After the release of their 2008 single, “Check Yes Juliet,” We the Kings found mainstream success outside of the pop-punk world with which they were familiar. Before their performance at Elon University’s Homecoming concert Oct. 19, The Pendulum caught up with lead singer Travis Clark to hear more about the band’s success.
Q: What do you think of Elon?
A: When we do these college things, you never really know what to expect or what is actually going to be there. But when you show up to a place like Elon, where it’s a beautiful campus and there’s people outside just living and enjoying their time at school, I think it’s just amazing. North Carolina in general has such a great outdoor experience, so we love when shows happen outdoors and it’s beautiful weather and the fall is coming.
Q: Have you been to a lot of other college campuses and what are those like?
A: We tour all the time. I’m singing to people who are our own age so we’re just friends. It’s one big family. It’s really nice to just have no filter, not that we get up there and just use vulgarities or say a bunch of really immature things. It’s that I don’t have to think about having to filter, and that’s a really cool thing for a singer and for someone who wants to talk in between songs. It’s a really cool quality to have from college shows.
Q: Is there a specific venue or campus that you guys have gone to that you particularly enjoyed?
A: We went to an all-girls school in New York. We showed up at 11 p.m. and we thought it was going to be really strict. I walked off the bus and there were people everywhere, wasted. All around campus. It was such a mind twister. Like, what is this place? It was an incredible show but it was something very unexpected. It was like everyone there was a reverend’s daughter who was held down their entire lives and this was their one moment to go crazy. That was a memorable show.
Q: You guys came out with a new album last summer, “Sunshine State of Mind.” Where did the inspiration for that come from?
A: As the band grows and progresses through life and through everything, we want to put out music that is representative of that. I think that our fans are growing up, too. With our next record, we’re going to really have no boundaries as far as what genre the record is in. We have songs that sound like they could be off Coldplay’s next record. We have songs that sound like they could be off The Killers’ next record, or Kings of Leon. It’s kind of all over the place and I love it.
Q: So the one coming out will touch on a lot of different genres?
A: We’re not having a filter. Sometimes we’d be so worried about what the fans would think about this. But the fans have stuck by us through the good and the bad and I think they will really appreciate us for once just doing what we really want to do. And it sounds incredible so far. It’s so nice to go into the studio and have a completely relaxed and unbiased point of view when we’re writing songs. If something doesn’t sound We the Kings-ish, we don’t care. We’re going to do it because it sounds awesome. That’s ultimately what growing up is all about. I think we’re applying that to the music.
Q: How far along are you guys on that album?
A: We have a ton of demos but we have five songs that I’ve showed the guys that we’re all super excited about. It’s always funny. I remember when we wrote “Check Yes Juliet,” it was the first time I was like, “Oh my gosh, something about this song is very special.” And I felt it again on each record on a specific song. On the second record that we did, it was “We’ll Be a Dream,” which we had Demi Lovato sing. On the third record it was a song called “Sing Like Me.” On this record, there’s a song called “Art of War” that is so beautiful. I’m so happy that my brain pulled it together for a week and got this out because it’s really amazing. It is a very biased opinion, but I love this song and I think our fans and people who have never heard of We the Kings are really going to gravitate toward this new record, especially this specific track.
Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring artists that look up to you?
A: It’s hard. It really is. Nobody can tell you exactly what to do. Everybody is trying something different and then you realize you’re trying too hard. The advice, all in all, is find out what your idea of success is and chase that. I’ve heard so many times people asking, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” and people say, “I want to be famous.” What? That’s not an occupation. You can’t just be famous. Do something you love and all that stuff will come if it works out.