Frontman TRAVIS CLARK walks us through each song on WE THE KINGS’ latest full-length, Smile Kid.




“We wanted to go with the name Smile Kid not only to represent the kids we are, but to hopefully get people to smile more. It’s obvious that there’s bad stuff happening all over the world, but you can’t get sucked into it or else it might lead to becoming a negative person who nobody wants to be around. The truth is, there is a ton of good stuff in the world that you should focus on and try to reproduce. We want people to be happy and that’s what we’re trying to do with this album.”





She Takes Me High

“This song had been through change after change having thousands of different choruses that I would write, scrap, and repeat. The song finally came together while I was sitting at my piano in my parents’ house. The last thing I remember was transposing the entire song into a piano ballad. I remember I was singing the verse and the pre-chorus (exactly like on the record) and then out of nowhere, I started making up the chorus as I went. The first thing out of my mouth was literally, ‘She Takes Me High, She Takes Me Hiiiiiigh.’ I stopped at the end of the chorus with the biggest smile on my face. Before my A.D.D. kicked in, I pulled my phone out to record the new part so I wouldn’t forget it. I called the band and we met up at our practice space so that I could sing them the newly added chorus. We practiced the song as usual, but this time when we got to the end of the chorus, they stopped playing and screamed, ‘finally!’ It was definitely one of the most satisfying songs to complete off of Smile Kid. This song is about dreaming of a person who is almost like a drug to you and you never want to wake up because you don’t want that feeling to go away. It’s the same feeling you get in real life when you meet someone special.”



Promise The Stars

"For as long as We The Kings have been a band, we’ve always wanted to write a song that sounded and felt larger than life. When I finished writing this song, I remember adding fake drums, shakers, strings, trumpets, everything and anything that GarageBand had available. The song developed into this epic-sounding track, which was perfect for the lyrics that are almost fantasy-like. ‘With your hand in mine, we’ll soar through the night, and like the dozens of spaceships will dance with satellites.’ I always sit back and laugh at how everything comes together perfectly sometimes. I mean, life is always about reaching goals and this song was a goal for me as a songwriter.”



Heaven Can Wait

“I sent a demo CD of songs I had been working on to the label with a letter attached saying, ‘Hey guys, here are some of my newer songs. I really want to record something new to give to our fans to show appreciation for our first record doing so well.’ We didn’t plan on having a song that would do just as well as ‘Check Yes Juliet’ or ‘Secret Valentine,’ but after we recorded and put ‘Heaven Can Wait’ out there, we had radio stations calling and asking to play it because people had been making requests. That’s one of the biggest compliments ever–to have people request something that you spent hours and hours creating and perfecting. My favorite line of this song is, ‘Here’s a song for the nights I drink too much and spill my words.” To me, it explains the meaning of the song completely.”



Story Of Your Life

“I don’t even know where to begin on this one. The four of us were in the studio talking about how many tracks we wanted to have on Smile Kid, and we all decided that we would do 11 to match our first record. All we had recorded at that point were 10 songs that we felt strongly about, but since we had a few more days in the studio, we decided to throw one more together. I had lyrics on my phone that I had written on the flight over that were about wanting to be a part of a girl’s journal. Just imagining that somewhere in the world someone could be writing your name in their journal is a really cool feeling, so I decided to make it into a love song about a kid who wants nothing more than to be that name in that person’s journal. We used music from an even a newer song I was writing because, magically, it fit perfectly! This song is also where we got the name of the album.”



Rain Falls Down

“This is hands-down the deepest track on the record. It’s about one of the closest people in my life feeling like her world was crashing down around her. One night on the road, I locked myself in our hotel room and didn’t go out with the rest of the guys. While it rained outside, I spent all night writing this song without being able to stop. It was like there was so much that I wanted to say, but I couldn’t because I didn’t know how what she was going through felt. So I wrote the song about how she’s wasn’t alone and no matter what happened, I would always be by her side to help her with anything she needed.”



