It’s nearly 2 years since the Kings Of Leon last breached our shores, their escapades and conquests almost as hairy as their chins. Since then, the family band have retreated back to their hometown of Nashville, preparing to once again unleash their blazing brand of Tennessee terror upon the rest of the world. Now, with the imminent release of their masterful third album, ‘Because Of The Times’, they’re all too ready to watch you fall right back in to their burning reign of fire…
Saturday afternoon in Nashville, Tennessee and there’s not a soul around. It’s almost spooky; the streets are empty and the silence is deafening. Even down on Broadway, the not-as-glamorous-as-it-sounds main tourist thoroughfare, Clash ambles down the snow-lined street to the sound of only the biting wind. We only arrived here last night, so our first impressions are somewhat baffling. Here we are in the epicentre of Country music, home of the Grand Ole Opry, source of countless classic recordings, and yet at high noon I could fellate a goat in the middle of the road and get away with it. Not that I’d want to. We are cramming some essential souvenir shopping time into our fleeting visit’s tight schedule. An hour from now we’ll be confronting the four good ol’ Southern boys we’ve (very shakily) flown over the Atlantic to interrogate, but in the meantime, we’ll scour the racks of the dusty record shops.
The locals we do eventually encounter are in turn polite, friendly, inquisitive and, more often than not, portly and ornately behatted. It’s not difficult to see why their city’s indie wunderkinds live life to the max whenever out of the constraints this eerily serene city imposes upon them.
Tacky keepsakes safely packed, we get in the waiting taxi that will take us to our designated meeting place. This morning, I sat and consumed ‘Because Of The Times’ as my final chance of revision, studying just where the band were at and attempting to comprehend just how they’ve changed. I think about this on the journey (as we pass the charming billboards – “Blood and Bone Screening – Feb 12th”, “Zap. Zap. Gone! Laser Hair Removal. 222-3737”). There’s a profound difference to their latest long-player, in much the same way ‘Aha Shake Heartbreak’ was a departure from debut ‘Youth And Young Manhood’. It is richer, deeper, and full of mystery. Perhaps this signals a development within their ranks, perhaps they’ve outgrown those juvenile tabloid exploits that surround their UK visits, perhaps they’ve aspired to make their magnum opus. Either way, I’ve so far read a helluva lot on the Kings, but still I have no idea who I’m going to imminently meet.
“Welcome to Springwater,” the barman offers. Here we are, the location of today’s interview and photo shoot. Outside, icicles hang from the edge of the shack’s tattered roof, the faded paint flaking from their enchanting logo by the front door. It is, I am informed, Nashville’s oldest bar, and was even a speakeasy during prohibition. At first glance it looked grim, dark and ominously dangerous. In short, we loved it. In one room, diner booths lined one wall that reached the small stage at the back, complete with hanging red foil decoration, straight out of Phoenix (Arizona) Nights. In the other, a pool table, dartboards and video games surround THE most indie jukebox this side of Camden. Over the course of our stay we will be treated to The Pixies, The Clash, The Cure, Joy Division, the Stones and many other insights into the musical palate of our new friends. Already, it feels like home.
The clientele is doubled as the front door opens and in from the cold walks Nathan and Caleb Followill. Neither portly nor behatted, their appearances are somewhat of a contrary to the Nashville status quo, who’d probably banish the heathens and curse their souls for daring to wear jeans so incredibly tight.
Nathan, the eldest of the Followill siblings and the band’s drummer, plays expertly his role as big brother, and is immediately the perfect host. Caleb, the lead singer, follows his example and reaches out his hand after. Informed that the younger half of the quartet are on their way, we retire to the back half of Springwater to shoot the proverbial shit.
You’ve been out of the public eye for a couple of years. What have you been up to since last we saw you?
Caleb: We’ve been having fun. We’ve been allowed to take gigs that were fun and were relaxing and easier. We were playing shows with other artists that were established, so we were getting to play in these big places and only having to play or 45 minutes, so really we got to focus on writing songs and making a record. Even while we were working it was just kinda like we were testing the waters. We were going out there in front of large crowds and getting to play stuff for the first time. These people hadn’t heard ‘Molly’s Chambers’ let alone the new stuff so it was just like a blank state. You could throw a new song out there right next to an old song and you could see which one they liked the best.
Did you get plenty time off?
Nathan: We’ve been out of the public eye but really we only had a couple of months off, which for us that seems like an eternity, considering that we toured non-stop for the first three years. But, y’know, it’s cool. We actually got to sleep in our own bed for a month straight.
