|Posted on January 4, 2012 at 11:15 AM||comments (28)|
Click on Thumbnails for full sized scans.
I want to be clear - the ONLY reason I posted this article was that so many people (from other countries) asked me to scan it. It goes against my "negative posting policy".
I don't like the fact that they didn't really include or expand on anything positive - Talihina Sky, the birth of Matthew & Johanna's son (Knox), Caleb's marriage to Lily, sold out UK Stadium tour, Headling Slane Castle, 2 nights at Hyde Park and various European Festivals, Grammy nominations for 2011 and 2012 etc etc etc... it only focussed on the negative - hardly a balanced account of last year in my opinion.
|Posted on November 19, 2011 at 6:20 PM||comments (0)|
|Posted on November 17, 2011 at 1:15 PM||comments (0)|
|Posted on June 3, 2011 at 8:19 AM||comments (0)|
Kings of Leon’s High Flight
By Willem Bemboom
Last year we met them in Philadelphia, exactly around the time of their big American break: Kings of Leon, three brothers and their cousin from the American south, who saw their considerable status grow to that of mega stars with the one-two punch of singles Sex On Fire and Use Somebody. Their fourth album Only By The Night (2008) has sold over 7 million copies, the sports halls of last year already replaced by even bigger amphitheatres and even the work rate is high: this month sees the release of Come Around Sundown, their fifth album in seven years. Recorded in New York City overseen by regular producers Angelo Petraglia and Jacquire King, the Kings deepen their sumptuous on the road sound a little further on Come Around Sundown, with the most notable novelties being proper country and gospel influences. OOR visited the boys in their hometown of Nashville.
Nashville, Tennessee, mid September. It’s scorching hot in the country capital of the world. Around 40C/104F degrees, with a humidity between 80 and 90 percent. The air conditioned Gray Line bus that provides tours along the homes of the big country stars looks tempting, but the tour doesn’t pass the houses of the two most important musical exponents of the moment: Jack White, who’s been living in Nashville with his family for the past few years and of course Kings of Leon, the biggest American rock & roll band of the moment. Born and raised in Mt. Juliet, a little east of the city, spent their whole youth in the wake of their preaching dad Ivan Followill roaming the southern states, and settled again in Nashville at the start of the century to start a band.
That small band of the early 2000’s has grown into a million dollar business. We leave the Gray Line bus and its elderly, decorated with cameras, customers for what it is and report at the Nashville airport for a chat with singer Caleb, drummer Nathan, bassist Jared (the brothers) and guitarist Matthew (the cousin). After earlier visits with the band, in various places around the world, we know that lots of things can change at the last minute with Kings of Leon. In Manchester, around the release of third album Because Of The Times, Caleb turned out sick and we had to bin all our subject matter questions in regard to the lyrics. A year later in Paris, Matthew’s massive hangover ruined it. Last year in Philadelphia it was the same story: the three brothers neatly showed up for our appointment, but Matthew had done a runner. And now in Nashville, shortly after arrival, we get a text message from home: Caleb is sick. The management wants him to spare his voice for the show. Maybe he’ll be able to do a phone interview later that week, but in all probability we won’t be seeing him today.
We’re not on the passenger compartment of the airport, but in a private lounge on the other site of the runways. And we’re looking at an oversize Embraer business jet, that’s warming up for departure to Atlanta in about an hour. No Kings have yet reported in the lounge, so we’re allowed to go onto the platform and peek around in the plane. Light coloured leather seats, a bedroom in the back, seats about fifteen, though not OOR; after their Atlanta show tonight, the boys will fly on to Miami for a short break on the beach and a couple of shows in Florida.
Back in the lounge, drummer Nathan and guitarist Matthew are the first arrived; this is gonna be our interview pair, just like three years ago in Manchester. “We were in that rotten double decker then,” Matthew surprisingly remembers. “If you’re absent that often, you remember the few things you did attend,” band oldest, Nathan, laughs from behind a big glass of wine, in an elongated southern drawl. Matthew looks healthier than ever before, and his appearance today is better anyway than Nathan’s, whose right arm is in a sling. Just like Caleb two years ago in Paris, when he had to recover from a fight with his eldest brother that dislocated his shoulder. There’s various stories about that fight, but the words ‘hit with a frying pan’ and ‘stabbed the mattress with a knife’ return in all of them.
