Screenshot via YouTube
Highly Suspect is a Queens of the Stone Age-esque rock band that’s been making sizable waves lately, thanks to their two Grammy nominations (Mister Asylum was nominated for Best Rock Album and "Lydia" was nominated for Best Rock Song). Below, we’re premiering their latest video for ‘Serotonia,’ a song and video that seems ripped straight out of Lana Del Ray’s book of ideas. We caught up quickly with guitarist/vocalist/synth-player Johnny Stevens to pick his brain about the truly wild video for the song. Check it, and the video, out below.
Noisey: What inspired the video?
Johnny Stevens: Didn’t want to complicate things. I feel lyrics should always paint a strong visual on their own otherwise, what the fuck are you writing? It's best when people actually pay attention to what you're saying, you know? I wanted the viewer to feel me in this one. Like we were standing in the same room, sharing the same space.
The video relies heavily on the snow/desert dichotomy which makes it seem like you are speaking to yourself before and after some event. Is that the case, and if so what is the event?
I've spent the past 5 years living in Bed-Stuy, New York and I will always consider Brooklyn a home base, but more recently I've been spending all of my free time in Los Angeles. It's so new to me, strange; hopeful. On the surface the song is about moving to California but that's really just a metaphor. Life is changing. I'm leaving my twenties and I want to head towards the sun so to speak. Done a lot of growing in this past year and all I've learned is that there is so much more to learn. We filmed the snowy scenes on my roof during the blizzard we just had in New York, and the desert parts were shot in Joshua Tree, California.
What inspired the song? We heard Lana Del Rey, did she inspire it?
In part, yes. I've been a big fan for many years now. Since Paradise. I was actually on a plane leaving for NY from LA when I heard "West Coast" for the first time. Go listen to those lyrics and tell me what you think they might mean to me. I was shook. I can connect to what she says heavily in so many of her songs, and so many of her songs reference California.. She really has that "romance for classic Hollywood" vibe on lock. But the current changes in my life are the biggest inspiration for the song. It's like certain things were so hard for so long, and I feel like I’ve conquered them. But now other things are hard. I'm just beginning to learn how to face that. It’s scary, It's exciting, it's unknown... Life is really huge, isn't it?
What made you choose that direction for the song?
The song chose it's own direction. I'm glad it did though. We are known as a rock band and that's OK I guess. But I'm terrified of being pinned as a "rawk" band. There is a difference. The difference is playing Glastonbury or the Iowa State fair. Mister Asylum was a very powerful album for the growth of this band and we're extremely grateful that it's done what it did. But that album will never happen again. We'd have to be real assholes to try and repeat something so true to its time. In order to stay genuine, I have to continue writing from the heart, and as this heart changes, so then will the songs. I just want to stay true to how I feel at any moment. Anything else is a waste of everyone's time.