The City Lives
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The City Lives

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States | INDIE

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States | INDIE
Band Rock Pop


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"The City Lives concentrates three years and a string of bad luck into an EP of aching energy"

The murmur could be heard from blocks away, a low rumble underlining an otherwise calm, tree-lined neighborhood just west of the Gold Dome.

A bench seat from the van lined the entryway, and stacks of road cases and tour-marred plastic tubs filled what was once a breakfast nook.

The band was below ground, but one could barely tell. The walls and windows of the two-story, red-bricked duplex flexed and quivered as the five musicians ran through their set again and again.

It’s like this four or five times a week, said front man Chase Kerby.

“Getting this record out has consumed every part of us,” he said. “Going out, doing anything else really hasn’t been an option. ‘Sorry, we’ve got practice. Maybe after 10 p.m.,’ is pretty much what we’re telling everyone.”
It’s been almost three years since the band’s last release, 2007’s “American Kids,” and the guys are a knot of worry, excitement and anxious energy.

The restlessness that propelled them through regional and national tours — and aligned friendships with influential gatekeepers like Mike Kennerty of The All-American Rejects — has been focused. The City Lives is plenty busy, but the members can’t help feel like they’re standing still.

A bare lightbulb hung from the center of the group’s basement rehearsal space, at the dead end of a treacherous flight of stairs. It’s dank and dim, with Christmas lights dangling from pipes and conduit. The musicians stood atop a nest of cords and cables, their amps pushed against the wall. Drummer Eric Gameros was stashed behind the door where the ceiling is lowest, and a hot water heater stood at the center of one wall like a sixth member.

The sound roared in the concrete cave, a brain-rattling wave that was deafening even with the full-on firing-range earmuffs offered to the unaccustomed. The members locked eyes and traded glances, but there was little fuss between songs, and no stopping once a tune had started. A brief, post-performance discussion was shared, and the band either repeated the tune in its entirety or moved along to the next one. Everyone knew the count.

“Just 10 more days — that’s all we have left,” said bassist Shaun Brown.

The City Lives debuts its new album Friday at VZDs. While the short, self-titled EP is less than half the length of the band’s previous release, this disc required considerable more effort than “Kids.” More than 50 songs were written, demoed or considered, Kerby said.

Only five made the cut.

The album is concentrated and succinct, intentionally arranged to be the very best of the act’s very best. The first three tracks — “Walking Away,” “Back in Love Again” and “You Told a Lie” — were recorded in August 2009 in Choctaw with producer Matt Dylan Street, while the final cuts — “O.E.T.A.” and “You Gotta Let Go” — were recorded roughly a year prior, with Kennerty as producer, who is releasing the CD on his Edmond Records imprint.

The album is marked with aching optimism, a tone likely imbued by a rough year for The City Lives. Longtime drummer Eric Pennell left in November after a string of bad luck and circumstance on tour. The trouble started and ended in Texas — on Pennell’s birthday, of all days — first with a flat on their trailer, then a van stuck in the mud, and later a stream of flaky promoters and soundmen. Finally, with the van towed, misfortune proved too much.

“It was a really dark time for the band,” said guitarist Sammy Mitchell.

“It was just one thing after another,” said Brown, agreeing.

Combined with the ongoing money concerns for musicians methodical enough to worry about paying taxes, an accountant and $300-per-month auto insurance, The City Lives started searching for a new drummer. It didn’t look any further than Gameros, a Newcastle native who came recommended by the group’s manager. After a few beers, the band decided Gameros was ready for a real test.

“It was a trial by fire,” Mitchell said. “‘All right, this seems right — let’s play some shows.’”

With Gameros onboard, and the musicians in the homestretch of the album cycle, Mitchell said band morale is the best its been since it joined The All-American Rejects on tour in 2008.

Unlike many CD-release shows organized to line up a bunch of bands to help ensure a sold-out crowd, The City Lives is performing alone on Friday — sort of.

“It’s kind of a weird idea, but we’re actually opening up for ourselves,” Kerby said.

