#10 Emerging Artists chart
#1,177 Ultimate 100 Artists chart
Highly Suspect formed in Cape Cod, Massachusetts with a very different, shore-influenced vibe than the hard rock trio that we hear today. With songwriting heavily influenced by their actual experience and surroundings relocating to the hard edges and high energy of Brooklyn, New York helped forge the band’s true identity. Rock and roll as poetry? Surely. A friend since high school, Johnny Stevens (lead vocals, guitar) is backed by the twin brother rhythm section of Rich (bass, vocals) and Ryan Meyer (drums). Images of worn leather jackets, tattoos, empty bottles, and overflowing ash trays are easily conjured by vocals reminiscent of Kings of Leon over tight yet often sludge covered, fuzzy, blues-informed grooves a la Queens of the Stone Age.
Though the rock n roll lifestyle was admittedly not shunned, no time was wasted as the potent three-piece self-released 3 EPs and an LP in 4 years, culminating with 2013’s The Black Ocean EP that linked them up with experienced producers. Combine a solid recorded foundation with playing hundreds of shows virtually non-stop during this time and you have a noteworthy act on your hands. This was not missed by the relatively new, data-savvy record label, 300 Entertainment, started by industry legend Lyor Cohen in conjunction with Atlantic Records. Highly Suspect was the first act to anchor the label’s rock repertoire on the other side of the aisle from breakout urban acts like Fetty Wap and Migos.
2015 has seen the onset of a big growth spurt for Highly Suspect. The major label debut LP Mister Asylum was released in July. Touring has included support for acts such as Chevelle, Halestorm, and Scott Weiland, while hitting key festivals such as SxSw, Bonnaroo, and Lollapalooza. This evolved into a North American club tour with UK classic rock revivalists The Struts (our October Emerging Artist of the Month) and continues with more club dates and some holiday radio shows into December. After a short break (rock ‘n roll don’t sleep) the group will hop the pond for the 2016 UK Carnival of Madness tour with Black Stone Cherry, Shinedown, and Halestorm. As another sign these guys are making an impression, and know where they’re headed, word is that Johnny Stevens recently turned down an offer to front Stone Temple Pilots now that Chester Bennington has turned his attention back to Linkin Park.
- Recent top markets include Boston, Chicago, Phoenix, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, and Raleigh
- Debut single Lydia made it into the Top 5 at Active Rock radio in August and reached a #24 peak at Alternative in November
- 51,000 spins to date
- Second single Bloodfeather is already Top 20 at Active Rock
- 4.6 million YouTube plays in the U.S. (averaging ~166k/week) and 6 million globally (averaging ~206k/week)
- 65% of plays are for the beautifully unsettling Lydia video
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