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Old 03-07-2005, 05:11 AM   #1
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A Look at Kings of Leon*

By Carrie Alison, Chief Editor

Its members look like the fictional band Stillwater from "Almost Famous" but sound like the psychedelic lovechild of Pearl Jam and the Black Crowes. And though still relative unknowns in its native United States, the Kings of Leon is about to raise its profile dramatically as the first-leg opening act on U2's hotly anticipated Vertigo Tour.

A surprising choice for the Irish rockers, to be sure, at least to many American fans, but the Tennessee-based Kings of Leon has paid its dues on the underground circuit in America and the over-ground festival circuit in the United Kingdom (where the group is platinum-selling) since signed to RCA in 2001.

The product of a life on the road with their traveling Pentecostal evangelist father in the '80s and '90s, the young members of Kings of Leon—brothers Caleb (vocals and guitar), Jared (bass), and Nathan Followill (drummer) with cousin Matthew (guitar)—formed the southern rock group in 2000 in Nashville. It was the White Stripes who inspired the Kings of Leon to make a go for the big time after being raised on classic rock acts like the Rolling Stones and Neil Young.

"They didn't really care what kind of music they were making," Nathan said to MTV.com about the White Stripes in 2003. "They were just making music that they were wanting to make, and there really was no commerciality to it ... or at least I don't think it was intended to be that commercial."

The premise of the group's first release, the 2003 EP "Holy Roller Novocaine", might sound like a certain Bono persona U2 fans grew to love and worship during the ZooTV tour—The Mirrorball Man.

"It's about a preacher that uses his position to manipulate females in the congregation," Nathan told MTV.com. "It's kind of a true story, but we masqueraded it a bit. But if he hears it, he'll know it was about him. So it's basically about a horny preacher."

The Kings' latest release "Aha Shake Heartbreak", has received near-universal critical applause, and current single, "The Bucket," has received ever-important radio support in crucial markets including Los Angeles and Boston.

This growing momentum will serve the Kings well as the group gets set to embark on its most high profile gig yet—opening the first North American leg of U2's Vertigo Tour, running from late March through April in select cities.

"I still can't believe we're going to be opening for U2," Nathan told MTV recently. "They're the biggest band in the world. Since the news first came out, we've had calls and e-mails from about 300 of our friends and family asking us for tickets."

This excitement, however, belies a surprising truth about the Followills' past exposure to U2. "Growing up, we weren't allowed to listen to U2, so an album like 'The Joshua Tree', we just discovered that like two years ago," Nathan told MTV. "If we were a band that had grown up listening to U2, we'd be a hell of a lot more scared than we are."

If the audience response in the United Kingdom is any indication of what success the Kings of Leon might find in the States, there’s no doubt that U2 fans are in for a rollicking good time when the Followills pull into town this spring.

For more information on Kings of Leon, visit http://www.kingsofleon.com.

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Old 03-07-2005, 05:13 PM   #2
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These guys' parents must have been really strict. I've heard both Scott Stapp and Wyclef Jean say that their parents wouldn't let them listen to rock music but both were able to slip the Joshua Tree by with parental approval. These guys couldn't even do that. Wow.
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