We The Kings: Dr. Strangelove
There’s a good chance you’re most familiar with We The Kings as that band that had that mega hit “Check Yes Juliet” all the way back in 2008 (and if you don’t, how’s life been treating you under that rock?) But in 2016 the Florida pop rockers are out to prove that they’re so much more than just a one hit wonder. Ahead of their upcoming tour of Australia, BLUNT caught up with frontman Travis Clark to talk fatherhood, feel good tunes and the band’s fifth record, Strange Love.
Congratulations on the birth of your daughter! How has fatherhood been treating you?
Oh my gosh, I literally can’t explain how amazing it is. I’m learning stuff about myself every single day, which is crazy to think. You’d think that you would learn something about parenthood every day but I feel like she’s teaching me a lot of things about responsibility and being a stand-up guy and being a great leader and role model and I want to be all those things for her. I don’t know, it’s just really interesting. It’s just kind of like I’m in school again – all these things that I’m learning and I’m doing it without being able to sleep [laughs].
How do you manage to juggle touring with a young family? It seems like you dedicate a lot of time to both, and you even manage to vlog and make music with your wife, all while maintaining your luscious head of hair!
I do not have the answer for you [laughs]. It’s something so crazy, you know? To juggle everything is one thing, to be able to balance what I love doing as far as playing music and writing songs and then who I love being around which is my baby, my wife, the band, my family and friends, and then to juggle that all in with running a clothing line and doing the YouTube vlogs and then on top of that writing music for other people… I just wrote a couple of songs for Avril Lavigne and I had to leave to go to LA to record them and it was just crazy, it was really tough for me to leave and be gone from my newborn child and that was tough, but at the same time, it was just that whole juggling balancing act. I feel like I’m on a very thin wire that spreads out to all these different branches, it’s almost like a spider web; I just have to do everything I can to not get stuck.
“I’m at a point in my life where my heart has absolutely exploded and I couldn’t imagine loving these people any more than I already do now.”
Your new album Strange Love seems to have a really positive, powerful vibe, more so than any record the band’s put out previously. Do you think all these positive experiences in your life, like being married and having a kid, may have influenced this, even subconsciously?
I mean absolutely, yeah. I know that we’ve tried to make every single album we’ve put out different and I know as far as the song writing and lyrics go that they are different because I’m at a different point in my life. With this one specifically I feel like it has so much love and passion and emotion in it because I’m at a point in my life where my heart has absolutely exploded and I couldn’t imagine loving these people any more than I already do now, and it’s an amazing feeling to feel that. And now having a child and knowing that she’s going to be a part of the rest of my life is something so special and awesome. These songs are written at a point in my life where I feel like there’s absolutely nothing in the world that can bring me down and I’m so happy and I want to project that happiness onto my friends and family and our fans. So when the songs kind of came out sounding very emotional and passion filled, you know it was just a piece of me. I can’t write music that doesn’t mean anything to me. Everything I write has to have a little piece of me in it so when I’m releasing songs it’s kind of like I’m letting a little bit more of my life out into the public.
The album is the fifth studio release for We The Kings, how have you managed to maintain such a feel-good vibe with your music for so long?
You know to be honest with you, I think it’s something that the fans have been a big influence with and a big part of. I know that we as people want to be as positive as possible, and I want our music to reflect that. But at the same time, fans that are telling us that our music is lifting their spirits and making them feel better and things like that, in return that makes us feel better about what we’re doing. It’s kind of like a cyclical thing that happens where it’s just one giant circle. You know we write songs that make somebody feel better and that person comes up to us and says, “Hey, I really like this song, it made me feel better” [laughs]. This makes us feel better and lets us continue to write songs that make other people feel better. It’s kind of this never-ending infinity circle and that’s great because it helps us be who we want to be and helps us write music that is a little more than just a song. I want our music to mean more to people and I want our music to touch people’s lives and I want them to listen to it and feel like it’s more than just a song.
“I want our music to touch people’s lives and I want them to listen to it and feel like it’s more than just a song.”
Strange Love sees you make the leap from pop-punk to a much more pop based sound; did you worry about how longterm fans would react to it?
Not really, I mean it is a really scary thing to release new music, especially when you’re someone like me who puts a lot of their own life and personal experience in the music. It’s really difficult for me to hear the critique and not take it personally. For example one of my favourite songs on the album is one called “Jenny’s Song”, and that actually wasn’t even supposed to go on the album. It was a song that I wrote for my wife and played for her on our wedding day in front of the whole wedding party and our wedding guests. Our manger was there and said, “That song’s awesome, you should put it on the next album, it’s special and I think it’ll really mean a lot to a lot of people”. And the rest of the band convinced me to do it so I put it on the album. So if someone was like, “Oh I didn’t really like that song”, to me it sounds like, “Oh I don’t really like the fact that you got married” [laughs]. It’s hard not to take it personally. I’ve worked really hard on the past five albums to notice and be open that everyone has their opinion and everyone is totally free to think how they want to think and if they don’t feel the same way about the album that I do, it’s totally fine and I’m glad that they at least gave it a chance. It’s always very scary at first to release your music but I think our fans have kind of grown to learn a little about who we are and that has a lot to do with how open we are in the vlogs and subject content for all the lyrics. I guess to answer your question, it does affect me sometimes and I try to hide it as much as possible but the majority of the time I just try to focus on doing what I love and not focus on the negativity.
2015 actually marked the 10-year anniversary of the band. You’ve played with some of the same people in this time period, people who you grew up and went to school with, what’s it been like growing together as musicians? How has it helped develop your sound?
First of all, it’s crazy that it’s been that long! It really doesn’t seem like we’ve been through that much stuff, but I guess when you think about it and when I try to remember all the tours we’ve done and the roads of expression we’ve gone through, it is very special. I’ve actually known the band much longer than we’ve been together as a group. I used to play baseball with Hunter [Thomsen, guitar] and Danny [Duncan, drums] when we were growing up on different teams in little league, so even before we started playing music we were friends who didn’t know we’d be in an international rock band one day. But it’s been really nice. I feel like I’ve grown so close to them that they’re more than friends, they’re definitely my family. They feel like brothers to me; I know everything about them. You know, we’ve all been groomsmen in each other’s weddings. I think we all sit back a lot of the time and think about how crazy it is that we got a chance to even do what we’re doing. There are so many incredibly talented artists and musicians who unfortunately won’t get the chance to do some of the things we’ve been able to do and so fortunate to do. It’s one of the things we just stop and realise how amazing it is and how we we’re so lucky to have that opportunity.
We The Kings Tour Dates
Sat Feb 27th – The Basement, Canberra (18+)
Sun Feb 28th – The Corner Hotel, Melbourne (U18 Arvo)
Sun Feb 28th – The Corner Hotel, Melbourne (18+ Night)
Wed Mar 2nd – The Gov, Adelaide (AA)
Thu Mar 3rd – The Rosemount Hotel, Perth (18+)