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Caleb Followill -
Artist info
Caleb Followill

Caleb Followill

Caleb Followill

Date of Birth 14 January 1982, Memphis, Tennessee, USA Birth Name Anthony Caleb Followill Caleb: Our father was a United Pentecostal evangelist, so we pretty much grew up on the road, in between Oklahoma City and Memphis, back and forth, up until about '98. Jared and I were born in Memphis; Nathan and Matthew were born in Oklahoma. Nathan: Growing up, we didn't have an actual home. We stayed with relatives, one place or the other. We lived out of the back of our car; oh man, I'd say there were at least five of those cars. Read more on
Date of Birth 14 January 1982, Memphis, Tennessee, USA Birth Name Anthony Caleb Followill Caleb: Our father was a United Pentecostal evangelist, so we pretty much grew up on the road, in between Oklahoma City and Memphis, back and forth, up until about '98. Jared and I were born in Memphis; Nathan and Matthew were born in Oklahoma. Nathan: Growing up, we didn't have an actual home. We stayed with relatives, one place or the other. We lived out of the back of our car; oh man, I'd say there were at least five of those cars.

Four of those fourteen years we had a travel trailer; the other ten, the church would either put us up in a hotel, or we would stay at the pastor's house, or a parsonage. We grew up doing that pretty much our whole lives. Our dad pastored a church in Mumford, TN, from 1986 until 1992. That's about 30 minutes outside of Memphis -- real country, Tipton County, the most redneck place you'll ever see in your life.

That's the first place that we ever got to go to a school more than one year with the same classmates. We went to a little private school there for, like, four years. But when I say private school, I mean that between 12th grade and kindergarten there were maybe 40 kids in the whole school. Pentecostal school.

The rest of the time, we were home-schooled. Caleb: Then we moved to Nashville two-and-half years ago. We started writing songs. Got a publishing deal. About a year later we signed our deal with RCA in New York. Nathan: I first started playing music in church when I was seven; I played the drums.

My mom would play the piano before my dad would preach. Caleb, over the years, I guess from just watching me play and being the drummer at the church, picked it up and started playing in church too. Caleb: At Pentecostal churches, music's pretty lively. It's much the same as a black church down South. The same kind of spirit.

You really show your emotions. Everyone worships. Nathan: Lots of instruments: Organ, piano, bass, drums, couple of guitars, horns. Caleb: It's good; it's actually pretty close to just blues music. People aren't always great on the instruments, but somehow when they all get together, it's really awesome. Nathan: There are lots of elements of that in Kings of Leon. Because basically in church you're not up there for show; you're just up there to provide for the service.

You become so close when you're playing; it's not like you're pressured that if you mess up you're going to be in big trouble. As a band now, I think it kind of makes it easier for us, because in our minds we're just like sittin' up there with a calm, I'd guess you'd say, about us, not worried about messing up. You're just up there feeling the music, as opposed to worrying the whole time. You'd be amazed at the way we played in church.

I mean, it was rockin': Fifteen-minute songs, people out there dancing. Getting with it. Caleb: Our kind of gospel music, it sounds like the Rolling Stones with a different lead singer every time. Nathan: We didn't give up that music up for rock and roll; we had the music in us all along. Understand: Aretha Franklin, she was a Pentecostal girl. Al Green.

We don't want to come off as a church band, but we're not scared of the fact that a lot of our influences musically come for our past. Caleb: I don't know, it's like when our father left the clothhood, we started looking at our lives. We started considering the opportunities we had outside the church, instead of being just what our father was. Nathan: That was the first chance we had to think for ourselves. We discovered the freedom to look at religion in a light that we wanted to look at it in. That's when we really kind of cocooned, really started to experience so many aspects of life that, before, we'd never even known were out there.

