Interview by Leslie Rae Terhorst

After their last tour back in 2011, we weren’t sure if they would ever return. Frontman Caleb Followill walked offstage halfway through a concert in Dallas, claiming he would return after vomiting and drinking a beer. He didn’t come back. The remainder of the tour was canceled, the band announced it was going on hiatus, and there were even acrimonious tweets between band members, which is when you know things have gotten desperate. It seemed likely if the guys did re-emerge it would be separately. Fortunately it didn’t come to that. 

After the meltdown, the group went on hiatus, and a self-inflicted media blackout. “I didn’t watch television. I didn’t get on the Internet,” Caleb states. “Me and my wife just started enjoying, you know, life.” It didn’t take long for him to grab the guitar and write again. The Mechanical Bull album was born. “I think every album is a fresh start, … and every tour is a new start,” said drummer Nathan Followill. 

Following such incredible hits like “Use Somebody” and “Sex on Fire,” KOL has some catching up to do. The Mechanical Bull Tour might just be the ticket needed to bring them back on top.  A small group of us got together with the band and here’s what we found out:

RIS: How does it feel to be back on the road?

Caleb: I’m excited. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. I think it’s the first time in a while that our fans have had a breather from us, because we’ve always been known for working non-stop. And I think the fact that we’ve been away for a while; I think people are really excited for the comeback. And I know we’re excited, and we’re going to try to bring something special to the table.

RIS: What can we expect from the show?

Matthew: We’ve already been rehearsing longer than we’ve pretty much ever rehearsed for a tour. Mainly because I think we don’t really know what to do, we have so many songs and we want to try to please every one. So we’re either going to have to kick songs out that we’ve had in the set forever or just play for three hours. But, we’re going with a bigger show. I don’t want to really give anything away too much, but it should just be better.

Caleb: I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. I think it’s the first time in a while that our fans have had a breather from us and I think the fact that we’ve been away for a minute…I think people are really excited and I know we’re going to try to bring something special to the table.

RIS: How does Mechanical Bull compare to the rest of your body of work?

Jared: For us, it’s kind of hard to say, you know, because we’re so in it. Everything for us is under a microscope. So, it would probably be easier for somebody else to tell us the difference in the albums. But it feels like it gets a little bit easier. We’ve been a band for a long time, but as musicians we’re still kind of young. I’ve been playing bass for now probably 10 years or somewhere in there, and then playing with the guys for about 10 years. So everything is kind of still a little bit fresh. 

Matthew: Sorry, I was daydreaming. No, I’m just kidding. I don’t know. Yes, I mean I feel like I’ve said the same thing about every record. It’s just like every record just kind of has everything – we have a lot of different sounds and we touch on a lot of different things. And we can have, you know, like a rock and roll song or a country song, or even kind of a poppy song, and we just kind of put all those things together that we do and put them on a record. It just kind of comes like that. We don’t really try and write any kind of songs in particular. We’re kind of like the Seinfeld of bands. We’re like a band about nothing.

RIS: So what are some of your favorite songs from Mechanical Bull?

Matthew: I don’t know, it’s weird on this record. We’re all different. We all like different songs. Nathan loves “Family Tree”, and Caleb wants to play “Comeback Story”, Jared wants to play, “It Don’t Matter”, something like that. And I want to play like “Tonight.”

Jared:  No, it really doesn’t matter.

RIS: Since it’s the most recent video out, can you talk a little about “Beautiful War” the song, and how the video came about?

Caleb: “Beautiful War” is – it was kind of like when we recorded it we kept hearing it with a clip, a rodeo clip, and it kind of really fit the song. 

A friend of ours, Casey McGrath, the director of the video, he knew that because he was around when we were making the album. So he kind of wrote the video treatment around that. I contacted Garrett Headland, who actually was in the video. And I told him, you know, I was like, “Man, you should be in this video”, not really thinking that he would do it. But he jumped on board, and they shot it in Oklahoma. I flew into Oklahoma while they were shooting, just to be a part of and watch it, and it was amazing. It was amazing to see such a large scale production for a song that we recorded in such a short amount of time. It was pretty neat.

RIS: How did  you hook up with Gary Clark Jr.?

Caleb: We’re always kind of trying to keep our finger on the pulse of what’s going on musically. And a lot of times, you know, you do stuff out there that you can tell it’s just  kind of a fad and it’s going to go away, but I think he’s had kind of a steady, slow build that kind of leads you to believe that he has a shot at having a long career. So when we were kicking around names, his name came up and obviously he was on our list. We just didn’t know if he was going to do it or not. But he said yes and so we’re all really excited. I think it’s going to be a great combination. I think Matthew might be a little nervous because he’s a good guitar player.

RIS: What have you learned from touring and how have you changed?

Nathan:  It’s like once you have kids, get married and all that good stuff, it changes your perspective on what you do after the show more than anything. Only because, you know your daughter’s waking up at 7 a.m., whether daddy went to bed at 10 p.m. or 4 a.m. So I think it makes you a little more responsible. I mean not to say that we still don’t have a good time, and don’t know how to let our hair down. But as you grow up and get older, you realize certain things aren’t as important as they used to be.

Caleb: There are so many things that we’ve done and we’ve done a million times. And after a while you start to look for something else. And I think for me at this point, I’m just really excited to go out and step up our game, and to go out there and try to compete with all forms of music as far as our show goes… I think for me that’s the kind of stuff that I’m excited about and want to be focused on with this. You know, just making our lives feel better, and also continue to grow as a band. It’s not all about the party for me anymore. Or at least not this week. But we’ll see what it’s like next week.

RIS: What still motivates you to play?

Caleb: I think it’s easy at times to feel like what you’re doing is a routine. I think there’s something inside of us that drives us. We come from a very competitive family. And so for me every time I see a young band and I hear a song that I think is really good, there’s a part of me that gets a little angry, and it’s like, “Shit, man. We should have written that song.” So that motivates me to keep going and always try to get better at what it is that we’re doing. And as far as the live show, we grew up traveling, and I do love being home, but I will say, after being home for a little while there’s something inside of me that I was born to travel, and I want to get back out there. And even if that means, you know, playing concerts and singing songs that we’ve sang for 10 years, just seeing the people’s faces that they’re enjoying what you’re doing, I mean it’s going to keep you going, and we signed up for this, you know. Our dream was to be a band and be able to travel and have all the experiences that we’ve had. So that’s what keeps me going.

The Grammy Award-winning Tennessee rock band is bringing its 2014 Mechanical Bull Tour to Chula Vista’s Sleep Train Amphitheatre for a March 22 concert. Local Natives will open. The tour is in support of Kings of Leon’s sixth album, ‘Mechanical Bull’. Tickets are available (for now) at,

 “I think every album is a fresh start… and every tour is a new start.”


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