If this was to be our last record, I think we’d be cool with it. We’ve made a record that we’re all perfectly satisfied with.
Caleb: Yeah, you get a little bit cabin fever though. It’s hard to go from being on the move, on the top, then getting some rest… I think pretty much our managers and everyone around us could see that… Obviously we can work harder than most people, but they realised that it was starting to take its toll and we were starting to go down some dark paths and stuff. They knew that if we got a little break it would be good for our heads, and it was. We cleared our heads. We quit doing all the silly stuff that we were getting into.
Nathan: We were recharging our batteries. I think we’re gonna be ready to throw down on this record for sure. I think we’re coming back with a vengeance.
When it came time to record, did you get together and talk about what you were going to do or how you were going to do it?
Caleb: I think we all knew.
Nathan: We were so ready for it. We’d been touring forever…
He breaks off his flow as the familiar sound of boot heels click-clack their way towards us. Jared and Matthew Followill complete the line-up; the former is the youngest of the siblings and KOL bassist, while the latter is the brothers’ first cousin and lead guitarist. Out of the four, Jared is the only one who is unrecognisable after their absence. The eldest three may have grown their hair, had a shave and gotten taller, but Jared’s whole physical appearance has changed. Gone are the pretty baby-face cheeks, in their place chiselled cheekbones and a sharply defined jawbone. His once overflowing locks have been sheared into a stylishly straight serrated crop.
They sit down, and while Jared instantly locks into our conversation, Matthew turns sheepishly away, and for the duration of our interview does not say a word. I don’t take this personally, as this is apparently not uncommon with the shyest member of the band.
Caleb picks up where his brother left off…
Caleb: We knew what we wanted to do. We’d been soundchecking and rehearsing in these big arenas and we knew that we wanted this to be bigger and sound bigger, and we wanted to show our growth. A lot of people, it kinda scared them a little bit when they hear it. I see what people think when they hear the music. It kinda puts them back a little bit and they think that we’ve abandoned our sound and stuff like that, but they don’t realise that we’ve always changed and we’ve always wanted to be doing something different than not only from what we have done, but what’s going on out there. We catch a lot of flak now; people are saying we’ve abandoned our ‘raw’ sound. That wasn’t a raw sound, that was a raw BAND that wasn’t that experienced and was showing you everything they had at that moment. Now we just have more to offer.
Were there any mistakes that you thought you’d made on your previous albums that you didn’t want to repeat?
Nathan: I think every band can listen to any of their records and find parts of it that they’re like, ‘Oh man, I wish I woulda done this different’, but it’s all in the growth process, you know? Those two records made us able to make this third record; it inspired us to be where we’re at.
Caleb: Yeah, sometimes you get in trouble if you… I mean, if everything had been done exactly how we thought… I mean, I thought ‘Four Kicks’ was a B-side. I did not think that song should go on our record – and it ended up being one of our biggest singles.
Jared: This time, we had a song as the B-side, and then at the very last second we decided to put it on the record, and EVERYBODY at our labels wanted that to be the first single. Everybody. And it almost didn’t make it on the album.
Nathan: You can’t get caught up in that whole ‘You have your whole life to make your first record, you have three months to make your second, and your third is gonna make or break you’. Every record you make there’s gonna be some stigma attached to it, and if you think about that, you get stuck in the train of making the same record three or four times. You’ll sell records and you’ll make your money and shit, but it’s not real; you’re not growing, you’re just finding something that you know everyone loves and trying to reproduce that. We would much rather fall on our face going for a record that we really believe in and are 100% behind than going in there and making a whole record of ‘Bucket’s and ‘Four Kicks’ and, ‘Oh, here’s your next Kings Of Leon record – enjoy.’
Caleb: We’re the best-case scenario. We’ve never done something big enough to where people expect us or we’re required to repeat what we’ve done, you know? We still get to remain the underdogs and keep making the music that we wanna make, and God forbid one of these days we’re gonna accidentally come across something that people actually like.
You once said that it took you all a year to process what was going on when success first hit you. When it all exploded how did you cope with the ensuing madness?
Nathan: A lady named Alcohol!
Caleb: I don’t know, man. I was watching, yesterday, I saw us, it was like our first trip to the UK, our first festival season. We were on stage playing ‘Joe’s Head’ and I was looking at myself. It was kinda like the first time that I was actually looking at myself, and I was thinking, ‘Man, he is scared to death!’ Like, I could tell. I was scared to death and I just played it all.
