We The Kings

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There are few bands that have the lasting power that We The Kings does so I was grateful to have the opportunity to catch up with lead vocalist Travis Clark. We spoke with Travis hours before the band took to the stage to about two thousand kids and discussed the current spot the band finds them in. Which is probably one of the best spots they've been in in their whole career! After the third album, the band walked away from S-Curve Records which had been their musical home since practically the inception of the band. Post that success, they have had multiple tracks put in huge motion pictures, have sold over one hundred thousand singles of the first two tracks on iTunes with in a week and are on a huge room tour called Summerfest. We talk everything about the going ons of this past year or so as well as where they currently stand songwriting wise for their new album. Read on for our exclusive!

It has been a while since a proper headlining tour in the US for you, the last kind of being Warped Tour.
Yeah but Warped Tour, that's like the festival tour. It never really is your tour. You're part of the tour where as like this, I think the last time that we headlined was the Friday Is Forever tour which was last year. It was really, really awesome because we played really, really small rooms. Every room sold out immediately. This tour, we decided to play like the biggest rooms we could possibly fill so we've been playing rooms that are two, three thousand, four thousand, five thousand people. It's awesome just to try and to see how many people are actually coming. We've sold out the majority of these dates.

Oh really?
Yeah and we didn't even mean to. We just tried to play venues that could get everybody in versus having to turn away people at the door.

Maybe how has it been going over then? I know, just from interviewing them really recently people like T. Mills maybe three months ago and Ready Set and Breathe Carolina that it's a pretty eclectic tour. How did it come about?
Well, that's kind of the Warped Tour as well because it's a summer tour that we're on right now so the tour that we battle is Warped Tour. The tour is so cool because it does have that eclectic scene. You can listen to a rock band and then listen to a indie band and then a metal band, a hardcore band, a screamo band, a piano band. It's all on Warped Tour and that could be one after the other. There's really no rhyme or reason. It's all music. We wanted to do that on a smaller scale so we decided to have an electronic band with Breathe Carolina. We wanted to have T. Mills who's a hip hop and rap act. We wanted to have Jordan who's a pop artist. Keep It Cute is like a rock artist and we're kind of the alternative so it was a really cool thing for us to do. To try to do a mini Warped Tour. Every new band or artist that comes on stage, it feels like it's new. You're not listening to the same thing over and over again.

Then considering it has been about two years since the last full length, where are you in the process of making a new record? Are you guys working on a new one, is it already done?
The new record is almost done. I think we're at song maybe eleven or twelve and I know we want to have sixteen. Not to say that all sixteen will make it. We had like a really amazing opportunity, as we were writing, a bunch of big movies were coming out. We're off a label now. Without a label and our first song that we released in April called "Just Keep Breathing" sold over a hundred thousand singles in the first week which is something that we've never ever done. It's really difficult for a band to do and without the label, it says even more about like our fan base. Our fan base just stuck together so we're like "Let's do this!" We ended up selling like a hundred and four thousand singles that first week and then we were like well if we don't need a label, let's do this. Let's keep releasing singles. So we released "Find You There" and it went the same way. We were like, what is happening? It obviously caused like all this attention then in June, we had a song that we had written for the Ironman 3 soundtrack. The people over there kind of just hit us up and they were like 'Hey, you guys are blowing up. Do you want to do a song that could be for Ironman 3?' 'Uh, yes'. So we just wanted to send them anything. We had a song that we actually wrote just for the soundtrack. We sent it over and they were like 'This is weird but it would be perfect for the soundtrack' and they were like 'How did you guys come up with it?' We were like 'It took two hours'. So we submitted that and they loved it. It was really, really cool to be a part of that whole film and then we have a song that we wrote for The Hunger Games movie Catching Fire. That was a little more tricky. Do you remember that Alicia Keys song 'Girl On Fire'? That was written for The Hunger Games and they said it was too literal so they didn't want it. So you have to write a song for the movie but it can't be clearly for that so we did a song and it went awesome. It could be for Hunger Games but it could also just be a good song. So that comes out with that movie and that's really, really cool. We have all these songs that are kind of being distributed through out other forms of media like the movie industry. I know that we have ten or eleven that are really meaningful to us and I would really like to do a couple more. Then we'll put it out hopefully this year.

So you're planning for this year?
Well, I mean our very first record came out in October of 2007. Our second record was December 7th of 2009. Our third record was July 5th of 2011 so we've released pretty consistently an album every two years. 2007, 2009, 2011 so it's only right that we get our record out in 2013. That's our goal and it's only because we're really OCD. Like we have to put it out in 2013. Probably November, December we'll have it released.

