By Nadia Noir
Kings of Leon might be rock ‘n roll megastars, but they’re also just regular dudes who get nervous before their biggest shows, get competitive over March Madness brackets, and take their kids to Disneyland.
Caleb and Jared Followill sat down with Ted Stryker a few minutes before their Red Bull Sound Space performance and bro’d down. Stryker said he’d noticed their cousin Nacho’s NCAA brackets outside and the guys said that the whole band and crew had printed them out and were playing right now. “Everyone’s getting devastated,” said the band.
Before their performance at the insanely intimate Red Bull Sound Space to only about 300 people, the band played a huge show to an audience at The Forum. That iconic Los Angeles venue has a capacity of about 17,505 people.
“We had a lot of fun. We were like little kids before we played. There was something in the air and all of us were really nervous and giddy to be playing the Forum,” confessed Kings of Leon. “We went out there and the crowd was feeding off of us and we were feeding off of them and it ended up being a successful night for us.”
The last 10 years have been successful for Kings of Leon. Stryker plays their Grammy Award winning Record of the Year, “Use Somebody” and asks the band how that makes them feel. Both of Caleb and Jared had answers that were a mix of humility and pride.
Caleb said that he’d heard one of their songs in a restaurant that day and thought it would be really “awkward” to the guy that was playing it if he knew who he was and that Caleb was sitting there. Jared sarcastically replied, “The biggest memory that stands out for me is winning Record of the Year at the Grammys. When I hear it now, that’s all I think about…is how amazing we are and the huge awards we win.”
The band might be huge now, but they started off just like any band. Playing tiny shows to people who weren’t even listening.
“The first shows we did, they’re not really your own shows,” recollected Kings of Leon about their first shows. “You’re just looking for any kind of bill that you can get on. The very first show was in Atlanta and we opened up for the Skeeter’s and Billy Joe Shaver. We were the first of three and there was probably about 50 people there, so we thought ‘Man, we’re big time.’ It was pretty amazing. And the next night we played where we were the headliner, a couple bands played before us at The Nick in Birmingham, Alabama. There were about thirteen people including the staff.”
“Only one guy was actually watching us,” the band continued, saying that the guy was having the “greatest night of his life” and screaming “Freebird.” “Everyone else was playing pool and drinking.”
“Back then, we only had one album. So, our album was 39 minutes long. When you add nerves to that, that’s us playing for 25 minutes.”
Fifteen minutes later, at the Red Bull Sound Space, the band had no problem slowly tantalizing the audience with over fifty minutes of their greatest hits. Experience (and expertise) at their craft has made Kings of Leon masters of the rock ‘n roll slow burn.