Was it hardest for you, Jared, being the youngest?
Jared: The funnest maybe. I had a great time.
Caleb: He was probably the first one to really take a look and be like, ‘Alright, I need to slow down. I’m only 18 years old and I’m drinking every day’.
Jared: That happened. I went through this wave of depression because I just sat there one night and I don’t know what I was doing, I was probably doing something, but I thought, ‘Man, when was the last time I went to sleep sober?’ And I was like, ‘Oh my God!’ It had been at least a year and it really hit hard. So I had a Battle Royale with the demons in my hotel room for a few weeks; sweats, shivers, cried and cried…
Did you get any advice from your peers on how to handle life?
Caleb: No. Actually that’s the one thing that bands don’t talk about, drugs. You really don’t.
Jared: And the thing is, with older bands and older people, they don’t try to give you good advice because it’s like their one time to let loose. They’re like, ‘Oh man, we’re with the young party guys’. So even with your older people that we’ve toured with, you get just as fucked up.
Caleb: Yeah but, you know, the fact is that we’re all a lot more level-headed now and we’re not going out looking for cocaine every night and looking for the same fuckin’ shit that every shitty-ass band is looking for. We should take care of ourselves a little more than these fuckin’ bands who are coming out with a dumb-ass record. I think the fact that we have a level head on us and we still love to have a good time. When you ARE hanging out with the other musicians, you’re all just sitting there drinking and then you start telling drug stories, that’s the only time you start… and it’s only the funny stuff, it’s never the real stuff…
Nathan: I would love to fast-forward it three months from now: Caleb in bikini underwear with a kilo of coke on his chest, smiling, with a bunch of schoolgirls running around him.
Caleb: No way… I hate bikini underwear!
You brought in the same producers for this album, Ethan Johns and Angelo Patraglia. Were you worried about making something too different or losing your sound?
Nathan: We met with other producers. We told them the kind of record we wanted to make and kinda got their feedback, but at the end of the day it just made more sense…
Caleb: We kind of opened our minds a little bit. We thought, ‘This is a different record, let’s start afresh and see.’ Then when we did meet the other producers, it was like a blind date. Even though they were saying everything that you wanted to hear it was like, are they really gonna be able to do that? But the fact that we were questioning using other people, it kinda put the fire under the ass of the producers, it put them in check. So when we finally decided to go with them, when we went it there it was like easy breeze. We would walk in there and we’d be like, ‘Look, we’re not 14 years old anymore. We’re not gonna get fucked up and be talked into doing something we don’t wanna do…’ Pretty much just said, ‘Get out of our way’. And they did. And in the process, after we became more and more comfortable in the working realm, this anthemic record that we wanted to make, this big record that we wanted to make, they knew a lot of tricks that we would have had no idea.
The obvious change in your music is the atmospherics. It sounds like you’re not filling in gaps with solos or singing, but instead there are sounds and atmospherics that create interesting layers. How did you build them?
Caleb: We just got in the moment, man. When we finally got our sounds right, we would be so in the moment. The studio was amazing; we could make the room whatever colour the song felt like. Like, ‘Arizona’, we made it pink and purple in there. A song like ‘Charmer’ is probably red and yellow, dark stuff. We could do all that stuff, so when we got in there, half of these songs weren’t even fully arranged. We didn’t have an ending to them; we didn’t have anything. And when we went in there and started the songs, we would just keep playing and keep playing. It was like, ‘That was good. Keep going’. And then by the end of it, it was like, ‘Wow, that kinda sounds like it was the thing that we were going for really’.
You make it sound like it was quite idyllic. I read that you said this album was the first time that all four of you had equal say in the studio. Was it as friendly as you were making out or were there some clashes?
Caleb: I wouldn’t say equal. Everyone was allowed to voice opinions. Then we would vote, then the vote would come.
Nathan: It’s a democracy.
Caleb: It’s like Survivor. You have to work on getting someone on your side…
Nathan: Getting alliances, you know, in the bathroom…
Jared: “Matthew, you just got voted out of the studio. Grab your guitar and leave.”
Nathan: “Pack your strings and go.”
Each member definitely has a chance to shine throughout. ‘Charmer’ has got quite an 80s bassline, very reminiscent of some classic Joy Division. Was that an influence at all on you, Jared?
Jared: Absolutely. I love Peter Hook; he’s one of my favourites. It was kinda more like… When I started playing it I was thinking of The Pixies. I’d just been listening to ‘Surfer Rosa’ on the bus a lot and I’d started playing the most simple bassline like Kim Deal does.
