Susto: Finding Intention
Written by Michaela Stock. Courtesy Photo

From gothic rock riffs to vibrant folk jams, Charleston-based band Susto has a sound that can’t be pigeonholed. Drummer Marshall Hudson has leaned into the music’s varied creative scenery as an artist and bandmate, having developed a deep relationship with Susto’s lead singer-songwriter, Justin Osborne. Together, Hudson and Osborne have released five studio albums, and they will be performing tracks off these records live at The Pyramid Scheme this month. 

How did you meet Osborne, and how did Susto become a band?

I honestly don’t remember the exact first time I met Justin. I think it was at the pizza shop on the corner of our neighborhood. The first Susto show ever was right across the street from there, and the first two records were made one block from the pizza shop. So the band really, really has its roots in this one neighborhood of Charleston where everybody lived, worked, and recorded the two records that got Susto on the map. 

Those roots and records have taken you far. When did you first realize that Susto was starting to garner attention outside of South Carolina?

We toured with The Lumineers off our second record, which we made in an eight-by-12 foot storage unit at AAA in downtown Charleston. That was an incredible feeling, when you’re putting out your second record, that’s the level you’re at, and then you get called up to play arenas for a month.

Having been with Susto as a drummer for almost a decade, how has your relationship with the band and Osborne grown over the years?

Life’s had a lot of ups and downs. Justin has had two marriages, and he’s got two kids. He’s moved a million times from South Carolina, to North Carolina, to Texas. 

During that time, I lived in the same house in downtown Charleston for 15 years straight, and I just recently moved. I’m a much more stable force in this band, and in Justin’s life. I’ve watched Justin change a lot from album to album, and over the years in his personal life. It’s been great to see that, and it’s cool to have been doing this for this long and still feel real about it.

You and Osborne released a record called My Entire Life this past July. What does this album mean to you?

Our fifth album just came out, called My Entire Life. It’s doing really well, and it’s my favorite Susto album by far, no question. Some of the songs are a little more stripped down, and the production is just a bit more intentional.

That’s a big thing for me, is the intention. I can jam all night with the best of ‘em, or I try to, but when it comes to making a record, you want to always air towards less. In this record, there’s some very poignant moments that aren’t oversold too hard. Things are just allowed to be there and fill their space. 

You’re soon coming out with a live record as well. What has been the best part of creating this type of album, as opposed to being in a studio?

The people singing along is my favorite. It’s the ultimate sign of success, if you’re getting thousands of people to sing. They’re not just watching, they’re using their very breath and their whole being to participate in this thing with you.

That’s why I do this. That’s really what it’s all about.

Susto + Brother Elsey
The Pyramid Scheme
68 Commerce Ave. SW, Grand Rapids
Nov. 2, 7 p.m.