Kings of Leon

The albums that inspired

They came, and Lord did they rock; this year has more or less belonged to the Kings Of Leon – from the sell-out tours and the festival show-stealing to the masterful chart topping Clash favourite ‘Because Of The Times’, the Kings’ most realised and significant album of their short but impressive career. Its visionary palate blended atmospheric anthems with balls-out rock, seeping with their Southern blues heritage and whiskey-drenched visions of modern – nay, futuristic – music.

So what albums are responsible for shaping their craft? Which long-players made the biggest impact on the lives of the young Followills? Clash caught up with the youngest half, Matthew and Jared, to find out…


Oh my God, they called us Led Zeppelin while we were walking up the stairs and I wanted to beat their fuckin’ asses so bad.

Matthew: I first got into this right when I first moved up (to Nashville). I liked a couple of their other albums as much, maybe more, I can’t remember which ones they were right now, but that was the one that was great.

Jared: ‘Sticky Fingers’ is fucking awesome. We’ve supported Dylan but never the Stones. We’ve been asked a bunch, but it’s been conflicting schedules so far. But I would love to. I think that they’re a really good band and they’re probably gonna be really popular one day. They asked us and that was an honour enough. We’ve opened up for so many people now that it’s like…we’re really starting to embarrass everybody else how all of the biggest bands like us! (Laugh) I tell people in America who don’t know us, “We’re not your favourite band but we’re your favourite band’s favourite band!”

Matthew: I like them because they never gave a fuck ever.

Jared: There’s definitely something about the way that they took the best from American music at that time, like the blues, like the black people were on to something and they knew about it, you know? And the guitar work and the way he [Jagger] sang, it’s just the whole persona of them. They were the coolest band in the world at that time; the way they dressed, the way they were on stage, the kind of music that they pursued…


Jared: They write some of the best songs EVER.

Matthew: They may be the biggest hit makers of all time. They can write a song and you will immediately love it.

Jared: They are the most heartbreaking band. Heartbreaking vocals, great parts; I mean I love the way he fucking sings. And the basslines are incredible.

Matthew: I think that’s what you look for in a band, you know?

Jared: A couple of years back we had two shows in a row and it was us, The Pixies and The Strokes and then the very next night it was us, The Strokes and The Cure, so it was basically like the two best nights ever for us. But we only got to catch two songs and then drove off during ‘A Forest’. I wanted to kill myself. How has The Cure inspired our music? Basslines, big time. Probably vocals too, Caleb just doesn’t admit it.


Matthew: My favourite records are records that I like from start to finish – I’m sure that it’s that way for everybody – but that one was that way from the third time I listened to it. The first time I listened to it I was kinda like, ‘Ehh, I kinda like it, they’re alright’. But because there was one song I liked I listened to it again and then by the second time I was like ‘I gotta listen to it again!’ The only reason we ever heard of Interpol is because we came to London and we were all staying at the Columbia [Hotel] together…

Jared: I hated them just by looking at them.

We’re not your favourite band but we’re your favourite band’s favourite band!

Matthew: Oh my God, they called us Led Zeppelin while we were walking up the stairs and I wanted to beat their fuckin’ asses so bad.

Jared: That was when Carlos had the little pin sideburns. They made me puke up a little bit. But it was one of those things, you just thought, ‘God, they seem so pretentious’, and then it just pissed you off so bad when you heard their music. Then I heard their fuckin’ record and it made me want to die because it was so good.


Jared: ‘Third Eye Blind’ is the reason why we are in a band – me and Matt.

Matthew: The best songs in the world are songs that rip your heart out and make you feel so good but yet so bad, so it’s weird; you don’t know how you feel.

Jared: Totally. I love artificial depression, making yourself feel depressed. Like, you could be so happy, like you’re watching TV, watching Home Improvement, cracking the fuck up, and then you think, ‘I’m gonna go listen to Third Eye Blind’ and you go to your room and turn on your black light when I was like 10, sit on my bed… (Laughs) I used to love feeling depressed man, and ‘Third Eye Blind’ would do that big time.


Jared: Thin Lizzy is where the rock came from in our band. Yeah, the fuckin’ most hard rocking, the best guitar solos. They’re like Steve Vai with feeling. They make you feel great! They make you feel amazing. They’re a summertime band. They wrote songs about the summer, good looking females and stuff, and they just make you feel fuckin’ good.

Matthew: And motorcycles. One line is like ‘his bike is his throne…’

Jared: That’s from a song called ‘Renegade’; it’s the best ever. That’s why on ‘Knocked Up’ we sing, “People call us renegades”. There are so many things that WE think about…

Matthew: And another one, ‘Molly’s Chambers’ is from ‘Whiskey In A Jar’.

Jared: Oh yeah, he sings: “I went to Molly’s chambers…” That was a fuckin’ blatant rip-off and nobody said anything about it! Well, it wasn’t so much a rip-off as it was we were hoping that the band would be like, ‘Oh cool, that’s from our song’.

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