We The Kings first graced the shores of the UK back in 2008, with Boys Like Girls and Cute Is What We Aim For. After an incredible reaction from fans of headlining bands, they returned again the same year, and the next year, and the next year, and the next year. Now, almost four years on, the band have made leaps and bounds, headlining shows in the UK and have also released three full-length records. It’s clear that the band have gone from strength to strength across the whole world.
After a busy year and an even busier year ahead of them, we caught up with singer, Travis Clark, to talk about changes with the band, their current tour with Simple Plan, upcoming music and more.
DP!: First off, how are you doing today?
Travis: I am fantastic, thank you.
DP!: You’ve been around Europe now with Simple Plan and you haven’t been over to the UK since last February, as compared to before when you were over quite a few times, what has been your favourite date of the tour so far?
Travis: So far it’s been pretty unreal. Every city we’ve been in in mainland Europe has been incredible. We’ve done Portugal, Spain, France, Switzerland, Holland, Germany, Austria, Italy, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, just everywhere – literally everywhere. It’s hard to pick a favourite because they’ve all been so amazing, but I really enjoyed Barcelona. I started learning Spanish and so I was able to practice. I’m excited to be in Scotland now because it’s the land of my people.
DP!: Have you had much time to do all the tourist things on tour?
Travis: We have. Every day we’ve woken up and I would ask some of the fans already outside the venue where we should go see and they would either take us there or tell us where to go. It was cool to see the tourist-y thing but to also see some of the places that tourists don’t know about, like a hidden thing.
DP!: You’re halfway through your time in the UK, how has it compared to the last time you were over?
Travis: It’s been really incredible. We’ve only played two shows so far but they were both sold out and had an absolutely incredible energy. Scotland is always my favourite show every time we come to the UK. I don’t know if it’s because of the redheads thing, but people just know how to party here.
DP!: Obviously there’s been a few changes since you were last over, you’ve said before that your music is going in a really positive direction and with having lost Drew Thomsen (ex-bassist) and taking on Charles Trippy and Coley O’Toole, how do you feel the dynamics of the band have been affected?
Travis: Musically, we’ve just tried to do something different with every single record that’s come out. Our first record was based on an electric guitar, our second record was based on more of a computer, to experiment with you know, more pianos and strings and this record was based on an acoustic guitar. I know from what we’ve been writing recently, our forth record, we’ve decided that we’re not going to base it on anything. We’re going to try something different again and just put together songs which sound like they could be from either one of the three records. It’s really cool because there’s songs that people like from every single record and it’s weird, there’s not one song that everybody hates. One song that somebody might not like is another person’s favourite song. It’s really cool how we’ve been able to put together records of music that people can really enjoy. It’s a little bit of pressure to write the fourth record because we want to continue to please our fans and ourselves as well. We love being able to tour and if our fans like our music then we’ll be able to see these places more often. There’s a little pressure, but I think the stuff that we’ve been writing as of late is really incredible and I think it’ll definitely turn some heads.
DP!: Are Charles and Coley now permanent band members?
Travis: Yes, yeah. Coley is also an Irish and Scottish man.
DP!: Who would you say your musical and lyrical influences are and how have they changed over the years?
Travis: I don’t know if they’ve changed so much. I think from the beginning I’ve always been really big into The Beatles, Coldplay and Jimmy Eat World, a lot of Green Day, Blink-182; all those bands that have really influenced me to start a band in the beginning and I think it’s still that same group of people. The newest thing on my iPod right now is Jason Mraz, he’s an incredible artist, he’s got an amazing voice, so that’s what I’ve been listening to. I’m still influenced by the people who made me start a band in the beginning.
DP!: You’ve already half answered my next question, are you writing any new material and will it go back to We The Kings routes or change more?
Travis: Yes, yes it will. I think we have 21 songs and we’ve never had that many songs to put towards an album, so now we need a break from touring to go home and work on that.
DP!: Are you considering any guest singers again at all?
Travis: Yeah! Absolutely. We’ve made a lot of friends having this thing as our job, if you would call it that. It doesn’t seem fair to call it a job, people sit behind desks and hate their jobs and we love it. But, we’ve made a lot of friends that we love to death both musically and in a friendship way, so hopefully we’ll be able to get in and collaborate with some people.
DP!: How easy have you found it to settle in on the tour with Simple Plan? Obviously they’ve been around a lot longer than We The Kings.
Travis: This tour has been really crazy, because we used to listen to them when we were just learning how to play our instruments, and I remember we’d go see them on Warped Tour with New Found Glory and Taking Back Sunday and all these other bands that we were fans of and now we’re on tour with them. It’s crazy. Simple Plan celebrated their ten year anniversary of their first album on tour and I was blown away because we only started our first record three and a half, four years ago. I’m just imagining another six more years to get to where they’re at and that’s really cool. It’s helped show us that if you keep working hard, you can have this to be our career.
DP!: You’ve made chart spaces all over the world and have an ever growing fanbase. Do you ever feel that there’s too much pressure over new material or are you quite relaxed about it?
Travis: I’m quite relaxed in the sense of the fans. I think the fans are loving and supportive, almost more than musically now. They know more about us than we’re just guys who write songs. They know that I have a dog named Elvis, they know that we have clothing lines and they know what we like to eat and it’s different. It’s more of a friendship we have. It’s strange to almost call them fans because we know a lot about them as well. I don’t think there’s much pressure on that end of things, but I think the pressure is just to write something that we’re really proud because we’re perfectionists. That’s the pressure and stress we might encounter for the next record, but it only helps to make us better.