Summer Love

“This song is spicy. [Laughs.] It reminds me of summer camps, vacations, and overall fun times. I remember we were on our very first headlining tour ever–we called it the Long Hair, Don’t Care Tour (which is still one of the best tour names we’ve come up with). During sound check at one of the shows, Danny [Duncan, drums] and I worked on the music for this song. He came up with the Latin beat for the verse and I came up with the guitar line and lyrics while we jammed. The song came together–with the exception of the chorus–in a few days while on that tour. The chorus came to me a few months later while we were on Warped Tour. Everyone loves summer, so it was easy for me to finish writing while we were on one of the most fun and biggest summer tours.”



In-N-Out (Animal Style)

“I wish I could say this song was about a cheeseburger and french fries I ate while I was in California, but it’s not. However, the name is still 100 percent relevant. The first time we ever visited Cali as a band, we met some people that confirmed our belief that California was for rich, snobby people. Fortunately for all of us, that’s not true. Some of the coolest, most down-to-earth people and some of our best friends live in the Golden State and they get a bad rap. Maybe people are jealous of the good weather and amazing sites that Cali has to offer. Anyway, the song was written while we were in Los Angeles and it’s about a kid who travels to L.A. to seek fame and money and is disappointed when he finds nothing. He decides to go back home to the places he knows. For us, we didn’t have to move to a big city to find success, we simply did what we love and worked our butts off and everything else fell into place. Yes, there is a sexual innuendo in the song title and yes, In-N-Out Burger rules!”



Spin

“New Year’s Eve is one of the best nights of my year, every single year, and I wanted to write a song about how I wish that night would never end. ‘Can we stay here tonight and spin the world from the light?’ I had this dream once that questioned the idea of every single person running in the same direction and spinning the world.”



Anna Maria (All We Need)

“On the first record, I wrote a song called ‘This Is Our Town,’ and it ended up being one of the most important tracks from that CD. So I decided that I should write a Part 2 to that song. For those who don’t know, we grew up in Bradenton and on Anna Maria Island in Florida. This was home for us and is still home when we get off-time–whatever that is. [Laughs.] I love the people and places I grew up around, and this is more or less a continued letter to them. On a side note, I’m excited about the nod to the Beatles that is in this song when I sing, ‘I know one thing, love is all we need.’ That idea is sometimes lost, but I will always believe that love is real and the world should be filled with more of it.”



We’ll Be A Dream

“Before I start on this one, I want to thank [guest vocalist] Demi Lovato for making me sound like I just started singing. [Laughs.] That girl’s got pipes! I was playing my piano at home when I came up with the music for this song, and when it was done, I knew that I had to feature a female vocal on it. I called up Demi and asked if she wanted to sing on our record. When I was growing up, I wanted to be all kinds of different things, anything from a racecar driver to a detective. There was even a point in my life when I wanted to be ‘Petrie’ from The Land Before Time. When you finally grow up and realize that you can’t be a dinosaur, life gets hard. I wrote this song with the imagination of two kids staring at the New York City skyline, wondering what they’re gonna be when they grow up, or which building they would be working in. Life is short so make sure you laugh, smile and love every minute of it. This line is way overused, but it will forever be true: ‘Live the dream.’ At least live your dream. Anything is possible–well almost anything: Becoming a dinosaur is more-or-less out of the question.”



What You Do To Me

“This song is for all of you people out there who have been in a relationship and have had no idea what’s going on within it. It’s like a rollercoaster that you aren’t on. You see it go up and down but have no idea when it’s going to stop. To be honest, it doesn’t have to be a about a romantic relationship; it could also be a friendship that has hot and cold spells. I feel like this song has a Jimmy Eat World sound to it, and lyrically tells the moral to a story rather than telling the story. This is the last track on the album and we wanted to end it with an Interlude. We want the interlude to be the opening track of our third album–whenever we write and release that." alt