head?
Then we jam it all together and figure out the rhythm for the song. Then we get the structure. Then usually, he'll write some more lyrics, may change some lyrics, whatever. He comes up with the rough idea. Then we suss it out together, usually.

The band relocated from Cape Cod to Brooklyn.  Do you live together?
We all live in the same apartment.

So, two o'clock in the morning, if y'all feel like jamming and coming up with something, you can do it?

Are you home much?
Never, never there. I was just there for 36 hours before we came out here.

(Waving my hand around the tour bus) This is home right now?
Yeah. Yeah. We were in the UK and then we flew into LA. Then we flew back to New York. I was there literally 36 hours. Then we started driving here.

On our blog, we love Top 10 lists. What are your favorite albums that come to mind from 2015, or anything that y'all have been playing a lot here on the tour bus?
I'm a big fan of Big Gram's new album.  Also, My Love is Cool by Wolf Alice.  Yeah, it's good stuff.  Also, The Arcs came out with a new album. It's fucking really cool.

Y'all toured with the Struts also?
Yep, we toured with the Struts.  Their live performance is crazy, yeah, really, really good.

Right, a writer for our blog reviewed them in concert.  The pictures in it alone were amazing and crazy.
Yeah, the wardrobe.

It's like Queen/I don't even know.
Yeah, it's very Freddie Mercury.

I read that you just have to see them live to form an opinion.
They're one of those bands where the album is good but the live performance is way better, which is great.  My favorite bands, I mean, I can only get into bands who are good live. If you can't perform live, it's not real to me.

You were one of the last acts to tour with Scott Weiland. Did you get a lot of time with him at all? What did you learn from touring with him?
Don't do drugs!  Nothing against Scott. He was a great guy, very nice. He invited us to come on his tour with him because he liked us. Yeah, you can see the price he paid for all the drugs he did when he was younger.

I saw him perform with STP in 2011 in Birmingham at a music festival. He was still on his game, at least that night he was. He was amazing.  I'm really glad I saw him.
Actually, there were several performances on that particular tour we were with when I was just blown away by the talent, just how incredibly talented he was.

Your favorite thing about touring in the south, if there is anything.
It's pretty much always hot down here or at least warm.  That's awesome. I love that. I don't like the cold at all. When I was younger, I'd be outside in the snow all day. Now I'm like a cat in water. Get it away from me. If it's warm, I'm psyched.

(Laughing) It's the weather, not the beautiful women or accents!
Yeah, pretty much.  It's freezing ass cold in Chicago right now.

Doesn't make you want to get naked in front of anybody?

Who's next up for a tattoo in the band, because y'all have a lot of ink. It fascinates me.
I might be getting some soon because my cousin wants to get the MCID tattoo and we want to get some ink with her. I don't know what it's going to be. I'm going to see her in San Francisco on April 5th. I have to figure it out between now and then.

Are you always planning your next tattoo?
It's usually totally spontaneous. When I first started getting tattoos, I would spend years thinking about it. Now if I get an idea that I'm psyched about, it's amazing because that never happened before. It used to be, "Oh, it's stupid. I don't want to get it. It's so dated now." Now if I know that I want something, it's the best thing ever on my skin.

That's good. I got my first one eight years ago. I still want more but I don't want to make a mistake. There are just so many bad ones out there.
Oh my God. I've got plenty of bad tattoos.

Please come to Birmingham when things settle down a bit.  We would love that. The venue I usually see concerts and review at is Iron City.  Y'all would be very well responded to. Birmingham, Alabama, put us on your list.

(Referring to the song "Claudeland", a song written for a good friend of the band who was going through a low period) Do you have a picture of Claude on your phone? I've got to see what Claude looks like because that song is fucking awesome.
I will show you Claude.

Claude wouldn't mind, would he?  I don't want to violate any trust issues between you and Claude. 
(looking through his phone) No.  He's not very vain so he doesn't take a lot of pictures of himself, but there you go. That's him on the left there.

Oh, my gosh. He is awesome.
There's Claude.

What a great bunch of friends to write and make a song just to cheer a good friend up.
(Still going through his phone pictures) There he is wearing an MCID sweatshirt.

He's got my favorite finger up, too.  One more question. Who spends the most time on their hair?
(Immediately answers, no thinking required) Ryan!

You answered that fast!  Your hair has been pretty short in the last few pictures I've seen, as has Johnny's.
Yeah. I don't really spend any time on my hair whatsoever.  Johnny spends some time on his hair but Ryan's got us all.

That's all the questions I have. I'm not a very serious, hard hitting reporter.
If you hadn't told me that this was your first interview, I wouldn't have even considered that.

Oh, thank you. I know you guys have had a hell of a year and especially this last week...  I just wanted this to be fun.

Before we made our way off the tour bus, E took what has to be the worst photo of me of all time with Rich.  Rich offered us a beer and off we went.  The next time I saw him, he was wearing a button up shirt and jeans, rocking the stage on bass and even singing lead.  It was an amazing show.

We were thrilled earlier this week when Highly Suspect's publicist sent us the band's new single video link to share with our readers.  It is certainly different from what they're released so far but I highly enjoyed it.  Lyric whore that I am, my favorite part was:   

"My heart just started screaming 'I think I want to be alive!'  
I can feel it, too.  
So what am I waiting for?  
I'm afraid of you.  
It's just I'm not that good of a person.  
But I might be enough for you...."  

Check it out below.  "Serotonia" is available for download today!

Stay tuned to the blog for more album and concert reviews, Top 10 Lists, and any other craziness that heads our way.

'Till next time, y'all!





1 comment:

  1. Awesome! Great questions...I love that you thought to ask to see Claude. :)


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