PROJECT RUNWAY Kings of Leon

With the superstar
band’s future in doubt, we look back at happier times for the Kings.

 

BY ED CONDRAN

 

Ed. Note: It may or
may not be a case of the chickens coming home to roost; karma, in rock ‘n’
roll, is a very relative term. But with this week’s cancellation of the Kings
of Leon’s U.S. tour in the wake of frontman Caleb Followill’s antics in Dallas
last Friday night (July 29), it’s clear that the Kings, already no strangers to
diva rock star moves, are gonna have to pony up at some point. 29 potentially
sold-out arena, amphitheatre and festival concerts represent a lot of dough –
and not just to their personal accountant, considering how opening act Band Of
Horses suddenly had to scramble to line up their own replacement dates.

 

In case you hadn’t
heard: during the Dallas show Caleb Followill started complaining about the
heat then stalked off stage, saying, “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.” He failed to return to the stage, and then on Monday the band
cancelled the remaining dates of the tour citing “vocal issues and exhaustion”
for Followill. Speculation in the press quickly followed as to what additional
or underlying problems the Kings were experiencing, fueled no doubt by bassist
Jared Followill’s series of revealing (and probably ill-advised) Twitter
tweets
: “There are internal sicknesses & problems that have needed to
be addressed… I can’t lie, there are problems in our band bigger than not
drinking enough Gatorade.”

 

By way of offering
Caleb & Co. godspeed with whatever personal and organizational recoveries
they need to effect, we present an encore of our 2008 meta-interview with the
Kings vocalist, which originally appeared in issue 4.

 

Followill was
interviewed by author, television writer and comedian Ed Condran who, mindful of
the singer’s well-documented fondness for booze, babes and red carpet
treatment, gave the singer an extremely long rope. As you are about to read,
Condran’s questions started with basic flattery that quickly drew out
Followill’s narcissist streak, then gradually escalated (sample: “How do you
hook up with hot chicks?”) to keep the subject nibbling at the bait. To say
that Followill not only stuck his head in the noose but tightened it firmly and
then kicked the box out from under himself would be an understatement. A
scriptwriter for a Hollywood crash/burn/rehab/redemption
biopic couldn’t come up with better stuff. Take it away, Mr. Condran.

 

 

***

 

The band of Followill brothers plus their cousin are
emerging as the badasses of rock ‘n’ roll. The quirky group is touring behind
its latest album, Only By the Night,
and vocalist-guitarist Caleb Followill took time out long enough to reveal what
it’s like to do supermodels, inadvertently rip off a U2 riff, and the downside
of sleeping with girls he doesn’t know.

 

 

 BLURT: Chrissie Hynde gave
you a huge compliment during an interview I did with her last year – “I
absolutely adore Kings of Leon.
Once in a while you get a real rock band like them and it’s a precious thing.”

 CALEB FOLLOWILL: That’s
a big compliment. Chrissie’s the best.

 

 Hynde also said that you’re easy on the eyes. Did you two ever hook up?

 No. She’s a legend.
She’s great and she’s been doing this for so long and I’m just [twenty-six].

 

 How do you hook up with hot chicks? Do you have someone who goes
through the crowds?

 Yes. We have someone
who goes out there and finds pretty women and invites them back after the show.
Sometimes we come out after a show and see them and sometimes we don’t.

 

 But you hang out with Paris
Hilton and supermodels. Why would you do girls who are mere mortals when you
can shag perfect women?

 We’ve been with a lot
of supermodels and you can have them.

 

 What’s it like to do a supermodel?

 Not as good as you
think. I’m sick of supermodels. They do coke and that’s not so appealing to me.
I don’t want a girl with white powder coming out of her nose and a dry mouth.
They want all of the attention. They come backstage and drink your wine, and
worst of all sometimes they bring guys with them and they drink my wine. I wonder how these guys got backstage. I would
rather have a healthy, really pretty girl, who is nice. I’ve had plenty of
those random hookups and it’s great.

 

 What’s the downside to sleeping with one girl after another that you
don’t know?

 The biggest downside
is that they’ve been stealing my clothes. I’ll get drunk and fall asleep and I’ll
wake up and everything is gone. That’s happened a lot.

 

 What was the most valuable thing a girl stole from you?

 A $1,200 jacket that
I thought looked so cool. Obviously she thought it looked really cool too. I
got it for a [photo] shoot and then it was gone, stolen.

 

 Do they steal your clothes due to your celebrity or because it just
fits them well?

 I think the answer is
both. It’s terrible.

 

 Since you’re perpetually smashed after shows, how do you police these
babes?

 I solved that
problem. I have a big security guard outside of the hotel door. He knows what a
girl is wearing when she goes in and he inspects her when she leaves. That way
a girl can’t leave with anything except with what she came in with.

 

 If you gained some weight, maybe you wouldn’t have such a problem. I
haven’t seen that many girls with a waist line as small as yours.

 It used to be
smaller. We’re all on the really thin side. But we’re eating much better and we’re
healthier. I used to have to deal with anorexia.

 

 You don’t hear about many anorexic guys. What’s up with that?

 It was just something
I was going through. I didn’t eat but I’m all right now. But I like to have a
good time. I like to drink.

 

 But you’ve opened for some pretty straight, earnest bands like U2 and
Pearl Jam.

 All those guys in
those bands were great. I remember when we opened for U2 I realized that the
guitar [line] from [Kings Of Leon’s] “The Bucket” is from their “Bullet The
Blue Sky.” I told [guitarist] Matthew [Followill] that the reason they asked us
to come on tour with them was to kick our ass for stealing from them.

 

 So did U2 kick your ass?

 No. They’re too short
to do that. They didn’t say a thing about it. They’re really nice guys who like
us a lot. We would like to live up to their standard.

 

KOL could move up to
the next echelon. Are you ready for stardom?

 Part of me is scared
to death of being really big and part of me is equally afraid of not becoming
really big.

 

 Think about the perks of being huge. You can have the best bottles of
wine and the hottest women you could ever want.

 It would be nice to
make this more luxurious. If you’re going to be away from your mom like we are,
we may as well get a lot for our time. I want to sit down and drink a nice
bottle of wine. I love wine. If I’m going to go home with some random girl, why
can’t she be a gorgeous woman? Why can’t I take her to a big hotel room and
have a big ol security guard. At the end of the day she’ll see my little dick [laughs]

 

 Did you form a band out of rebellion?
 No. The thing you have to understand is
that we never conformed. When we were in church with our short hair and long
sleeve shirts, we were still surrounded by the coolest kids. They liked us no
matter what. We can cut our hair off now and take whatever modeling gigs are
out there and be pretty boys, but we’re not going to do that. We can sell
records for the wrong reason but we’ll never do that. The only reason I want to
sell a record is because it’s a good one.

 

 

[Photo Credit: Dan Winters]

 

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