What happened to your arm?
Nathan: “Accident at a yacht. My arm got dislocated and some muscles are torn. Hopefully I won’t need surgery, but if it doesn’t get better by itself then I’ll have to get under the knife early next year after all. I’m fine playing, so long I rest it the rest of the day.”
Must be a family thing.
Nathan: “Yeah, we take turns.”
Matthew: “It isn’t even 3pm and you’re already drinking wine. Surely that’ll help too.”
Nathan: “Hey, I happen to like wine.”
I just had a look in your jet. I’ll be thinking of that when I return to Amsterdam in seat 46F tomorrow.
Matthew: “It’s a great solution. As it turns out we’ll be flying from city to city the next few days, but usually we return to Nashville after a gig. It’s so central in the country that most of the big cities are within an hour and a half to two hours flying. This way you can play more and get to spend more time on your private life. It’s definitely a win-win situation.”
Nathan: “We’ve seen U2 tour like this when we just started out. For us it’s been like this since the end of the tour for Only By The Night. Say, from when our sex was on fire.”
Matthew (shaking his head): “Dude…”
How do your days look these nowadays?
Nathan: “That depends on whether we want to sound check or not. And that depends on if we have new songs on the set list.”
Matthew: “But usually this building here is our starting point of the day sometime in the afternoon and we’ll arrive to the venue around 6. Today we play a show in Atlanta, from where my parents will get on board and we’ll move on to Miami around 11. If all goes well, we’ll be at our hotel around 1am. And then tomorrow around this time, we’ll be on the beach.”
Nathan: “See, now that’s what I’m looking forward to.”
Last year we went to Philadelphia to talk to you because so many things had changed. Two big hits and you finally had your break-through in America. What has changed since April last year?
Nathan: “Oh, man... Back then we thought we couldn’t get any bigger than that. But look at us now, cos we’re not playing 15,000 capacity sports halls, but amphitheatres that seat 20,000 or more. It sneaks up on you, you really only realise when you’ve already made that next move. It seemed very sudden to me: no more tour bus, but a car that picks you up from your hotel room and drops you off right in front of your dressing room. During the sound check you’re not nervous anymore about getting enough people into that club, but because of the enormous void in front of you. And around show time you have to still get started instead of being the perpetual opening act. Everything around you is dark, you can’t see anything that happens in front of Caleb, but you can hear all those people, all the madness.”
Matthew: “And time flies. It’s exactly like you say: you don’t even realise everything that’s happening, even though you do so incredibly much. I mean, we’ve just made another record, when I feel we only just finished Only By The Night. I often find myself thinking: a Number One hit? Us? Before I think, oh yea, we do! Everything goes so fast, it’s hard to get a grip on things.”
Nathan: “I think that other bands will take some time off after such a hectic period, and enjoy or reminisce on what they have achieved. Apparently we’re not built like that. I’d get bored to death after a day and would want to make a new record again. Which is exactly what we’ve done. Work hard and carry on suits us just fine.”
Matthew: “I love being in the studio and making a record. Probably even the best thing of everything we do. The realization that a new record also brings lots of additional work like promotion and travelling only sinks in later, when the music has found its shape and form. Kinda makes me think, damn, I fell for it again.”
Nathan: “But… complaining isn’t an option. You’re at a damn private airport! They sure know how to cool a Chardonnay here! We’re blessed.”
It all sounds very exciting, but you appear to remain calm.
Nathan: “It’s still as exciting as in, say, 2004, but in a completely different way. And just when you think that you’re used to everything, when you think it can’t get any bigger, there’s this private jet in front of your face and things become different again. The advantage of that jet is that there really isn’t a superlative to that anymore.”
