Kings of Leon
Title of the Record
Caleb: I think Come Around Sundown can mean so many different things. Like, come around, sundown; like youre wanting the sundown to get here. But, its actually saying, I think Im gonna go have a cup of coffee, come around sundown.
Jared: Some people interpret it as come around sundown; like come over my house at sundown. I dont see it as that. I see it as like come around sundown, we bout to get down. Ha-ha!
Matthew: And you always think about, in your free time, record titles and stuff like that -- fun stuff. I was listening to some song and the person said, come around sundown. I said maybe, so I just told the guys and theyre like, yeah, thats awesome. I just expected it to be thrown in the hat with a bunch of other names, but it was kind of immediate. Pretty much from day one, that was the title of the record.
Jared: When we play The End live, I dont know what Im gonna do! Im gonna look like Quasimodo; Ill be hunched over, playing as hard as I can. Its the hardest bass line I have ever written! I do it with my fingers, its so fast. You cant really its kind of a muffled sound on the record. But if you can hear what Im doing: I tried to do a Tom ___ kind of thing. But its way too hard for me. Im gonna literally have to play it with my back facing out cause Im going to be making a face that no human should see outside the realms of hell. Ha-ha!
Caleb: Well, starting the record off with The End I mean its definitely one of those songs that comes in one piece at a time. Thats always a good way it layers itself to start a record.
Matthew: I think we needed a strong song to start the record.
Nathan: Its got a bit of irony to it being The End and the beginning.
Caleb: The song has a little bit of what we were doing on the last record. For someone that was a fan of the last record, when they put this record on, its not going to scare them away.
Matthew: Radioactive is one of the first songs that we started on and it is wasnt until the last week that anything came together. We just werent sure what was going to happen.
Jared: When we first started writing Radioactive, it was a song called Its Alright. And literally, I think that it was either right after we wrote Aha Shake Heartbreak or during the writing of that record.
Nathan: To be able to put a song on a record that was written two records ago, but for some reason just didnt quite fit I think it says a lot about the strength of the songs.
Caleb: Yeah; it started out as a very punk-rock song that we ended up scrapping. But, then we ended up using that melody for the new idea which was that boom-de-da-deh. But when we got in there, the verse and chorus were too similar. It didnt feel like it went anywhere.
Jared: We had to completely restructure the song. And thats what we did going into this record. We just thought, were not going to throw away a song; were gonna to make every song as good as possible.
Caleb: And one night -- we had been there all day, and Nathan had gone home. And Jared had gone home and Angela had gone home. It was just me, Matthew and Jacquire. We were playing darts and I was pretty bummed that it wasnt going to make the record cause I thought it was strong. I said, Hey, Jacquire, just record and Im go in here and a do a thing And I went in there and just, The road is carved up yonder.. and just gave it a lot more space. And by doing that, it made the chorus so very powerful. The next day, we got in and I was like, play that. When he started playing it, Nathan, Jared and Angela -- everyone walked in: what is that? What is that song being sang very drunkenly? And it ended up working. It ended up giving new life to the song.
Caleb: Pyro, I had actually written some verses because I was watching this piece on these radical Christians that live up in the mountains and somehow the FBI got involved and pretty much went and killed them. And so I started writing kind of about that and about a guy that was kind of fed up with it all and he thought that the world that he was living in wasnt the perfect world to him so he kind of goes and burns it down. Its just one of those songs where its like it starts out with someone thinking they know how its supposed to be and at the end its like, I cant even be that way.
Jared: Pyro is the funnest one to play live right now.
Matthew: Pyro is the most fun and its the most difficult. Its, uh God I remember the first night we played it. I was so nervous and so mad at them for making me play it. Its because I was so anxious to do it, but, thank God, it worked out and I didnt mess up.
Caleb: And I think its always a song thats like intimate and very much the vocals are up front. Thats always the difficult one for me because at times you feel like youre carrying the weight. Like, a song like Pyro, is kind of like Its kind of a quiet song so the vocal to me needs to be pretty perfect and going back to what we were saying earlier, to me, perfect doesnt mean perfect. It means to have the emotion to really carry the track and to get the audience and the listener to really relate to whats going on.
Caleb: Mary is something that I was writing at the very beginning of Only by the Night. It was something I wrote in my house one night, drunk. And it had such an energy to it and I loved it but for some reason, it didnt make the cut.
Matthew: I think that was for the last record and it just never happened and then somebody played an old demo and we were like, Man, weve got to bring that one back around.
