October saw the release of the Kings of Leon's seventh studio album WALLS, or “We Are Like Love Songs.” The critical response has been largely warm, but the response from the public has been overwhelmingly positive, with the album sitting at the top of just about every chart it qualifies for. Unsurprisingly, the guys in the band—singer and guitarist Caleb Followill, his brothers, bassist Jared Followill and drummer Nathan Followill, and their cousin, guitarist Matthew Followill––are delighted with the response. They took a few risks this time, working with a new producer and recording in Los Angeles for the first time in years. But so far, it looks like every one of them has been vindicated.
MC spoke with Caleb and Jared nearly a month after the album’s release, as they were starting to prepare for a mammoth 2017 tour, and the two discussed their thoughts on the recording process as well as their plans going forward.
Music Connection: You couldn’t have asked for more from WALLS––Number 1 on the Billboard Hot 200, Alternative Chart, Rock Chart, Top Albums, Digital Albums, the list goes on. You’ve got to be satisfied with that.
Jared Followill: Oh yeah, absolutely. Especially with the work that we put in. We knew that we would have to work a lot harder this time around and do things that we would normally complain about, but it paid off in a really big way.
Caleb Followill: We’re thrilled. We didn’t expect this. Every day, we wake up to good news. That’s always a good thing.
MC: This is the first album since 2007’s Because the Times that was recorded in L.A.––why did you return to the city this time?
Jared: There were a few reasons really. One is that we just felt like a change of scenery would be good for us creatively. And we knew that the recording would take place at the worst time of the year in Nashville, which is after Christmas when all of that romance goes away and you realize it’s just dark really early, and cold and rainy.
We all have wives and most of us have kids, and it just seemed like a good way to keep morale up and everybody happy. In L.A., when you come home from the studio at 8 p.m., everyone’s in a good mood and there’s still a little bit of sun out.
MC: This is also the first album where former producer Angelo Petraglia isn’t involved. Why?
Jared: It just felt like we needed to do something different. We knew that we wanted to get a new producer, fresh blood in there and just something to spark us creatively. With a lot of the names that were being floated around, they weren’t necessarily the types to collaborate. They kind of take on an album as a whole, and it’s their baby instead of going down that road of trying to do negotiation and making everybody happy.
We talked with Angelo and others, and just decided that we were gonna go in a slightly different direction this time around, but knowing that the door is always open to work with him in the future.
MC: Markus Dravs has done amazing work with Arcade Fire and Florence + the Machine, among others. Did his resume make it easy for you to choose him?
Jared: That’s really the only way that I know of that you can judge a producer, by their past work. Many, many people could come in there and say the things that you want to hear, but without any proof it’s kind of hard to give somebody the reins to something this big, especially at this point in our career––our seventh album and 13 years in.
We definitely took into consideration all the great works that he had done. He makes good musical choices. Simple, smart and tasteful. All of that came through in everything we heard.
Caleb: We decided to try out a few different producers, and Markus was the first one we met. When we met him, we all just thought, “I don’t know about this guy.” He seemed like a tough cookie, and we didn’t know how it was going to work out. But then before we met anyone else, we all came together and thought, “You know what, this guy might be the best one for the job because we need someone to come on and crack the whip, and not candy-coat everything and tell us that we’re great.” We wanted someone to tell us when something’s shit, and help us improve on it.