We the Kings Keep Their Florida Roots at the Forefront

We the Kings
We the Kings Photo by Lee Cherry

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."

We the Kings
7 p.m. Sunday, April 2, at Revolution Live, 100 SW third Ave., Fort Lauderdale;; 954-449-1025. Tickets cost $19 via

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David Rolland is a freelance music writer for Miami New Times. His novels, The End of the Century and Yo-Yo, are available at many fine booksellers.
Contact: David Rolland

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