A well-coiffed matron of a certain age hovers overhead, looking monumentally put out. Who are these three shaggy, insolent boys sitting at her regular table at Manhattan's tony Eleven Madison Park restaurant? And why is one of them called Nacho? She obviously couldn't care less that they are Kings of Leon young men who are, in many eyes (especially eyes belonging to those with British passports), Very Important Rock Stars. It's a pretty good bet she won't be buying their latest collection of loping, Southern-fried stompers, Aha Shake Heartbreak (out Feb. 22), or cruising Craigslist for tickets to their current international tour (including dates this spring opening for U2). Instead, she will simply watch with quiet, brimming hatred from a nearby seat, while two band members, one roadie (infamous cousin Nacho), one photographer, and one reporter get totally ripped on fine French wine.
A LITTLE FRATERNIZING
Caleb Followill (vocals and guitar), 23; Nathan Followill (drums), 24; and Nacho, 24 (all drinking Chassagne Montrachet)
L2T (Pinot noir) So Caleb and Nathan, your younger brother [bassist
Jared, 18] and other cousin [guitarist Matthew, 20] can't be with us
because they're underage, which is too bad. Are they back at the hotel?
CF Actually, I think they're at some bar.
L2T Are you guys like a lot of the other brother bands Ray and Dave Davies from the Kinks, the Gallaghers of Oasis, Chris and Rich Robinson from the Black Crowes...
CF Don't forget Hanson!
L2T Right. But anyway, most of those guys were kind of famous for fighting. What percentage of the time would you guys say you get along?
CF Considering how often we're together, we get along better than most.
NF I'd say 90 percent of the time, we're cool. We don't even fight unless we're drunk, to be honest with you, or altered. We've given up the physical fighting.
CF [Deadpan]A lot of the fights are about them acting as though I'm not the genius behind us that I know I am.
NF If we weren't in such a nice restaurant, I'd punch you in the head right now.
Same wine all around.
L2T Why do you guys think England likes you so much?
CF At first, I think it was because we were all hairy Southern brothers, that our dad was a preacher that had gone awry, and they just loved the story. Then they heard the music, and over there, they like it.
L2T Do you guys consider yourselves to be Christians in good standing?
NF Uh, not in good standing. But we believe. I say my prayers at night before I go to bed.
CF I think we all know how to be good people, but we aren't.
A MORE FEMININE SIDE
Same wine again. French fries and salads appear.
NF These fries are really good.
CF [Staring down at his scanty nouveau greens] I wish they had brought me a proper salad.