Interview with Kings Of Leon

Kings Of LeonWith youth, creativity and the rock press on their side, Kings Of Leon have just about thrust themselves into a position of doing no wrong. Their sophomore album Aha Shake Heartbreak and subsequent opening stint for U2 solidified them as one of the premiere up and coming acts in America, something which Britain seemed to have caught onto earlier.

The UK took to the Followills, Caleb on rhythm guitar/vocals, Jared on bass, Matthew on lead guitar and Nathan on drums, because of their roots aesthetic and unique mixture of rock influences. That and the fact that they’re related and spent their youth traveling the southern part of the U.S. with their evangelist preacher father. Having a good story never hurts.

But if that was what got their first EP, Holy Roller Novocaine, and the follow-up full-length Youth & Young Manhood noticed, it was the band’s touring diligence and instinctive musical prowess that held the attention of critics and audience alike. Now in a position of building their American fanbase the old-fashioned way (by touring their collective ass off), Kings Of Leon are weaving their tale of rock and roll and white burgundy with brash rock traditionalism. At this point, their momentum is a force unto itself.

Catching on in Britain kind of put you guys on the long way around to American success. Usually you’re a successful band in Britain that comes to America, you were the American band that went to Britain, became successful and then came back. Must have felt strange.

I guess the only funny part is trying to explain to people, trying to explain to our family, the reason why we’re never home is things are actually going good in other places, and they always try to judge what they can see here in America, and there’s a lot more going on than people realize over here. But we’ve already done so much over there that now we get to take it a little easier over there, so it’s kind of good because it’s really made us want America really bad, and so now all the success we get, even if it’s a small amount of success, we’re still very proud and happy to be doing something in America.

Obviously you can see you’re playing bigger places and stuff like that, but how much of the band’s buzz do you actually see on a daily basis while you’re touring?

Well, our fanbase here is pretty amazing. They all fuckin’ travel, they come to every show. There’s groups of people who come from miles around just to come and travel with us. A lot of times there’ll be people driving behind the bus going to the next show and shit like that. But I don’t know, it really reminds us of our first trip to the UK because the buzz is so much stronger now and the people are so…When I’m on stage is when I can really tell.You can see the people that were coming because it seemed like it was cool to do, or they were coming with their lady or something like that, but once we started playing, you could tell that people didn’t really know what they were going to see, and I think we’re playing some of the best shows we’ve ever played right now. I really don’t give a damn what people say about us. If they come watch our show, they’ll either love us or hate us. There’s no in between anymore, I don’t think.

What do you mean?

I just mean that those people that were coming for the cliché, you’re not gonna get it. Those people that are coming for all the hits, or all the songs that people considered our hits because they kind of pigeonholed us into different genres. We mix stuff a lot and you never know what you’re gonna get when we’re playing, but I promise you we put everything into it every night, and that’s half the battle right there.