Kings of Leon have very much an American sound, so it might be surprising how the band blew up in the UK initially. Their family success story demonstrates the global nature of modern day music.
By 2007, Kings of Leon had joined the list of American bands which received more love across the pond in the UK than they did on home soil. Maybe it was their gritty brand of garage rock which didn’t make much of an impression on a modern rock audience accustomed to more diluted fayre, but the four-piece were still very much under appreciated stateside.
With the success they achieved in the UK and Europe, it is doubtful that the band cared an awful lot. This group of three brothers, and their cousin, honed their talents in their mother’s basement in Nashville, Tennessee. They admit to ‘kidnapping’ their cousin from Mississippi to join the band, and since then, they haven’t looked back.
They signed their first deal with RCA Records in 2002, and released their debut EP, ‘Holy Roller Novocaine’, the following year. But it was their first album, ‘Youth and Young Manhood’, which brought them to the attention of the British music press, including NME, and a respected publication on their own territory – Rolling Stone. The comparisons kept coming – from The Strokes to Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Rolling Stones – the ‘Kings’ were being mentioned in some vaunted company.
In 2007’s preceding years, they had done much to spread their appeal through sheer hard work, supporting already established acts such as the likes of Bob Dylan, U2 and Pearl Jam. So, when ‘Because of the Times’, their second studio effort, was released in April 2007, the band were already putting their music out to a sizable audience. The reputation of the band as ‘UK-centric’ was underlined by releasing the album a day earlier in the UK than the US. It went straight to number one in the British chart.
Fast forward to 2017, and the band are still going strong, selling out arenas all over the world. If there has been one game-changing event in the last decade, it has to be the release of the 2008 single ‘Sex on Fire’. Gaining widespread international airplay, it’s a song which can be heard everywhere to this day, and can rightfully be called the Kings’ smash hit. Taken from the fourth studio album by the band – ‘Only By the Night’ – the song is said to be written about vocalist Caleb’s girlfriend, Lily Aldridge.
The band’s latest album is 2016’s WALLS, one of seven studio albums they have given us over the years. They are considered a good live group, and 2009’s O2 Arena gig in London was filmed for a live DVD. While they have certainly extended their fan base in the United States, including in their native south, their UK appeal remains just as strong, and they have a massive summer show coming up in London’s Hyde Park.