For those of you heading to Warped Tour this year — and for those of you waiting to see the YouTube video uploads of the bands’ performances — you are in for a treat. The lineup is filled to the brim with pop punk legends, both new and old. We The Kings, one of this year’s headliners, first broke out with their 2007 hit “Check Yes Juliet” that came off their debut self titled album. It’s instant success lead to the band’s immediate and dedicated fanbase, which would later continue to grow, for in 2008 they hopped on board Vans Warped Tour, playing every date that summer. Ten years, many tours, and more hit songs later, We The Kings are back on the road, playing tracks off of that classic debut, as well as stellar new songs from their latest record, Six.
When I spoke to frontman Travis Clark, he was “hiding from the Arizonian heat” and “watching Brazil take on Serbia in the World Cup,” while possibly planning on going to see a movie with the other guys in the band — which I thought was a great way to spend an afternoon off. The night before they had come in second place (out of 36) at the tour’s Second Annual Charity Bowling Competition. Now that is just one thing that Travis and We The Kings has to be proud of. Three months ago their single “Sad Song” was certified gold, 10 months ago Travis and his wife, Jenny, welcomed their second blonde haired, blue-eyed daughter into the world, and now the band is touring this summer with Vans’ Warped Tour; the final Warped Tour.
Warped Tour coming to an end truly feels like the end of an era. What has Warped Tour meant to you and the band?
You know, Warped Tour was kind of our introduction to the scene. We had put out our first record October 2 of 2007 and then in the summer of 2008 Kevin Lyman, who runs and started Warped Tour, he gave us a chance to come on and play the whole tour. I think that really was kind of initially the bulk start to our fan base, and a lot of those fans… we have met a lot of them still on the first four shows of this Warped Tour. People are coming out to meet us at our signings or whatever it is and are saying like, “Hey, we saw you in 2008 at my first Warped Tour and now I’m back, 10 years later.” It is just a really cool thing.
Obviously Warped Tour has a place in our hearts, and I know that it has a place in our fans’ hearts. It is a bittersweet type of thing to be back for its ending, but what’s nice is that even though Warped Tour might be ending, I know that We The Kings will still continue. We will still be able to carry on the love for Warped Tour and play shows. Because it was one of our very first big, national tours — we kind of became a band that plays every show almost as if it is Warped Tour, you know? We play every show as if there are thousands and thousands of people there, jumping up and down, sweating, dancing, and singing along. That has become the kind of band we are, thanks to Warped Tour.
Of course! And like you said, so many of your fans have grown up right alongside you guys — myself included. What is that like, and how does it feel seeing all of these different faces year after year?
It is always one of those moments where you just have to pinch yourself over and over and over again to make sure it’s real. We all grew up dreaming of being in a band and doing this as our “job”. So, to play all of these different tour dates, regardless if it is Warped or not, just to be able to go up there on stage and look out on a sea of people all from different walks of life, of all ages, and all at different points in their life, all of those people, and all of them coming together over songs that we wrote… There is really no way to explain it. It really is just so special. We find ourselves so lucky. We feel like really have hit the lottery or the jackpot just to be able to say that these are our jobs. There really is no way at all to explain it, but I guess the closest thing is like magic. It feels like magic every time we walk on the stage.
Absolutely. Magic can be felt in the audience, as well, when you go on stage. Also, you are notorious for reposting pictures that fans take at shows and overall have a great relationship with them. How important is maintaining that closeness with them?
It is definitely super important. Even outside of social media, we started this band knowing that after every show we play, we would always go outside after to just say “hi” to the fans and thank them. We have always been very present and conscious of the fact that the fans are our sixth member of the band and that without them we wouldn’t really be able to exist, so I think when it comes to social media and reposting and just kind of bringing awareness to some of the fans that are out there and coming out to shows and are using their platform to post about our band. It just helps the cause and I love seeing when I do post a picture that somebody took from the crowd or somewhere, I feel like there have been a couple times where someone has said like, “Thank you so much for reposting that. I actually am an aspiring photographer and I now have gotten a chance to go work with other bands.” If I can do that from my end and help other people who are trying to follow their dreams, then it is just a win-win situation.
That’s amazing! I think that means a lot to the fans.
Yeah! It comes full circle. It obviously means a lot that the posting — well, not only are they enjoying the show, but they are enjoying so much that they are creating these memories that they want to share with their families and friends — that might inspire somebody else who might want to come out and see a show. It really has come full circle and it is special to both us and them.
Right! Actually, speaking of the fans being the sixth member of the band, that does reference your upcoming album, Six, which drops in like nine days. That’s crazy! Do we get any hints as to what we can expect from it?
That is crazy! Well, actually, I said it at the beginning of the interview, but yes, we titled the record Six and that is one of the sentiments of the album: that the fans are the sixth member of We The Kings, but it is also our sixth album. For us, I don’t know if we ever really thought we could put out six albums. We always dreamed of being in a band and making music, but I don’t think we ever looked that far into the future. We were always living in the moment. To say that we are putting out our sixth album and have been doing this for 10 years and seeing our friends, fans, and other artists that we have even grown up listening to kind of come and go… it’s crazy, really, that we are able to do this.
