CL Interview: Kings of Leon (with video)

Three boys travel around the South with their itinerant preacher father and a mother who home-schools them. They sneak in as much secular rock music as they can, learn to play instruments, occasionally back up Dad at the altar.

They write songs. Then they write better songs and, as if from nowhere, land a record deal with a major label, RCA. They call their cousin to join the band as a lead guitarist. They adjourn to Nashville and begin a career that follows a steadily upward trajectory.

It’s the kind of narrative that record companies love — and, near as anyone can tell, it’s pretty much true. Kings of Leon’s first album, 2003’s Youth and Young Manhood, was garage-y and rambunctious, and earned them the sobriquet “the Southern Strokes.”

In the three albums since, KoL has consistently expanded its palette; its current disc, last year’s Only by the Night, is far more stylistic far-reaching, sonically polished and slotted more toward the rock mainstream. The single “Sex on Fire” might be described as Southern U2.

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