Matthew: “There is; an even bigger jet. I’m quite sure U2 had a bigger jet than we have now.”
For years you’ve tried to break America, when Europe pretty much was at your feet from the start. Is it what you had imagined it to be?
Nathan: “Uhm, what was it like again before this..?”
Matthew: “We’d been playing the same venues over and over here in the States, without any improvement, while in the rest of the world the crowds gradually became bigger. And then last year, in that one tour, in just a couple of weeks really, it happened in the States as well. It’s just hard to understand, to realise. It still is. I mean, wow, tonight there’ll be another 12,000 people coming to see us. I love it.”
Nathan: “You should ask me again next year, maybe then I’ll be able to sketch a better picture. What I can say though, is that I’m glad that it’s mainly the band that’s famous, not so much us as people. But I could be wrong about that.”
What do you miss the most about the time before Sex on Fire and Use Somebody?
Nathan: “A couple of weeks ago, we did this showcase gig for a British tv station. They’d come to Nashville to film a secret gig, for about 200 kids at a skate park. We did some new stuff, plus the hits and some oldies, round about an hour. That was over before we knew. For the first time in ages I could see the audience again from behind my drums. Every facial expression, the room got its own personality. The enthusiasm of two hundred people right in front of me is much more direct than a mass in the background. It made me think of our tours when we just started out. Even though the circumstances weren’t always that ideal back then; bad food in even worse hotels in foreign cities. Apparently I do miss that intimacy to an extent.”
Matthew: “You could also just put your glasses on when you’re playing. You’ll definitely see a lot more then.”
And what do you see, Matthew?
Matthew: “Ha, lots of people who wouldn’t give me a second glance if I weren’t in this band. I find that the most peculiar about this job. But that also goes for a venue that seats two hundred. I just prefer to look at my guitar, and like Jared, I use a lot of pedals when I play. When it comes to that, things haven’t really changed for me since we started playing arenas.”
Caleb has told NME that he misses travelling by bus.
Matthew: “I actually do too. What we do now is just easier and more practical, but I definitely didn’t hate the bus.”
Nathan: “I know why Caleb misses that bus: he can’t piss in my bunk anymore when he’s really drunk. If you don’t mind, I prefer the jet.”
Matthew: “He’d always pick a bunk in which someone was actually sleeping, never an empty one. For a while we locked him up in the lounge in the back, because it had a lock and he couldn’t wander his drunken ass around the bus. He’s pissed on me quite a few times.”
Isn’t it weird though: In Europe Sex On Fire was the big hit, in the States it was Use Somebody.
Matthew: “I thought it was both in America, right? I don’t keep up with it that much.”
Nathan: “Sex On Fire was our biggest success in the States till then, when it reached No. 1 in the alternative charts. Usually that would be the highest achievable for Kings of Leon. But of course that’s about equal to being number 86 in the regular chart. However, Use Somebody was a No. 1 in that mainstream chart. Quite a difference! I get why Europe liked Sex On Fire so much: it’s dance-y and just a fun song to hear. When you’re on a festival site in Belgium with some xtc, you want to hear something like that. Use Somebody is more of an anthem, it’s uplifting. That’s the kind of song Americans love.”
Do you keep track of how people have covered Use Somebody?
Nathan: “That’s impossible! It’s been done so many times.”
Matthew: “When it was still in the charts, I’ve looked on YouTube a few times and it would have at least two hundred different videos on there, with all sorts of interpretations. Some of them were pretty good, but I laughed myself sick over the remaining majority. Now there’s thousands, you just can’t keep track.”
Nathan: “I did find another fun video, Kings of Leon shreds. Some guy with a lot of humour and a good sense of music overdubs your videos to make it sound absolutely terrible, but still make it look as if it’s right. It’s hilarious, you should look it up! (watch) Another one is ‘Matt Sex Tape 2007.’ (*note from Erin* I tried to look that up too, but couldn't find it.) I swear, you’ll laugh yourself silly!”
You’ve won a few Grammys; where do you keep them?
