To say it's been a rather gigantic eight months for the [artist id="1233888"]Kings of Leon[/artist] would be a disservice to the term "gigantic."
In September, they released their fourth album, Only by the Night, which defied pretty much everyone's expectations. The LP hit big, making them stars not just in the U.K. and Europe (where they've enjoyed a rabid fanbase since the release of their debut, Youth and Young Manhood was released in '03), but here in the U.S. as well.
Based on the strength of rock-radio staple "Sex on Fire," the Kings landed a spot on "Saturday Night Live," a sold-out show at Madison Square Garden and a headlining gig at this summer's Lollapalooza. Oh, and they'll kick off their first Stateside arena tour Saturday in Boston.
And while all that is well and good, by their own admission, the Kings are most amazed by something that happened this week: They landed their first Rolling Stone cover.
"It's the cover of Rolling Stone, man. You dream about that when you start a band. It's, like, the greatest thing," frontman Caleb Followill said. "It's definitely one of those things ... that I'm pretty sure it will sink in down the road a little bit, and we'll be like, 'Holy sh--, what happened?' I mean, I still have a Rolling Stone magazine that says 'Kings of Leon' on the front of it. And to me, that was like the pinnacle."
And while they're definitely enjoying the ride, no one in the band is taking any of this for granted. After all, they've worked long and hard to get that coveted RS cover — just don't ask them to explain how any of this happened.
"I don't know what made this album bigger than the rest. I think it was a series of events, between 'Saturday Night Live' and headlining Glastonbury," drummer Nathan Followill said. "Glastonbury was big, because it was us, Jay-Z and, I don't know, Coldplay or Oasis or one of those bands. And I think that kind of got America's attention, like, 'Holy sh--, these guys are headlining the same festival that Jay-Z is?' Between that and 'SNL' and [playing] the Garden and 'Sex on Fire' being the first song that really has ever done sh-- for us on the radio, I think this was the record that America was finally like, 'All right, now we finally get it.' "
It's a rather inexact science, to be sure. But it's happened for the Kings of Leon. After all, for too long, they've been ignored by American audiences. Now, they' can't even go to the supermarket without being mobbed — or at least recognized by someone outside of their immediate family.
"It's a relief, for sure, because you want to be accepted in your home. Obviously, the U.K. and Europe have a lot to do with the Kings of Leon still being around. If it was based on America, record sales and airplay, we probably wouldn't have got to make a third record, let alone a fourth record," Nathan laughed. "But it does feel good to get recognized in the grocery store by somebody other than your mom or you fiancée. We're stoked."