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.