Deciphering Kings of Leon: They're Just Like You And Me!

Categories: interview
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Kings of Leon--also dubbed U2's successors, and "the next great arena band," are performing at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine tonight. After a 40 minutes of a round-robin press teleconference with singer/guitarist Caleb Followill and bassist Jared Followill, I realized that KoL are just like you and me. How's that, you ask?

1. They get scared just like common folk: Caleb Followill says initially they weren't that thrilled about blowing up in the mainstream like they did. "The thing that kind of scared us a little is what people's expectations would be...When we went on stage, at times, we're not having the best show, well, you can see it. We wear our hearts on our sleeves and our attitudes and everything, and it got to a point where people are saying 'Well, I paid money to come see a good show and you come out here and you act a certain way.'" He added, "For the most part, I was scared to death when we got off the road, I thought we wouldn't be able to go anywhere without people recognizing us and stuff but somehow, some way, we've seemed to manage to get under the radar just enough to where we just made another album and people don't really even realize it." 2. They struggle with self-acceptance: "I just hope that everyone that comes to see us, they realize that we are still young and we're still trying to find ourselves as people, as a band, and I don't want people's expectations to get too high," Caleb says, adding, "I struggled with...seeing kids saying they were disappointed that their parents would come up to them and ask them if they had heard Kings of Leon. But you know, there comes a point in your life when you had to settle in your own skin and be happy for everything that you have, and there are going to be times that as a 28-year-old man, I write a song that a 14-year-old doesn't like because it's not on the level of what they want to hear. And I get it completely. But at the end of the day, we have to write music that makes us happy and write music that makes us want to get up every day and do it over and over."

3. They started small: Jared Followill says when the band first started, "none of us really knew how to play, we kind of just got together and decided to make a band. And then, it went so fast and those early shows are what taught us how to play our instruments...none of the records that preceded the first one would have been anywhere near what they were, had we not played a million gigs."


4. They want everlasting love: Caleb Followill says, "Every person that's in a band, they think that they're going to go out there and it's going to be drink beer all day and pretty girls and do drugs and all that. Well, we've been at it for so long that now, when you do have a significant other in your life, there are times when they're not going to understand why you work as much as you do. But you know, once you sign up for this gig, you have to be ready to go along for the long haul and in the process, you're going to have to put other things in your life on the back burner ...You have to absolutely go for it and then hopefully, like I say, the people that truly love you will be there in the end whenever you are done with all of it. If you're fortunate enough, you'll get someone that stands behind you and knows that you're doing it for the right reasons."

5. Like all of us, they worshipped Pearl Jam growing up:  Caleb says, "I was learning from Pearl Jam before I even picked up a guitar.  They were the first band that really made me... You know, I was 14 years old in high school and the first time I heard them I was pretty mad at the world. And I heard them and I was just, like, "Fuck, yes. This is something that I can live with for the rest of my life." What else is on their play list? Jared has a pretty indie-fied list of current favorites: Beach House, The Big Pink, Yeasayer, Grizzly Bear, and Colored Music. Caleb likes Temper Trap, The Drums and the Wavves.

Kings of Leon will be performing in Irvine at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, 17701 Culver Dr., Irvine, tonight at 7:30 p.m.

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