Defending Kings Of Leon: Blood Is Thicker Than Tequila

Categories: Current Events

Since there's been so much talk about Kings of Leon after Caleb Followill's abrupt "heat-induced" exit last Friday in Dallas, Tuesday afternoon Rocks Off's in-house brain trust emailed back and forth about the possible long-term effects of last weekend's events on the band.

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Mark C. Austin
Kings of Leon, Bonnaroo 2007
Craig Hlavaty: The Kings of Leon Dallas meltdown last Friday made me reflect on my experiences with the band for almost the past decade. As a fan of KOL since 2003 and that first coke-snorting, .38 Special-sounding beast of an LP, I can ignore the new fan base and tune them out.

I get that they have had a new douchey audience since Only By the Night came out, but I was there first, so they don't matter. We've all watched them grow up, and you aren't the same artist at 20 that you are at 29. Shit changes, and you let new musical influences into your stew. God knows we all aren't the same as we were a decade ago.

But the KOL storyline is almost movie-perfect. Solid rock band comes from the "sticks," looks good and makes the girlies squirm, they struggle, break out in the UK, do OK out here in the U.S., make some very interesting, growth-oriented albums, and then they finally hit on something that goes wide, namely by turning into a baby U2 with modern-rock leanings.

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And so the cash grab begins. Nickelback starts covering your shit live, pretty blonde girls and the boys that chase them start blaring your stuff in the party buses, and these poor bastards put themselves on tour for the past four years straight. Maybe break to sleep, eat, drink and record an album, which is actually one of my favorites of theirs.

The sick reality is that this how a rock band makes money in 2011. Not by selling albums, but by touring relentlessly and selling $40 shirts. You and I both talked about KOL needing to ease off. I talked with friends who had been fans like me (forever) about how tired they looked, even in 2009, two years before what happened on Friday night in Dallas. We all saw this coming...


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Chris Gray: I don't think anyone needs to be running up any Amy Winehouse-type red flags for Caleb just yet. The tone of the other Kings' tweets after the Dallas walkoff told me they were not so much concerned about his immediate health and well-being than just mildly to moderately annoyed, like, "Oh shit, here we go again."

It's true, I do remember both of us being very surprised to see they were coming back to The Woodlands again. Even disregarding the Final Four "Big Dance" show, which was a one-of-a-kind special event, it's still been less than a year than they were here with the Black Keys. I hope this helps them realize that they're not indestructible, and that even the most hardcore road dogs need to know when to pack it in and go home for a while.

Maybe that's what the others were alluding to when they talked about the "sicknesses" within the group - the Kings who had wives and girlfriends were ready to get back to them, and the single Kings wanted to stay out on the road for obvious reasons. Maybe they'll grow up a little after this, and even become a better band because of it.


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Craig Hlavaty: Yeah, I assume that Caleb can take care of what he has going on. It doesn't look like anyone is smoking crack or tying off before the encores. I think what I want to see is an extended break, you know? Pull yourselves off the road, release a greatest-hits disc, build a house, make some kids. Caleb can chill out, finally make his solo country crossover record, and the rest of the guys can also start exploring music outside of the band, because I have always wanted to see that.

Some weird-ass Bill Wyman, Ron Wood stuff. Come back in five years, and more than likely the pesky new fans who could give a shit about anything before Only By the Night will have moved on, or at least gotten wiser. The core fan base will always be there, because we've grown with the band.


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19 comments
Mia
Mia

Me?  I was pissed that because of the cancellations, I wasn't gonna see the opening act play. Band of Horses, take heed. Ironically, said opening act is temporarily losing out on expanding the ol' fan base to King of Leon levels. Seems that they're spending the month making the rent by playing clubs full of the same ol' kids who talk about hearting Horses forever. Ah, well.

Kings of Leon. My first encounter with this band was through one of those internet radio stations back in 2005? 2006? There was Spiral Staircase. Well, alright now! Soft. OK, we can do this! I was charmed, but didn't explore much more of their catalog. Slurred English accents were the thing way back then. And I was all about that failed British invasion.

As far as this tour blah-blah goes, I was surprised that after just playing the local amphitheater little more than 9 months ago (with another stand-out opener, Black Keys), they would again be playing the very same venue. Before the amphitheater, they'd played a giant dome in the area just 6 or so months earlier for a total of 3 local stops in barely two years. Intense.

