It’s time for another instalment of our Artists in Focus series where we get into the nitty gritty of an artist’s career. The blog is star-studded and this week is no different with a group who stormed the UK rock scene in 2008 – Kings of Leon, here we come!
Formed in Nashville, Tennessee, Kings of Leon are a real family affair. The band comprises brothers Caleb, Nathan and Jared alongside their cousin Matthew. The band name also has a family connection as they named themselves after grandfather Leon!
With influences that span from the Rolling Stones, the Clash, the Pixies and the Velvet Underground, the Kings of Leon sound is of southern rock and garage with a bit of blues thrown in there, developing into a more alternative, arena rock sound over the years. After officially forming a few years earlier, the group started to receive some attention from labels in 2002. They signed with RCA Records and began work on the Holy Roller Novocaine EP. The EP was released in 2003 and at this point, Jared still hadn’t learned how to play his bass…
Holy Roller Novocaine received some pretty good feedback – Rolling Stone gave it 4 out of 5 stars – and four of these five tracks would end up making it onto their debut album, Youth and Young Manhood. This album, compared to the likes of Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Strokes, was an absolute sensation in the UK where NME announced it as being one of the best albums of the last ten years – that’s some high praise! Unfortunately, it didn’t go down quite so well in the US.
Only by the Night
However, let’s cut to the part where most of us are likely to have found the Kings of Leon – 2008. After a couple of albums building on their existing audience, an album was released which really shot this band to stardom. That’s right, it’s called Only by the Night. Containing a tonne of our UK number one favourites like “Sex on Fire”, “Use Somebody” and “Notion”, this album shot straight to the number one spot. Reviews were still somewhat polarized in the US, but here in the UK we ate it up! Only by the Night ended up being the third-best-selling album of 2008. At the Brit Awards of the following year, the Kings of Leon picked up awards for Best International Band and Best International Album! They also headlined Glastonbury festival.
With the Kings of Leon being such a hit in the UK, we knew that one of their tunes would be a welcome addition to the new Rockschool Vocals syllabus. Grade 5 features “Use Somebody” – one of the most well-known and popular songs from their catalogue. There isn’t a soul in the UK who doesn’t know this song, and for good reason! We adore the unique tone of voice of Caleb, but we truly can’t wait to hear your versions in the exam room.
If you’ve enjoyed finding out a little more about the Kings of Leon today, then make sure you check out more of the Rockschool Vocals Grade 5 crew, including huge artists like John Legend, Lady Gaga and Fleetwood Mac.