There was a time a few years back when Kings of Leon really were all the rage – their sex was on fire, you might say.
They spent most of the next five years touring the world and making crazy money, but behind the scenes all wasn’t exactly going according to plan.
It became clear, following the flop that was their 2013 album ‘Mechanical Bull’ and earlier concert meltdown, that many fans had moved along and they were at a crossroads.
Now they’ve released their seventh album, Walls, and the BBC thinks they might have turned a corner:
Deciding they’d settled into a “comfort zone”, the southern state rockers ditched their producer, moved to LA, and hooked up with Markus Dravs – best known for his work with Arcade Fire and Florence + The Machine.
The German-born producer pushed the band hard – instructing them to play songs “like the Sex Pistols” and refusing to let them hear the results until the album was finished.
His methods seem to have worked. Released on Friday, Walls has gained the band their best reviews since 2008’s Only By The Night, which included the global hits Sex On Fire and Use Somebody.
They also had a lengthy interview with drummer Nathan Followill, who shed a light on some of the band’s issues:
Five years ago, it looked like Kings of Leon were over. Caleb [Followill, pictured above] walked out of a gig, a tour was cancelled and you went on hiatus, then your comeback album stalled. Do you feel you’ve regained your underdog status?
…Our whole career, we were that guys that watched the bands we’d played with blow up. And we were all sitting back thinking, “We’re playing 200 shows a year, we’re putting in the work, but we’re not reaping the benefits”.
After the hiatus, there was an urgency to get another record out there and I think we went a little too quick. But that’s the nature of the beast. You know, the labels want records and as a band you want records.
We had kind of settled into a comfort zone. We could have kept making records the same way…
A quick side note about that ‘Caleb Meltdown’, with this from Rolling Stone:
…lead singer Caleb Followill told fans, “I’m gonna go backstage and I’m gonna vomit, I’m gonna drink a beer and I’m gonna come back out and play three more songs.”
The rocker never returned to the stage, which forced the other members of the band to apologize [sic] to the audience…
…brother Jared’s comments on Twitter after the incident suggest that Caleb’s behavior may be part of a larger issue in the band. After apologizing again, Jared wrote “there are internal sicknesses & problems that have needed to be address” and “I know you guys aren’t stupid. I can’t lie. There are problems in our band bigger than not drinking enough Gatorade.”
You can see some of that action from around the four-minute mark below:
More on that BBC interview:
Now that you’re back as a band, have you taken steps to prevent a fall-out happening again?
I think that the Dallas gig was something that was probably going to happen. I would have preferred for it to happen behind closed doors and not in the middle of a show – but it had to happen for us to continue on. It was never as bad as it was put out there in the press. There was never any talk of us breaking up. Within a few weeks, we had already talked about getting together and jamming.
I’m glad it happened because it enabled us to take a step back and look at what was important to us musically, and what we want our legacy to be. I think this record is our redemption record. The Kings are back and playing fun music again.
Something tells me many former fans will decide for themselves whether or not this is a ‘redemption record’.
Still, they’re probably more popular amongst the ‘cool kids’ than Coldplay.
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