That 80s infatuation influences a lot of bands nowadays to put electronic music into their songs to make it more danceable, but you guys seem to carry it off with guitars and straight up rock ‘n’ roll.
Nathan: We don’t ever wanna put a song on our record that we can’t pull off live. We’re a live band. At the end of the day that’s what we’re good at, that’s what we do. There’s nothing worse than hearing a great record and then going to see that band play, and either it’s half of what you thought it would be, or there are three people behind a curtain, playing instruments that are not even seen… We just always wanna put songs on our record that, when you come and see us live, you’re getting the same – obviously the live show will be better because it’s got energy and it’s that moment – but on our worst day, we want our live show to at least equal the record. That’s just par for the course.
In that song Caleb, you sing “She stole my karma”. Do you believe in karma?
Caleb: Yeah, I believe in a lot of stuff…
Jared: I don’t even get that. “She stole my karma”. I like it, but I don’t get it. I can’t wrap my head around it.
Caleb: I don’t know if I really got it either. It was really hard for me to wrap my head around, so I just kept it. Actually I didn’t say “She stole my karma”, I said something different, and one of our security guards came up to me and said, “Excuse me mate, did you say ‘She stole my karma’?” I was like, “I dunno”. He said, “That’s brilliant!” I was like, “Alright – ‘She stole my karma’!” (Laughs)
Nathan: The karma thing – never talk about a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes. That way when you talk about him you’re a mile away and you have his shoes.
Have you guys ever done something so bad that you felt worried about the karmic consequences?
Nathan: It depends on what the statute of limitations is in the state of Alabama.
Caleb, you gave up smoking for the recording of the second album to improve your voice. Did any of you similarly change something in preparation for this recording?
Caleb: I quit smoking again! (Laughs)
Jared: I quit smoking too.
How do you look after your voice on the road?
Caleb: It’s a muscle. Your voice is a muscle, so the further you get, the more it… you know. These songs are very complicated though. When we first went out and had a tour after we had recorded this record, I was spitting blood like you wouldn’t believe. My voice was terrible; I couldn’t sing and was having to do all this stuff – I had to pour honey in my mouth on stage. It looks cool, but I mean it’s not worth it. There’s nothing in the world that makes me feel like ‘ugh’ like not getting a note on stage. Like, that KILLS me. When I watch another band and the lead singer misses a note, I think it’s cool. I think, ‘Wow, that’s real’. But if I do it? I fuckin’ punch my head, man.
The drums on ‘McFearless’ are frantic, Nathan. It sounds like it’s gonna be a good drum track to play live.
Nathan: It’s fun. I really enjoyed recording it. That was one of those songs where we got it in like the second or third take…
Caleb: That was one where we were all just kinda sitting there going, [stares intently at Nathan] ‘He’s really gonna try to do that for the whole song?’ And we did it, and it was like, ‘fuck!’ And now, live, it’s like a stand out track.
Jared: We tried to write that song fuckin’ forever. At the beginning of the record, it never had any lyrics or anything like that, but we would just play it because we thought it was really good. I loved the drum beat and cool fuzz bass…
Caleb: It was hard. It was a hard song. It’s hard to play, but also, because of what’s going on, I have to sing against the beat for a long time. I was thinking, ‘Man, that sounds like a rap song.’ And then we got into the studio and I embraced it. I was like, ‘fuck yeah!’ But it sounded like a Memphis rap song. So I went in there and started writing lyrics and it was just like a rap song. All it was was me talking to haters.
The last album was quite dirty and sex-heavy. This one seems to be a bit more personal and romantic. Would you agree?
Caleb: Yeah, it’s more about ideas, man. We’re not singing about our dick anymore, we’re singing about the consequences of our dick.
Jared: I think it’s classic. Anything that’s classic. I mean, there are no pornos that are classic, but there are definitely love stories that are classic. I think for this whole thing we just started to realise, and we never really thought of it this way, but if this was to be our last record, I think we’d be cool with it – as far as what we’ve done. We’ve made a record that we’re all perfectly satisfied with.
Most of the songs on this album though are addressed to a girl. You sing about “her” or “she”. Is this one girl in particular or an amalgamation?
