6 things you need to know about US rockers Highly Suspect
From rocking out iconic London venues to strolling down the Grammys red carpet, Cape Cod trio Highly Suspect have come a long way since their days as a cover band putting their own spin on Sublime, Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd tracks.
After their first EP of original music, First Offense, became a huge success in 2010, the band – made up of twin brothers Rich and Ryan Meyer and their best friend Jonny Stevens – decided to relocate to Brooklyn, New York, and just five years later their debut album received two Grammy nominations.
A second album, The Boy Who Died Wolf, followed and the band are enjoying fame across the pond.
2017 has been a whirlwind of fun as they hit the road and played their biggest ever UK show at Koko in London.
Elliott Beddoe and Joe Nerssessian caught up with the Jonny and Ryan and learned a little more about their rising fame. So here’s a little bit more about the band you need to know about.
Their popularity in the UK is rising and rising
Highly Suspect’s Rich, Jonny and Ryan (L-R) (Jenn Five)
Highly’s UK audience has rocketed since their first gig at The Old Blue Last in Camden and they are really happy about it.
“We always had fun playing at small, dirty, grey, London venues. Everything is sweaty and it’s dripping off the ceilings,” says drummer Ryan Meyer. Front man Johnny Stevens adds: “We love UK crowds. They interact. They sing along. They cheer. They push each other around in a playful manner. They lose their s***!”
And they didn’t hold back at Koko either. Queues around the historic venue began growing more than two hours before the gig and there was little to be disappointed with as hundreds of fans moshed themselves happy through an emphatic performance by the trio.
They are coming back to the UK this summer
Highly Suspect’s Rich, Jonny and Ryan (L-R) (Jenn Five)
Following the success of the Koko gig, Highly are returning for a British Summer Time gig in Hyde Park. The boys will return on July 6 alongside a line-up which includes Kings Of Leon and The Pixies.
We bet they’re pretty stoked about the news. Here’s what Jonny thought about their UK festival debut at Reading and Leeds last year.
“It was one of the best festivals we’ve played at. There was a circle pit that was so dry; there was this cloud of dust in a shape of a doughnut rising above the pit. There were kids screaming, girls crying. What are we? The f****** Beatles. I loved it. It was awesome.”
They are no fans of Donald Trump
Donald Trump (Andrew Milligan/PA)
The boys are not afraid to hold back on saying what they really think and have vehemently opposed the US President. And Jonny even had the word “Impeach” imprinted on his Grammy 2016 outfit. But they’re more thoughtful than just that.
“Even if you love music but hate the politics we stand for, that’s fine by me,” says Jonny.
“My problem is with the type of people he’s attracting. Whether they are through actions or words, they’re going to hurt people.”
Ryan adds: “Some of my family members are Trump supporters. I know them well. I love them and I care for them. If you are a Trump supporter, it gives the connotation that you believe what he believes in. He is clearly misogynistic a******.”
They lost a Grammy to Bowie
David Bowie (Yui Mok/PA)
Having received three Grammy nominations across their first two albums, the rockers have certainly made their mark. Battling against the late David Bowie as well as Radiohead was always going tough but they didn’t take it too badly.
“It was an honour to lose to Bowie,” says Ryan. “That opportunity will never present itself again. I got to walk the red carpet twice and was in a category amongst legends. I sat almost 60ft away from Lady Gaga and Metallica. Those memories will be kept.”
Highly come from humble beginnings
Stardom never comes without hard work.
Highly had their own story to share. “Growing up we all played music because we loved it. Johnny was in theatre. He knows how to portray his emotions and people can feel that,” explains Ryan, adding: “I played in the school band. We used to do landscape construction, working as plumbers. We all had callus on our hands throughout our mid-twenties. When the cover band we did on the side started getting big, we were able to quit our jobs.”
A third album is almost definitely on its way
Their second studio album, The Boy Who Died Wolf, was released last year and has spent over 22 weeks on the Billboard charts. More good news, album number three will most certainly happen, according to Ryan.
“We will see what happens after touring the s*** out of this album. I think if we put a little elbow grease in there, we can get the people another album as long as it’s good.
“I want to like the music we put out. I want to make sure what we’re putting out is high quality.”
Highly Suspect play British Summer Time on July 6.
Heath Ledger's 'energy' felt through his daughter, says sister of late actor
Heath Ledger’s daughter channels his “energy” and allows people to feel his presence through her, the late actor’s sister has said.
Heath died in January 2008 from an accidental overdose of prescription drugs at the age of 28.
His only child, daughter Matilda, from his relationship with actress Michelle Williams, was just two years old when he died, although a new documentary film about her father will help her to learn more about him, Heath’s sister Kate said.
Heath (Ledger Ian West/PA)
The Australian actor’s sibling said 11-year-old Matilda often reminds her of her brother and that for a while after his death, just being in her presence would reduce her to tears.
She told People magazine: “Everything she does, her movement I suppose, reminds me of Heath.
“I think the first five years after Heath passed, every time I’d see Matilda (I) would be in tears.
“Now, I am really happy that I am at a stage that I can see Matilda and be happy and feel her daddy’s energy through her.”
Hollywood stars, friends and colleagues have lined up to pay tribute to Heath in an intimate documentary about his life, entitled I Am Heath Ledger, which is made up of many home videos recorded by the actor himself.
Kate said: “You can tell (Matilda) about things, but with her being able to visually see his movement and his expressions, it’s almost like he had actually filmed the documentary himself and pieced it together for her.”
Speaking to the magazine, Kate also said that Heath was “totally smitten” with Michelle while they were together.
She said: “He was totally smitten with her and couldn’t wait to bring her home.
“We all instantly loved her too, so it was great.”
Heath and Michelle embarked on a relationship in 2004 after meeting on the set of their film Brokeback Mountain.
Heath Ledger and Michelle Williams (Yui Mok/PA)
They had Matilda in October 2005, but their relationship ended in 2007, months before Heath’s death.
Kate appears in the documentary along with director Ang Lee, actor Ben Mendelsohn and several of his childhood friends.
His other notable movies include teen comedy 10 Things I Hate About You, Casanova and A Knight’s Tale.
I Am Heath Ledger will be shown at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 23 and will be broadcast on American channel Spike TV on May 17.
The artist describes it as a “family theme park unsuitable for small children” – and with the Grim Reaper whooping it up on the dodgems and Cinderella horribly mangled in a pumpkin carriage crash, it is easy to see why.
Ed Sheeran spills the beans on his Game Of Thrones cameo
Ed Sheeran has revealed that he will sing in his forthcoming cameo appearance in hit TV series Game Of Thrones
It was already confirmed that the chart-topping musician would have a brief stint in the fantasy drama programme, and he has now shared that his character will be a friend of Arya Stark, played by Maisie Williams.
Ed told The Hits Radio: “I just do a scene with Maisie.
Maisie Williams and Ed Sheeran (Yui Mok/PA)
“I sing a song and then she goes, ‘oh, that’s a nice song’.”
In March, the show’s creators David Benioff and DB Weiss revealed Ed had been cast in Game Of Thrones.
They revealed they had pursued the Shape Of You hit-maker for some time because Maisie was a fan and was keen for him to appear.
The 26-year-old is following in the footsteps of fellow musicians Wilko Johnson (formerly of Dr Feelgood), Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol and Will Champion of Coldplay in having a cameo in the series.