DP!: You’ve got clothing lines, blogs, Twitter and such but how else do you stay connected with your fans?
Travis: I guess the main one would be Twitter. It’s harder overseas because it’s really expensive to be online, but we try as much as we can because we know like, for example a happy birthday tweet could make somebody’s entire life. I know if Chris Martin from Coldplay was like “Hey Travis, Happy Birthday”, I’d be stoked and I’d remember it for the rest of my life. So it’s really cool to be able to have almost that power to put a smile on somebody’s face. That’s how we try to stay connected. As well as that, we’re real people, so after the shows we’re outside, taking pictures with the fans and they’ll ask us questions about stupid things and we’ll have conversations. It’s really cool. I think that’s what it comes down to really, eventually TV, the radio, the internet will die but real people will always exist and I think that’s the really cool thing about our band. We’re the real people who go outside and have interactions with our fans.
DP!: Another constant with the band is King’s Carriage, where do you pull the inspiration for those episodes?
Travis: That’s just our free time and Danny [Duncan] being pretty good at writing little skits and things. He’s kind of taken the wheel for that and taken it on himself and made it more his thing and his ideas for the skit. It’s fun. It’s another way to keep connected to our fans outside of the music.
DP!: Do you feel that Charles has pulled in more viewers to that, or do you think it’s still the same people watching?
Travis: I think it’s the same people watching, but it definitely doesn’t hurt. He’s got such a big internet following that I think it can pull a bunch of followers to the programme.
DP!: What’s your favourite song to play live?
Travis: Mine is probably ‘She Takes Me High’. It’s the very first song that we come out to and it’s the beginning of the set. If you ruin that song, you’re gonna have a bad set. If you play it well, then you’re probably going to have an amazing set. It’s the nervousness, the adrenaline rush, it’s the first time I’m singing and it’s our introduction to the show. There’s a lot riding on the song and I like it because it’s got so much power to it.
DP!: I saw that you’re covering ‘The Middle’ by Jimmy Eat World again tonight, does that song has a special meaning or is it just one you like?
Travis: It does. The very first show I went to outside of the Backstreet Boys, which is my embarrassing show, was Jimmy Eat World, Green Day and Blink-182 and I went home that night and went “I have got to start a band, this has to happen”. As I was walking in to the show, I was watching Jimmy Eat World‘s set and they were playing ‘The Middle’ and I was like, “What is this song? It’s awesome”. I went on to go see Green Day and Blink-182 because I hadn’t heard of Jimmy Eat World back then and they were playing that song, and I just loved that band at that point. I loved everything about being at the show. I loved the fans, the music, the loudness, the food at the food machines – everything. It was just such a cool thing that I knew I wanted to immerse myself in as far as what I wanted to do when I grew up.
DP!: Who has the most annoying habits on tour?
Travis: Danny. He leaves stuff everywhere. We’ll drive away and an hour later then he’ll be like “I forgot my bagpack or my phone or my wallet or my iPad or my computer” or his dignity or whatever he leaves. Then we’ll have to drive back and pick it up.
DP!: If you weren’t in a band, what would you be doing?
Travis: If I wasn’t in a band I would race motorcross. My dad got me into it when I was a kid and I loved it. It’s like the same thing as being on stage and with music; you get this adrenaline rush of going really fast and taking jumps and having people around you. You could fall and you could hurt yourself, but I think it’s really cool. I ride one when I’m home, but I recently broke one leg and tore the other from taking a jump and I went too high.
DP!: What do you feel has changed for We The Kings in the past year?
Travis: Other than the obvious I would say that we’ve been really, really busy. I thought we were busy when we released our first album, but the past year has been insane. I mean, starting in 2012, Hunter [Thomsen] and I do a couple of radio shows where we’ll go and play acoustic in the States and then we went to South America with Taking Back Sunday, then Brazil, Argentina, Chile and then we came back, had a couple of days off and then did our US tour. That went for a couple of months and then we started Europe with Simple Plan, then to Brazil for Lollapalooza for a week, and then flew back to Europe for the second leg of the tour. Now, after tonight’s show, we’re doing our own UK run and then we go back home for a couple of days, and then we’re on the front of Honeycomb cereal boxes so we need to do some shows and some press and some radio for like five days. Then we do a college show and then South East Asia with no days off, then the Phillipines and Kuala Lumpur and from there we don’t come home. We’re off to Australia for two weeks. After that, we fly home which takes a couple of days and then we go straight into the Van’s Warped Tour until August – and that’s been our 2012!
DP!: So completely non-stop then?
Travis: I’ve forgotten what my mom looks like.
DP!: What can we expect from We The Kings from the rest of 2012 apart from a whole bunch of shows?
Travis: I would love to be able to put in the can another new record. The goal that We The Kings has is to, with every record that we write, have enough success with it to be able to write another record and to have the fan support to write another record. So that’s the goal for everything, and to one day put out a greatest hits record.
Interview by Caitlyn Dewar
Founder & Editor for DEAD PRESS! | Atheist and antitheist. | Judge of the quick & the dead since 1989.