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Following serendipitously in the path of Dusty Springfield’s oft-covered lyrics, brothers Jared, Caleb and Nathan Followill are real life sons of a preacher man.
Together with cousin Matthew they make up alternative southern-rock quartet, Kings Of Leon.
Leon refers to the brothers’ father, an ex-preacher with whom the boys, in their youth, would travel as he traversed the U.S. Bible Belt, stopping in different cities, spreading the word of the lord.
Not much has changed since then. The Followills still travel together, but the message they spread is rock and the cities they stop in tend to extend beyond their home ground.
“We try to make it as praised as possible,” says bassist Jared, 20.
When the Kings take the stage, he says fans aren’t just getting a set of songs but a process.
“They get to see the inside of what we do every day when we’re sitting at home playing new songs; how we do them, why . . . and the way we look when we play them,” he laughs.
And although they’ve been touring, in a sense, since their youth, Followill sees the road as less than glamorous.
“We started touring as a band when I was 15 and I’d say it started to feel a little bit habitual and monotonous when I was 15 and a half,” he laughs.
“The only thing that makes it interesting is growing . . . Coming back to a city and playing a bigger venue and seeing more fans.”
But with growth comes criticism. Followill speaks of the complaints of longtime fans of the band who he says often lament their growing popularity, preferring their smaller scale shows, reminiscent of their early days. “I would challenge anybody to spend two months in a van, going into a dressing room that’s so disgusting you feel like if you sit down you’ll catch HIV.”
The pressure that comes from popularity isn’t just from the fans, however. Followill says the band has to limit their songwriting so their record label won’t push them to pump out moneymaking material. “I think if we do write more and more songs we’ll stop talking about them so the record label will pay for us to go to Iceland for two months to write the record.”
But Followill says feelings of constraint are only to be cured by optimism. He recalls words of his grandfather (Leon Sr.), “He was sitting on his front porch and a guy came up with one shoe on and my grandpa said, ‘Hey did you lose a shoe?’ and he said, ‘no I found one!’”