The Northeast was built on ballsy immigrants, the place where fed-up people came shopping for a decent rags/riches exchange rate. The South, on the other hand, is where archaic American values pooled like the residual air in human lungs. They're big on guns, family, the one and right God. Not so big on gays, or Bic lighters coming within two states of the American flag. Prideful earth-salt folk who don't download ringtones or text-message comrades about protest rallies outside big corporations. Their drawly speech has become the modern update of the caveman grunt.
Deep in the soil, slave blood. Deep in their hearts, a belief that commie mo'rons are tainting the water supply.
Possibly that's why their story is so fascinating when told by the right tellers: Not by those who see themselves as above it, but part of it-insiders who chronicle without condemning.
Kings of Leon, the three Followill brothers and a first-cousin, are quickly joining bands like the Drive-By Truckers as Southern narrators. The post-teen hessian kin of an outlaw-cum-revivalist preacher have released one album of rambling, fiery Southern rock, and will drop their second, Aha Shake Heartbreak on Feb. 22. They've been four-starred in Rolling Stone, hailed as geniuses in U.K. hype-rag NME, and were just invited to tour with U2 on their upcoming U.S. tour.
CityBeat asked drummer Nathan Followill a few questions as the band and their grimy pantaloons hurtled west in a tour van.
CityBeat: You recorded Aha Shake Heartbreak live-weren't you afraid that you wouldn't get the superfly Hall & Oates vocal mix that comes with a booth?
Nathan Followill: [Laughs] We are a live band and wanted our record to sound the way our shows do. Besides, Pro Tools suck.
I heard someone wore the same jeans every day during recording. That's gross. Do they now stand up and walk their own ass to the store to buy milk?
Me and Caleb were the ones who wore the same jeans every day. Actually, we're both wearing the same ones right now and let's just say they're still going strong.
Your albums are usually pretty damn short. Are you minutemen? Why not do the 87-minute prog-rock opus?
Because String Cheese Incident took all the 12-minute songs.
You're from the South. Aren't they a bunch of rednecks who like trucks and mint julep and run around firing shotguns at prairie dogs?
Yeah... what's your point? Is there abnormal [sic] about that?
I understand you left some flaws on this record... tell me about your newfound love for imperfection. Do people under-appreciate the crooked nose, the slight blemish?
Scars add character to a person and the "imperfections" are scars.
Tell me about the song that made [Caleb] quit smoking cigarettes? How hard is it to quit smoking when you're on the road, when every pasty motherfucker with tight jeans has a pair of Parliaments in their pocket?
Caleb quit while we were working on "The Bucket," but really we were arguing about something and I told him he could never quit smoking. He said, "This is my last one." And it was-so he quit as much because I told him he couldn't do it as he did because we were recording.
Also about papa... tell me about the experience of a revival. Go into detail and make me feel like I'm there getting goosed by the holy spirit.
There's no way I can describe it that well. Go to an all-black church and sit on the back pew.
Caleb's vocals are slurred. Is he a drunk?
That would depend if the recording was done before or after noon.
Kings of Leon play with The Features at "Canes, 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 31. $15. 858-488-1780.