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Jonson Kuhn | New SCENE
I had the greatest night (Wednesday, April 6) and I ate the greatest food and I saw the greatest band! And the drip coffee, dammit, that wasn’t too bad either. I went to the Wolverine Farm, but before I get into that, I just very briefly have to strongly encourage you to try the meatloaf at Ginger & Baker across the street from the Wolverine Farm on Willow St. I can’t spend a lot of time talking about this and for all I know the rest of their food could be total garbage, but I’m telling you, the meatloaf? Holy smokes, just try it. I’ve never lied to you and I’m not starting now, just trust me and try it.
Okay, as I was saying, I went to the Wolverine farm to see NOCO’s own Frail Talk. I was absolutely blown away by this band and I’m still just sort of speechless and a little dumbfounded over their performance; I honestly listened to their song “Sunday Dreamin’” over and over again on the drive back home. They’re comprised of Alex Woodchek and Corey Wright, both on vocals and alternate between guitar and keys, and then the two new(er) additions are Nathanial Riley on guitar/banjo and Tobias Bank on drums. Other than checking them out online, the next time and place you can see them perform is at the FOCOMX, they’ll be at The Atrium on April 22 at 11 pm. They’re defined as Indie-folk and that’s fitting because the music is relaxed and thoughtful and the vocal harmonies between Alex and Corey are quite literally goosebump producing. They have this incredible album out called New Creation Myths, I can’t recommend it enough, more than even Ginger & Baker’s freaking MEATLOAF, go listen to this album!
I was able to catch up with the band a few days after their show for an interview and in usual North Forty/New Scene fashion, we like to conduct our interviews in special locations as I find it often enhances the interview experience for both the interviewer and the interviewee. Seeing how Frail Talk’s album is called New Creation Myths, I thought it might be appropriate to take us back to where creation of life all got started, the cradle of civilization: Mesopotamia, the region in between Tigris and Euphrates River, or you might better know it as Iraq. However, some might say the cradle of civilization was in Greece, some might say Egypt, or some might even say Columbus, Ohio, therefore making it all somewhat of a…myth??? Just go with it.
It was a brief trip to say the least because as it turns out, Iraq is apparently somewhat of a hostile environment and unfortunately, they lack the essential building blocks of any thriving society such as Starbucks and Tik-Tok. Full disclosure, yes, we were briefly kidnapped by a rambunctious group going by the name of ISIS but it gave us a perfect opportunity to conduct our interview and we were promptly released once they saw my North Forty/New Scene press credentials. Here now is the result of that interview.
NEW SCENE: I saw your band has been around since 2019; how did you all get started and has it primarily been just a duo? Your set at Wolverine Farm included Nathanial Riley and Tobias Bank (who were great, by the way), but I wasn’t sure if they were now official members or just filling in.
FRAIL TALK: Our form has tended to shift often since the beginning, but Frail Talk was originally formed between the two of us, Corey and Alex, at the end of 2019. We love to play as a duo and both craft & co-craft songs for the project, but Nathanial Riley and Tobias Bank are also an integral part of Frail Talk. Our performances look a bit different between the duo and the full band but are two parts of the same beloved music-creature.
NEW SCENE: If I’m not mistaken, New Creation Myths is the only album you have out currently? I loved it; I’ve had it playing on my phone since the show. Can you talk about the concept behind it at all? There are a lot of interesting illustrations on the cover, I can’t help but feel those are all more than just doodles, yeah?
FRAIL TALK: New Creations Myths was our debut record, and we are so thankful for the amazing response it’s received from our community. The concept is ever-expanding but was intended to capture our understanding of myth and explore our own contribution to the canon of mythology. We are fascinated by the idea of the story and how humans tend to create their own universes in their mind through things like religion, origin, identity, and daily life; a combination of these various imaginative realities contributed to the storied experience of “mythos.” The illustrations Corey designed for the cover certainly tie the story that we are trying to write with the record and are inspired by forms of iconography. We are hoping to release some more projects with these designs in the future so keep an eye out for that.
NEW SCENE: Are there any plans in the works for a new album? I only ask because (and I could be wrong) but after listening to all of New Creation Myths online, I felt like maybe there were some songs from the Wolverine set that weren’t on the album.
FRAIL TALK: We are definitely planning on another album and hopefully an EP as well. It is all still in the works, but we have so many new songs that we love and can’t wait to get ’em out there for ya into re-playable sound waves. We are hoping to do some touring this summer and of course more writing, so the resounding answer is pretty much just YES! And we sure couldn’t do any of it without all the love from those that support us, so thank you lovers! More MUsic m0re aRT more eVerYTHing bEaUtiful always yes yes yes.
