An Interview with Grammy Nominated Highly Suspect's Rich Meyer
by Al Brzostowski
photo by Tricia Starr--TStarr Photography
Highly Suspect’s deep roots in blues progressions, crunchy guitars and aggressive drums are all packed into an eclectic form of rock and roll. With Johnny’s lyrics, you feel transported to a smoke filled room in a blues club, singing about heartbreak, politics and humanity.
The stage is backed with the letters “MCID,” which stands for “My Crew Is Dope.” The crew refers to both the audience and the revolving cast of friends that have a guest role such as DJ Redbees and Matt Kofos, along with members of the bands that open for them.
Each member is given their chance to shine during the set, and drummer, and twin brother to Rich….Ryan Meyer has a huge chunk of time blocked out for him to rock out, alone on stage. Then, like a magic act, Matt comes in to parallel Ryan’s beats, and takeover for a few. Nonetheless, an amazing experience to see in raw musicianship.
Ryan, has a moment to show more talent other than just backing vocals and bass. “Round and Round”, another sexy, blues inspired song, takes you on a journey, almost hypnoticatically.
Rich had a few moments after sound check to check in with us.
MI: Looking at a new tour right now, how’s the start of it going so far?
RM: Great! It’s off to a really great start actually.
MI: Out of all the directors of the music videos that you’ve done so far, in your opinion, which one is best to date?
RM: My favorite music video that we ever did was the bath salts video. We did that one ourselves. Yeah we had a friend Jamie Northrop. It was it was the collaboration the three of us came up with the idea and he like to record the shooting haha but you know that was that’s my favorite video I think it’s our best one yeah we did it like in our apartment in Brooklyn and we recorded it like down the street so like it all take place in the area that we were in happening at the time so whenever I watch it it’s like a timepiece you know it takes me right back to that whole like the entire section of my life was in that area in a very cool
MI: I know there’s teases out there about new music coming on you know kind of throws out there a lot Is it possible I mean
RM:Yeah we’re planning on going to the studio like really soon. We have some stuff that we’re working on writing wise, and hoping to get a release by early next spring or summer
MI: What inspires you creatively other than other than the obvious?
RM: Life experience is really the stuff that we write about. It’s never made up. There’s no characters. There is nothing wrong with that. I actually appreciate music that has fictional side. Like most of the most of the books I read, and the TV shows that I watch. They’re fictional, you know. I like fictional stuff, but that’s just not the way we do it. Our songs are written about heartbreak, The political state and philosophy, and stuff like that. That’s all real shit. The way that we feel about life.
MI: Speaking of which describe the song Human and what it means to you:
RM: That’s actually, a super abstract song. It’s like one of the most, abstract songs that we have, because Johnny has this idea about robots and the future. I’ve heard him explain it different ways. Sometimes he talks about how, we’re all human. And sometimes he says it’s who you surround yourself with, you know. Whatever humans you surround yourself with.That’s what defines you That’s like the toughest song to explain to anybody man. I don’t know.
MI: Describe the song Little One and what it means to you:
RM: Yeah, so it’s about his ex girlfriends, a breakup. It’s funny. The first part of the lyrics where you hear, “I’m cornered in fire so break out the secrets”, were from words from a set list. One night, we’re hanging out with a band. A band that was really good friends of ours. Actually Matt used to be the drummer in that band. They were called the angry animals. They had one of the setlist laying around because they just played a show in New York or whatever. The setlist was in our kitchen, and Johnny was like, “I’ll use your set list to write a better song than any of the songs you have on this setlist”. It was like it was like a bet. He used, “cornered fired breakout the Secrets”, just like that The songs were on their set list and it was in that order.
He happened to be breaking up with girlfriend at the time so it worked out well out.
MI: What’s the one that song you love to play every time?
RM: Damn, I really enjoy all of them. I really enjoy all of them. I guess if I had to choose a favorite right now, I really enjoy playing 23. We just started playing it again. The song is like almost 3 years old, and we just started bringing it back. So that song is really fun for me It’s like a throwback.
MI:Who are the unknowns that they’re coming out that you like to mention?
RM: Well, a perfect example, and it happens to be a long time friend, and you’re going to watch them tonight. Monk Tamony.They’re opening up for us. Really good friends of ours. great band, almost nobody knows about them.
