Getting To Know The FPSF Locals: The Suffers
Photo: Daniel Jackson
If you were unaware, Houston affectionately gets called Hustletown on the regular. Many people come here and are just a little amazed at how hard we will work to see something come to fruition if it involves our dreams. As it’s always been, that ideal applies heavily to the music industry, especially in today’s overcrowded marketplace. I think that most people would agree that Houston’s soulful ten piece, The Suffers embody that hustle more than pretty much anyone else in town. Early this year, Mark from The Convoy Group, the band’s management, whispered to me the biggest coup I had heard in a long time, about the band possibly performing on national television. That’s right, when The Suffers appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman, I think pretty much every A&R rep in the country was left scratching their heads. With the recently released “Make Some Room” EP and two appearances at this year’s Free Press Summer Festival, The Suffers are ready to win your hearts and show you how they hustle. FPH caught up with the band to chat about what they have planned for the fest, and that amazing performance on television that saw our city collectively cheering at their TV screens.
FPH: I would think after the last 30 days, most of Houston would know who The Suffers are. But, for the miniscule amount who might be unfamiliar, please tell us in your own words who you are and what kind of music you make?
THE SUFFERS: We are a ten piece band from Houston, TX. We mix all the sounds of our great city into a style we call Gulf Coast Soul.
FPH: You guys just released an EP that’s getting plenty of traction, can you tell me where you recorded it, and will we see a full length in the near future?
THE SUFFERS: Our EP was recorded at Wire Road Studios in Houston and Church House Studios in Austin. Both are excellent facilities and we had a lot of fun making it. We are planning a full length album and some songs have already been recorded.
FPH: When the band breaks, you know that everyone will say you’re an “overnight success.” But those of us in the know realize that it’s not that way at all. Can you describe the amount of work it takes just to get on a festival, much less on national television?
THE SUFFERS: Each member of the band has over 15 years of playing around Texas and some members have toured the US and other countries. As a band, we’ve been steadily grinding for almost 4 years. We tend to be perfectionists; practicing and rehearsing relentlessly. Any success would be built on a pile of small victories we’ve earned over the years one gig at a time.
FPH: The band recently performed on The Late Show with David Letterman, and rooms all over the city were filled with people cheering and screaming at televisions in excitement. How surreal was that whole experience and please don’t leave out any details?
THE SUFFERS: It’s still hard to accept that it happened. Playing Letterman was an absolute dream. That show and that stage have so much history. The show staff was so helpful and didn’t mind us gushing around the Ed Sullivan Theater taking photos. The entire day, and especially the performance, are still a bit of a blur. It happens so fast. The encouragement we were getting before the taping was amazing but later that night, after the show aired, we were all rendered speechless by the amount of love that poured out of Houston.
FPH: Letterman said, “If you can’t do this, get out of the business,” which might be the most complimentary thing I’ve heard him ever say. How long did it take to sink in that you’d just been given one of the greatest compliments from a broadcasting legend?
THE SUFFERS: Because of the way Dave’s mic is fed to TV, most of the band didn’t know what Dave said until we saw the show air later that night. I don’t think it really hit any of us until the next day when our phones stopped ringing and we were able to just breathe and think. It feels so good to have years of hard work and sacrifice recognized on national tv by an entertainment icon.
FPH: This year, the band is performing two sets, one as The Suffers and one with the Welcome To Houston crew. How did the Welcome to Houston thing come about and how many numbers will you be performing on?
THE SUFFERS: Last year we collaborated with Bun B for the Premium Goods anniversary party at 8th Wonder brewery. It was a lot of fun and really meant to us as musicians and fans of Houston rap. We were ecstatic when we found out we would be onstage with so many Houston rap icons. We are all huge fans of each of the MC’s individually, but collectively they are the best representation of Houston’s contribution to rap music. It’s hard to include everyone’s favorite song and each rapper has a huge catalog of songs to choose from. We have received a great list favorites that won’t disappoint anyone.
FPH: The band is no stranger to the festival circuit, and you’ve done FPSF before. What tricks up your sleeve do you have planned for the hometown crowd?
THE SUFFERS: We love playing festivals, especially in Houston. We’ve grown a lot and had a chance to sharpen our skills since the last time we played FPSF. This will be our first show in Houston since playing Letterman and doing some pretty extensive touring. We won’t ruin the surprise but we know we have to bring something special for the city.
I’m sure that the surprise will be worth the wait. With the amount of raw energy that The Suffers bring to a live performance, I feel like you’re not doing the festival correctly if you miss them perform. With the Letterman appearance, a hefty touring schedule, and the new EP, I’m sure if you miss them at the festival, you’ll be kicking yourself when they become the next big thing.