There is a song that comes out in a couple days called “Even If It Kills Me”. We released a song that came out as our single called “On My Love” last week, and two other songs were released at the end of last year called “Planes, Trains, and Cars”, and “Festival Music”, so the fans actually have a little bit of our representation of what the album is going to sound like, but it is only the tip of the iceberg. There are so many amazing tracks. We did this album a little different, where every song we wrote for the album we perfected to the best of our ability and put it on the record. There were no songs that didn’t make the record. We spent the time and made everything very important to us so that they did go on the record.
That is different for this album, but this is also a record, lyrically speaking, where we had a lot of inspiration to pull from. This is the record where four of us are dads. We all are building our own families back in our personal lives and you can draw a lot of inspiration and love from that. I think that the fans are really going to hear that when they listen to the songs.
So, no songs left behind? I like that! I can’t wait to hear it all, especially because of the personal aspect of it. That’s so lovely.
I think something that is interesting that has happened is that I remember 10 years ago when we were first starting out and put out our first record, some of us were dating girls and I feel like it was common to ask artists to try to appear single so that guys wanted to be you and girls wanted to be with you. That was kind of like the vibe of the music industry for a little bit. We always thought it was so weird, like we never wanted to play that game or whatever.
Now, I think with social media and YouTube becoming so prevalent, with all these different things I find that we are able to promote the fact that we love our families back home. We are not trying to be these single guys anymore. Our fans love our wives, they love our kids, they love our friends, and our family. I think that is really special because that is who we are down at the core. If we can showcase in our music where people can even feel even more connected with us, it is just all the more special for us to release this music that truly does mean so much to us.
The power of music is simply undeniable for both the artist and their audience.
Speaking of the power of music, your single “Sad Song” recently went gold, so big congratulations about that!
Does that feeling of surrealness, pride, and accomplishment ever go away? Because even as a fan, I am still so proud seeing all of what you guys do.
Thank you very much! Yeah, it absolutely never goes away. It is that same type of thing: you keep pinching yourself over and over and over again. There are moments where you really can’t believe it. It is not like we are searching for that validation, but when it does come, in whichever form, you’re in awe — and this does happen to be for a song that we put out a couple of years ago that suddenly had a Christmas miracle. Some radio station up in Long Island, NY (WBLI) started playing the song pretty often, so then other radio stations started playing it and supporting it.
It all sort of emcompasses the whole feeling. We do have to be gone from our families, we do miss a lot while we are out here, so when something like that happens, when you this reward of selling over 500,000 singles in a day and age where people don’t really buy music anymore, it is so cool.
We grew up seeing all these band documentaries where they were should you their studio and they would have all these plaques hanging up on the walls, but then to get one of your own — even later or so far into our career — after having plaques for a bunch of our other records and other songs, it just shows that we are still doing something right. That is really cool! Also, from an ego level, it makes our houses look a little cooler, because we get to hang these accomplishments up. When family and friends come over to visit, it is like the thing they gravitate to. They just stare and we get to tell them, “Yeah, no big deal. We just sold 500,000 singles of that song.”
Hey, showing off, even just a little bit, is more than acceptable for something so awesome! On the topic of family and friends, how do you and your wife, Jenny, as well as the guys and their families, make it all work when you are going away time and time again to work on your music?
Our wives… they see it. They see the passion, they see the drive, they see how much we love it. We were all in the band before we met our wives, so they kind of had a sense of how passionate we were and the brotherhood that we have out here. I guess for lack of better terms, they probably knew what they were getting into. [Laughs] But it doesn’t necessarily make it any easier for us to leave the way it used to before. We used to be just so excited about touring — and we still very much are! — but there is that little bit of us that is like “Man, I wish we could have both. I wish the family could be with us out on tour.”
I know I can speak for the rest of the guys when I say that, but this is something that we are, like I said, extremely passionate about. We get to meet these fans that have been supporting our music for a very long time and come up to us and let us know that our music has saved their lives or made them smile or made them feel better, and when you hear that… there is just something that triggers something in our morale or some kind of feeling where we feel responsible for continuing to do this, because there are people out there who are finding our music and leading and living better lives because of it. I feel like it is up to us to really make that sacrifice sometimes and do what we love, which might be occasionally leaving our families.
You guys all have really big hearts and you just want to do it all. I think that’s it.
[Laughs] That is definitely the most simple version of it, because we just love our music and the lives we live. Although, we do have our bad days, too. We have days when we are like, “Man, I wish I was home,” but every single time we get off the stage after a show, we all look at each other, hug, and high five. Whenever it is, we always feel like “Damn, that was awesome!” Once in awhile you get in one of those funks where you aren’t really sure if you are as passionate as you were, but then you get off the stage and you are like, “Yes, I am. Absolutely.”
Catch We The Kings performing on Warped Tour July 13 at BB&T Pavilion in Camden, NJ, July 14 at PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ, and July 28 at Northwell Health at Jones Beach Amphitheatre in Wantagh, NY.