Nathan: “I had a Grammy cabinet made, with two shelves. The top shelf is full now, there’s four on there. The bottom shelf is waiting…”
Matthew: “Mine only arrived today, just before I got picked up. How come you already had them for a while and I didn’t get mine till now?”
Nathan: “I’ve had them for about two months now. Do you know that recurring joke from The Simpsons, that if you throw a Grammy out of the window, someone will always throw it back?”
Matthew: “That’s not a good thing, those things are pretty heavy! It had a huge box around them. I wouldn’t throw them out of the window.”
Nathan: “Those Grammys made me respect people like Alicia Keys a lot more. You’ll be seeing pics of her with eight of those things in her arms. She’s really tiny, but apparently also really strong. I don’t think you should pick a fight with Alicia Keys.”
Nathan, you and Caleb have invested in a piece of ground years ago and built your farm on it. Have you been buying any outrageous rock star possessions since your big break-through?
Nathan: “I only buy useful stuff. Matt doesn’t. He just buys cars and doesn’t really use them. Not that he’s a very good driver either.”
Matthew: “Dude! I’m sitting right here. Besides, speak for yourself.”
Nathan: “My only sin is wine. I love expensive wines and am practically a collector. I just keep drinking them too, so my collection doesn’t really grow. Last night I downed a very expensive red wine. Lamb burger with rice and truffle. Bit of a shame, but it was very nice. I really treat myself with that.”
Matthew: “I recently bought a piece of land next to the river. I want to build a house there, but I don’t know yet when I’ll have the time to do that. I also have a house in town that I really like. So it is a bit unnecessary, but it’s with an eye on the future.”
In the British press Caleb has expressed his concern about the recent success being harmful for what you’ve built up in the past years. Do you share that concern?
Nathan: “That’s just how Caleb is, I don’t see it that way at all. He is right about the press following everything we do right now, and that the success attracts leeches, but because the four of us have been working really hard for years to get where we are today, it’s made us strong as a unit and we don’t allow negative influences from the outside. The answer is in the question, or in its thesis, already.”
What makes you notice that you’re under the microscope?
Matthew: “Everyone watches, everyone wants you to do something wrong. At festivals you have to be extremely nice to other bands, or you’ll end up in the tabloids as arrogant assholes. And you can’t do anything to undo it, cos any reply only makes it worse.”
Nathan: “We recently had an absolute highlight in that area. Do you know the pigeon story? A couple of weeks ago we played in St. Louis where we were under attack by shitting pigeons in the rafters. Especially Jared had it bad, one hit after the other, right in his face too. And he couldn’t even move because he had to use his pedals. You can get really sick if you get that shit in your eyes or mouth. Our opening acts did play their shows, but our management didn’t think it safe for us to keep playing. So we apologised and went offstage after a few songs. We’ll definitely make that up to St. Louis at the end of this run of the tour, which seems like a reasonable solution to me. It’s just that this incident has gotten a huge aftermath in the press. Who did we think we were, conceited divas who let themselves get chased off stage by a couple of birds. It received even more attention than our songs. This wouldn’t have happened some two years ago.”
Matthew: “Of course you can also look at things like with a sense of humour: this type of story sort of belongs to Kings of Leon. With our previous record, we were known for the singer and the drummer who nearly killed each other. Before that, we were those derailed preacher’s sons. Every now and then we’d let out a juicy story to keep people busy. Now we don’t have to do that anymore, cos it happens anyway and we can’t control it anymore.”
Leading up to Come Around Sundown’s release it remained fairly quiet when it came to attacks with frying pans, knifes in mattresses and dislocated shoulders.
Nathan: “Well, I do have a shoulder injury now, but that was an accident. We’ve become a lot calmer, partly cos of our wives and girlfriends. I find it strange to say, but Kings of Leon have become a serious business, where you just can’t afford to beat the crap out of each other. There are too many people that rely on us, to make drunken mistakes. They won’t get paid if we have to cancel a show, we can’t get away with that.
Matthew: “Besides, a broken hand means you’ll have to disappoint two hundred thousand people. And then you’ll get the stories in the press again as well. It’s just not worth it.”
