Kings of Leon: ‘There are no punches being thrown any more!’ | Kings of Leon

Something exceptional occurred through the making of the eighth Kings of Leon album. For the primary time ever, the 4 Followills – brothers Caleb, Jared, Nathan and their cousin Matthew – received by way of the recording classes with out any fistfights. “Our our bodies don’t work like they used to,” says singer and guitarist Caleb, talking over Zoom from his residence in Nashville. “So there’s no punches being thrown.” Drummer Nathan and guitarist Matthew are becoming a member of us from their respective homes a number of miles away, with bassist Jared checking in from a vacation in Florida.

“We have now children now,” says Nathan, the eldest. “We depart the combating to the duelling eight-year-old woman cousins.”

Matthew grimaces when he remembers some of the brawls he’s witnessed over time, when he could be hunched up on the again of the tour bus pondering to himself: “Oh my God, there’s no approach we’ll ever play music once more after what he simply mentioned to him.” The combating, he says, would typically be the consequence of a time without work on tour spent consuming an excessive amount of, as harmless squabbles took a sinister flip. However that’s all previously and that is how progress is now measured by Kings of Leon: not in streaming figures, Grammys or ticket gross sales, however whether or not they made a document with out lamping one another.

This mid-life peace and knowledge is on the coronary heart of that eighth album, the superb When You See Your self. They’re a markedly totally different group from the wild storage band who confirmed up on British shores in 2003: “Branded,” Jared remembers, “as the brand new rock revival: us, the Strokes, the White Stripes, Black Insurgent Bike Membership.” They’re totally different, too, from the arena-rockers who had enormous hits with Intercourse on Fireplace and Use Any person a number of years later.


Caleb’s alcohol-induced meltdown in 2011 introduced on a interval of reflection for the quartet. Two strong data on, 2013’s Mechanical Bull and 2016’s Partitions, they’ve remodeled into an expansive rock band within the vein of Pearl Jam. The rockier moments are nonetheless rowdy however they’re on a leash, whereas the epic ballads are slightly extra melancholy. They had been as soon as dubbed the Southern Strokes, however nowadays a extra correct description could be the Cattle-ranch Coldplay.

Recorded at their Nashville base with Arcade Fireplace and Florence and the Machine producer Markus Dravs, When You See Your self’s launch was postponed for a 12 months by Covid. “It’s fairly unusual while you learn the lyrics,” says Caleb. “It very a lot seems prefer it was written throughout quarantine. Quite a bit of the content material is prophetic.” You will surely assume some songs had been written throughout lockdown. Time In Disguise asks “is it a person or a masked machine?” And Echoing wonders if “we’re ever going out / We might be right here for ever for sure.”

It’s not simply Covid anthems that they’ve by accident written. The refrain of Claire & Eddie, with its warning {that a} “hearth’s gonna rage if individuals don’t change”, felt eerily prescient because the band watched riots unfold throughout the US final 12 months. “Quite a bit of it has come to move,” sighs Caleb. “I’m glad we received it completed earlier than all of it occurred.”

They’ve an ordinary process. “We bang out a document, says Caleb, “after which hit the street for a pair of years.” However lockdown has allowed them to pause and clear their heads with household time. “I wouldn’t usually be catching some of these milestones that I’m attending to be half of,” says Nathan.

‘Magical time’ … Kings of Leon play Glastonbury’s Pyramid stage in 2008.
‘Magical time’ … Kings of Leon play Glastonbury’s Pyramid stage in 2008. {Photograph}: Martin Godwin/The Guardian

Being caught at residence has thrown up some issues, although. Lately, Caleb walked in on his spouse, the mannequin Lily Aldridge, watching a career-spanning choice of Kings of Leon music movies. “I used to be like, ‘Babe, you gotta flip this off!’ I used to be blushing so unhealthy I felt like blood was seeping out of my face.” Caleb can’t often watch or hearken to himself. He says the one motive that he thinks 100,000 People, a soulful anthem from the brand new album, is any good is that when he hears it, he doesn’t cringe or “attempt to crawl below a desk”.

Whereas Jared comes throughout as a real rock star, Nathan is extra of an easygoing surfer dude. Matthew is ultra-polite and barely fretting, whereas Caleb appears a considerably reluctant frontman. He has the air of an individual who wouldn’t be fussed if his telephone ran out of battery, and says some of his closest mates are those he performs golf with who care little about his music profession. He’s like a person who simply needed a quiet life however finds himself having to headline Studying pageant each three years.

“I feel that’s truthful,” he nods. “I’m completely satisfied to have another person stand in entrance of the picture or settle for the award and provides the speech. I really like the perks that include being the frontman however I don’t love the stress. I’m all the time completely satisfied to take the backseat.”

“He’s a really quiet man,” says Nathan. “Particularly on stage. He simply form of hides behind his guitar. It’s superb. He might be singing to 50,000 individuals and nonetheless have that little bit of shyness in him.”

Caleb could also be greatest identified for hollering “Whoaaaaa, your intercourse is on hearth!” however there’s typically a vulnerability to his lyrics, as with Grocery store, a music on the brand new album that has been knocking round for over a decade. It was written across the similar time as their 2010 album Come Round Sunset, which was a industrial disappointment. A drunken, mid-gig departure by Caleb in Dallas had observers questioning in the event that they’d reached the tip of the street. One line in Grocery store provides you an thought of Caleb’s headspace on the time: “I’ll by no means be entire once more till I get clear.”

Moustaches and bell-bottoms … the band in 2003.
Moustaches and bell-bottoms … the band in 2003. {Photograph}: Peter Pakvis/Redferns

“It was a darkish interval,” he says. “I didn’t know that it was a darkish interval on the time. I used to be a bit of a boozehound after I wrote that and there’s some disappointment and a few reflection. All these years later, after I hear it, I’m glad I received by way of that interval and I can look again on it. It’s all the time bizarre to take a look at the totally different model of your self, or hear the place your head was. It’s additionally therapeutic. It’s form of good. I realized some classes from that interval.”


With time for contemplation in lockdown, the band have all been casting their minds again. Jared was just lately eager about their time as company on the Columbia resort, London’s historic hub of new-band debauchery, and their first UK present at Buckinghamshire strip-bar-come-venue The White Horse: “We had been enjoying to 150 individuals!” he marvels. “I used to be 17,” provides Matthew. “I’d by no means left the nation earlier than. I take into consideration how excited I used to be to return to England. It was a magical time.”

Till their fourth album, Kings of Leon had been large within the UK however nobodies again residence in Tennessee. “We caught out like a sore thumb with these large moustaches and bell bottoms and shirts that went to our stomach buttons,” remembers Caleb. “All of the nation boys in Nashville had been like, ‘Who the fuck are these guys?’ However then we’d land within the UK and everyone had my similar moustache, pants and shirt.”

Sex on Fire levelled issues up within the US, however none of them decide it as their proudest second. Three of them toe the celebration line and say that it’s the actual fact they’re nonetheless collectively, making music and getting on higher than they ever have – however not Jared. “I’m fairly shallow, I really like trophies,” says the bassist. “I really like profitable Grammys and Brits and stuff like that.”

Again firstly, when the quartet all lived collectively, they’d invite individuals over to their home for a Sunday barbecue. “About one in 5 would find yourself with somebody within the koi pond or with a lump on their heads from a frying pan,” laughs Caleb. They all the time knew issues had gone too far if Betty-Ann Followill, the brothers’ mom, needed to get entangled. “If she ever received within the center,” says Caleb, “you knew it was time to cease combating.”

• When You See Your self is out on 5 March.

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