City Line Kids
City Line Kids is a light-hearted Americana Pop project with a unique sound. The creative mind behind the project, Alex Carle, a classically trained vocalist and ukulele player, began writing the first songs that would introduce the project in 2014. Determined to capture the diversity of the city life he was exposed to growing up in Baltimore, MD, Carle’s music is inspired by a plethora of genres including elements of folk, pop, punk, rock, world, country, and reggae to create a sound unique to The City Line Kids and Baltimore. It did not take long for a community to develop behind the band and Carle was no longer the sole member with an ever-changing number of musicians from a variety of backgrounds. The City Line Kids released the Locals EP in 2017 and are excited to be working on their sophomore album.
Was there something (an experience) or someone in your life that was the "catalyst" for you to start writing music? Tell us about it.
It was the summer of 2010 when I drove with my mom and some friends from Baltimore to Hershey Park to see the Bamboozle Road Show. It’s the Bamboozle Festival today, but it was a tour back then. At 14 or 15 years old, this was only the second concert I had ever been to, and I remember it like it was yesterday. My friends and I were really into the pop punk music scene that had emerged in the early 2000s, and this festival had all the powerhouses of the time: All Time Low, Boys Like Girls, Good Charlotte, and Simple Plan to name a few. I was standing in the pit for the first time in my life, and I became really fascinated by the ways the bands on stage manipulated the crowd and exchanged a very palpable energy with their audience. The whole event blew me away, and I wanted to recreate that same feeling for others. I wrote my first song when I got home that night. It was a pretty bad song, but I remember feeling an appropriate if not generous amount of pride. I’m sure it was that experience that started me down the path I’m on now.
Let's get this out of the way. What is the CRAZIEST thing that has ever happened to you in your music career?
I don’t know if there is any one thing that has happened to me during my music career that I would call the “craziest,” but music has taken me to some really wild places and I’ve gotten to meet a lot of really interesting people. One moment that stands out to me occurred this past summer, when we were playing this huge outdoor amphitheater for this really big, really receptive crowd in Avon, Colorado. The stage was easily the largest I had ever been on. The amphitheater stood directly on the shore of a beautiful lake surrounded by blooming wildflowers. The back of the amphitheater at the end of the stage behind us was open, so we could see the lake and feel the cool summer breeze blow through. Looming over the amphitheater and lake was this colossal mountain range. During our set, a silent and luminous lighting storm began to roll through the mountains, the rain just barely avoiding the town in the valley. The entire atmosphere was magic; and of all the locations I have performed, this had to have been the most breathtaking. It’s those kind of moments that really push me to keep going.
What has been the high point of your music path?
I think that one of the best feelings I have experienced as a musician came the day I released City Line Kids’ debut album, “About Time,” and the accompanying “Pitiful Criminals (All You Wanted)” music video in the summer of 2016. Writing and recording the album took over 2 years, and until they were released, the majority of the tracks on the record had never been heard – even as rough copies – by anyone outside of the project. People knew I was working with Tonal Vision but they had no idea what the album would sound like, and when the tunes were finally made public, they were really well received. I’ve had a lot of high points on this musical path, but that day gave me a really inspiring sense of accomplishment and purpose. I’m looking forward to reliving that experience when we release our sophomore album that is currently in the works.
So, how do you approach songwriting or what is your creative process like?
I am a big proponent of “letting the song write itself.” I’m not one to sit on the couch for hours at a time pushing myself to come up with ideas. If I have a melody or some lyrics rolling around in my head, it’s time to write; if nothing comes to mind, I’ll come back to it later. My songs usually start as one or two simple measures that are spit out by my subconscious when I am doing something mindless, like taking a shower. I’ll grab my ukulele and play that melody a few times to myself until I hear the next part of the song that just seems to make sense naturally. And I basically repeat this process until the song is done. I approach the songs that I write as if they already exist deep within my mind; and so I gently encourage my mind to sort of “unveil” the hidden music. When I let the songs write themselves rather than stitch together pieces of ideas, the result is a product that has a much better flow.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Indie Artists today? Or, if you could ask the music industry to change one thing, what would it be?
