It was time for a change for We the Kings.
So the five-member alternative-rock group made a bold move and decided to go back to basics and take charge of its destiny.
We the Kings will perform at 7 tonight at the Anderson Center of Misericordia University in Dallas. Opening act will be nine-piece reggae band Subnotics and local indie rockers A Fire with Friends.
The group “fired” its record label and decided to produce its own fourth album. “We wanted to make this record completely fan-based,” frontman Travis Clark said.
But that also meant raising the record budget on their own.
It was risky business for a band that already had a string of top 10 rock albums, such as 2007’s “We the Kings,” 2009’s “Smile Kid” and 2011’s “Sunshine State of Mind” and gold/platinum singles (“Check Yes Juliet” and “Say You Like Me”).
We the Kings had a strong fan base from its touring. After all, the group has played the Vans Warped tour five times.
So, the Florida-based band — Clark, Hunter Thomsen, Danny Duncan and (joining in 2011) Coley O’Toole and Charles Trippy — appealed to its legions of fans on the crowd-funding site Indiegogo. “We wanted to reach our goal in about a month,” Clark said.
Well, the group succeeded in its monetary goal of $35,000, but it didn’t take a month. It took only a day. The group ended up raising $150,000. Clark noted that other artists have since followed this trend, such as actress Kristen Bell’s Kickstarter appeal for the “Veronica Mars” movie. “I’m glad that we were part of the reason that these artists and actors even believe that it can be done,” Clark said. “Raising $150,000 isn’t easy, but we did it with our amazing fan base so it doesn’t surprise me that other artists would want to do the same.”
The album that resulted is “Somewhere Somehow,” the band’s highest-charting record, which debuted in the top 50 last Christmas. The album’s tunes are extremely diverse, from hard-rocking tunes such as “I Like It” to slower tunes such as “Sad Song.”
The creative change the group was seeking certainly paid off in many ways. “This time out, we didn’t have anyone breathing down our necks: we only had to impress ourselves,” Clark said. “It allowed us to do something really different with the sound. There was no ‘genre’ we were shooting for.”
The group is loving its new-found freedom and plans to remain unsigned for now.
Going from playing smaller venues such as college campuses to massive arenas for the Warped Tour has been an effortless transition for We the Kings, but there is no secret plan for performance venues. Only half-joking, Clark notes, “We just say yes to every show that we get offered.”
“It’s definitely much different to play a festival-type show than to play inside an auditorium that only seats 1,000 people, but that’s part of the fun of playing in a band,” he said. “Playing different-size shows is what makes or breaks an artist. It’s very easy to play in front of tens of thousands of people, but when you are in a more intimate setting it shows your true colors, and the true talent either shows up or is non-existent.”
We the Kings has always been open to fans, even chronicling its individual lives on YouTube. Bass player Charles Trippy, who has brain cancer, has documented his treatment. He is in stage 5 of his chemotherapy, feels healthy and plans to continue touring with the band.
“The transparency of We the Kings has always been something that is appealing for fans,” Clark said. “They hear what we’re singing about, and then they get to see us living our lives through our YouTube channels, and I think that creates a certain special connection between the artist and the fans. They see how genuine we are, and it makes them root for us as a band.”