Q-and-A with Travis Clark of We The Kings
Pop-rock royalty We The Kings will be at the Blue Note on March 19.
They got us through middle school, when asking your Juliet to “check yes” was cool. They helped us in the angsty high school days when you’d scream that your crush had “no clue what you do to me.”
Basically all of this MOVEr’s adolescent dreams came true when I got to talk to We The Kings, who will be making the journey to Columbia on March 19.
Lead singer Travis Clark gave us the lowdown on everything from beating out Beyoncé for No. 1 iTunes album back in December to the true meaning behind the morbidly catchy single “Skyway Avenue.”
[MOVE]: So first off, we just wanted to say congratulations on knocking Queen B off the charts! How did that feel?
[Travis Clark]: Thank you! To be honest, we didn’t really expect to even get in the top 100, much less No. 1; we were screaming like schoolgirls at how well we had done. It was especially meaningful because we did the entire record by ourselves, just DIY style with the fans’ support.
[M]: You left your label for your fourth album, on which you collaborated with fans. Can you tell us more about how that worked?
[TC]: We did it through a company called Indiegogo. You release what they call “perks,” that people can contribute money toward. It can be anything from a thank you in our album art, or it could be a signed album, or an exclusive hoodie, or even spending time in the studio with me recording one of the songs that would be on the album. All of those things had different prices, and we raised $160,000 to do the album, which was really awesome.
[M]: Tell us more about your current tour. It’s pretty exciting that you’re stopping in Columbia.
[TC]: People are so busy with studying and finals. Sometimes the work side of college gets so overwhelming that it feels good to take a break and go to a concert. So when people go out to our college concerts, even if the kids have never heard of We The Kings before, they come expecting to have a good time, and so we play uplifting music and the two kind of go hand in hand.
[M]: We also heard you’re going to be on the Warped Tour this year. How do you feel about that?
[TC]: When we started the band one of our goals was actually to play Warped. Now, in 2014, we’re almost at the point where we’re Warped Tour veterans. Everybody at Warped Tour is just really incredible. Touring with 60 to 70 other bands, it gives you that kind of like family.
[M]: How do you think your sound’s significantly changed since your (first studio album) “Check Yes Juliet” days?
[TC]: I’ve tried to change every single album. We wanted to grow and expand always, and I made a promise to myself to not write the same album twice. I wanted each album to hit people in a different way. Our first album was really guitar driven, with those poppy catchy choruses, and the second one was more experimental with piano, horns, strings and even a whistle. For our third album, I wanted all the songs to be able to be stripped down with acoustic and vocals, and we built it off that. And then, for our fourth album, we wanted it to feel “groovy” to really enjoy listening to it. I spent more times on lyrics and meanings of the songs. Everything from our newest album, about my childhood, about my love life, is maybe more intimate.
[M]: We heard “Just Keep Breathing” was about your experience with bullying. Tell us more about what that means to you.
[TC]: When I wrote that, it was a song that was going to come out no matter what. I wanted an outlet for those kids to realize it’s not gonna be that way forever, that there’s a way to get past it. If there's anybody out there who looks up to me, I’d want them to know that I did go through that, and it breaks my heart when I hear kids committing suicide or becoming depressed because of bullying, and I wanted to take a stand.
[M]: Any other songs that emotionally resonate?
[TC]: “Skyway Avenue” was a really important song. I wrote most of the song while driving over the (Sunshine) Skyway bridge in our hometown. It was my first time getting into a relationship, and I compared it to oddly enough to when people jump off the Skyway bridge, and it’s all about, “If you jump, I’ll jump too.” It’s a really dark way of saying, “I’m in this together with you.” I think you can tell in my voice what it means.