A decade after their formation in 1999, Kings of Leon keep dazzling us with one incredible album after the other. We look back at their roots, influences and family values that inspired their earnest lyrics and authentic sound.
Anthony, Ivan, Michael and Cameron Followill all grew up together in Talihina, a small railroad town in eastern Oklahoma. Their roots tie closely within the traditional, sweltering southern air, and grow into the stirring harmony that sounds throughout all 5 of Kings of Leon’s albums. Even their name is taken from their grandfather and correlates with their homely family vibe, and Anthony’s soulful and nonchalant vocals.
The brothers’ (and cousin’s) interest in music was perhaps brought about by their father’s profession – as a preacher he would often take the boys to the church, where they were allowed to have a go at a variety of instruments during the choir performances.
However, the Kings of Leon’s as we know them today perhaps found their drive for experimentation and gained their infamous sex appeal after their parents’ divorce in 1997. The brothers’ strong family ties were raptured and the boys were at liberty to venture out and explore the world as well as themselves.
Winding up in America’s capital of country music, Nashville, they met Angelo Petraglia who broadened their musical knowledge and gave them a fresh, exploratory approach. With age, they matured, gained more life experiences and were finally ready to follow in their father’s footsteps, and preach to the masses (however this time, at sold-out gigs rather than church gatherings).
All they needed now was a contract and they managed to catch RCA’s eye. In order to score their approval and seal the deal, the band shut themselves in a basement armed with bass, guitar, drums and an ounce of weed to get the creative juices flowing. Clearly the combination worked for them as they won over the label, and have since toured countries across the globe, firstly sweeping widespread acclaim in England, where they received two BRIT Awards in 2009: one for ‘Best International Band’ and one for ‘Best International Album’.
Their rise in America soon followed and in 2010 they took home a Grammy for ‘Record of the Year’. Not bad for 4 boys from a small town in Oklahoma, and I’m sure we haven’t seen the best of them yet. ‘Surely they can’t get any better’ you say? Well keep your eyes peeled for the upcoming release of their 6th album, ‘Mechanical Bull’ this September and find out!
Written by Alisa Milchevskaya