As grownups living out their teenage rock-star dreams, it's only right that the five guys who make up We the Kings named their band after the Bradenton middle school they attended. "We all went to Martha B. King Middle School," keyboardist Coley O'Toole confirms. "Travis Clark and Hunter Thomsen started it when they went to a Jimmy Eat World and Blink 182 show. We all joined up because we all wanted girlfriends. It worked. And now we all have wives and babies."
Some of the band's members have since branched out from their Central Florida roots — O'Toole now calls Connecticut home — but Bradenton, the coastal town an hour south of Tampa, is never far from their hearts. "Our lyrics have a lot of sunshine, just like where we're from, the beaches and the beauty. The band always tries to take all the beautiful with us."
Their hometown reciprocates the love, piling honor upon honor on the first Bradenton rock band that has found national success. "We got a key to the city. There's a We the Kings Day, though I can never remember exactly what day it is." (It's October 11). "The baseball stadium even has a mural of us."
It's difficult for O'Toole to explain why We the Kings broke out when so many other Florida bands they grew up with remained local acts. He just knows that the tipping point came with the release of their song "Check Yes Juliet."
"That song is what got us out of Bradenton," he recalls.
Their current tour, which hits Revolution Live this Sunday, honors the tenth anniversary of the self-titled debut that spawned that radio-friendly single. "This tour has our longest set by far. It's an exhausting but exciting 17 songs, including the entire first record."
After the tour, We the Kings hope to continue their reign through 2017. "We have a bunch of new songs ready to go. We have a setup on the bus to work on new music during the tour. The new stuff keeps the same flavor, but we like surprise and change. It's gong to be an exciting, up-tempo, more guitar-driven record."
O'Toole says they want to continue making the Sunshine State proud, but the middle-schooler in him feels like their mission has already been accomplished. "I remember going to the House of Blues in Orlando to see the Foo Fighters as a kid. Then when we got to play there, that was pretty wild."
Keep New Times Broward-Palm Beach Free... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering South Florida with no paywalls.