I mean, Zeppelin and the Stones and Tom Petty and all that, we got to listen to a little bit growing up, but we never really got to go buy a record and sit there and listen to the whole thing ten times in a row. Now we can write and play and record, giving people who hear us, we hope, a glimpse into the mind or imagination of real guys who have been through real stuff and are trying to put our experiences into words that go well with the kind of music that we like to play. Once we heard bands like White Stripes, it just gave me chillbumps, because we thought: Maybe we can do this, and maybe we can do it kind of cool. Caleb: "Molly's Chambers," that's a song about a girl that, if you ever come across her and you get your opportunity, you'd better take it. Because ah, she might eventually mess you up, but it's worth it.

The song tries to recreate the musical vibe of how she can captivate you. "Wasted Time" is about people hiding from who they really are. "Wicker Chair" is about seeing someone self-destruct and knowing there's not really anything you can do about it; it's melancholy. "Holly Roller Novocaine" is our most personal song. Nathan: When we sit down and write, we don't look at it like 'Ok, what hook do we need to put in this thing?' We shy away from that.

We ask: 'What is the best way for us to put what we're feeling into this song?' Caleb: We're interested in making complete albums: The way I look at it, if you watch a good movie, you will hear a slow song in it and you will hear a fast song. If you watch a stupid movie, it'll be all fast songs. If you watch an overdone movie, it's all slow songs. I want our albums to be like a good movie soundtrack.

I want it to have everything in it, all parts of life. Nathan: Too many artists now, either they have their fists in the air throughout the whole record, or they're crying the whole record. That's not what we're about. We're about the journey. Caleb: We're different from a lot of people. We grew up with nothing.

We were very poor. We're not normally cocky people, anything like that. We're pretty down-to-earth normal guys. Nathan: There's nothing expected: Either you like someone or you don't. You're either going to get along with them or you're not. Caleb: We got family members who are preachers and we've got family members who are crackheads. Nathan: We grew on love.

That's why we're all so close. Most people, if they got a chance to be in a band, they wouldn't want to be with their brothers. That's not how it is with us. We didn't have anything, so all we had was each other.

It's not like we're Led Zeppelin, the greatest musicians. That's not what this it about. It's totally a family chemistry, and whenever we get together, somehow we all click. We try to be as real as we possibly can, because you can only put on a charade for so long before you start acting a double-charade.

Then you start getting busted. One minute Caleb Followill of Kings Of Leon is talking about the Bible, the next he's talking about brothels. In Followill's world, God and the devil seem to get equal time. Along with his two brothers Nathan (drums) and Jared (bass) and his cousin Matthew (guitar), the Kings' singer/guitarist is intimately familiar with both subjects, having grown up in the church — his father, Leon, was an itinerant United Pentecostal preacher in the U.S. South. Now, Caleb and the boys are living the rock and roll lifestyle: touring the world in tight black jeans and pointy boots, hanging out with Bono and Eddie Vedder, indulging their love of golf, buying a little real estate in Nashville, and, oh yeah...

releasing the third Kings Of Leon album, Because of the Times, which has been hailed by the critics with almost religious fervour. ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What's the song you all sing together just before going on stage every night? CALEB FOLLOWILL: It's a gospel song called ''Just A Little Talk With Jesus.'' [Sings] ''Now let us have a little talk with Jesus/Let us tell him all about our troubles/He will hear our faintest cry/He will answer by and by/Now when you feel a little prayer wheel turning/And you know a little fire is burning/You will find a little talk with Jesus makes it right.'' Just about everyone knows that your father had to leave the church because of his drinking. Was he a popular preacher in his day? He was a big deal. He was in the upper echelon. When we walked into a church, everyone knew it.

We sort of had this rock lifestyle before we became a band. It was good for meeting girls. We had our pick of the litter. The only thing is we couldn't do too much.

Mostly kissing. But it taught us how to kiss, man. To this day girls think I'm a great kisser. The name of the new album, Because Of The Times, is a religious reference, isn't it? It's the name of a church conference we used to go to as children, and we hold it dear to us. Because of what we've done as a band and because we haven't really blown up to a level where people hate us, I think a lot of people are trying to scare us into thinking this is our make-or-break record.

But they say that with every record. The title sums up everything that could potentially happen. If it's a huge record it's because of the times; if it flops it's because of the times. After I talk to you, the interviews are going to become a lot shorter, because that's going to be the answer to every question.

