Kings of Leon reach for Talihina Sky

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

The Followills talk religion, sex and rock 'n' roll in the week a documentary about their lives hits cinemas

The story of how Kings of Leon came to fill stadiums around the world with screaming fans can be compared to tales you heard at school of parents who were so strict their little darlings ended up on more drugs than Keith Richards and pregnant before the age of consent.

Talihina Sky: The Story of Kings of Leon, a feature-length documentary about the rise of the Followill brothers Caleb, Nathan, Jared and their cousin Matthew (also named Followill), is an incredibly revealing portrait of their strict Pentecostal upbringing in Oklahoma and Tennessee.

It includes comment from their parents and extended family and reveals their early Christian-focussed music careers and includes accounts of them falling into raptures in church and speaking in tongues.

The footage has been gathered over 8 years and has largely been filmed by the band themselves on handheld cameras. What holds it all together is new footage from an annual clan reunion in a deep South shack setting that makes you realise quite how far the Followill brothers have risen from their humble roots.

The film takes us to the house “that was barely liveable” where the three brothers grew up and where Matthew regularly came to stay. Caleb remarks on an early struggle with his faith in the impoverished setting: “If we live our whole lives for god then why are we living here?”

The story of their reach for a taste of life outside of this sheltered sphere, particularly for the three brothers, is intertwined with the disintegration of their parents’ marriage, the realisation that their upstanding preacher father has a weakness for alcohol, and a thirst for material things.

A description of the moment when Caleb and Nathan manage to rig up a makeshift television from an old computer and watch Sesame Street late one night, is quite hard to believe in the modern world. They explain that it was their first encounter with “the one-eyed devil”, as their mother calls the television set.

But how do they reconcile their faith with the life of sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll they have chosen?

“As soon as I knew we were getting a record deal I never slept. I knew I was going to hell and I wasn’t going to be a preacher,” Caleb said.

“You can’t reconcile it, you have to basically ignore it,” Jared said. “Obviously if we still had the same beliefs as before then we'd have to quit the band and start going to church. You just have to act as if that didn’t happen, live our lives for now and think that maybe one day if you decide to you could go back to that.”

But religion helped shaped them into the performers they are now as the old films of “angel voiced” Caleb and Nathan as teenagers singing soaring hymnals with closed eyes, fresh faces and looks of exultation attests.

Their vast extended family features heavily. How did they feel about becoming famous? “They were a little apprehensive,” Matthew said. “They were really proud,” Jared added. “They felt like movie stars.” Their grandparents Mildred and Leon, and old soak called Cleo are just three of the huge personalities the documentary introduces us to.

The film also reveals that the band gained its name from their grandfather: “Leon is our grandpa. He’s a funny old man. He’s hilarious. We all got our sense of humour from him. He’s a quiet type. We all got the band name from him. He’s just always been a big part of our lives,” Jared said.

Judging from the exuberant reaction of the 65,000 strong crowd in Hyde Park last night for the London leg of the band’s tour it looks like the Kings of Leon will be filling stadiums for some time to come. So will they document the next 15 years? Matthew: “Why not?” Jared: “I definitely think we should. I think we should have a reality show in fact [Laughs]. Only kidding.”

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump


Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas