When Kings of Leon brings its “When You See Yourself Tour” to Tinley Park next weekend, bass player Jared Followill said the alt-rock band is going to be all about the fans.
“I’m a sucker for audience validation,” he said. “So whatever we play, if it makes the crowd happy, and if they’re loud and they’re dancing, then I love playing it. I don’t get sick of that ever.”
The Followill foursome — Jared, his brothers Caleb and Nathan and their cousin Matthew — headed out on a U.S. tour last week to share “When You See Yourself,” the band’s eighth studio album they released this spring after shelving it when the pandemic started.
Now that they’re back on the road, Followill admits to taking it upon himself to check the stats to see what Kings of Leon fans have been streaming and buying.
“It’s been so long and everybody has been so cooped up. We’re just trying to make a show that the audience loves,” he said. “I know that sounds obvious, but it would be easy for us to just go out there and play all the new songs and only the new songs because we’re most excited about them and we haven’t played them 1,000 times. But we’re trying to gauge the audience and see what they want to hear the most.”
In addition to older fan favorites, Followill said he’s excited to share some of the new works from “When You See Yourself,” an album the band had been silent about since the end of 2019. Burned by leaks of some of their earlier albums, he said band members tend to be secretive about new releases.
“It’s been a strange time, especially because we had recorded an album and we were all so excited about it. We had all this energy put into it and worked really hard on it, and then it all had to be shut off for a full year,” Followill said. “It was definitely a strange time, but we’re just kind of riding that wave with everybody else.”
In addition to regular streaming and traditional sales, Kings of Leon’s release this past March was groundbreaking in the industry as the first full album sold as an NFT (non-fungible token), an electronic package of digital downloads and enhanced media that enabled the band to add value to the project. (“Probably I can explain it about as well as you can,” Followill said, laughing.) But he did point out sales through that new technology enabled them to make donations to Crew Nation, a fund that benefits venue and tour crew members who were sidelined by the pandemic.
“It meant a lot to us, after that year off and our crew being off,” he said. “We try to do right by our own crew, but tons and tons of other crews were just wiped out and had no work. And it’s not like they could go be a bartender or a waiter or something because those places were closed, too. So we were able to give to Crew Nation through the NFT sales.”
“When we play those songs it reminds you of why you’re able to play in some of these places and play in front of that many people.
Kings of Leon rocketed to international fame after the Grammy-winning tracks “Sex On Fire” and “Use Somebody” hit the charts in the late aughts. That stardom set them traveling around the globe, hitting Chicago several times in the last decade for both tours and Lollapalooza.
This time, the Kings will be joined by indie rockers Cold War Kids. And $1 of each ticket sold will benefit Inherit the Music, a foundation Kings of Leon started this year to help fund music education projects. “It’s a way to get instruments in kids’ hands and hopefully continue the tradition and allow them to do the things that we were allowed to do,” Followill said.
The band’s nod to the next generation is fitting considering Kings of Leon has been oft-cited as an inspiration for younger musicians around the Chicago area for the band’s folksy-yet-hard-rock twist on the alternative genre. And members respect that, staying true to their roots and remembering how they got where they are.
“A lot of people say, ‘I bet you hate playing ‘Sex On Fire.’ And I’m like, ‘No, dude, that’s when I feel the most confident on stage,'” Followill shared. “When we play those songs it reminds you of why you’re able to play in some of these places and play in front of that many people. It’s because of those songs.”
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Kings of Leon “When You See Yourself Tour” with Cold War Kids
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 9 (rescheduled)
Where: Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre, 19100 Ridgeland Ave., Tinley Park
Tickets: $27 for lawn, pavilion seats start at $36; concerts.livenation.com