Who: [artist id="2816492"]We The Kings[/artist], a sunny, impressive quartet from Bradenton, Florida (birthplace of the Tropicana orange juice empire!), with a penchant for writing citrus-sweet pop-punk hooks, are MTV News' second Rock Week Artists to Watch (the first being Brooklyn's Suckers). Originally formed when flame-haired frontman Travis Clark, guitarist brothers Hunter and Drew Thomsen, and drummer Danny Duncan started palling around in elementary school, WTK started off as little more than a Blink-182 cover band. But once they discovered the dulcet tones of the Beatles (and the not-so-dulcet ones of Jimmy Eat World), they began writing their own tunes. They toured with the likes of Cobra Starship, Cute Is What We Aim For and All Time Low, and, in December, released their sophomore album, Smile Kid, which includes shout-outs to In-N-Out Burger and a cameo from Demi Lovato. This summer, they'll appear on the main stage at the Warped Tour.
Sound Like: The food court at the mall, the cafeteria at the high school, the parking lot of the junior prom — only with better choruses. WTK traffic in time-tested triumvirate of tart-yet-tangy teenage angst, joy and sorrow, but they've added their own orchestral swirl to the proceedings, making the lows lower and the highs (and there are a lot of them on Smile Kid) even higher.
Road Warriors: Since releasing their debut album in 2007, We the Kings haven't been back to Bradenton much. Instead, they've been grinding it out on the road, playing nearly 700 gigs over the past two years. And they're only just beginning. "We tour non-stop. We did 310 shows last year, we did 349 shows the year before that. ... We had three weeks off in 2008," Clark laughed. "We would play multiple shows a day — a matinee and then a night show. We did a tour for Hot Topic where we would play three shows a day, so they all started to add up. It's awesome, and I hope that in 2010 maybe we could break that 349 record."
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But What About Chris Gaines? Don't let the tattoos and tight jeans fool you, WTK don't want to be just another mall-punk outfit. They've got higher aspirations. "Our goal is to have a greatest-hits record," Clark said. "I always remember when my mom would bring home music she liked to listen to, and it was like, Tim McGraw's greatest hits, or Garth Brooks' greatest hits, so I want to be a band like that, that parents bring home to their kids and are like, 'This is what I used to listen to.' "
Don't Quit Your Day Job: Don't worry, Clark isn't quitting WTK anytime soon, but he does have his eye on another potential career if this whole band thing doesn't work out. And we hope he has health insurance. "I went to a circus for the first time ever the other day, and these dirt bikes came out, and they get into this giant metal sphere, and they start riding around it, and they intertwine with each other," he said. "There were seven dirt bikes in this thing, just going crazy, and I sat back in my chair and said, 'If I wasn't in a band, I would be a circus dirt bike rider.' I feel like the red hair fits the format of being crazy."
It's Rock Week at MTV News, and to celebrate, we're taking a look at some of the most-anticipated new albums and bands of 2010. Stay tuned all week for more!