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Talking to We The Kings

What does We the Kings mean to you?

We the Kings is our lifeline.  I can’t call it a job because it doesn’t feel like that.  It’s a little dream that we had a long time ago as kids that we have just somehow been able to turn into a reality.  

What would you say your first big success as a band was?

We’ve never really sized up different things and I always get that question from other bands who are trying to do the same thing and make it their own way.  I never really know what to tell them because there have been so many significant things in our life.  I think one of the most sentimental moment in our career was about six years ago when our city of Bradenton presented us each with the key to the city.  We got to invite all of our family and friends and it was just a really cool moment for us to be acknowledged by the city that kind of made us who we are.

You started the band in high school, did you know that you would be so successful in the future?

No, we actually just started the band, honestly, to get girlfriends. We were all, like, dorky high school kids and we’re still the same dorky kids just a little older. We started the band to get girlfriends because we were having a difficult time and I went to see my first show – it was Blink 182, Green Day and Jimmy Eat World – and all these girls were just throwing their bras up on stage and I was like oh my gosh this is what I have to in order to get a girlfriend.  So I went home and called up friends and I was like let’s start a band and we started We the Kings the next day.  We really were just doing battle of the bands and talent shows and we never imagined that it would grow to become this. When you’re young you just kind of dream really big without knowing what it’s gonna take and that’s a beautiful thing.  It’s really powerful sometimes and we made it and were able to say that we were successful and it wasn’t until that time that we were able to realize how many obstacles and how many hoops we had to jump through to make it and get where we are today.

Can you describe the evolution of the band over time?

Musically and personally there have been a bunch of significant evolutions.  We went from starting the band and wanting girlfriends and thinking that playing in a band would be the way to do that.  Now three of us are married, one’s engaged — in our personal lives we’ve really grown from the kids we were.  I just had my first child.  My wife gave birth to a beautiful baby girl.  I get to call myself a dad and I get to look after my daughter and be mature and responsible.  That’s much different from when we first started the band.  Musically I think we’ve always had the idea that we never wanted to put out the same record twice.  Every album that we’ve put out out of the five has been not completely different – it’s still very much We the Kings, my voice singing, guitar, drums, bass, piano, acoustic – but I think there’s an element that we added to each of the albums to make it stand apart from the other ones.  Through that we have organically evolved from what we used to sound like to what we sound like today.  

What is your favorite album that you have put out and why?

That’s hard. Before I had a daughter, my songs were my kids. You spend so much time and effort and love and passion and blood, sweat and tears, go to creating a song.  We the Kings music is very much a part of my life, lyrically sharing with the world my love stories and heartbreak stories and journey and adventure and all these different things that I’ve written about.  It’s just me showcasing a little bit of my life to the world.  I think each part of every album is a piece of my life so it would be saying what part of myself is my favorite feature.  I know that we grow fond of the ones that do really well with the fans.  Check Yes Juliet was obviously a song that debuted our name, We the Kings to the world. We’re very proud [and] we play the song last at every show as a dedication to the fans that made the song the thing it was.  It was off our first album so if you had a gun to my head and I head to pick I would say the first album is my favorite.

What was the most nervous you’ve ever been at a performance?

Yeah I actually, believe it or not, get nervous before every single show.  It’s like this anxiety that goes over me.  I kind of start thinking like, “Oh I don’t want to mess up,” and I want to do our songs justice and I want the fans that pay for tickets to really enjoy the show.  All these thoughts going through my head make me super nervous. But I think there’s something about anxiety that I use as fuel to put on a better show. So I don’t know if there’s been a time that I’ve been super nervous but there was a time that we did Good Morning America which was filmed – we did soundcheck at 3 a.m. – and was filmed at 6 a.m.  It was the earliest I’ve ever had to play and I was really nervous that my voice wouldn’t work, like I would try to sing and nothing would come out.  So I stayed up all night so that my voice could rest.  There’s a lot of vocal things that you learn with touring.  So I stayed up the entire night and it made me incredibly anxious and nervous, not only about being on TV but about whether or not I made the right decision about my lack of sleep.  But it was a show that millions of people were going to watch and we ended up playing a really good show and a couple songs that we were allotted to do.

You toured with a number of bands such as Boys Like Girls before they were big.  What was it like performing with them?  Did you know that they would be big back then?

I think that with all the bands that we have toured with and all the bands we have had the opportunity to open for, it’s awesome.  What we take out of it is this huge learning curve.  I remember we would watch.  We would be the first band of four and [Boys Like Girls] had a single on the radio so there were drawing a lot of fans.  Our first tour was in front of a lot of people.  So I think what we decided to do was to sit there and watch the bands and kind of note what worked for them and how the fans responded and that really made our show today. There’s all these elements to a show  that entice the audience to participate and listen and that stuff we probably wouldn’t have known to do if it wasn’t for those bands that we were able to open for.

Do you ever get tired of traveling around the world and not being able to stay in one place for very long?

The answer that you would always hear from every band is that touring the world is the best thing ever.  It really is.  There is a horrible part to that which is the flights.  We just got back from Australia and it was a twenty-one hour flight to Florida and that is not awesome.  The flight kind of messes you up for a couple days and it’s a long time to sit on a plane and all these different things.  And when you get [where you’re going] you’re kind of tired but it’s only 1 p.m. and then you’re up all night and it kind of just goes on until you have your first show and you’re just trying to balance your equilibrium.  But it never gets old and ironically now that we want to more and support [our families] and make a living and want them to have the things we never had as kids.  I had to work really hard for what I have and there’s a part of me that will always remember that work ethic.  Now that my baby girl is depending on me for survival I really want to do everything I can and that means touring and seeing the world.  

I know you, Danny and Charles do YouTube vlogs.  How did that start?  What is attractive to you about vlogging?

I think before when we were religiously listening to Blink 182 and Green Day and bands like that, they would put out tour DVDs and that’s kind of all you would see of the band outside of the shows.  I think that the Youtube thing has been really fun to us to show our fans, our friends and our family what we’re up to and what we’re doing and then it turned into a bigger thing that what it was.  The three of us do videos, Charles does daily, Danny does semi-daily and I do weekly.  It’s a lot of content out there.

What do you have to offer at shows that will convince students to come see you play?
To be honest everybody’s looking for like what are you gonna do that is going to make me enjoy the show but I kind of always say this but it’s true – if you’re wondering what you’ll take out of a We the Kings show, just ask somebody who’s been to a We the Kings show.  We continue to get more elaborate and more competitive as a band when it comes to trying to outdo our tours.  So if you go online and just see people’s videos and their reactions to the tour it’s really awesome.