Caleb: No. There’s a lot of things going on. I mean, there were relationships going on in the band that were kind of like questionable or alarming, so it was always trying to understand different points of view. A lot of time I would get mad, and I realised that the fear was coming from the fact that I didn’t have a girl. So I would write these songs and it was like trying to imagine what it would be like not to be infatuated with a girl, not to fuck a girl and think ‘wow’. I was thinking, ‘What about love?’ You know, like our grandparents used to have. Like, my grandparents hate each other. There’s no way they would ever get a divorce – the family is too important to ’em. So everything they say to each other is mean, and it’s just like, that’s fuckin’ love. It’s stuff like that. It was like cowboy songs. We wanted these anthemic songs, and we’d become infatuated with the desert on the last tour, and all these songs I was just picturing us on top of mountains playing. It was like, if I’m playing on top of a mountain and there’s no one listening and I’m telling a story, I’m gonna tell an old classic story that might have happened in a fuckin’ desert.
It definitely sounds like a more story-telling album. Do you think it’s a cohesive story throughout?
Caleb: Kind of. I mean, the things that are personal about Caleb Followill are spread out throughout the whole thing.
You sing, “I wanna play til they’re kicking down the doors” in ‘Ragoo’. Is that how you feel when you’re playing on stage – do you want to play all night?
Caleb: Yeah, I do. I mean, I don’t wanna go out there and have to play for three hours, but I would love to go out there and play for an hour and a half every night. It gets you in shape, it feels good; the level of the crowd, the adrenaline. Really the hard part is coming back to your dressing room all sweaty and thinking, ‘There are a lot of beautiful girls at the afterparty expecting us to show up’, and it’s like, every now and then you just wanna be like, ‘Ugh, I’ll do it tomorrow night. I wanna rest’. Playing the show is the fun part.
Jared: The most depressing thing in the world is when it gets kinda exploited; when you play too many shows, or you play in places that you don’t want to. It’s like when you drain a snake of its venom; you wanna use it on something. I wish we could come up with our own tours every time. It would be Amarillo, Oklahoma City and Scottsdale, then a few days off. We need to come up with our own tours…
Caleb: It’s called the ‘We Don’t Make Money Tour’.
Nathan: We’ll be staying at the La Quinta Inn!
Jared: Dude, like we make our own tour and then at the end of it we just say, ‘Alright, we’re taking all the money we just made and we’re going to Hawaii for two days and one night.’
Caleb: Hawaii, man. We have a newfound respect for Hawaii. We got the opportunity to play there. We took up surfing, man. We would go walking down the beach with our surf gear on, our long hair flowing in the wind. You think you get laid carrying a guitar? Fuckin’ carry a surfboard! Holy shit! Gorgeous girls. You get out there in the water and they can’t see how bad of a surfer you actually are; you get lost in the shuffle.
I think you sing, “I love London” in ‘Fans’…
Caleb: No, I say, “All of London sing”.
Jared: We do love London. I can’t wait to get back there.
Caleb: That’s why I did it, man. I was missing the vibe and the buzz of London. Actually, when I wrote that line I’m pretty sure I laughed out loud, and I thought, ‘I can’t say that’. Because I said, “All of London sing, because England swings and they shall love each other”. There’s a song by Roger Miller called ‘England Swings’. [Sings] “England swings like a pendulum do / Bobbies on bicycles, two by two / Westminster Abbey, the tower of Big Ben / The rosy red cheeks of the little children”. We used to have our drivers – we’d be fucked up on everything – and we would roll down all the windows on our vans and have our drivers drive really fast through London listening to ‘England Swings’ and going, “Yeaaaahh!” (Laughs)
Jared: I would definitely move to London. I just think that the Government needs to…
Caleb: Implement sunlight! (Laughs)
Jared: Yeah, get a big dome that blocks out the rain and put artificial sunlight in. Because we are easily depressed people, and if you go over there and have five days straight of rain, our managers put us on suicide watch. Especially after we’ve been to Hawaii now, and the resorts in Scottsdale, Arizona. We love sunlight and the beach.
Caleb: Sipping a pina colada on the beach or going into a pub with fourteen seventy-year-old red-faced men at the fireplace? Uhhh… (Laughs)
Jared: They lie to you a lot. We went over there in December and they were like, “Oh, you’re going to love this little beach town”, and we went to Blackpool.
Blackpool in December?
Caleb: More like Cesspool! (Laughs)
How do you compare the musical scenes or the pop culture between the UK and the US?
Jared: Pop culture is shitty everywhere.
