Interview: Travis Clark from ‘We The Kings’
Florida’s mutli-genre five piece We The Kings have just released their fifth studio album ‘Strange Love’. With Australia being one of the first countries to hear its release we decided to speak to vocalist Travis Clark and see what else We The Kings have in store for 2016!
Can you describe yourselves in 5 words?
My name is Travis Clark. I think that’s all I’ve got. I’ve never been very good at adjectives…I’ve never been good at describing myself but I’ll give it a shot! I’m confident, a red head, I enjoy writing music, I’m a songwriter. If you can put that into 5 words that’s who I would be.
How did you decide on We The Kings as your band name?
We all actually went to King Middle School and that’s where the band and I first started playing music. We wanted a name that was a little more sentimental than something that sounded cool, so we thought it would be a nice tip of the hat for the area that created us. King middle school is in our hometown, it’s where we all went to school and it’s also where we all started learning the instruments we now play today.
How would you describe the sound of your music?
(Laughs) It’s awesome!! I don’t know, we change so much album to album. As a songwriter I have never wanted to record the same song or album twice because after the first time I think it starts to become redundant. For me, something more special is to continue to write new music that is constantly changing and evolving so describing our style is a hard one. I think we started off as a more pop-punk band than an emo rock band and then kind of an acoustic type band. Then we took our Coldplay/U2 like route by making really experimental music and now we are back to pop music. So we are a strange Frankenstein mix. We are ‘genrefranskenstein’! I think that’s the perfect explanation for who we are.
What are some of your musical aspirations?
My dad gave me the best advice I’ve ever received as a kid. I told him that I wanted to be in a rock band, a huge one, and he said just “remember you don’t have to chase money or fame or fans or girls or whatever it is that you think you have to chase in order to achieve your dream. If you love playing music and you love hanging out with your friends and playing music together and getting to see cool cities then by doing what you love there is no way you could ever fail”. I’ve kept that moto really close to me. So in the mix of meeting all these bands that I adored…like seeing Blink 182 at my very first concert I was so inspired that the next day I started We The Kings.
Who would you compare your band too musically or someone you all may be influenced by?
So music has always had a massive impact on my life and I’ve been lucky enough to have exposure to a bunch of different music throughout life. I love Coldplay, I love the Foo fighters, I love the bands that we tour with, and I love my friend’s bands. The best way to put it is I’m a big murg parg of all different musical influences. My brother writes music, my mum used to write music, and I loved their music so I’m influenced by everything.
You’ve just dropped the first teaser of your fifth studio album ‘Strange Love’, how are you feeling about it?
It’s a little nerve racking! Part of releasing an album is the excitement of getting something new out there but it’s a little scary because the way I write music is from personal experiences and memories. Each song is a piece of my life and it’s something that I have taken pieces from and put into a song. They are my memories and it’s scary to release music and see whether people like it or not. My music is more than just a song to me so if someone were to say I don’t like that song, I hear I don’t like that memory I don’t like you. I know once I release it and the music is out there that everything will be ok because it goes back to what my dad said I’m doing what I love so if I’m still doing what I love I can never fail. So far I have been right, people really enjoy ‘Strange Love’ and even though it’s different stretch from what people were used to hearing from We The Kings. But it’s really nice to hear that everyone loves the new album and they love the direction that we took and they can’t wait to see it live.
Why did you choose Australia to be one of the first places to hear your single?
We picked Australia because it’s been over two years since we have been back and we wanted to give them something special that no one else will have the chance to experience.
Are you happy with the album as a finished product? Is there anything you would have changed given another opportunity?
This is just us, and it might be different for every band, but there is something about every album that I would change. They are certainly no regrets in that sense, but its more along the lines of if you’re able to sit with it well enough and listen to it long enough before you put it out there you will always find something you want to change. Your start to double guess yourself and it may not be a better idea, it may be worse. I think because its different you always want to see if you can change it and that’s what creates life in a songwriter, it’s when you put out an album that you wouldn’t change that most songwriters stop being creative and stop thinking about new music. So instead of changing things about an album that I’ve already put out I just decide to write new songs and put those changes towards that.
Is there a particular song on the album that you think will really gel with your fans?
Off the new album my favourite song or the one that connects to me the most is Jenny’s Song. I think its track seven or eight and the song is one I wrote for my wife and played for her on our wedding day. The song wasn’t actually supposed to go on the album and nobody had heard it before, not even my family or the band. But during my wedding I had a friend of mine set up an acoustic guitar and microphone and I literally just played it for her and obviously she got emotional, but it was just a really cool thing that I was able to do for her. My manager who was also at my wedding said, “What was that song? That was incredible! I think you should put that on the next album”. Then he went on to say that he thought that Jenny’s Song would really connect and reach out to people in a cool way. So I asked my wife if she would mind if I put it on the record. She was like “OMG please, its every girls dream to have a song written about her!” It’s a really beautiful song and it quickly turned into the fan favourite even though the album has only been out for a month and half or so. People love that song, they are covering it, and people have even tattooed some of the lyrics on their bodies. Its funny how the song that you least expect to be the fan favourite or the most popular song ends up being exactly that.
