Kings of Leon say stories of strife within group were 'blown out of proportion' | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kings of Leon say stories of strife within group were 'blown out of proportion'

Members of Kings of Leon, from left, Jared Followill, Caleb Followill, Nathan Followill and Matthew Followill are shown in Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 5, 2013. The band's latest album, "Mechanical Bull," was released last week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Donn Jones/Invision/AP
October 02, 2013 - 8:40 AM

TORONTO - For a while there, it seemed fetching familial rockers Kings of Leon were on a ride as bumpy as that of their new album title, "Mechanical Bull."

In August 2011, the Grammy-winning chart-toppers cancelled their U.S. tour days after raspy power vocalist Caleb Followill told a Dallas audience during a sweltering concert: "I'm gonna go backstage for a second, I'm gonna vomit, I'm gonna drink a beer and I'm gonna come back out and play three more songs," then left the stage and never returned.

Two months later, they announced they were going on hiatus and speculation swirled over the reason behind Followill's stage exit: Was it due to the band's official explanation of "vocal issues and exhaustion"? Or was bassist Jared Followill suggesting something else when he wrote on Twitter, "There are problems in our band bigger than not drinking enough Gatorade"?

Now, as they promote their new disc, the Nashville-based Kings seem poised to reign again (the album debuted at No. 2 in the U.S. and Canada, according to Nielsen SoundScan).

And they insist the headlines about strife within the group were "a little bit blown out of proportion."

"There really wasn't as much controversy as got written about," Jared Followill — brother of Caleb and drummer Nathan, and cousin of guitarist Matthew — said in an interview this week.

"The tour cancelled or whatever and we were all back together in a room talking, figuring everything out. Within four days after that we made up, everything was fine."

Jared noted they finished tours in Canada, South Africa and Australia before deciding to take a year off to "recharge."

"It wasn't like a bad, like, 'Take a year off.' It was like a very excited, fun like, 'Love you, see you in a year, this is going to be awesome. We're all going to go back with our families and just completely recharge our batteries from having eight years pretty much straight of just non-stop working.'"

"Yeah, it was great to kind of almost feel like normal people for a while," said Matthew. "Even though (it was) like normal people without a job like at home."

Home is exactly what they focused on during the hiatus, with Matthew and musician-wife Johanna Bennett seeing the birth of their second son, and Jared getting married to model Martha Patterson.

Jared also started a musical side project called Smoke & Jackal, with Mona singer and guitarist Nick Brown.

The hiatus ended last September, when the Followill foursome reunited for a show in San Francisco and then "tested the waters" by playing a few more shows here and there.

In January, they returned to the studio to begin recording "Mechanical Bull," a 13-track project that fans are hailing as a return to their early-day southern rock and blues sounds.

"We obviously love that," said Jared. "Because our early fans were very, very passionate about our early albums and they kind of drifted off a little bit on our past couple of albums and they thought that we had changed."

"Thank God they're still paying attention long enough to listen to this album," added Matthew.

Those past couple of albums include the 2008 arena-friendly hit "Only by the Night," which included the sultry "Sex on Fire" and the three-time Grammy-winning "Use Somebody," and 2010's "Come Around Sundown."

With "Mechanical Bull," they wanted to create "something for everybody," said Jared.

"We don't want to alienate really any fanbase, and that includes the really old fans and the really new fans. We just wanted it to be eclectic and kind of harken back a little bit."

The first single off "Mechnical Bull," the cheery "Supersoaker," certainly offers a retro feel with its video depicting 1950s-style pin-up models and cars.

Angelo Petraglia, the band's longtime producer who wrote on their first album and is described by Matthew as being almost like the fifth member, also worked on "Mechanical Bull."

With the album's sales brisk in its early days, the bandmates seemed confident and upbeat during their spin through Toronto.

"That's what the No. 2 album in North America gets you, right there — a Coors Light," joked Jared after taking a swig from a bottle of the beer in a downtown hotel room.

"If we got No. 1, I'd be drinking Dom (Perignon)."

"Or at least High Life, the champagne of beer," quipped Matthew.

The group members also seemed relaxed when they recently performed the new songs at the recent iTunes Festival in London, and Jared said they weren't worried about the scrutiny they're undoubtedly facing.

"I'm sure a lot of people are watching us to see if we mess up, just kind of waiting for us to make a misstep."

"All I could think of was, 'Please don't pass out, please don't pass out,' because there were so many people watching and it was live everywhere," confided Matthew, 29. "I was so nervous."

A review of "Mechanical Bull" in the New York Times stated: "It sounds like a band at the end of its career, leaning on instinct, and it's savage."

But the bandmates don't see themselves as being at the end; rather, they feel like they're going through a rebirth of sorts.

"I feel that being family and the fact that we did start when we were young, I feel like we're the type of band that could be together for 30 years," said Jared, 26.

"I feel like we could be like literally a third of the way through our career, and hopefully we won't overstay our welcome and start making horrible albums.

"But I think that we could be here for a while."

News from © The Canadian Press, 2013
The Canadian Press

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