Caleb: We haven’t been there in so long that I don’t know. Last time we left there, there was good music getting played, but there was also people trying to convince you that some of the new bands were good, and it’s like, ‘Not good’. And then the pop music is worse than over here. Like, they have a lot of kids’ songs, in Australia too. Here, kids’ songs don’t get big.
Jared: Yeah, you guys are definitely… Um… What is that fuckin’ word?
Caleb: Stupid? (Laughs)
Jared: No, like people who love America and have the American flag. What do you call that?
Jared: Yeah, you guys are very patriotic. Like, you guys push your own bands so much. And that’s really cool, but like, if you look at the magazines and you go through, it’s almost like they’ve tried to wean themselves off of American bands. Like I said, pop culture is shitty everywhere. It’s the same thing as over here. If the mass population can like it then it’s probably not good. England has great underground music and a great scene going, and the same goes for America.
Nathan: But at least in the UK, our first trip over there I discovered more American bands over there than I would have ever dreamed of in America. Because, you know, bands like The Rapture and stuff like that weren’t getting played in America. But you’d go over there and you’d be, “Man, who’s that band? I really like that.” And it’s, “Oh they’re from Portland, Oregon”, and you’re like, “Holy shit!” America is just too tied up in the whole MTV thing. All of radio is either hip-hop or bands on TRL that have 12-year-old girls screaming for ’em. And at the end of the day, they’re all the Backstreet Boys. It doesn’t fuckin’ matter. You get in there and whore yourself out and out here you’re no different than a boy band.
In ‘The Runner’ you sing, “I speak to Jesus every day”. How big a part does religion play in your life now?
Nathan: How big of a liar are you, Caleb?
Caleb: I mean, you always try to make good decisions and whatever, but me saying I talk to Jesus every day, people think that means I get down on my knees and I pray. That’s not the case, unfortunately. But I’ll find one point in every day… And a lot of times when I’m on stage and I hear the crowd and I see what’s going on and what we’ve accomplished and feel that – I don’t know WHAT to say. It’s like you wanna just be like, ‘Wahoo!’ But you can’t do that on stage, so instead it’s just like, ‘Thank you’.
Nathan: At least one time every single day I’ll see someone that’s less fortunate than me and be like, ‘Man, thank you God…’
And then give them a CD?
Nathan: Yeah, I give them a signed set of drumsticks.
Jared: And then we tell our assistant, “Bill that guy!” (Laughs)
Now that you’re older and wiser, how do you think this tour is gonna compare with the last?
Nathan: I actually think that we‘ve fooled around and come full circle. I see the next tour being a little rowdy.
Caleb: It’ll be classier. We’re not going to look for a dirty bar every night to go be surrounded by loud people there; they’re nice and they’re complimenting you, but it’s like, you can only be like, ‘Oh, thank you’ enough times in a night. I’d rather go to a place where the bitches were snobby and I have to fuckin’ stand on a table and piss and be like, ‘Do you not know who I am, bitch?’ (Laughs)
And are you ready for the treadmill of work when you come over here to push the album?
Caleb: We know we’re no longer the UK darlings. We know that we’re now just like all the other bands and we have to stand by our music, and we’re prepared to do that. We’re prepared to have people say things. We know by making the kind of record that we made that people are gonna have to listen to it a couple of times and they are gonna have to have an open mind, but there’s no doubt in my mind after they hear this record that they won’t know exactly what we’re doing. They’ll be like, ‘I fuckin’ get it’.
Nathan: But they can’t take our good looks away, at the end of the day.
Try going to Blackpool again after this interview!
Nathan: (Laughs) Get shanked in Blackpool, yeah!
That’s enough talking for one day, it seems, as the Followills bounce off to pump more dollars into the jukebox. The tab behind the bar gets suitably pummelled, and signals the start of what will become a typical Saturday night bar crawl in Nashville: shuffleboard, darts, pool and lots of beer. Aptly, our band of revellers end the night in Losers, a small, two-room bar with live entertainment from three cowboys with guitars. Memories are blurred, but Caleb’s drunken summation of New-Rave after learning about the ersatz movement from Clash, is unforgettable: “You’re either a slut or you’re a slut with a glowstick up your ass.”
My earlier apprehension at how I’d be received was worthless. A band weighed down by preconceptions, Kings Of Leon curiously meet, exceed and conflict with them all. At once devilishly wicked, fiendishly lewd and yet wholly immersed in their music, they are easy company and it’s sad to leave them. Now that they’re back, bigger, stronger and better than ever, you too will find it impossible to renounce their sovereignty. Long live the Kings.