LONDON (Reuters) - Tennessee rockers Kings of Leon have left the “party vibe” behind with their latest album “Come Around Sundown,” and they put the change of pace down to getting older and pining for home.
Their fifth studio album, released last month, topped the charts in Britain where the band has long been a fixture at the summit of the album listings, and hit number two in the key U.S. market — their highest position so far, according to Billboard. “There isn’t as much of a party vibe as far as fast songs (go),” lead singer Anthony Caleb Followill told Reuters in a recent interview to discuss the record.
Like his two brothers and cousin who make up the rest of the foursome, he is known simply by his middle name Caleb.
“There’s only a couple up-tempo numbers. I think that has a lot to do with not just where we are as people but the fact that we recorded in New York.
“We were pretty melancholy and a little homesick. So every time we picked up an instrument it would be, at times, it would be a little slower. A little drawn back. But we had those moments,” he said.
Brother Nathan added: “I think the party moments on this record are more honky-tonk, drinking out of a jug of whisky party. Like (album tracks) ‘Mary’ or ‘Back Down South’ or ‘Mi Amigo’...”
He also pointed out that the band, signed on the RCA label belonging to Sony Music Entertainment, had not turned their back on the rock’n’roll lifestyle completely.
“You’re still partying,” said Nathan. “It’s not ‘doof doof’ on E, tripping your balls off...”
The multiple Grammy award-winning band listened to singer-songwriters like Kris Kristofferson, staying true to their country roots from the U.S. south, but also to more modern music like electronic band LCD Soundsystem.
“The best concert I’ve been to in years was LCD Soundsystem this year at Bonnaroo (festival in Tennessee),” said Caleb.
“I was in the crowd and no one knew it. It was the best. It made me want to party. Still, the lyrics were so emotional and beautiful and it was great. I tried to have an element of that in there.”
Some Kings fans have criticized the band for moving away from the more raw, garage sounds of earlier albums, and Caleb believes it will return to that style some day.
“What we are doing now is a lot more complicated than what we were doing back then,” he said.
“A lot of fans love what we did earlier on and I think we would all be happier to do that again and it would be easier for us to do that, but right now we’re kind of focused on this thing that we’re doing.
“Hopefully we’ll be around long enough to venture back,” he added, despite the fact that he believed reaction to any return to their original sounds would be universally negative.
The last year has seen ups and downs in the relationship between the Kings and their music-loving subjects, with noisy negative publicity surrounding a decision to cut a concert short in July when pigeon droppings began raining down on stage.
Bass player and Followill brother, Jared, was hit in the face by falling feces and the group apologized to fans, but for some the damage was done.
Writing and additional reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato