Original Show Date: July 7th
Creation of music is a volatile line that all artists must learn to balance and walk across. The element of time is both a benefit and a detriment. To not have enough and feel pressure to release something results feels incomplete, while too much can lead to questions of what if, making changes and overly eager fans. In the end, it is all about quality of quantity, which is exactly how Bradenton natives, We the Kings (WTK), not only approach making music, but their careers and lives.
Patience is a virtue that everyone must master. ‘Good things come to those who wait’, even applies to music. Travis Clark, Hunter Thomsen, Danny Duncan, Charles Trippy and Coley O’Toole are eager to release a new album too, but that does not overshadow the desire for a perfect record. “I still love this record to death and I want it to be perfect, as much as it can be at that time. We will try to make it that way and release it this year,” said Clark, who spoke with Substream on day two of headliner, Summerfest 2013, which took place in Atlanta.
To achieve their ever-evolving definition of perfection, WTK is taking a unique approach to the new tunes. For starters, the writing and recording processes began and progressed simultaneously.
“We started recording, got some of it done and then went on tour in Europe in February and March, which gave us a chance to break and think about the songs we recorded. Every band, across the board, will finish a record and then during the 2-3 months it takes to press and package it, there is always the thought of ‘I wish I would have done this or that’. It shows progression and what can be done on the next record, but ideas are always flowing and you’ll never stop reinventing yourself, which is a great thing about We The Kings. We started recording in January and it’s July, so we’ve had time to sit on the songs that we recorded early on and we have changed them, to be or sound different, whether it be lyrics, melodies or a production element,” said Clark.
At this rate, when exactly in 2013 the album will be released remains unanswered. But worry not, WTK has devised a plan that will be music to fan’s ears, literally. The intention is to provide what is desired, new music, while upholding the element of suspense. How might one begin to accomplish this? By releasing new songs, one at a time, for a few months prior to the full album. The question circles back to how this can be done? Encompassed in one word, the answer is, independence. “We aren’t signed, so it has been fun releasing music whenever we want, it is something new to us. If I wanted to release a song on iTunes and you and I decided to put it out as soon as we could, I could get it released in an hour and a half, no matter what day or time,” said Clark. Bands also control the price point of the songs and WTK chose to put it at the lowest price possible, so fans can always have better access to the music.
Money may seemingly help make the world go round, but it is passion to do what one loves that brings the world to life and maintains its pulse. “The money comes, we’ve done really well and we are successful, which is fun and awesome, but we could not have done that without the fans. I hate to say that we don’t need money because everyone needs it, but we don’t want it. More than us having a few extra cents, we would love for fans to have the songs,” said Clark. Actions such as those contribute to keeping the fans coming back for more and attending live shows every time it comes through town.
Summerfest 2013 made its encore performance in Atlanta on July 7th at Center Stage. We the Kings kicked off their summer headliner the night before and are currently on tour to share their tunes with fans everywhere. WTK chose their friends; The Ready Set, T.Mills and Breathe Carolina to join this party of a tour as supporting bands. A variety of a line-up, but camaraderie make for fun times. The line wrapped around the downtown venue hours before doors were set to open with fans anxious to see We the Kings in their return to Atlanta since Warped Tour last summer.
A prime concert season for music enthusiasts and bands alike is summer. The nights are longer and the general time association being free of stress and more opportunity to go out and have fun. WTK’s tune, “Party, Fun, Love and Radio” is an ideal descriptive of the season. All one needs is someplace to go, a party, that is fun, with people one loves and a great soundtrack (radio) to accompany said memories. Summerfest attendees kick off the reminiscences with Keep It Cute, a young band, true to their name, are indeed adorable with a serious ear for great tunes. A blend of pop and rock, this quartet was quick to make a lasting footprint on the industry.
If the gentlemen in the next two supporting acts can stand still in one place long enough, perhaps they can make a footprint somewhere. But as far as the music aspect of things, The Ready Set and Breathe Carolina are unforgettable in every sense of the word, from their uncontainable energy on stage to their styling. TRS took the stage second to an equally crazy crowd, who sang and danced along to every word and beat.
Breathe Carolina brought the club vibe to Center Stage, with a full band, DJ and black stage lights. The neon was reflected in Kyle Even’s rainbow hair and on the faces of fans that donned painted faces courtesy of Even’s pre-performance face painting booth. In exchange for a small donation, faces were transformed into a work of neon art. The energy did not hesitate, remaining at an all time high with an extreme spike when Even jumped into the crowd.
Unpredictability is a constant (and best) theme at concerts, who knows what could happen next? All that was for sure, WTK was set to take the stage in a matter of minutes. Lights cut to black and one by one; Danny, Hunter, Coley, Charles and Travis, took the stage to roaring applause and approving shouts. Positive energy fuels the constantly running cycle of a stellar concert. The guys have a stage presence that instantly causes the crowd to have fun and go crazy, which in turn inspires the band efforts to go above and beyond when already off the charts.
Upon inquiry, fans will state that it is more than the songs. A concert really is a show with set breaks, both anticipated and not, that are just as important as the performances. We the Kings always picks the perfect set list and give every ounce of effort they have to show fans appreciation for continuous support. Whether it is Travis taking time to converse and interact with the crowd. One lucky fan was pulled from the crowd to join him on stage in a “date” like atmosphere. Another was singled out to test Hunter’s ability to make girls faint by his good looks alone.
The positive vibe in the room was a constant collaborative effort between band and fans, going beyond the stage. More than anything, WTK wants fans to have as much access to the music as possible. Clark claimed that if they could give the music away for free they would and in the past they have, with “Check Yes, Juliet” and “Say You Like Me” as iTunes ‘Single of the Week’. With their current venture, WTK has set the new singles to be available for the lowest price iTunes will accept, 69 cents. “It is interesting, if you give people stuff, they end up really supporting and coming back. Seeing that a band is real and they care about their music and fans, people will support them,” said Clark. The turnout at Summerfest is one of many elements of proof on the matter that WTK has achieved. “Just Keep Breathing”, the first of the three new releases, sings perseverance when faced with ridicule, something Clark explained to the crowd that he experienced being bullied in school as a child.
Personal experiences at any age are what influences the subject matter of We the Kings tunes and fuels their every day lives. Clark remembers the grind of travelling around in a crappy van to anywhere and everywhere to have WTK tunes heard by as many people as possible. Another new tune, “Any Other Way” sings the tune of persistence to be successful. A third new track, “Find You There” was also included in the evenings set list, talks about relationships. The camaraderie of a band is vital to its success. While Clark writes all the songs initially on his own, he always has his bandmates in mind. “They [Hunter, Danny, Charles and Coley] are my brothers, my best friends to the point of family. When I do write, I think about them and what they could do as a band to make them sound cool.” Rehearsals for live shows and the recording process is where WTK tunes fully take shape.
What comes to life is a stellar translation of the songs from album to live and it is highly recommended that any opportunity to see a We the Kings show is taken. Summerfest is currently underway and will continue through August. Perhaps this writer will take her own advice and commute to Charlotte for a second show. In the meantime; Travis, Danny, Hunter, Charles and Coley will continue to work on the new record, which will hopefully be released in 2013, potentially November, according to Clark, but that is not set in stone.
WTK fans can look forward to the release of “Art of War”, a tune written and tracked for the soundtrack to the new Hunger Games film and potentially another new single from the upcoming album, “Die Young, Live Forever,” which encourages people to live life and do everything they can to make every minute the best minute, according to Clark. At the end of each day, it is quality over quantity as an ideal standard of living. After all, life is composed of countless events and the opportunity to have them be great, so go for it.