It's been a remarkable 12 months for James Alex, a year full of contradictions and firsts. The lead singer and songwriter for the band Beach Slang, Alex and his wife Rachel had their first child, Oliver, to start 2015. Then in October, the band released its debut album, The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us, which has meant nonstop touring.
Alex's dad wasn't a part of his life growing up, a theme that crops up again and again in his songs. He now has to negotiate being away from Oliver, for weeks at a time, in order to make a life for the little boy.
"I'm always that kid always out of place," Alex sings on "Bad Art and Weirdo Ideas." "I try to get found / I've never known how."
WBUR's Here & Now and NPR Music spent a day in Alex's tidy suburban home, talking to him about the meaning of fatherhood, and about how some of his heart-wrenching lyrics came to be. That night, we watched as Alex howled and whirled on stage, as Beach Slang blared an inspired hometown set in a sweaty Philadelphia basement.
You can watch a short documentary and hear Miles Parks' on-air story for Here & Now at the top of this page.
Producer: Miles Parks; Video & Edit: Colin Marshall; Supervising Sound Editor: Suraya Mohamed; Supervising Editors: Jacob Ganz, Lars Gotrich; Special Thanks: First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia, James Alex & Rachel Snyder; Photography: Greg Pallante; Executive Producer: Anya Grundmann.