MI: If you get a chance to set up a tour, what bands would you like to be on the tour with?
RM: Slothrust, Mark Tammany and and The Kids those are all my friends. That be really fun.
MI: Let’s talk about the guitar line that you have. Give us a good detail about what what your vision is.
RM: Well, I just really enjoy making them. I’ve always been a carpenter. I started making furniture with my parents, and I was in high school. I also had a construction company. The band started and I was like, well I can do construction later. (Laughs). The construction company was actually doing pretty good, but then once the band started, I was like like oh my God… this is so much better. Years later, I started making furniture again in New York. I was making lofts and stuff. I really enjoyed that, then one day I wanted to make the guitars that I want. So I decided that I would just take a whack at it and it and it was a lot of fun.
I loved the results, so I kept doing it and I made several Fender mods. Then eventually, I could do it do all the time. And now it’s more. I do the paint myself. I started having the pickups custom made by a friend of mine, and then I started making my own. The next thing that I want to do is start making the body shape. You know everything.
Yeah this is slowly evolving and every time I make a guitar, I fuck up a million things, and I learn how to do a better job next time. We use all the guitars on stage that I make. I like to make them for my friends, and I’m doing it. I haven’t totally figured out how I’m going to brand yet. Right now I’ve got venice guitars and MCID guitars.
MI: Live, you guys really bring it out on stage what’s your favorite part about playing live.
RM: Recently, the my favorite part about playing live, is going to play the instruments that I make. I like a lot of things about it. But that’s best lately. That’s what I’ve been really excited about. I’m going to try out that new thing that I just I just put together, or like a new pedal or something. I just get I just get stoked about the gear
MI: You performed at the Grammys in 2017 how was that experience and any other high level experiences like that?
RM: Well, that experience was not fun really. Playing for the Grammys was fucked like headache. It wasn’t fun at all. Playing in this huge room that nobody was in. It was like a huge empty room, and most people who were in that room were just kind of waiting to see if they giving their nominations. So we weren’t playing in front of our audience at all and they had a huge cameras on the cranes and everything and it really intense.We had to put on a show in front of a lot of people who just were just kind of sitting there waiting for their Grammy. It wasn’t the televised event. We were in the other area where most of the Grammys get presented.
There was like nobody there most of the people were all in the Staples Center. That’s where they hold the televised event. That’s what everybody is. It was a weird experience playing that song on TV. To an audience everything that we’re playing is all very short notes. Other songs are like to have the chords that ring out. Playing Lydia was hard. That was one of the worst performance experiences of my life. You live and you learn.
Getting nominated for Grammy was like probably one of the best things that ever happened. I mean that was fucking awesome. We didn’t win the Grammy, but like getting nominated and getting to just be a part of the ceremony, and losing to Metallica and and David Bowie and shit….that’s not so bad.
MI: Are there any endorsements or thank you’s that you’d like to shout out to?
RM: Ryan’s endorsed by Zildjian and Tama, but I don’t really have any endorsements. I’m my own endorsement. I kind of like to do the stuff on my own. I kinda experiment then. No allegiance to any company.
MI: I know Johnny has a line of BMX bikes. How’s that going?
RM: What’s going on with that is that he just got his design prototype put together. The first one. I think he has a second one in the works. So he’s kind of doing the same thing that I’m doing, you know. He’s designing and working out the kinks. Something that eventually can be marketable to fans. But right now it’s still in the very early stages.
MI: Explain the band members but only with movie titles.
RM: (Laughs) Ryan’s 007. Johnny is Mission Impossible (Laughs). And I am Bruce Willis I just watch the roast of Bruce Willis last night was great
MI: What’s a secret Indulgence that you have that no one knows about
RM: I’m Meathead. I go to the gym everyday when I’m home. I fucking love ice cream. I also smoke a lot of weed..
MI Does the band still indulge in pickles and peanut butter?
RM: Walk out that door.. you will see pickles and peanut butter..(Laughs)
MI Want to throw anything out there? Final words.
RM: Cool! Anybody interested in the guitars, just follow my personal Instagram. I haven’t made an actual page for the guitars yet, because I haven’t figured out like how I’m going to fucking market it. (Laughs)
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