Caleb: We were going through the song titles and everything that we had and Angela was like, why dont we try to record Mary again? And I could see everyone kind of go like ehhh, but I was like, Please! Mary is something that Ive always loved and I think that it would have been a travesty if it didnt make this record.
Jared: On the demo, it was really kind of distorted-sounding and it really had a Neutral Milk Hotel or a Olivia Tremor Control vibe. It sounds like Theres a song called Holland 1945 by Neutral Milk Hotel that it really kind of Its this kind of bar song thats like really fast. And I mean, when we recorded it, we kind of took it more of a Phil Spector way as opposed to the distorted, you know, Affans band kind of vibe. But I think you can still feel some of that stuff in there.
Nathan: I think one of my favorite intros ever by us is Mary. Because it goes woo-doo and then its just right in your face, like right off the bat.
Matthew: The background vocals, really, like the first thing you hear really, I was really excited. (Jared agrees) I dont know who came up with that line, but when they did, I was like, Man, thats awesome.
Caleb: Its called Mary and its M-A-R-Y, but Im actually talking about marriage. I said, Marry if you wanna. I waive my right. I think that was when I was kind of disgruntled about Nathan moving out of the house and getting married. Then, in the second verse, I talk about Nacho, and I say, like, Well dance like were boyfriends in sheer delight, because me and him used to go out and party. On this album, we were experimenting a little more and wanted to show our countrier side at times and our throwback side and wanted to give people like a brief history of what Kings of Leon have been trying to achieve all the while.
Caleb: Theres a lot of vulnerability on this record and that is the fact that a lot of it wasnt rehearsed and, I mean, back in the, back when people were making real music, thats what you loved when you could hear a pop here or a crack here, a door opening. And I remember when we were doing Youth and Young Manhood, I forget which track it is, but if you listen closely, and were probably the only ones that can hear it, but while the track is being played, you can hear someone playing pool in the background. You can hear the balls cracking. And you know, its like, thats awesome, you know, its got to stay.
Jared: We always try to record live and we get as much as we can on tape live and then if we have to go back and fix stuff, then you do.
Nathan: I dont think weve ever been a band to have the stopwatch out for that radio hit, ya know--Its gotta be two and a half minutes to three minutes long or something like that.
Caleb: No, we dont like to ever over-think anything. I mean the amount of times we go in there and actually record a song Its unbelievable. I mean, well go in there and play it three times and if they say, Give us one more, were all like, Come on, we gave it to you three times. Thats what the song is going to be.
Matthew: There are definitely a couple of songs on this record that were almost completely live. Mary was for me, every single bit of the song is live, even the solo. I wanted to redo the solo so badly and they were like, No, just leave it. Its really good. So I was like, Fine. But yeah, that one was completely tracked live for me.
Caleb: We arent going in there and separating everything and having everything sound as perfect as we can because I really, Ive really never been into perfection that much.
Caleb: With Immortals, I actually sat down and wrote the lyrics for that. And it took me about 20 minutes; it was pretty quick. And I actually sat down and played it for my girlfriend. She welled up with tears and said, those are some of the best lyrics Ive ever heard. And Jared, yesterday, he told me he thinks that it maybe the one of greatest choruses that weve ever written.
Jared: Yeah, to me, the chorus is if not the very, its one of the very best choruses weve every written as a band. Its huge. The lyrics are special; I really like the lyrics on the chorus they really hit home. Just the instrumentation just like I said: it goes from something super fast and then out of nowhere the bottom drops out and its like youre free falling.
Caleb: In I way, I kind of wanted it to be something that I could say to my children. It really says it all in one chorus. Here it is: go out and be who it is you wanna be and at the end of the day, before youve gone, make sure youve loved
Caled: I knew with Back Down South, I was so excited to record that song. I didnt write one lyric to that song; I free-flowed every bit of that. But, Matthew, one day, we were in the rehearsal space and he had a lap steel.
Matthew: I brought one and I didnt know how to tune it or anything, but it was in the tuning and I played around for a while. Then the guy kinda showed me how to do certain things So one of the first things Ive played on it
Caleb: Kinda went like, Berr, bah-bah, berr, buh-buh buhm. And immediately I said, come out and dance, if you get the chance
Matthew: And I was so excited and I knew it was so far away, but I couldnt wait to show the guys that line! I was so happy when I showed it to them, everybody immediately tried to start writing parts for it. And thats the best feeling ever.
Nathan: Back Down South, Good lord, whos not on the back-end of that one? --
Caleb: The kitchen sink!
Nathan: It was just one of those, like Caleb said, we had a round of everyone singing it. then kinda got distracted and played darts or whatever had a drink.
