We the Kings’ Travis Clark on the Band’s 10th Anniversary Tour: ‘I Will Remember This For the Rest of My Life’
The pop-rock band's frontman talks to Billboard about their 10th anniversary tour, reflecting on We the Kings' first album and what they've achieved since the release of it.
We the Kings are celebrating the 10th anniversary of their self-titled debut album this year, but they’ve been together since their middle school days — just not always with the initial goal of becoming a hit-making pop-rock band.
“There was three years of middle school when we all started playing music together in an effort to try to get girlfriends,” lead singer Travis Clark admits to Billboard. But when it came to Clark’s personal goals, a girlfriend wasn’t the only thing on his mind. “I must have been crazy, because I told my parents I want to be a rock star. I don’t know if that’s the most normal thing that a parent can hear a kid say. It’s one thing if I’m 7 or 8 years old, but I was like 17.”
Clearly he wasn’t too crazy, because 14 years later (Clark is now 31), he’s fronting a band that has a platinum single, five albums, and has toured around the globe to share their music with the world. And now they’re celebrating that with a 37-date tour titled WTK 10, which kicks off in Nashville today (Feb. 17) and marks the first opportunity for the band to play every song from their first album, We the Kings.
“Going back and being able to play our first album is really, really cool because as much as it will be for the fans, it’s really for us too — to feel that youth and excitement again from that side,” Clark says. “I’m already having those nostalgic moments and it’s really cool, because it’s really easy to get caught up when success starts rolling in and lose a little bit of yourself. I think this tour, for us, is not only very humbling, but at the same time it’s going down memory lane and remembering where you came from, remembering how grateful we are for all the fans that have come over the past 10 years.”
In preparing for this tour, the guys (Clark, drummer Dan Duncan, guitarists Hunter Thomsen and Coley O’Toole, and bassist Charles Trippy) have been putting We the Kings on repeat to not only become familiar with the songs again, but also to figure out the best way to present these songs live. He hinted that each show will involve stories behind songs, but not necessarily the same stories in every city so each show is special.
As Clark insisted, this tour and the anniversary are just as special for them as they are to the fans — it’ll be a “rollercoaster of emotions,” as he puts it — because of what it took for them to make it where they are.
“We started the album and we were living with our parents who were supportive but we didn’t have a single dollar to our name,” he recalls. “We put everything off and tried to make this band everything that we believed it could be. We believed in ourselves and we refused to hear the word no and refused to ever quit. A lot of that is going to come out — you’ll be able to see it when we play it. To me, this will be one of our most epic tours ever. I’ll remember this for the rest of my life, hands down.”
One story he may be sharing is about the band’s biggest song of their career yet, “Check Yes Juliet,” which initially wasn’t even supposed to be part of the 11-track record. Clark got the inspiration for it when their album was already in the final stages — initially under the not-so-catchy, yet rather fitting name “The 11th Hour Track” — but knew it was too special to not make it on the LP.
After fighting endlessly, Clark convinced his higher-ups to push the album release date back in order to include the track. More than one million copies sold later (the song was just certified platinum on Feb. 8), it’s safe to say that fighting was completely worth it — but not just for the success it gave them.
“I don’t know where the band would be without it, it’s a staple of us. But at the same time it reminds me of a time that I was so passionate that I couldn’t say no, I couldn’t hear no and accept it,” he reflects. “We’ve played that song definitely more than a thousand times, maybe thousands, but it’s timeless to us. It wasn’t a cheesy song that we were trying to write for a specific purpose. It was blood, sweat and tears and it was my heart written on that paper — about how in school how all I wanted was a girlfriend, so I started the band, and after this record came out I was like ‘maybe I can get a girlfriend now.’ You know in movies when you die it takes you through a flashback of everything? Of all the good stuff? I think before that I was having a flashback of all the bad stuff that happened in my life, like all the times I was bullied. I was sitting in that hotel room [writing the song] and I felt like a new person. I had so much love, happiness and gratefulness coming through me, and I wrote a simple song.”
Of course, Clark can’t help but also reflect on all of the opportunities he and his band have had in the years since releasing their debut album. Whether it was sharing their first international flights together, earning a key to their hometown of Bradenton, Fl., from the mayor, performing in center field of their favorite baseball team’s stadium, or even the simple pleasure of hearing themselves on the radio, Clark can recall some pretty monumental moments from the past 10 years.
For Clark, though, it’s the bond that he shares with his bandmates, whom he considers his absolute best friends that he’d do anything for and “know more about me than probably I do about myself.” He’s confident when he says that there’s definitely no stopping for We the Kings anytime soon, and that whatever may happen for the group in the next 10 years, it’s their friendship and their music that means the most to him.
As for those rock star dreams? Well, he’s achieved them in his own right.
“Realistically, I don’t really want to be a rock star and what it means today. I’d rather be somebody that can be looked up to, because I was in every one of these kids’ shoes not long ago and I worked really, really hard. I believed in myself and I made my dreams come true above and beyond what my dreams were,” Clark asserts. “So if I could just be an example and a role model for some of those people that are wondering, ‘What do I want to do in life?’ In that way, I do feel like a rock star, but I’m a human being that is just so grateful to be able to play music for the rest of my life. If that is a rock star, then yes, I’m so happy I’m a rock star.”
Before you set out to see We the Kings on their anniversary tour, check out the remix to “Sad Song” (featuring Olivia Holt), as well as the tour dates below.
2/17 — Nashville, TN @ Exit/In
2/18 — Cincinnati, OH @ Taft Theatre
2/19 — Baltimore, MD @ Ottobar
2/20 — Philadelphia, PA @ The Fillmore Philadelphia (The Foundry)
2/22 — Asbury Park, NJ @ House of Independents
2/23 — Hartford, CT @ Webster Underground
2/24 — New York, NY @ PlayStation†Theater
2/25 — Pawtucket, RI @ The Met
2/26 — Boston,MA @ Brighton Music Hall
2/28 — Toronto, ON @ The Mod Club
3/1 — Buffalo, NY @ The Waiting Room
3/2 — Pittsburgh, PA @ Stage AE (The Club)
3/3 — Cleveland Heights, OH @ Grog Shop
3/4 — Detroit, MI @ Shelter
3/5 — St. Louis, MO @ Fubar
3/7 — Milwaukee, WI @ The Rave Bar/Eagles Club
3/8 — Minneapolis, MN @ Triple Rock
3/9 — Chicago, IL @ Bottom Lounge
3/13 — Denver, CO @ Marquis Theater
3/14 — Salt Lake City, UT @ Club Sound
3/16 — San Francisco, CA @ Social Hall SF
3/17 — West Hollywood, CA @ Troubadour
3/18 — Chandler, AZ @ Rawhide (Pot of Gold Music Festival)
3/19 — Santa Ana, CA @ Constellation Room
3/21 — Las Vegas, NV @ Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
3/24 — San Antonio, TX @ Paper Tiger
3/25 — Dallas, TX @ So What?! Music Festival
3/27 — Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade
3/28 — Tallahassee, FL @ The Side Bar Theatre
3/29 — Gainesville, FL @ High Dive
3/30 — Ybor City, FL @ The Orpheum
4/1 — Orlando, FL @ The Beacham
4/2 — Ft. Lauderdale, FL @ Revolution Live
5/27 — Birmingham, UK @ Slam Dunk Festival
5/28 — Leeds, UK @ Slam Dunk Festival
5/29 — Hatfield, UK @ Slam Dunk Festival
6/2 — Honolulu, HI @ The Republik