Interview with Kings Of Leon: Free To Reign

Kings Of Leon (LEGO)I have an old tattered Rolling Stone clipping back from March of 2005 crudely hanging by my desk. The Kings Of Leon were still young boys as they slugged Jack Daniels through their thick facial foliage while sprawled out over velour decor. Their hands shoved down the dresses of Asian women accented the photo spread. The band performed in New York City the night prior to prepare for the release of their sophomore LP, Aha Shake Heartbreak (RCA Records). It is nearing almost four years since then and convincingly I can stand before you and say the Kings Of Leon have survived the hype, expectation, and the classic vices of rock ‘n’ roll. As drummer Nathan Followill will explain, a lot of things have changed since then, but some things remained the same.

“The beards are gone, the Jack Daniels has been traded in for Jameson, but…,” as Followill pauses, “we still have our hands all over Asian women.”

The Kings Of Leon are gearing to release their forth full-length, to be entitled Only By The Night, on Sept. 23. The brotherhood has remained intact, but the sound continues to evolve. Youth And Young Manhood, alongside Aha Shake, stood as a testament of punishing rock ‘n’ roll, where the tapes were loaded—the record button was depressed—and what you hear is what you got.

“When we released our first record [Youth And Young Manhood] we were scared shitless,” says Nathan. “It was just one of those things. We were in Los Angeles ready to record and there was no turning back. They mic’d us up and whatever came out, that was the record. We were four guys from Tennessee who never had a passport.

Aha Shake was without a doubt more of an urban vibe rather than a rural country record. We toured between releases and I think it would have been impossible to not be influenced by being in another country every other week. The influences of Tennessee couldn’t have been farther away.

“A lot of people now want to know why our sound has changed. They want to know if the shift that was our third record, Because Of The Times, was intentional. The answer is no. We were just growing musically. This is the first and only band any of us have ever been in,” Nathan offers. “What you are hearing is us getting more comfortable with ourselves and our instruments.”

Only By The Night is very much a sonic statement. The record’s opener, “Closer,” will seduce you before abusing the melody sensors in one’s brain with “Sex On Fire.” With the lucid nature of creative energies fueling the band, there was one element of the old Kings Of Leon rawness that was returned for the Only By The Night sessions— engineer/producer Jacquire King.