With: Chris Fowler of ESPN

How I Became a KoL fan:

I was a fan of their music before I knew them. I was introduced a few years after their debut record. Mostly through the songs, “Black Thumbnail,” and “Knocked Up,” off Because of the Times. I thought immediately that they were a great raw band. I was a huge fan right away.

Collaborating on Gameday:

Their management contacted us years later and asked if there was any interest in Gameday having Kings of Leon on set as a special guest. I said, “Are you kidding me? Of course!” I would have never thought to reach out. Just because you are a fan of a particular band and they like sports doesn’t always mean they would be a fan of your particular show. As soon as they reached out, I said, “Absolutely.” We didn’t know who was going to show up and then Nathan came to Madison, WI. There was no connection to either school playing. He came out and just nailed it. He really knows the sport. He didn’t need a script and he was both knowledgeable and funny.

I met Nathan for the first time when he walked out on set. We had talked on the phone once before to review, but never met. We discussed some details of the show and he relayed how he was familiar and had seen it for many years. We then watched the game together, went out that night and have been friends ever since. We talk a lot of sports. Mostly about the Sooners and College Football. They are very dedicated fans. They will rework their agenda to make sure they can watch the game. When they have to play during a game, Nathan has a little monitor up on his drum kit. They will go to great lengths to keep up with what is going on with the Sooners- while they are doing their jobs nonetheless.

When you have a shared passion for something, it can really be binding and keep you together. I would think whatever tensions amount, especially when you are brothers and a cousin in a band, when you have that mutual passion for sports; the Sooners, OKC and Nashville teams, I would assume it really helps.

Best Live Experiences:

My favorite Kings of Leon show I’ve ever seen was in Hyde Park. It’s just phenomenal to see them in the UK. They are even bigger there than they are in the US. The passion the people had was mesmerizing. The way the band pushed energy out was just tremendous too. Without being known for their showiness, they can still exude massive amounts energy to 70–80,000 people. I was able to be backstage both pre and post. To be able to see them flip the switch and go from hosting the party mode to performing where they completing captivated the crowd and had them in the palm of their hands, was really cool.

I recently went to the Sirius XM show at Le Poisson Rouge in New York. I will probably never get to see them in a room that small again. I was blown away. The new songs sounded so great. Wow. It was just so powerful. And I’ve seen shows at the Garden where people are on their feet all the way in the back for the whole show. It’s not easy to do that.

Thoughts on the New Record, WALLS:

I like the new record a lot. They really translated live. Nathan compared the songs to those on Aha Shake Heartbreak. It’s a bit more layered too. “Walls,” the closer, is just a great tune. The way it builds, it has this beautiful suspense and Caleb really opens up. There are some very catchy songs on there too. Caleb is an amazing songwriter. He’s really become adept to these soulful songs. He’s seen a thing or two by now. He’s lived a lot and many of these new songs show a more mature life, not just out to party. I can’t wait to get WALLS on vinyl, play it from start to finish and just blast my speakers.

What Sets KoL Apart:

One thing I really appreciate about the band is that they don’t try too hard to please. They are not blatantly commercial. Yet, they certainly can write an anthem that you can shout along to. They don’t try too hard when they play live either. They are just naturally charismatic. It’s authentic. It’s — here’s the music, we are going to play it really well, rock on and enjoy the show.

Top 10 KoL Songs:

“Knocked Up,” “Arizona,” “Black Thumbnail,” “Closer,” “The End,” “Beautiful War,” “Temple,” “Walls,” “The Bucket,” “Taper Jean Girl.”

~Chris Fowler, ESPN

Feature in collaboration with/produced by: Jeff Gorra

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