NEW SCENE: Corey, respectfully, you seem like quite the prolific musician, you have a few other projects out outline from 2012-2014: Hark, The Harold! The Smallest Pine and The Steadfast EP. On Steadfast, I really liked your song “Toast.” I, too, enjoy eating bread and listening to the Grateful Dead, often simultaneously, so that song especially resonated with me! Seeing how the other two albums are Christmas covers, I have to ask…are you pretty big into Christmas? If so, are you familiar with how the Amanita Muscaria mushroom ties into the story of Christmas? Also, any other songs out there I might have missed?
FRAIL TALK (Corey): Wowzers, you really took a deep dive. If by prolific you mean an amount of music on the internet that includes my name and is seriously embarrassing, then you’re in the right place. If you want some dirt (or a deeper dive) I suggest looking up The Boy in The Machine (2011) somewhere in the Bandcamp universe (https://theboyinthemachine.bandcamp.com) and you’ll find some strange business. I love that you found the song Toast. I still can’t believe I wrote it. I used to try to make a Christmas album every year. Not that I am obsessed or anything, but it was a good practice to cover some complex songs and try to drag them down to their bare bones. Honestly, I had no idea about the Amanita Muscaria, but it all makes sense now. I’ve been recording for a while, so if you want to go deeper, check out Weareforests (2016-2020): https://weareforestsmusic.bandcamp.com. Lili (2011): https://lilimusic.bandcamp.com. Monsters and Fairytales & Flyfalconfly! (2009, 2010?).
NEW SCENE: Question for Alex now: I always like to see what else musicians do aside from playing music because I’m curious how other interests or directions in life feed into their creative side or the art they produce. With that being said, I saw online that you work as a mental health case manager, which I’m sure can be rewarding, but also perhaps emotionally exhausting at times, as well. Can you share what led you down that path and how (if at all) your line of work informs your songwriting?
FRAIL TALK (Alex): Yes, I have worked in various mental health & case management professions for a few years now and it sure does have an impact on my experience as an artist. Since I was a kid, I have always been oriented toward the world based on the experiences of all the living things around me. I have found it difficult to separate my own well-being from that of others, and songwriting helps me both to advocate for the empathy and connectedness that I believe is so integral to human flourishing AND to set boundaries for myself by letting heavy emotion bleed through into a song to create space within me for my own happiness.
Mental health is a complex and intersectional topic that impacts every single one of us. I believe music is an incredible place to continue that conversation because songs are where we lay down our defenses and honestly commune with our inner worlds. Art is often the place where we stretch out our arms wider and wider to understand one another’s perspectives and this is what mental health and helping professions are all about. I write songs as a way to self-heal my own wounds and invite others into a practice of self-expansion & empathy for the parts of us that can only heal when we connect with others.
NEW SCENE: So, I was trying to figure out where the name Frail Talk might have come from and that led me inevitably to a google search (as most things do) and I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I had no idea there were two definitions for the word frail. Are you all using the word frail as an adjective, the more well-known meaning of delicate or fragile or are you using it as a noun, like a rush basket that holds fruit? I didn’t hear a lot of fruit or basket talk come up in your lyrics, but I don’t want to be presumptuous. What’s the story behind the name?
FRAIL TALK: One day Corey was in the shower when two words bubbled through his brain; the word “frail” and the word “talk.” His next thought was that he had never seen those two words placed together before, which led him down a rabbit hole wondering about every other pair of words that had never been paired before. That rabbit hole didn’t lead anywhere all that interesting except to learn just now that there is an alternate definition to the word “frail” that means fruit basket. Orange you glad I didn’t say banana?
NEW SCENE: Ha! I’m just glad you made the joke at all! Okay, last question, all of your songs are great, but I especially love “Sunday Dreamin’” – the harmonies between you two are so spot on and original; I can’t immediately compare your sound to something else out there. As a fan, I’m just wondering if you can talk a little bit about the meaning behind that song AND whose playing horns? It would be incredible to see it performed live with horns.
FRAIL TALK: Well, golly gee we sure are blushin’. Here’s a road map to Sunday Dreamin’: biology, paranormal activity, what it’s like to lay awake at night wondering about the cosmos, math, cars. There’s some other good stuff in there too, of course, but we’ll let our listeners explore that one on their own – the mystery is what the song is all about, anyways. Our buff, brilliant, beautiful basement neighbor aka David Williams aka friend of a lifetime played horns on this track and we’d sure love to play with him live again in the future – that trumpet really does make the song.
That’s Frail Talk, folks; know them, love them, embrace them as your own! My trillions upon trillions of thanks to the band for making time for the interview and my sincerest apologies for our brief abduction.