I don't have a strong opinion about the band with matters concerning alcohol or substance or rock-star effery abuse, but now that I don't hate Caleb or Nathan or the one that tweets a lot for making me miss Band of Horses 4-ever, I can appreciate that it might have been time for Kings of Leon to take a little vay-cay from the tour bus. Or private jet. Or however you get around when you're them. Especially since their latest album only made a blip on the US charts, when they're a band that has got to make big ol' bleeps. And that's a lot to ask of anyone when the bleepers are Katy Perry and the Cast of Glee.

God, in that light, I'm definitely rooting for 'em. Still a little miffed about Band of Horses, though. Not gonna lie.

momma rains
momma rains

This is the best article I have read yet regarding KOL and this fiasco. It's nice to hear from some true fans. It's an interesting point about how management could be pushing them to play more....

My girlfriends and I saw them in Dallas last Friday night and you could tell from the beginning something wasn't right. He seemed pissed off from the start. It really seemed like he did not want to be on that stage. I am not sure how much of a roll alcohol played, as Caleb seemed fairly lucid to me. He kept talking about being hot and at one point said, "Just for the record, I'm not f*ing drunk, I'm just f*ing hot!" I really think the heat was the biggest problem that night. He said, "I'm about to fall down over here I'm so hot, so get off your asses and have a good time!" The crowd was, of course, pretty immobile. and it was freaking hot! I was drenched (not that I let that stop me, but had I been drinking, it probably would have). Then out of the blue, he says, "I have no idea what is going on right now...made a comment about his wife and a couple of bald headed guys in the pit that he said couldn't fight, then he started talking about how we were the best audience ever (which I knew was a lie) and he thanked us...I was thinking surely he is not shutting this down right now?! Then he said he was gonna go vomit, drink a beer, and come back and play three more songs. I was like, 3 more songs? that still doesn't get us to a full set, but once he left, I knew he wasn't coming back. He stumbled, knocked over his mic (accidentally, I think), started to walk off, said something into Jared's mic (but it was turned off) and knocked Jared's mic over (on purpose). That was that. His words were clear, not slurred at all and I think someone who is that drunk, isn't going to be able to speak so clearly. I really think it was heat stroke with the alcohol helping him get there faster than everyone else. They (the band) were way hotter than anyone in the crowd. Huge, bright lights right on them...how could they not be? It might have been another type of drug as previously mentioned, but who knows? Only KOL knows. I'll tell you one thing, though....you know how you always hear don't believe everything you read? Well, don't! I, for the first time in my life, have first hand knowledge that what the media is saying isn't always true. They are spinning everything to make it seem worse than it was. It sucked to get cut off like that, but the 11 songs we did get were awesome!  and 11 is better than nothing.I sincerely hope they are able to get the rest they need and are able to finish their tour (if that's what they want to do and they have a choice). I do hope they get back down our way soon. We had 3rd row tickets (the best seats out of our 6 shows so far) to the show at the Woodlands, so I am bummed to say the least, but oh well. Family comes first, every time. I will be here waiting...

Found_in_grace
Found_in_grace

This discussion unfortunately leaves out the fact that the Kings JUST got back on the road after more than a month long break. I understand that they've been working incredibly hard ever since Only By The Night came out, but they are passionate about music and playing for their fans. It's just so odd that literally three dates into their tour Caleb has "vocal strain." If you look at the facts for five seconds anyone would realize it's bullshit. Caleb also just got married a couple months ago. This dude should be on top of the world. Also, if anyone watched the clip from Dallas he didn't seem drunk, he seemed fucked out of his head on acid or something.

furioso ateo
furioso ateo

Whatever. I saw these guys play in 2003 and thought they sucked then, and have only been proven right by every douchey album and development in their career since then.

Festus
Festus

Could you be so kind as to borrow a period and ease up on the exclamation marks?  Thanks!!!

MT
MT

 I say good riddance. The doucherati will find another band to flock to. KOL changed for the worse after they gave up their throwback 70's long hair and bell bottoms look for their polished, manufactured California image.

panjok2
panjok2

I love this article guys but 5 years? Are you trying to kill me? I too have been a fan since the beginning and that's probably why I feel so old at some of the show! But at the 'back down south' video shoot I really saw a wide range of ages, though you won't see that in the video!   My wife and I both have talked about how tired they look and we have talked about their alcohol use and have been very worried about it because no one can keep drinking so much and not have it affect their life in some negative manner! When you drink heavily like they do it is like 2 buses driving towards each other on a one lane bridge, someones going to get hurt if you don't slow down!      No matter how long they take a break for, I will be there when they return and I will probably still be posting on the fan club till that day comes but 5 years is a little long guys! I could die before then! haha 

  This really sucks for me and my wife because we won 2nd place in the 'Road to Slane Castle' contest  which was a tour pass to all 30 shows in the U.S.,so we had a huge vacation setup! We have hotels already paid for with NO refund because we pre-paid in order to get the rooms at a big discount which enabled us to be add more shows! We were going to see them at 9 venues detroit being the first and Phoenix,Arizona the last only skipping a couple in the line-up in between! Now we are out a lot of money but we will still be here when they return!  

