This week, Kent rock group The Outside Voices releases its third album. The band has spent the past three years finding its collective sound that's influenced by '70s rock, classic country and Americana.
Stoned and Lonely
The Outside Voices is singer/guitarist John Patrick Halling, bassist Kevin McManus, guitarists Jimmy Dykes and Johnny Miller, and drummer Sam Langstaff.
Halling says the new album is the band's first collaborative effort. "These are all songs that we wrote together. Our first album, most of those songs were already written from me when I was doing a folk/solo project."
"This is the first album where we really honed the sound at all," McManus said. "It took three records to figure out what our strengths were, our weaknesses were and what people would enjoy."
The band’s personality is a lot like its music – fun and carefree. Halling says the five-piece group loves to stand out – from browsing second hand stores for flashy outfits to posing for wild photos, including a new tour poster that features the band nude, covered in rose petals.
"We're very fortunate in the sense that not only are we close as a band, but we're close as friends -- almost uncomfortably close," Halling said. "So someone will come up with a crazy idea. Then once you get one other person on board, then you can convice two more people. And then at that point the last person is like, 'Well, I guess I have to do this too.'"
Rooted in Kent
Halling says the band is proud to be rooted in Kent.
"We've done a lot of touring and it's easier to tell people that you're from Akron or Cleveland because they're more recognizable. But the more we keep going forward, the more we realize how special of a place Kent is historically for music. And the community here really gets behind local musicians and art of all kinds."
After an album release show Friday (March 1) at Musica, the band goes on a cross-country tour of 24 shows that ends in Kent in April. Halling says he booked it all on his own, starting last October.
"I've got this weird Google Sheet database that I've been working on for three years. It has venues sorted by state and city. It's through a lot of connections and cold calls."
He says all those connections were made right after he graduated from college in 2015.
"I recorded my first solo EP, and I spent two months living out of my car traveling across the country, playing coffee shops and busking. I learned a lot about the trade of trying to book and market yourself."
Rolling with the punches
The band says it's hoping for a big year.
"We've got a lot of gas left in the tank, but we've all been in bands the majority of our lives," McManus said. "We respectively got playing at a point when Napster and the internet leveled the landscape of the music industry. So we've been fortunate and equally as unfortunate to grow along with all these changes."
"You have to roll with the punches," Halling said. "What's working today might not work in six months. So it's all just about surveying the landscape and making sure you're riding with the wave instead of against it."