Matthew: It was one of the best times weve ever had in the studio! For some reason, we started drinking whiskey so early, at like right when we got there. Like, hey! Gonna take a shot? And everybodys like, yeah! So, at the end of the night, we were like, lets just sing some backup vocals in the end just sing what Calebs singing. And twenty people all the crew, everybody that worked there were all in the room with a couple of mics.
Jared: I was actually out sick for a couple of days. I was so depressed, sitting at home. I couldnt do anything. But, theyd send me e-mails of the songs! And Id be like, ugh! I wanna be there so bad! And then they sent me that and it was just like, why dont you stab me in the back! I leave for 5 seconds and you guys have a pizza party on Friday!
Nathan: You know, I was glad for a song like Back Down South to make this record because we could have so easily gone in there and tried to give them six Sex on Fires and six Somebodys. It was good to see Back Down South on there because that was us going back to not only our roots as where were from, but also the type of band weve been from day one!
Caleb: Yeah, well, Beach Side is funny because the reason its called Beach Side is because it was declared a B-Side on the record. And, so, the whole time it was on the board it was written down as B-Side.
Jared: Cause it was really simple; it was about two and a half minutes long. And when [Matt] started to do his lap steel thing, it took it to another level. But, still, its the most simple song on the record. The easiest to play. Like, the most easily put together.
Matthew: Nathan had a very 70s drum tone that we were all really excited about that. Had the lap steel, but hadnt really written a part for that yet, but I knew I wanted to use it. So, me and Jared got into the guitar room and wrote a part. And it ended up sounding beach-y and 70s.
Caleb: And I was like, man, we cant call it B-Side. We started to really like the song at that point. And my little brother had went to a Beach House concert the night before. And he walked in with a Beach House shirt on and I said, I got it. Lets call the song Beach Side! and everyones like yeah!. Its perfect. And then after having said that, its almost as if the sound of the song in all of our heads started to sound beach-y.
Nathan: Yeah, I mean, its definitely different from anything that youd know from Kings of Leon. Do I think that its odd for us to have that in us musically? No, not at all. I think were barely scratching the surface right now of our potential musically and as us as musicians and the songwriting and all that stuff. So, its a departure of what youd normally expect from us, but, once again, its another glimpse of the window that is Kings of Leon.
Jared: No Money, to me, had a vocal like the Misfits.
Matthew: When you start with a song called, No Money, you know what direction youre going to go with. You know its going to be punk rock. You know you want it to sound dirty and raw. And really big at the same time I mean theres only one thing to do: put some buzz on that bitch. When I put it on the solo
Jared: When I rock I use fuzz petal only my hardest rocking songs I use fuzz petal: Crawl, Black Thumb-Nail, No Money Its my go-to thing to make my bass loud and put in in your face. And with that song, I knew immediately: going for the big muff.
Matthew: Yeah, Nathan had played a drum part for a long time that was just so bad-ass and I couldnt step away from it. During sound checks Id always go, dude, play that drumbeat. And it was really hard for him to play it. And hed play it for so long and I try so hard to write a guitar part for it. And then finally one day, after playing it for months on tour, I finally came up with a guitar part. I remember playing that and he was like, thats awesome and everyone started playing with it. And I was thinking, thank God, because I love Nathans drumbeat so much! And its the only rockers on the record.
Jared; Weve always loved the romance of a southern man: the southern guys that drive pickup trucks and go to campfires and get in fights a lot. Its the life we would have led if we didnt join a band. And the chorus to that is so literally and just so easy, but its so real. And weve seen it and it happens thats what we would have been.
Matthew: I definitely love the romance of a southern man
Jared: Me, too
Nathan: Pickup Truck is definitely drum-wise, is a song thats a builder. Then it goes back down again, then back up and down again. And I think its just one of those things where I really had no choice, its just the type of song it was. And I could have tried it a gazillion different of ways, but it wouldnt have sounded as good as that. And sometimes the simplest way of doing something is the best way of doing it.
Jared: On Pickup Truck, we do a break down and then a build back up. But weve always liked that kind of thing, in a lot of songs that we really like -- that mean at lot to us, like, With or Without You is kind of did that. Ceremony, by New Order does that, breaks down a lot. Another song, Renegade by Thin Lizzy does the exact same thing.
Caleb: Theres a song by Thin Lizzy called Renegade and we all love that song so much. And at the very end, it starts to slow down and it goes to the click from the snare to the click. And then the song rebuilds itself. And then we new immediately that this song was our Renegade.