[Laughs] Where did you write these new songs? I was on my front porch of the farmhouse where Nathan and I live, about 45 minutes out of Nashville. I was getting to enjoy the normal life and being at home. The last record was a lot about honesty and going for it and pushing myself into having the confidence to let people know exactly what I think. I got a lot of stuff out of my system, so with this record I was able to sit down and write about the things I really wish I had that I don't have, things that fame and all this stuff don't really bring. And what kinds of things can't fame bring you? It doesn't bring you a relationship that you don't get sick of after 25 minutes. Now you're just bragging.

You can last 25 minutes? [Laughs] At times I want a real relationship and at times I don't. The grass is always greener. I see other people, both in my band and in other bands, and they have relationships, and most of the time I'm feeling sorry for them because for me the hardest thing is when the girl's not around and on the phone she's telling you what she did that day, and it's so anti-climactic. Then you get to tell her what you did that day.

After a while it just seems the whole relationship is you bragging about the things you're getting to do. That's the last thing I want to do. I wish it could work, but I don't know. It'll take a while before I turn into the relationship guy, unfortunately. So for the time being you're the 25-minute man? I guess so.

I get to have too much fun, I guess. But I've still got time to get serious. Well, I say I do, but I'm getting kind of old. How old are you? I'm 25. Born on January 14, so I'm a Capricorn.

That means I don't like change much. Except with our music. ''My Party'' is actually about your last birthday party, right? The chorus is. I got kind of lonely when we weren't touring, and I took a liking to Rachel Bilson from The O.C. I had my birthday in Los Angeles, and beforehand everyone kept asking me what I wanted.

I kept saying, ''I don't mind, as long as Rachel Bilson's there.'' It was a total joke. Anyway, we had the party at this big club. There were a lot of people there, not just for my party, but there were other things going on there, too. We walked in, and as God is my witness, the first person I saw was Rachel Bilson.

She wasn't there for me, of course. But she must have recognized us because she waved. I just froze up. She had her boyfriend of the time with her, so I couldn't just go up and say, ''Holy s---! You're here!'' So I put that in the song.

Hopefully she'll read this. The new song ''Knocked Up'' has you and your pregnant girlfriend driving off into the distance to start a new life. What's going on there? That song started with the melody and it started chugging along, then the first thing that came into my head was, ''I don't care what nobody says, we're going to have a baby.'' Everyone just looked at me in the rehearsal room and I threw my hands in the air and said, ''I don't know what to say — it just came out.'' I think the reason I talk about having a baby is because of my fear of an actual relationship. I can actually see myself having a kid before I can see myself getting married, and I know that goes against everything we were raised to believe, but the whole marriage thing...I don't know if it really works these days, which is unfortunate. It just seems divorce is inevitable.

So for me talking about having a baby in that song, it's like the glue that might keep things together, or at least an excuse to make it last a little longer. Why did you write a song about Arizona? I hold that place close to my heart. I love the desert and always have. But the story behind that song is kind of bad. I can't really get into it.

It's about when Nathan and I went to Arizona, and...well, we had quite a few different substances in us, and we decided to go to this brothel. I guess I am telling you now, aren't I? This really is a heartbreaker. We walked in and I looked around and there was this one girl who was so beautiful that all I could think was, ''What happened in her life that could bring her here?'' as opposed to me thinking, ''Yeah! I'll take that one!'' So you left? No. I took an ugly one.

I knew why she was there. That's a pretty heavy story from a preacher's son. I think there's always two sides to your personality, be it when you're drunk or sober, or at home or away, or whatever. Our song ''On Call'' is about the grounded part of you. It says, ''And when I fall to pieces, Lord you know I'll be there waiting.'' You could take that in a Biblical sense. The Bible says that David, or Daniel, or one of those guys, was a man after God's own heart.

But he was quite a messed-up person. So if he's the man after God's own heart, well, maybe when you're at your roughest moment, that's when He's watching over you and smiling. Read more on User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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