Kings of Leon are currently at the top of their game. The group are five albums deep, with continuous sell-out performances and a hoard of dedicated fans that worship the ground they walk on. More recently, however, there have been less than favorable reports surrounding the group due to the absurd Glee debacle, along with a series of web forums that seem intent on picking them apart for simply for being successful.
Talihina Sky: The Story Of Kings Of Leon is debuting at the right time. Exposing their humble upbringing it seeks to remind critics that the band were not always the super successful rock group that they are today. The documentary shows an array of home footage collected over a several year span that follows the band from their modest beginnings in a small hick town in Oklahoma, right through to their present day success.
In one of the first of a series of poignant moments within the documentary, front man Caleb reflects on his childhood and recounts a time when him and his brother Nathan only had two pairs of pants between the both of them. He regales, with a smile, that the brothers would each wear a pair then at the end of the day their mother would wash them and then they would swap the following day. Despite such hardship, they appear to have retained a sense of humor and tell their story with no trace of bitterness; a trait that conveys a depth in character that is extremely rare.
Religion is a dominant theme throughout, but it is clear that the documentary seeks to maintain a sense of objectivity by using concise accounts of the values they were brought up with, rather than trying to force the imposition of any religious beliefs. Providing the majority of the memories, Caleb comments openly on his strict Pentecostal upbringing and the effect that this had on him. He even states that had he not been a rock star, Caleb himself would have followed in his father's footsteps to become a Preacher. He hastily adds that had he taken this route, he would have had to get a second job because they were "so damn poor".
The documentary contains a series of anecdotes that will make you laugh out loud, with their zany Uncle Cleo getting a major cameo in the documentary and not being afraid to make it obvious that he is their number one fan. The documentary also explores the events when they take a trip home and it finds them slipping quite happily back into their quaint life; from taking baths in a nearby creek, to becoming insanely competitive over a simple, home made game at a family get together.
Nathan, Caleb and Jared attended the premiere of Talihina Sky in NYC on April 22, with the group commenting that Matthew was absent due to being a "good husband and future father", with his first child expected to arrive any day now.
On the red carpet Nathan Followill commented to Joonbug about the documentary; "We were lucky enough to film our very first show ever, 'cos we thought if it never lasted at least we would have that to remember and ten years later, seven hundred hours later, here we are and I don't know. I think we're a lot more nervous than we're leading on, but I think the beer is helping with that."
Father and Uncle to the talented quartet, Leon Followill, also expressed his thoughts about their journey; "I'm very proud of them". Genuinely beaming, he could not disguise his obvious pleasure at their success. When asked if he was always a fan of their music he says; "I'm their Dad, yes" and whether he knew they would be so famous; "I had no idea. But I always knew they were special."
The documentary depicts how grounded the Kings of Leon still are and it is incredible that you get to see beyond the stage persona of a band in such high demand. It is evident that Stephen C. Mitchell, the Director, successfully and tastefully builds the bridge behind their public and private life in this well tailored, insightful documentary.
Photos taken by Hollie Jones.