Life is a carnival

The musical midway of Citizen Lane

"I come into rehearsal with a basic idea," he explains, "but everybody definitely has freedom. I write verses and choruses and lyrics and melodies--which sounds finite--but some of the guys in the band are much more educated than I from playing jazz and more complex musical forms. So I have these ideas out of which will come bass grooves or horn lines or vocal concepts. In the most basic sense, I write 'em, but I can't stress enough how much these guys really help take the music to a new level."

Reaching new levels has been a constant part of the band's development, despite a bit of a revolving-door membership roster in the early years. A self-titled debut CD in late '95 helped refine the band's direction and membership, and, as the pieces began to fall into place, their status in the Austin music scene began to solidify. They found themselves opening for such artists as Dah-veed Garza, Little Sister (now Sister 7), the Ugly Americans, and 8 1/2 Souvenirs. They also began touring more, too, and now spend a great deal of time out of state.

As the current lineup manifested itself, and the Lion's Mouth sessions came and went, it was obvious Citizen Lane was creating discernible attention in a town obscured by buzz. Then the CD came out, and Citizen Lane reached the plateau where their recorded work equaled the outlandish and irresistible stage show. All the resultant notoriety makes Eubank a bit fractious.

"I think one thing is that I'm not in a hurry," says Eubank. "I've heard a lot of horror stories about bands I really respect that got a buzz going and got their deals--and then were thrown up against the wall to see if they would stick. Well, there are a whole lot of musical factors that dictate whether or not a band sticks, and then there are a whole lot of factors that have nothing to do with the band."

Though no specific big-shot management types or major labels have come calling--yet--Eubank's plan is and always has been to nurture the creative core that is Citizen Lane. To do otherwise would betray the whole concept. Besides, life under Eubank's big top is, at present, a thoroughly enjoyable thing.

"Originally," Lane says, "the new CD was going to have a bit more of a circus vibe than it does. As the songs came together, that changed a bit, but there's still that flavor to it. The title's Lion's Mouth, after all."

He pauses, then adds, "I like circus imagery: seals, tightropes, the guy that gets shot out of the cannon...There's definitely a freak-show element to Citizen Lane, not only on the record, but absolutely to the live show. We're probably sillier onstage than we sometimes should be. I can't always figure out if we're making fun of each other as a band or are being made fun of by the audience--though in a positive, participatory way. And in any case, there's a circus aspect to that, too."

And everybody likes it when the circus comes to town.

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