Then considering you have been the singer for the length of this band and this being your fourth album, how do you feel the writing process has changed? Do you feel it's changed or has it become a rhythm?
I've definitely gotten into a rhythm writing. As far as like the musicality goes. The sonic portion of it but I think a lot of the lyrical influence from this record is from our fans. We've been a band for five, six years and it's really cool to see these fans grow. They come out to every single show that you play and they tell you stories about their lives that are very intimate and are very close to them and personal. It makes you feel really attached to these people and it's really nice sometimes to hear that they went through problems but your music helped them. Your music kind of saved them. There are a couple songs on this record that I wrote in hopes to save somebody's life and one of those songs was called "Just Keep Breathing". It was a song that I really wanted to write for a really long time but it was all about me getting bullied as a kid. I know a lot of people can relate to that. Even if you're the cool kid. People are still really cruel and they find ways to put you down. I wrote this song "Just Keep Breathing" to have an anthem for all these unsung heroes that are out there that feel like they aren't worth anything because they are beautiful people like everybody else. So I've been writing more for like a hold on, hang on type vibe. Still upbeat, a sing along feel but more like it feels like the right thing to do.

Then a lot of bands are kind of doing this off the label thing. I know that The Maine is kind of on the smaller one that they first got started on but The Cab not being on a label anymore currently. A lot of bands are leaving their labels. What are the biggest pro's of that? Especially considering you've been on a label for pretty much your whole career up to this point.
Yeah I mean I think it's really difficult. I think you would have to put bands in different categories as far as like where they are in their career. We The Kings, without a label, has sold out a tour and we're writing new music. We sold a hundred thousand singles and for those songs, we got a song in Ironman and Hunger Games. We have our Youtube channel going crazy. We have all these things that we're still able to do without a label. Some bands don't have that ability. They haven't fully gotten to that point in their career to be able to say 'Oh, we don't need a label.' Just because it makes it hard for them. I guess to say it in lameman's terms, there are bands that can be like we don't need a label and they can still make it for the rest of their lives. Not to say names but a couple of the bands that just release one album with a label and then they get dropped from their label. That's not really the same thing as saying like we don't need a label. It's like you actually got dropped and it's going to make it really difficult for you and because you got dropped, it's going to make it difficult for any other labels to want to resign you. Just because we don't have a label, I think in the last six months alone seven different record labels have been like 'Are you guys ready to sign?' 'Do you guys want this?' and it's just not worth it to us. I think eventually we may go back to a label. I mean we're a radio band. We've had five songs that have charted at Top 40 Radio. So it would be cool for us to continue that for our fans. If we're not actually playing in that city at that exact moment, they can still turn on the radio and listen to us so it feels like we're still there. I think there's a time and place for being on a label but it would be very difficult for bands that aren't necessarily at the We The Kings, I'm not even saying like level but us not having a label hasn't affected us and it will for a lot of bands.

Like bands that have less records out?
Bands like that, it's good for. They've released four or five records. They have a huge following and now they can go without a label. That's fine. If you release one record and you get dropped, it's going to be a really long road for you. I know my friends in The Cab and The Maine, it's really difficult for them. They're still doing it, they're still coasting on that twitter following, Facebook following that they've gained from a label but it's very difficult to get good tours. Labels when Fueled by Ramen and Decaydance always had Fall Out Boy, Panic at The Disco, The Cab, The Academy Is, Gym Class Heroes and some smaller bands. So it was always really easy to get tours. Now without a label, it's really difficult for those bands to get those tours.

For example, I interview William Beckett a bunch and he's in that position where he's really having to regrow. Like doing smaller tours and not headlining.
That's even different because he's not using the name 'The Academy Is'. He actually just sent me his new record yesterday. He was like I want people to hear the new stuff and I've only sent it to a couple people. He was like I would genuinely like to hear what you think. I think it's great. It's a really good direction for him to go. I remember The Academy Is. I was such a huge fan of them and I was like the MTV generation. When MTV was actually playing music. I would get excited to hear a band like that. Play MTV's Spring Break. So I was always a huge fan. We did a couple tours with Academy Is and the whole time that they would be on stage, I would be like 'This is so great'. So when he decided to go solo, I was kind of bummed at first like a lot of the other fans of Academy Is and it really makes it difficult to try and regrow and have that thing that has essentially been your baby from the very beginning. Even though you're still the same songwriter and you're the same face, it's way different. People are so attached to the band. So it's difficult but I think his new record is really very good. It will definitely set him apart from other people.

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