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.”

Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey

film Sex scene trailer sees a shirtless Jamie Dornan turn up the heat

Arts and Entertainment
A sketch of Van Gogh has been discovered in the archives of Kunsthalle Bremen in Germany
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Eleanor Catton has hit back after being accused of 'treachery' for criticising the government.
books
Arts and Entertainment
Fake Banksy stencil given to artist Alex Jakob-Whitworth

art

Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is heading to Norwich for Radio 1's Big Weekend

music
Arts and Entertainment
Beer as folk: Vincent Franklin and Cyril Nri (centre) in ‘Cucumber’
tvReview: This slice of gay life in Manchester has universal appeal
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
‘A Day at the Races’ still stands up well today
film
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tvAnd its producers have already announced a second season...
Arts and Entertainment
Kraftwerk performing at the Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery) museum in Berlin earlier this month
musicWhy a bunch of academics consider German electropoppers Kraftwerk worthy of their own symposium
Arts and Entertainment
Icelandic singer Bjork has been forced to release her album early after an online leak

music
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth as Harry Hart in Kingsman: The Secret Service

film
Arts and Entertainment
Brian Blessed as King Lear in the Guildford Shakespeare Company's performance of the play

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
In the picture: Anthony LaPaglia and Martin Freeman in 'The Eichmann Show'

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Kirkbride and Bill Roache as Deirdre and Ken Barlow in Coronation Street

tvThe actress has died aged 60
Arts and Entertainment
Marianne Jean-Baptiste defends Joe Miller in Broadchurch series two

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The frill of it all: Hattie Morahan in 'The Changeling'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny may reunite for The X Files

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
TV
News
A young woman punched a police officer after attending a gig by US rapper Snoop Dogg
people
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee