SUSTO released their debut album independently and toured relentlessly to get the word out. They were an immediate hit in their hometown, packing venues, getting airplay at all the bars and even making a fan of Band of Horses' Ben Bridwell. "I got an e-mail from him, telling me he loved the record and wanted to meet with me and Johnny," he says. "That was actually the day I wrote my professor, and I said, 'I'm not coming in.'"
But that wasn't enough. "I was like, 'we can't just make it in Charleston.' My friends in the band Shovels & Ropes told me once, 'it's a big country and we got to get out there and get everybody.'"
The members of the live band that Osborne and Delaware recruited -- Corey Campbell (guitar, keys, backing vocals), Jenna Desmond (bass), and Marshall Hudson (drums, percussion) contributed to SUSTO's new album & I'm Fine Today, which will be released via Caroline. "We just wanted to go further. We started something with the first record, and we want to keep going in that direction," Osborne says of the album, which finds them taking the spacey country rock of their debut into the stratosphere, piling on layers of sighing keyboards, galloping rhythms and frayed, noisy guitar solos atop wistful melodies and lyrics that examine growing up and growing into yourself. Much of the album was recorded by Osborne, Delaware and Zimmerman, with the other members contributing as needed.
On "Hard Drugs," Osborne muses about reconnecting with an estranged friend during a personal crisis ("I'm thankful that I have some friends that are totally fine with me telling some stories about things we've all been through together") and on "Mystery Man," Delaware writes about "the feeling of appreciation for someone coming into your life, someone like yourself." On "Wasted Mind," one of the most personal songs on the album, Osborne, and Delaware reflect on the journey they've been through together.
"We wrote that [song] about finally having a voice that was being heard, and about trying and failing and then finally getting some ears to listen to you," he says. "It's about the ups and downs of that, and how you get to travel, and you're just kind of in and out of people's lives, and it's hard but beautiful, and also how you start to come out of the haze of partying and start thinking about your life's value."
In many ways, "Wasted Mind" is & I'm Fine Today in miniature, as the album circles around the theme of punching through life's difficulties and learning to be comfortable with the person you've grown into. "I feel like I am better. We put the first record out, and we worked hard, and it just feels like a good place to be," he says, noting that while the first record focused on his own struggles, & I'm Fine Today is more concerned with looking at the world beyond the struggles in your head.
"I've learned to appreciate the fact that I just get to be here. It's all perspective," he says. "This album is about coming to terms with yourself and feeling okay with your place in the universe."