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Nathan Followill

A Conversation with Nathan Followill

Puremusic: Nathan, I really like this new record. And it's really a beautiful departure from the previous records.

Nathan Followill: Oh, man, thank you very much.

PM: It's always interesting when a band, big or small, evolves in a certain way, and seems to take a left turn. Maybe you could describe that turn to me, how it came about, or maybe even why.

NF: Man, I don't know. I think when we first started out, we were so young, and the first two records were pretty much us going in there and just doing the best that we could do, as far as the writing and the production and all that. And this record was a result of just being a band for five years, and growing from day one. It's the first band any of us have ever been in, so we've had the luxury of growing from day one, and--

PM: That's unbelievable. It's the first band that any of you were in?

NF: Yeah.

PM: That's amazing.

NF: I think the U2 tour really planted a lot of seeds in our head, as far as the direction we wanted to go on this record, as far as big sounding songs, and songs that would sound good in Madison Square Garden. Because U2 would get up there every night in these huge places that weren't made for music and just make the place sound so amazing. And that kind of intrigued us a little to try to make music that was big sounding. This is the first record that we knew exactly what we wanted to do, and told Ethan and Angelo what sounds we wanted, and they found them for us, and here we are.

PM: Wow. So with that big sound in mind, how is the songwriting actually happening? How does that process go down? Who comes--

NF: Caleb is the lyricist. Yeah, but the way he writes, it's kind of weird. He just sits back and observes stuff. And he'll sing you a song that he wrote about something you did four nights ago that you don't even remember.

PM: [laughs]

NF: And he's a storyteller. He loves Townes Van Zandt and Roger Miller, and people like that.

PM: Isn't that amazing? He's a Townes, Roger Miller type guy.

NF: Yeah.

PM: And yet the way it comes out, of course, is another sonic universe. And it's funny how some of the lyrics will read more linearly than others. Some of them will seem like they make sense line to line, others are like more abstract.

NF: Yeah, I don't know, whatever vibe he's feeling, he goes with the flow. He definitely hasn't pigeonholed himself into any one form of writing, by any means.

PM: And then how does the music part of the songwriting go down?

NF: Ah, man, this record we had songs that started from a bass line, songs that started from a drum beat, Caleb whistling a tune, or Matt playing a riff that was driving us crazy so we wrote a song around it. There's no formula for us, as far as songwriting goes.

PM: That's beautiful.

NF: We just kind of go with the flow.

PM: Yeah, that's the way to do it. I dig this deeper darker sound on this record. And it's just a result of, as you say, being a band for five years and going out with people like U2, who can fill every corner of a huge stadium, or what should have been an airplane hangar, or something.

NF: Yeah.

PM: It's unbelievable.  continue

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