Interview: Kings Of Leon talk ‘Talihina Sky,’ awkward videos, tour

Before there was “Youth and Young Manhood,” there was gawky adolescence.

And before Nathan and Caleb Followill knew what it was to chase girls and record an album, there was a video made for the ages: In it, the pair is awkwardly singing an upbeat gospel-worship song in front of a cheap blue screen. They”re wearing bad suits and sporting even worse hairdos. At the end of the 30 seconds, promotional text touts the duo as available for parties and services, with their parents” names and a phone number contact. The clip, culled from the ’80s, is mortifying and magnificent.
It”s featured in the new Kings of Leon documentary “Talihina Sky,” which made its debut at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York this past week.
“In my mind, I knew they should use it,” Caleb tells me of the footage in question during our interview in Manhattan. “And then I saw it. I was in a room watching [the movie] with a bunch of our touring crew when it showed up. By then end of it, everyone was standing up and clapping. I was hiding behind the couch.”
[More after the jump…]
There”s a few other hilariously cringe-worthy happenings in “Talihina Sky,” including a photo of brother Jared smiling, holding a crawdad, with what he calls a “Billy Madison haircut” during his “fat stage.” Caleb”s only major sit-down interview for the film occurs when he”s drunk and stoned, resulting in a solid, earnest rambling about his upbringing and a harmless joke about gay sex.
“I think if it was a movie just about our music, then it would”ve been corny to have done it. But its more of a glimpse into our family, and into where and how we”d grown up,” Caleb says. “It”s an American story.”
Read my mini-review of the film from Friday here.
“Our back-story is as big of a story as the actual musical aspect of it,” Jared continues. “In the beginning that”s what drew people in. Like, ‘Are they really brothers? Did they make this sh*t up? Did the label put you guys together?””
“There was a rumor that we”d met at an Ivy League bar,” says Nathan.
“And that we were models. Hand models,” Caleb adds.
A lot of the siblings” conversations turn into a series of one-liners and one-uppances, which was a defining element of hilarity in the documentary. Matthew Followill — KOL”s guitarist and cousin to the siblings — would have surely added some zingers, were he not absent this week, at home with a newborn.
“Did Matthew have his baby?” I asked. “Is it a boy or a girl?”
“A boy.”
“They had a drag queen.”
“Talihina” director Stephen C. Mitchell (who Nathan affectionately referred to as “stupid-ass Stephen”) became a sort of adopted relative, having been involved with the Tennesse-based Oklahoma-bred band”s business affairs early on, and then a friend and regular attendee at family functions. Over about 10 year, he had collected more than 750 hours of footage.
The director and band are working on getting the well-edited piece out to fans, but in the meantime, KOL have announced summer tour dates, with opener Band of Horses. Caleb mentions that longtime fans will have a little something extra to look for during this stint.
“We”re trying to focus on getting a lot of the old music into [the setlist],” he says. “The last few shows we played, we took some risks.” The band had dragged out some tracks that they hadn”t performed in “five or six years” and “out of the 15,000 people in the crowd, only a 1,000 went ‘Yeah!””
“It”s like, f*ck, that”s good for us, because those are the people who have been coming to our shows for years, who are hoping to play those songs again. We”re gonna play those, and saving the hits for the very last of the set. It”s not like fans are gonna f*cking leave before they hear them, y”know?”
We know.
Kings Of Leon headlined the Coachella earlier this month and embark on tour in July, with dates stretching into September.
25 – Orange Beach, AL – The Wharf
27 – Atlanta, GA – Aaron’s Lakewood Amphitheater
29 – Dallas, TX – Gexa Energy Pavilion
30 – Houston, TX – Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
02 – Tampa, FL – 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheatre
05 – West Palm Beach, FL – Cruzan Amphitheater
05 – Charlotte, NC – Verizon Wireless Amphitheater
06 – Virginia Beach – Farm Bureau Live
09 – Washington DC – Jiffy Lube Live
10 – Wantagh, NY – Nikon @ Jones Beach
12 – Camden, NY – Susquehanna Bank Center
13 – Hartford, CT – Comcast Theatre
16 – Buffalo, NY – Darien Lake PAC
17 – Holmdel, NJ – PNC Bank Arts Center
19 – Boston, MA – Comcast Center
20 – Saratoga, NY – Saratoga Performing Arts Center
23 – Detroit, MI – DTE Energy Center
24 – Cincinnati, OH – Riverbend Music Center
26 – Chicago, IL – First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre
27 – Indianapolis, IN – Verizon Wireless Music Center
29 – Bonner Springs, KS – Sandstone Amphitheater
31 – Denver, CO – Red Rocks Amphitheatre
01 – Denver, CO – Red Rocks Amphitheatre
03 – Las Vegas, NV – Mandalay Bay 
04 – San Diego, CA – Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre
06 – Phoenix, AZ – Ashley Furniture Home Store Pavilion
08 – Irvine, CA – Verizon Wireless Amphitheater
10 – Mountain View, CA – Shoreline Amphitheatre
12 – Seattle, WA – Key Arena