Pop rock sensations We The Kings will return to New Zealand and Australia to celebrate the ten year anniversary of their breakthrough self-titled debut album. Forming in high school, We The Kings have been band mates and best mates ever since and now they’re revisiting these beginnings as they play in its entirety the self-titled debut album that thrust these Florida natives to worldwide notoriety. We The Kings quickly rose to stardom in 2007 with the release of their self-titled debut album which sold over half a million copies worldwide, whilst their singles Secret Valentine, Skyway Avenue. and their number one hit Check Yes Juliet (Run Baby Run) solidified them as scene favourites. Hi Fi Way: The Pop Chronicles spoke to Travis Clark about the tour and their tenth anniversary.
How are you?
I’m good, man. We’re just hanging out, leaving- you’re my fifth interview today, so I’m very warmed up, I’m ready to go.
Another Australian tour, it must be really exciting times to be heading down in March?
Yeah, for us Australia is one of my favourite places to tour. I know I speak for the rest of the guys when I say that. Our bass player, Charles, he got engaged to his wife there. I brought my daughter at two months old over to Australia with my wife and it’s just one of those places that we really want to bring our families and we always love going. So, to be able to come back and also tour at the same time is pretty special to us.
That must be a huge bonus to be able to tour with family this time given the amount of time that you the band spends together on the road?
Yeah, our family is in our music and our family is a big part of who we are and who we’ve grown to be. So anytime that we can, it’s really the best of both worlds to be able to have them on the road with us. It doesn’t matter where it is, if it’s an awesome place like Australia, that’s amazing, but it could be in our least favourite city in the world and having them there would make it really amazing.
Absolutely! Coming to Australia in March is usually when we have the best weather, well particularly here in Adelaide, and everything’s on, there’s so much going on in March with all our festivals and things like that, so you picked great timing.
The tenth anniversary for the band as well, that’s a little bit extra special for Australia to be able to help commemorate that occasion with the band as well?
Yeah, there’s been that wake of artists doing the nostalgic style tours; the ten years, the fifteen years, the twenty years, of specific albums where they play that album in it’s entirely and extras. I always thought that was such a cool thing and especially for us, we went right into headlining and making multiple albums that we couldn’t, there were songs that before we had started this ten that we had never, ever played after putting out the album. So, obviously, we played them in pre-production to get ready to record them but there were three or four songs that we had never played at a live show. That’s definitely true for Australia since we haven’t been there yet with the ten-year world tour. Some of the songs are some of the We The King’s fans favourite songs because they weren’t promoted, like a single, there was no music videos for them, or things like that. Once they get to hear that specific song that they’ve never been able to hear before, I think it will make this tour and this specific show that much better.
The ten-year anniversary is a significant milestone given that a lot of bands these days are lucky to be around for five minutes. What do you put that down to? Is it because of the relationship that you guys have as a band and that you really are a cohesive unit and, like you said, it’s about family?
I don’t know! It’s tough to really pinpoint what exactly is the secret ingredient to longevity as far as being in a band. It’s been tough, we definitely have had our moments in the band where it’s been really hard on us but at the same time, we’ve been touring with bands that haven’t had that luxury. I should say that, we’ve been touring with bands that have had great friendships and seemingly everything was perfect and then they broke up after two, or three, or four years, whatever it was. I know that we all feel lucky to be able to say that this is still our job and still the same guys in the band playing music.
I don’t know that I would put it down to one specific thing. I know that we all love each other, we’re all brothers in this band. I think a big part of it is how we do the writing. I write everything and then I bring it to the band and I think that makes it easier than having five guys write and then everybody’s opinion of what they think sounds better. Music is such an opinionated thing. There’s nobody that can say, “Hey, for a fact, this is a great song.” It’s not a factual type of thing, it’s, “In my opinion, this is a great song.” When you have multiple writers, I know that’s the case with a lot of other bands that we’ve toured with having multiple writers I think that can probably cause some stress, anxiety and frustration.
