When you think of pop punk and melodic hardcore, cannabis may not be one of the first things that comes to mind. Rather, you may think of straight edge ethos or a beer-swilling good time. If that’s the case, you haven’t met Carousel Kings, a group dedicated to catchy melodies and sharing the good word about cannabis. Recently, CULTURE caught up with vocalist David Alexander to get the skinny on their songwriting process and dedication to the leafy green plant. A proponent of medical cannabis to treat pain and flotation therapy paired with cannabis, Alexander is not the typical casual cannabis consumer, and he had a lot to say about both music and the positive impact of legalization.
How would you describe your sound, and who are your biggest influences?
Our influences are all across the board; we definitely listen to all kinds of genres and try to incorporate as much of that as possible. I would say bands like Goldfinger, Blink-182 and A Day To Remember are the three bands we all listen to and are for sure some of the biggest influences for the band as a whole. Sound-wise we go for solid songwriting, riffy guitars, upbeat drums and catchy melodies. It’s upbeat, posi-based music.
You’ve experienced a lot of career growth, getting signed to Victory Records and releasing new music. How do you feel about the direction the band is taking, and how do you think your sound or goals have changed since you first started playing together?
I think our sound has progressed very naturally from our early releases up to our latest release, Charm City. I’m excited for the future of this band. We never try to force anything writing-wise or “pre-plan” out what the songs should sound like before writing an album. Our goals have adjusted, but the main goal of writing the best songs we can has remained the same.
How did you all first get started as a band?
I started the band during my senior year of high school back in 2009. Our first show was actually at a high school battle of the bands.
What do you all have planned for the future? Any exciting announcements in the works?
We are waiting to announce our fall tour plans; aside from that, we are constantly writing new material and gearing up for our follow-up.
I heard you all have a connection to growing cannabis; can you talk about that and what growing means to you?
I love nature. Cannabis is just another gift to man that has been wrongly stereotyped and mislabeled. I believe it should be every person’s right to be able to grow their own plants wherever they live.
How do you feel about legalization of cannabis so far? What could be done better or differently?
It’s going painstakingly slow given that we are talking about a harmless plant that has a ton of medical benefits for various types of disorders and conditions. I’ve never been into politics but legalization is one thing that astonishes me.
Have you ever worked cannabis into your music as a theme?
Yes, for sure, the lyrics to our song “Headphones”—“waking up, baking up, my mind is shifting into overdrive”—come to mind. There are hints of it in a lot of our songs and some of our song titles too. Cannabis is usually the catalyst for prosperous creativity in and out of the studio, for our songs, album art ideas, etc.; it was used throughout the recording of literally every song we’ve ever tracked.
How do you use cannabis to fuel your life or your creative process?
I use it every day for multiple reasons, but it’s great to help get into that creative “flow state;” I think basketball players refer to it as being in “the zone.” It’s something like that. I use edibles mainly at night and combine that with floatation therapy to really boost the creative juices. I find the edibles are the one thing so far that are pretty consistent when floating for long periods of time.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thanks for taking the time to chat about cannabis with me. I believe strongly that it should be legal everywhere, both recreationally and medically. I watched my father pass away from cancer in a state that had no medical options available other than the standard chemo treatment. Seeing the pain he went through was something I feel no other human being should have to go through. I am starting a lifestyle clothing brand called KeepStoned in hopes of being able to raise money and awareness on the topic in the state of Pennsylvania and help others who might need similar medical care that my father needed, but aren’t able to receive.