Every band has its milestones. The first gig, the first paying gig, the first record, the first time hearing yourself on the radio, getting the key to your hometown …
OK, not every band has all of those milestones, but they have come for Bradenton-based pop-punk band We the Kings, which visits Pensacola on Sunday at the head of a five-band bill.
Getting the key to Bradenton — which is just south of Tampa — was a big deal for the band, according to drummer Danny Duncan.
“It was really, really cool,” Duncan said. “It was a pretty ceremonial thing before a (Tampa Bay Rays) game at Tropicana Field (in nearby St. Petersburg). That was a gigantic milestone for our success.”
That success for Duncan and bandmates Travis Clark (lead vocals/rhythm guitar), Hunter Thomsen (lead guitar/backup vocals) and Drew Thomsen (bass) includes a handful of pop hits, including “Check Yes Juliet,” “Secret Valentine,” “Heaven Can Wait” and the band’s latest single, “We’ll Be a Dream,” a collaboration with Disney Channel pop princess Demi Lovato.
Not bad for a bunch of guys who have been playing together since junior high. Duncan talked about all that and more in a phone interview.
Q: You guys are pretty young, but you’ve been performing together for quite some time. Talk about how you met.
A: We’ve been playing together for four or five years, but we’ve all been friends since junior high. That’s where we got our name, because we all went to King Middle School. We knew each other even before we started playing instruments.
Q: How did you come to work with Demi Lovato?
A: We met her at a festival show and just started talking to her. Travis is a little bit of a fan, so he met her at this show and they got to talking. She was a really down-to-earth girl. They kept in touch, and then he heard her sing the national anthem and said we should definitely collaborate with her. So she laid down tracks on the song, and it turned out amazing. The first time we heard it, we all got goosebumps.
Q: Talk about your current tour with The Maine.
A: We’ve been on tour a couple of times with The Maine, and each one of them individually are really cool people — great guys to be on the road with. It can be hard on the road, and it’s good to have good people with you. We’re fans of their music, and we’re pretty sure they are of ours, but don’t quote me on that (laughs).