Are you looking forward to getting on the road again to tour with this album?
Definitely! It’ll be a lot harder now that I’m a proud parent of my baby girl. So it’ll definitely be little harder to leave home and leave her and miss some of the amazing moments that are only going to happen once. That’s what a lot of people don’t consider when they think about a band. They only think about the parties, playing the shows, travelling, and all the cool things that we get to do. They forget that you have to give up so much to do this, and it’s because I’m dedicated that I do sacrifice a lot in order to do this. It will become increasingly more difficult to leave and to go on the road, but I’m always excited to play our songs for the first time, especially since we are giving Australia the exclusive look to what our album sounds like live. It’s really exciting and I can’t wait to see the reaction of the fans when hearing ‘Strange Love’ live for the first time.
Do you have any support acts in mind?
Yeah we did something that we found really cool that another band did for us in the states. We are going and finding local bands from each city and asking them to play the show with us. I would have loved if for example Blink-182 came and was like “we are going to have a local band to come and play for us and we want you”. It’s amazing to get the chance to play for a band that helped create you and helped sculpt you for who you are musically. So we are going to do that and hopefully we will come across some really cool bands that we and our fans will really enjoy.
What city in Australia do you enjoy playing in the most?
There are only a few cities that we have played in Australia and that’s Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney, and Perth. Compare to [America] which is 50-60 different cities and sometimes they get a little confusing [figuring out] which city is which. But in Australia I remember specific memories or experiences we’ve had in every individual city. It’s a little different to play in cities that you remember specific events or memories from, but I don’t know if there’s a particular favourite. Brisbane is the first city we played in Australia, so that will always hold sentimental value to us. But I just enjoy being so far away from home and feeling like we have some sort of family there. I know we are far away from home, but I look out and it feels like I’m in Florida, the people are incredibly welcoming and nice and I just love being here.
If you hadn’t become a musician, who would you have been?
I don’t know. I feel like I may have become a teacher because I had a lot of amazing teachers growing up for all different subjects and not just music. So I feel like I would have wanted to become someone who could help others. I would want to learn one subject that I knew really really well and then try to teach somebody. Either I would have been a teacher or some sort of stunt person or dare devil. I love riding dirt bikes and I think that doing something involving stunts would be really cool to do.
Now for some personal questions! Worst pick up line you’ve heard or used?
Oh man, I don’t know whether I’ve ever used a pick up line because I’m always so terrified to talk to girls. With that being said, my opening line has always been terrible. I never remember what I say I just black out and get scared about what I’m saying that I don’t even remember what I said. Thinking the next day I wonder how it all went down while questioning what I said, but I can’t remember a fraction of anything that I’ve said. I’m the worst person for that question.
Your perfect meal would consist of?
My perfect meal? Oh man I think I just had it! I recently became a vegetarian and there’s this place in Florida that I just found that’s called Market On South. Basically they have vegetarian options that are meant to feel like you’re eating meat. So they have sloppy joe sandwich that’s pretty much a barbeque sandwich, but they use all vegetarian products while making it look and feel like you’re eating a real barbeque meat sandwich. That would be my sandwich and then it would be a side of the cheesiest macaroni cheese, Chipotle, and a gallon of sweet tea and banana pudding.
If you had to be trapped in a TV series, what series would that be?
Oh probably Scooby do. Can I pick an animated series? They are always in the craziest places and I would love to be part of the mystery team. Also because now I know that it’s never a real ghost because they take off the mask and it’s somebody else.
What question do you hate answering in an interview?
Umm I found it funny when we first started off as a band some interviewers didn’t do any research on who I was, so they would ask me things like where did you get the band name We Three Kings? And I’m like “the band name is We The Kings and not We Three Kings”. I’d just rub my head and sigh and be like “urgh!” because it doesn’t take much to do a tad of research, so you know just a little bit about the band. My least favourite questions are when I’m asked something that’s completely irrelevant to the band. If someone were to ask when were you born or when did the band start I should start saying google.com…
We The Kings’ new album ‘Strange Love’ is out now!
We The Kings Australian Tour Dates
THUR 25 FEBRUARY
Eatons Hill Hotel, Brisbane
SUN 28 FEBRUARY
Corner Hotel, Melbourne
WED 2 MAR
The Gov, Adelaide
THURS 3 MAR
Rosemount Hotel, Perth