Strong-willed: The Strong Talk headline free show at Frankie’sWritten by Mike Bauman | | email@example.com
For Toledo’s own The Strong Talk, it really is all about the music.
From the band’s willingness to play free shows, to doing two separate, two-week tours which nearly left it broke and putting out music two months apart, The Strong Talk has done everything within its collective power to build a name for itself.
“Getting a buzz, even locally, is tougher than you’d think, you know?” The Strong Talk singer/guitarist David Robert said. “I mean, this last summer we took on every local show we could find. We played every weekend all summer, and writing our last EP was, like, five months of just sitting in front of a computer trying to get it all perfect. It’s been a lot of fun, though.”
Rounded out by Robert Johnston (guitar/vocals), Derek Michael Smith (bass) and Adam Kenneth (drums, percussion), The Strong Talk will headline a free show for a pre-Thanksgiving bash at Frankie’s on Nov. 21. The Strong Talk will follow that gig with two more free shows on Dec. 1 and Dec. 8 at the Ottawa Tavern and Headliners, respectively.
“A lot of people show up when it’s free because why not?” Robert said. “And all the promoters are real good about it, too, because I mean, you think [about it], you do a free show, all these people come out and everybody’s buying drinks and stuff. So the bar’s still making money.”
With influences ranging from The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Bob Dylan and Neutral Milk Hotel to bands like MGMT and Pond, The Strong Talk has crafted its own brand of psychedelic-infused alternative music with a throwback sound.
The band started to take shape about two years ago when Robert met Johnston through Facebook after posting a song. Since that time, the guys in The Strong Talk have grown close, living as roommates in addition to being band mates.
Their former living quarters—dubbed “The Rabbithole”—was an old Victorian-style home in the Old West End where they often played house shows.
“When we first started doing lots of Toledo shows, most of them were in our living room,” Robert said. “We had a bunch of people come out and a lot of good times were had. It was fun.”
It was also at “The Rabbithole” that The Strong Talk decided to take a stab at recording its own music. Released in April, “Singles” was a collection of songs the band put together over time with the help of outside production. For the group’s official debut EP in “Puritan,” however, The Strong Talk took the reins.
“That’s pretty much why it took five months because that was a learning experience, as well,” Robert said of recording “Puritan,” which released in June. “Just doing one song and then thinking it sucks, and then doing another song, like, doing it over; just sitting there and just doing it until you think it’s good enough or whatever.”
Thanks to Kickstarter—an online fundraising tool for creative projects—The Strong Talk surpassed its $800 project goal in April and received $1,500 in donations to help produce physical copies of “Puritan.” The guys also ventured to New York City, where “Puritan” was mastered at Sterling Sound by Jay Franco (Coldplay, Tokyo Police Club, Johnny Cash).
With a new EP, the band hit the road in August and again in October for its first regional tours.
“Learning to not kill each other when you’re in the same vehicle for two weeks and you’re driving, like, six hours to the next show, you know what I mean?” Robert said on what touring was like. “Just learning how to do your best and not smell horrible, [and] learning how to freshen up at McDonald’s and eat nothing but McDonald’s for two weeks.”
Though touring costs combined with its dog defecating in various places throughout “The Rabbithole” led to The Strong Talk leaving the Old West End behind, the group now has a new, psychedelic studio space in the historic Collingwood Arts Center to work on new music.
“It’s like a big, old—and from what I’m told—haunted old convent,” Robert said. “I’ve not seen anything totally creepy, but there’s just this eeriness to it, and it’s pretty cool.”
On Nov. 21, The Strong Talk will headline a free show which also features Wilson, React and Michael Corwin at Frankie’s, 308 Main St. Admission is free for those 21 and over and $3 for those under 21. Doors are at 9 p.m. and all ages are welcome. For more info, visit frankiesinnercity.com.