Highly Suspect to bring their alternative rock sound to the F.M. Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre
Brooklyn based alternative rock band Highly Suspect is gaining momentum. The trio’s single, “Lydia,” premiered on MTV.com on June 25 and, on July 17, its first full length LP, “Mister Asylum,” was released. Fresh off of its first major television appearance on Sept. 30, performing “Lydia” on Late Night with Seth Meyers, the Massachusetts natives are on a fall tour that brings them to Wilkes-Barre.
The group, twins Rich and Ryan Meyer on bass and drums and Johnny Stevens on guitar and lead vocals, will come to the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts on Nov. 2 to perform its refreshingly edgy brand of alternative rock.
“I’ve never played in Wilkes-Barre before, so I’m pretty psyched about it,” Rich Meyer said.
The Meyer brothers and Stevens grew up in Cape Cod and went to the same high school, but Rich Meyer didn’t get to know Stevens until after they graduated.
“We were at a party, and he had a motorcycle and a guitar and he came over to me, and I was like, ‘Oh my god, you’re like … me,’” Meyer said. “We’ve been friends ever since.”
The three began playing music together around 2006, but Highly Suspect wasn’t officially founded until 2009, and they had a different identity.
“Our original Cape Cod sound was very beachy,” Rich Meyer said. “It was like reggae mixed with ska, rock, punk. We played a lot of Bob Marley cover songs and Sublime cover songs. Those were the early days, very early days, and then right about the time we were leaving for Brooklyn, it was a lot more like rock. When we moved to Brooklyn, it became heavier very quickly. The first thing we did that really started to define our sound was ‘Bath Salts.’”
After moving to New York City to focus on creating original music, the band cut an EP in 2012 with producer Joel Hamilton, who has worked with Elvis Costello and the Black Keys. “Bath Salts” was one of the songs on that EP, entitled “The Worst Humans,” and it has an undeniably heavy feel.
The guys even made a video for the popular single.
“The video was recorded in our apartment and neighborhood,” Rich Meyer said. “The area that we recorded it was the area that the song was inspired in.”
Much of the music currently being produced in the alternative rock genre fuses rock and roll sounds with pop elements, but Meyer feels Highly Suspect is doing something different, something reminiscent of the decade that popularized the genre, although he believes it’s up to the fans to define what they are hearing.
“It’s what the listener thinks really, but I like to think of it as a rebirth of ’90s alternative rock,” Meyer said.
He also said he likes what he hears from a few other bands who are making harder sounding rock.
“I really do like Royal Blood and Wolf Alice,” Rich Meyer said. “Those two bands are making a resurgence in the alt-rock scene, and I appreciate what they’re doing a lot.”
The band’s tour is taking them through several major cities including Austin, Texas; Nashville, Tennessee and Philadelphia and London and Glasgow in the United Kingdom, but Rich Meyer said he enjoys small venues as much as bigger and more notable stages.
“I’m excited to check out the Kirby,” Meyer said. “I like intimate shows, especially if we can pack the house. That’d be really cool. Small venues, full of people, man, that’s how it all started, back six, seven years ago, playing bars that were little tiny rooms that had a hundred people in them. What does it matter how big the venue is? It just matters what the enthusiasm of the audience is.”
Highly Suspect played hundreds of live shows, opening for acts like Chevelle, Halestorm, Catfish and the Bottlemen and Scott Weiland of Stone Temple Pilots, and they’ve brought their first full-length studio record to fruition in 2015, but according to Meyer they are living in the moment rather than looking forward to what the future might bring.
“We’ve been working toward doing our own headlining tours for so long,” Meyer said. “We did a short one a month and a half ago. It was like two weeks, and it was amazing. I love headlining.”
The show at the F.M. Kirby Center begins at 8 p.m. on Nov. 2. Tickets cost $9.79, and they can be purchased by visiting www.kirbycenter.org.
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or [email protected].