Nathan: “There’s no room for selfishness anymore. We’re still rock ‘n roll, just more sensible than before. The drugs have been a thing of the past for a while, the fists are too now. But a good glass of wine every now and then shouldn’t be a problem, I don’t think.”
U2, Bob Dylan and Pearl Jam all took you under their wing for a while; who do you listen to for good advice now that you’re on the same level as they are?
Nathan: “It’s all internal affairs now. The good thing about the bond between three brothers and a cousin is that you can be extremely honest to each other. We record all our records with the same people. Even the majority of our crew has been with us from the start. So when we’re in the studio and something doesn’t work, you won’t hear something like ‘Hmm guys, that’s not bad, but maybe we should do that a little different...’ No, with us it’s more like ‘What a shit song, get rid of that crap!’”
Matthew: “Yea, we can be extremely honest.”
Nathan: “But it does work! From our first EP on we don’t give a rat’s ass about what that newspaper writes, or that journalist, or that record company’s product manager. There’s only four people in the world of Kings of Leon who call the shots, with some steady troops left or right. We remain everything among ourselves; the music we make, we make for ourselves. That’s the fundament and that won’t ever change.”
Are you the same band in the studio as you are onstage?
Nathan: “In the studio you get the real Kings of Leon, recording and creating songs is our favourite part. Matt already said it a little ago and he’s right. That feeling has only grown stronger in the past years. We’re all in steady relationships nowadays and the studio is now, more than ever, our clubhouse, our safe haven. It’s a real boys’ club, full of guitars and cool devices, the girls are not allowed! It doesn’t even feel like work.”
Matthew: “The only thing about this living that I see as work is the travelling. Promotion isn’t my favourite either, though I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s easier to just join in than to try and avoid it.”
How did you end up in New York?
Matthew: “Now there’s something I’d like to know the answer to as well!”
Nathan: “Matt was against, hahaha! We had just never made an album there yet, but Caleb, Jared and I all have apartments there. I saw it as a change of pace, living in New York goes at a very different pace than in Nashville. We wanted to see what the daily life in New York would do to our creativity. New York is different when you live there than when you’re there for a tour stop. You take the underground or a cab to the studio, I’d walk through the city a lot in the mornings, it’s a total abundance of impressions and ideas. It was like your state of consciousness was broadened and then at the end of the day we had to give all those fantastic ideas a place in the music. And it was different every day, so we’d have to level between the four of us and that’s what we worked with.”
Matthew: “I’m not used to being locked up in concrete every day, so it took me quite some adjustment. I was also the only one who was in a hotel, so I still lived from my suitcase. But the added value of New York quickly became clear to me. One of my favourite new songs, Back Down South, could not have been made anywhere else but in New York. Not that it has a typical New York sound, it’s actually really roots-y, pretty much like the stuff you’d usually hear here in Nashville. It’s kind of like a homage to where we’re from, something we couldn’t have done here. There’s country music everywhere around here, it would’ve been a bit cheesy had we recorded something like that here at home. But that part of our lives came to the surface in the city, I hadn’t expected that. But those songs made us feel really good, apparently the country feel is rooted in us deeper than we thought.”
Were you inspired by the city life or by missing Nashville?
Matthew: “The latter for me, the former for the others.”
Nathan: “I see New York as my second hometown and I don’t really miss Nashville when I’m there. At least, I never caught myself thinking: wish I was in Nashville.”
The album also has more gospel influences than we’re used from you guys. That immediately makes me think of your religious background coming to the surface.
Matthew: “I don’t think that was a conscious decision. But it’s more Caleb’s influence anyway.”