One of the toughest challenges for Indie Artists today is getting their art noticed in an ever-changing sea of public media. The presence of social media and music sharing sites is awesome for Indie Artists because, for the first time, we can reach a new audience without relying on record labels and radio stations. Plenty of people all over the world listen to their music on YouTube, SoundCloud, and Facebook, which require no membership to join and allow artists to upload their music for free. And while this is really promising, these sites have become so over-saturated with content of varying quality that an Indie Artist’s music, regardless of how “good” it might be, can appear in someone’s news feed as a grain of sand on a long beach. So musicians, often acting as their own promoters, have to constantly find new and creative ways to stand out. While this is challenging, I honestly really enjoy this period of what I consider to be “the people’s music,” and the challenge has made me a stronger artist, promoter, and band manager. It’s harder for an artist to get signed by a big record label nowadays, but there is also less for labels to offer that artists do not already have at their disposal.
Take a break and enjoy a music video from City Line Kids!
If you could share the stage with one other artist or band, who would it be and why?
I think that City Line Kids would play a really cool show with Jack Johnson. I’ve been a fan of his music for years, and his tunes have definitely inspired many of my own. And of course, Johnson and his band draw giant crowds and I am the type who will play for as many people as I possibly can. I bet that kind of crowd would really enjoy City Line Kids’ material.
What are your rehearsals generally like? Or, how do you prepare for a live show?
Rehearsals are very relaxed. Personally, I believe that music has a better groove when it’s played by relaxed musicians. Sometimes we practice in the basement of Jack (bass player) and Dan’s (drummer) house. Major benefits to using this practice space include Jack and Dan’s mom sometimes making us dinner, and an old dog to play with. Other times we might practice at my place in the city. We don’t practice at any reoccurring time during the week, just whenever works for all of us. We goof around a lot but we always seem to get the work in. The core cast of the City Line Kids band is always changing (and its meant to do so), but I have a long history with all the musicians I choose to work. As a result of that history, the band’s non-verbal communication comes pretty fluently during practice. I like the ‘jam sesh’ feel of a rehearsal – it’s the type of thing I look forward to during the week.
Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it!
Lyrically speaking, the song “Easy Go” from the album “About Time” was probably my most challenging to write. The majority of the songs I was writing at the time were either upbeat and positive, or somewhat sad but optimistic; and yet this was a song about a friend who had died of a drug overdose. I wanted to tell his story in a way that was brutally honest while remaining respectful of his memory. And in keeping with the rest of the songs on the album, I wanted to write this song with an optimistic twist (not an easy task when discussing substance abuse). In the end, I painted my friend as a tragic figure whose life of cushy morality was cut short as the result of a misguided fall from grace, and whose death inspired another person to get sober. I’m happy with how it came out; and I think my friend would have liked it too. He was a big supporter of my music.
What's coming up in the future?
I’m excited to say the future’s looking real good. We’re hard at work in the studio recording our sophomore album. This new record will probably be a little longer than our debut, “About Time.” Unlike with that first album, we will be releasing every song on this new record individually, as they are finished in the studio, for free on SoundCloud and YouTube. So far, we’ve released “Locals,” “Trouser Ghost,” “Capgras,” and “If You Go.” I was in the studio earlier today, and it’s looking like the next song to be released will be this really chilled out, jazzy track called “Volcano.” Keep an eye and ear out for that! When all of the songs on this new album are finished, they’ll be released together on iTunes and all the streaming apps. And it’s looking like we’re going to have another busy summer of performing, so be sure to check out our website and social media pages for tour dates. We’re looking forward to playing for new faces, and we’re stoked for folks to hear the new stuff we’ve been working on.
Where can fans can access your music.
Our official website is www.citylinekidsmusic.com. There you can find everything from music and videos to tour dates and news. All of our new music is uploaded to our SoundCloud page first, and you can find that at soundcloud.com/citylinekids. You can also find us on Facebook, Instagram and all the other social media sites, as well as on streaming sites like Apple Music and Spotify.