We are definitely lucky to be a band that’s been around for so long and to be a band that even able to say, hey, nostalgically, we’re playing our first album but we’re putting out our sixth album right before we head over to Australia. It’s not like we put out one album out and then waited ten years to tour on it. We’ve been a band this entire time and have been very fortunate and lucky to be still doing it today.
Are there any other plans to commemorate your ten-year anniversary? Is there, a re-release or a deluxe edition with demos or songs that didn’t quite make the album or even a special release vinyl?
Yeah, we actually did an album that we released a month ago that is a remixed album. So, our first album was called Self-Titled and we put out an album called Self-Titled Nostalgia, where we did every single song from that album just done a little differently. So, some are kind of an acoustic stripped down version, some are an EDM remix, some are kind of a folk style, some are just piano and vocal. We did every single song from the album. It was just to commemorate that record and to be honest with you it was just for the fans. We wanted to give them something special. I built a studio in my house and it was just a way for me to get in the studio and revisit those songs.
A lot of people, especially in bands, wonder, “If we were to do this album now, how would we do it?” Chances are if you’ve been around for ten years it wouldn’t sound the exactly same. So we didn’t want to try to do it as a full band style because we didn’t want to take away from what it was, we just kind of wanted to do a very much different version than our fans are used to. We released that on Spotify and iTunes a month or so ago. It’s cool, we didn’t really promote it too much because our hardcore fans that have been a part of the band for a long time are those who we want to find out about it and get to hear it first before everybody else.
On this tour, are you doing your first album from start to end or are you mixing it up?
We’re actually doing three different concerts and we started doing that in the States because people were coming to multiple shows and we didn’t want to do the same exact copy and paste, “hey this is our set.” Copy and paste, “hey this is our set.” What we’re going to do this year – or for that tour, is that we have three different sets that the songs are jumbled up. Sometimes the first three songs will be one thing and then at the other two shows they’ll be totally different. Once we play the full album from Self-Titled, we’ll pick five to seven other songs that we’ll do from other albums and those songs will differ from city to city.
How are you going to pick those songs?
We thought it would be a really cool idea to have fans from each specific city tell us what they want to play and if there is a song that is not the common one that somebody would ask, we try to do that. We always encourage people to go on to our social media websites or Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, and just tell us what songs that they want to hear us play because we always take that into account when we’re designing the set list for each tour.
Do you have a favourite city in Australia that you love when you’re touring here?
I don’t know, Brisbane was really cool for us because it was the very first city that we played in when we did Soundwaves many, many, many years ago. That was the first time that we had ever been to Australia, not only as a band but as people. We didn’t really get to travel outside of the country too much when we were growing up. So, that was a really, really cool city for us. We got to spend like five or six days there before the tour started. Through the years of touring we’ve played in most of the cities that you can play in in Australia, and there’s something about every single city that we really like. I think it’s a really well-balanced country. Every single city that we play has something pretty cool and pretty special about it. The fans are really awesome in every city that we go to.
What does 2018 look like for We The Kings? Is it predominately more touring or have you got other plans in store for next year?
It’s tough, I don’t know if it’s any more or less touring. We’ve been on a pretty good cycle of touring where it feels like we’ve been able to be home with our families, obviously not as much as we’d like but as much as we can and still be in a successful band. I know that the start of 2018, we’re going to start releasing music. We just sent the files for a song called Festival Music over to our mixing engineer and he’s going to mix that single and then have it mastered and should be online soon.
That’s always really exciting because I love putting out new music. We’ll put out that song and we’re going to do a crowd fund for the rest of the next album so that we can put out music as fast as possible through Pledge Music. Hopefully we’re able to use that money to mix, record and master the rest of the material so we can do the new style of releasing music where we are constantly releasing music instead of waiting two years before releasing a full album then another two years then another album. I like the idea of being able to put out a new song every single month for the rest of our lives.
Interview by Rob Lyon
Catch We The Kings on the following dates…