The group will play roughly 17 songs split into two sets, with a few repeats between the two, likely “Back in Love” and “You Gotta Let Go,” which will be delivered in different, reworked versions.

“It’s just a way to put a twist on the songs and make them completely opposite of what they were,” Kerby said.

A Gillian Welch cover is a possibility, and local singer/songwriter Daniel Walcher has been tapped for extra vocal harmonies and additional percussion elements. Guitarist Josh McClesky said having two sets will give them a chance to show off a side to which audiences aren’t always accustomed.

“We’ll make it very intimate, then take a break, and we’ll come back and play it all in their true rock ’n’ roll fashion,” he said.

The City Lives has started booking dates for a fall/winter tour and is eyeing potential tour mates, as well as any chance to jump on as a support act for other big-name acts like The Rejects.

“We’re waiting for the right opportunity,” McClesky said, “but we’re also playing shows and doing as much as we can to get this music that we’ve been working on for so long into people’s hands.” —Joe Wertz | - OK Gazette

"EP Release"

Melody. These boys got it. I like shit I can sing along to, and Oklahoma City's the City Lives deliver. Throw in some clever guitar interplay, a ridiculously strong voice at the helm, and you've got the basis of what makes these boys so damn good. New 5-song EP available now! - Edmond Records

""American Kids" Review"

With self-proclaimed influences as widespread as U2, Sunny Day Real Estate and Jeff Buckley, The City Lives' debut full-length is surprisingly congealed. Particularly for a debut, American Kids has all the solidity of some of the best pop-rock albums in the last decade. The key elements are here – love and heartbreak, addiction and loss – and the lines are sun and played with an endearing honesty. The album has moments that come treacherously close to guilty pleasures (Ah, the dangers of acoustic ballads!), but they are saved by Kerby's unambiguous melodies and little touches like quiet piano lines, echoing percussion. –Becky Carmen - Boyd Street Magazine

""American Kids" Review"

The liner notes for "American Kids," the Oklahoma City indie-pop band The City Lives' newly released full-length CD, notes that food from Arby's was used as a partial payment to a recording engineer for the 11-track recording.
Featuring some of the most honest and well-written songs released by a metro rock band, "American Kids" just might have enough commercial appeal to upgrade the eager band from the five-for-$5.55 deal to Arby's pricier Market Fresh menu if they can get it in the right hands.
The opening track, "Bad Enough," is a catchy, fun dance song about love and hope, and sounds a bit like several numbers from VHS or Beta. Opening on a high note, at least emotionally so, "American Kids" cascades into more emotionally and sonically layered songs like "Missing the Point" and "Everybody Wants Something Average," which features a beautiful, sober organ underneath lead singer Chase Kerby's soaring coal delivery, which when combined, makes for a unique indie-lounge sound that is a touch jazzy and eerie.
The City Lives seems to have resisted the urge to spend practices cranking amplifiers and writing the loudest, fastest tunes possible – which has been the method mainstay for many metro bands lately – and instead opted to craft some epic, heart-on-sleeve songs about love, family, friendship and finding one's place in the hearts and minds of others.
"American Kids" sounds like something that could catch on to more than just Oklahoma kids, so watch out and stay tuned. – Joe Wertz - Oklahoma Gazette

""American Kids" Review"

"Debut" may not be the most accurate word to describe American Kids. The album, while the first real offering from OKC's The City Lives, is years in the making. Comprised of a smattering of local band veterans (Josh, Eric, Craig and Shaun) and fronted by Chase Kerby (formerly of Chasing Paris), The City Lives' mission is clear: to win you over, whatever it takes.
Enter the deliciously-produced American Kids a collection of 11 rock tracks with a definite pop bent - some are unabashedly catchy and harmless, others are poignant and sharp. Perhaps The City Lives are the hopeful spearheads of a resurgence of straightforward rock bands (think Jimmy Eat World), not the necessarily defying genre stereotypes but accepting and then overlooking them (think All-American Rejects).
The first track "Bad Enough" exemplifies how Kerby's charisma as a frontman and clarity as a vocalist can bring a song from being merely good to being an ideal album opener. "Alcohol and Ambrosia" even wit its ambitious falsetto interludes, is on of the best on the album. Kerby is a gifted songwriter alone, and in The City Lives, he's more than complimented by a group of equally talented musicians.
Experienced though they may be, here's hoping The City Lives are willing to bank on their youthfulness. In "Missing the Point," Kerby hovers dangerously close o sounding trite with lines like "Everything makes sense when you're in love with alcohol," but the honesty is endearing, the delivery sincere and the end result satisfying. All in all, American Kids is a tasty pop gem. - NONzine

