For Justin Osborne, being off the road and at home during 2020 was actually rewarding despite making a living from writing, recording, and touring for his band, SUSTO.
On a Tuesday morning, Justin and I had a pleasant phone conversation while he was battling some frustrating Charleston traffic. We can’t promise it’ll be any better in Chattanooga, Justin — sorry ‘bout that.
Read on for how he spent 2020, what this current tour will look like, and the promise of a fourth studio album.
How did you spend 2020? Was it a creative time for you?
“At first it was really scary — I make a living in crowds, so what am I going to do here? But pretty quickly I was able to pivot to online shows and my fanbase was very supportive of those.”
On top of virtual shows, he spent some time recording new music.
“I had also already planned to be in the studio. I started my fourth studio album in January of 2020, so I really just dove into that.”
The fourth studio album will be out later in 2021.
“It was a very creative time for me. As much as I wasn’t performing, I was creating.”
And aside from writing + recording, Justin was also spending some quality time with the people he loves.
“I was getting to spend a lot of time with my family. My dad passed last May so I got to spend time with him before he passed and say goodbye. It made a hard situation a little bit easier.”
And some things came full circle.
“Losing a parent and then settling into becoming a parent has been a really big theme for me in the past year. Whenever the pandemic started my daughter was about 10 months old, and I’ve spent the last 14-15 months around a lot which has been incredible because I got to catch a lot of milestones that I had already accepted I would probably miss. Like her walking and talking — I got to be around for all of it and it was really magical. All of that has been very inspiring.”
Growing pains never really go away, but that’s a good thing for Justin.
“It’s been a weird year in a lot of ways, but for me personally, there’s been a lot of growth that I’m really thankful for.”
On this tour, you’re promoting your most recent live album release. Can you tell me a little bit about Rogue Acoustic and how it was made?
“I recorded the Rogue Acoustic album in February 2020, right before everything closed down. I was planning on releasing it last year, but I wasn’t able to get it out. We waited until now, but it’s kinda great because the whole feeling of that album, like the live crowd and being packed in a show, is back. If we had released it last year, it might have been too reminiscent of a time that we were still far away from.”
Where was Rogue Acoustic recorded?
“I recorded the album live at Royal American and went and played the first show of the tour at Royal American and it felt just like that same night — the same packed crowd + electric energy — it’s like we finally put the demon of Covid and 2020 behind us for a minute.”
A lot of circle analogies can be made here. And some of Justin’s friends joined in on the fun, too.
“[For Rogue Acoustic] I got to collaborate with a lot of friends who did duets with me and play songs from all across my catalog, a previously unreleased song, and a couple covers.”
The unreleased song mentioned is “Glacier,” which he wrote while on a road trip with his wife to Glacier National Park in Montana. In the song, he tells the story of the trip, which happened in a car with no air conditioning + Harry Potter on tape as the soundtrack.
In his words: “In essence, it’s really a story about true love.”
Let’s talk tour — is this the first time you’re really hitting the road since COVID-19?
“This is the first time I’ve done a tour since the pandemic started. We’ve done a couple of full band shows around Charleston, but this is the first tour where we’re on the road for more than a week and promoting something.”
Who will we see on tour with you?
“It’s going to be a stripped down 3-piece band. The only familiar face will be my drummer, Marshall — he’s played in SUSTO for a long time. Rose Hotel — who’s opening on the tour — will also be performing as part of my band. Her name is Jordan Reynolds, and she’s become a member of SUSTO. I figured this Rogue Acoustic tour would be a good chance for the fans to get to know her and also for her to get to play some of her own songs, because she’s a talented songwriter.”
Fans are definitely ready for live shows — what are you most excited about?
“I miss the vibe of touring, like being in a different city every day and going down the highway with the folks on tour with you. I’m excited to be doing that again — it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Is the upcoming, fourth studio album complete and are we going to hear any songs from it on this tour?
“It’s finished, and yeah, definitely. We’re not going to overdo it, but we want people to know we have a new album coming out soon.”
Is this your first time stopping in Chattanooga on tour?
“We’ve played Chattanooga a few times before — at JJ’s and Songbirds — I have a nice group of friends in Chattanooga and I’ve always loved visiting so it’s going to be nice to be back.”
That’s a wrap.
Check out the tour dates + get tickets to the show(s), check out the music, and buy merch here.
Bonus: All the shows after July will be with a full band, and fans can expect the new album later this year.