  You know everyone has their different opinion about each album and whether or not they are sellouts but all that doesn't matter to me because I happen to love every last one of their albums and I think they each have the perfect spot in their collection! No band stays exactly the same, as time goes by they grow and change a little! If I want to hear them play songs like they did in the beginning then I listen to one of their first albums! they have yet to get old on me! I am happy with their different ranges of sounds because underneath it all, I still hear Kings of Leon! 

panjok2
panjok2

We won the tour pass and had pre-paid hotels all over the county. We did not get a refund  because buying them pre-paid meant no refund no matter what! We went ahead and keep our nights in Denver,CO and ended up staying for a week and a half. We got to see band of horses in Boulder,CO. We were supposed to see them in Denver but when we went to the venue to get tickets on the day b4 the show...a guy with 3 friends was in front of us and he tried to buy 40 tickets but the lady wouldn't let him but she did let him hand the money to his friends and they bought the last 37 seats! I was pissed and let the lady know it too! Plus me and my wife called the venue and complained on their answering system. The next day we decided to drive 3 hours south to see the royal gorge bridge since we couldn't go to the show. we had bought tickets to the Boulder,CO show the next night. Well I forgot to mention that I am friends with Tyler Ramsey's mom on facebook so when I posted what had happened I guess she called Tyler and he had the venue give us a call to tell us he had saved some tickets for us! The sad thing was that we were too far away to get ther in time so we missed out on that show but the Boulder show made up for it as the spot we got was front row center...right in front of Ben. The stage was so low that we could have touched Ben easily. The show was great though I think it made me deaf! haha I do have to agree that boh and all their employees lost a huge opportunity! I hope boh comes out with a new album that makes them explode! I think they will one day and maybe without any other bands help!!  

Hwalker9103
Hwalker9103

I was there too that night and I have to say that I agree with every single thing you wrote. From the heat on stage, to him seeming pretty lucid, to the media completely making crap up. I am glad I'm not the only one there that night who thought that.Oh also, I did notice during a couple songs that he would start singing a line and his voice would crack for a word or two and then he would continue. I really do think his voice was messed up as well!

panjok2
panjok2

I happen to love every single album they own! I think as an artist you have different moments in your life and that kol does not want to be another AC/DC where every album sounds the same! I think each kol album has it's perfect spot in their whole album as a band! If I want to rock I will put on  'holy roller novocaine' and since there are times I am in a relaxed mood I will put on 'come around sundown' !!!  I think they all are great and if people would stop trying to decide what the band should sound like and open themselves to what they give then they might actually see that they are all great albums!! 

Adam Klagsbrun
Adam Klagsbrun

 phish took a 5 year break. now they kick ass again. it was worth the wait.

momma rains
momma rains

Second place? That's awesome! I entered but didn't win anything. Hopefully, they will compensate you somehow. :) 

panjok2
panjok2

shhh you guys are killing me with this 5 year stuff! I dont want this spreading to the band! Maybe a 6 month break which they are now but I want my tour pass and if they take that long of a break I won't get it! I think they are already making plans for the makeup tour next summer here in the US! The people from MTV still haven't given me anything! I would be happy with the money so I could pick the shows I want to go to if they return next summer!

panjok2
panjok2

my comment i just wrote has to be approved by a moderator because of a link to my blog I think so i will write it out here! I am panjok2 on utube as well and there are great videos of the back down south video shoot on my channel plus on my blog www  dot  kingsofleonlive   dot blogspot   dot   com  just put the dots in where it says!

panjok2
panjok2

Thanks   had sent in the list of shows I wanted to go to but the lady from www.pop2life.com  was out of the country so when she returned (2 days after kol canceled the tour) she sent me an email saying she had sent the list on to MTV! That told me that she didn't even know they had canceled the tour yet! So I sent her an email to let her know about them canceling but she hasn't sent anything back yet! I have no clue what is happening now! We spent a lot of money we wouldn't normally spend on clothes ,hotels  luggage new tires on our car that could have waited till next year! We are working poor people so this really hurt us! I hope they are fair with us and thats all I ask! I really want the tour package if they plan on returning next year! check out our blog for great videos of the bds video shoot and my youtube channel! i'm panjok2 on utube as wellhttp://kingsofleonlive.blogspo...

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