Nathan: “Definitely Caleb’s influence, but not with a specific religious undertone. It’s more to do with how he feels as a singer. The guy can simply sing really beautifully, but he can also perfectly hide that. On the first few records, he didn’t want people to understand what he sang about, so he sang as if his mouth was full of marbles. That smoke curtain has been lifted, he’s getting more and more confident. Only By The Night was the turning point, that’s when he dared to pour out his heart and soul. And then that record was a huge success, which made the knife cut on both sides for him. In the back of his head he thought: shit, look what happened now that I finally started to really sing! His fear was always that we’d become too popular and that’s exactly what’s happened. There’s a huge pressure on him now when it comes to his voice and his lyrics, but I think he’s lived up to it. He’s pulled the smoke curtain a little closer together again, just enough for him to feel safe behind it, but with enough room for him to properly sing. He’s showing his full range in Mary, but it’s a different singer than you hear in Use Somebody."
The Immortals appears to be a very honest introspection of Caleb. Even his drunken alter ego Rooster makes an appearance.
Nathan: “We haven’t seen Rooster in action for a while now, he’s retired. But he’s always still just around the corner too. I’m not quite sure what those lyrics are about though.”
You guys know Caleb better than anyone else in the world, can you tell by his lyrics how he’s doing, or what his current state of mind is?
Nathan: “It’s kinda puzzling on this record. He improvised his lyrics more than ever, mumbled lines into the mic and would record proper ones later on. That never really happened for most of them, about 75% of the lyrics were thought up on the spot. In most cases I didn’t even realise they were dummy lyrics. He’d say that he’d replace it with something else, but we would usually think that the best bit of the song. For this record he’s asked us for advice more than ever, which gave us a content and valuable feeling.”
“Next year in the jungle!” Nathan calls out a few minutes later after he’s scored a refill on his wine. He punches the air and slobbers his wine on the way to his next interview. Jared has also arrived by now and quickly shakes our hand, before disappearing into the meeting room with Nathan. The moment Matthew goes over to the parking lot to walk his girlfriend's wife’s tiny barker, a big jeep pulls up to the door. A small figure with jet black sunglasses emerges: Caleb Followill, the man we have another two pages worth of questions for. We only get to ask him one, when he stops for a second and extends his hand: How are you? “Yeah. Thanks for coming.” Mumble, grumble, cough cough and he’s outside again, at the bottom of the jet’s steps. He hasn’t called anymore.
|Posted on May 3, 2011 at 4:37 PM||comments (2)|
Photo taken at the MET Ball, NYC (02 May 11)
Kings of Leon singer Caleb Followill says he doesn’t know the exact date of his wedding, but he seems certain that he will marry his Victoria’s Secret model Fiancée Lily Aldridge in May.
“You have to ask Lily [about the wedding date]. She won’t tell me. I think it’s somewhere between May 10 and May 20, but she won’t tell me because I have a big mouth,” Caleb told PEOPLE recently at the Tribeca Film Festival premiere of his band’s documentary, Talihina Sky: The Story of Kings of Leon.
Caleb’s bandmate brothers Nathan and Jared Followill, however, are more forthcoming when it comes to the specifics of the wedding.
It’s going to be a very small wedding and then a big party,” Jared said. “I think there are only like maybe 25 people or so going to the wedding, but a lot of people will be at the party.”
“I’m the best man,” Nathan added, “and they’re having lemon custard for their wedding cake.”
Nathan, who wed Jessie Baylin in 2009, has this advice for Caleb: “Don’t get married!”
Jared, however, assures PEOPLE that Aldridge has been welcomed into their family with open arms. In fact, the “Sexy Little Bride” model can be seen on tour with the guys throughout the documentary – and she was practically inseparable from the brothers’ mom at a Heineken-sponsored afterparty for the film.
“We love her! I’m so excited for the wedding,” Jared said of his sister-in-law-to-be.
And while Aldridge seems to be firmly in control of all the wedding details, she should beware of the ulterior motive of her groom’s brother.
“I just hope she invites all of her model friends [to the wedding],” Jared said. “That’s the only reason I’m going.”
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See Full Scans here
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" …I think we’re going to call it "Come Around Sundown". So far it’s some of the saddest country songs you’ve ever heard, but mixed with some of the hippest melodies we’ve ever done. It’s beat driven and heavy, but then there’ll be a country song that’ll tear your heart out. And no pop.”