"Chase Kerby"

In the pre-performance interview, Norman, Oklahoma’s Chase Kerby lets it slip that it hasn’t even been 24 hours since he began writing the verses to the untitled song he’ll perform tonight. He’s had the chorus hanging around in his head for a while he says, but the inspiration needed to flush the tune out came to him last night while sitting near the moonlit swimming pool of a house he was sitting.

You might be tempted to doubt the truth of a claim like that, especially when he launches effortlessly into the bubbly arpeggiations of its lilting intro like a seasoned pro, but it’s hard to keep doubting, or to feel anything cynical at all, once you hear the plain beauty of his tenor. There’s a brassiness in his croon, like a Rufus Wainwright or Devendra Banhart, only without the affectation.

Kerby doesn’t dress the performance up. It’s too fresh, too new to him for him to need to. He simply revels in the joy of his new creation, and seems happy to let others watch, even if he’s only playing for himself. As he soldiers through a near-flawless rendition, the room’s boomy acoustics cradle the fragile tune in a safe warmth, muting any ragged ends or flubbed notes that might have existed.

‘Cause I have been told/nothing changes when you get old/love is just a rumor that holds you to your word,’ he sings with a complete, but unemphasized conviction. Someone as concerned with big-picture ideas like aging and fidelity as Kerby’s lyrics suggest must be all to familiar with the way the truth of a song seeps out the more you sing it. So it makes you feel fortunate, and even a little bit guilty, to look on as he comes face to face with his own melodies, communing with them for the first time. -


American Kids (11/17/07)
The City Lives EP (9/7/10)
Full-Length (TBA 2010/2011)



“As long as one person is still playing music, the city will still be alive,” Chase Kerby told Spinner during a 2010 SXSW interview. These words rang true to Kerby when he and his bandmates decided to name their quintet The City Lives in 2007.

After Kerby filled in on the Sugarcult tour with Meg & Dia in 2007, he returned to Oklahoma City to collaborate with guitarist Josh McClesky and an all-star cast of OKC music vets. This marked the beginning of The City Lives.

The band quickly attracted the attention of The All American Rejects’ Mike Kennerty and Tyson Ritter, who signed The City Lives to Edmond Records, a subsidiary of their Doghouse label. At the end of 2008, The City Lives toured coast to coast for six weeks with The All American Rejects and Jet Lag Gemini on the “Gives You Hell Tour”, helping to bridge the gap between regional and national acclaim.

2009 and 2010 brought The City Lives consecutive showcases at SXSW Music Conference and tours with notables The Working Title, All Get Out, The Rocketboys, All the Day Holiday and Kinch, as well as one-offs with Augustana, Paramore, Vadera, Manchester Orchestra, As Tall as Lions, Phantom Planet, Lovedrug and Colour Revolt, among others. Endorsements from Mustang Brewing Company, Gallien-Kruger, Risen Percussion, DMB Pedals and Robert Keeley Electronics rounded out the year in style.

After writing, recording and scrapping an entire album in 2009, The City Lives—with lots of help from Jack Daniels and their classic 12-inch collections—began writing a new set of tunes.

“The new EP really transcends what we’ve done in the past,” Kerby says. “We’re all really satisfied with the final product. There’s definitely more to come.”

The self-titled EP hit the streets September 7 and is available digitally on iTunes and physically at the band’s online store. The City Lives will tour the U.S. in support of the release in the coming months.