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Royal sons of a preacher man
They’ve left their groupie days behind but hard rocking southerners Kings Of Leon still have a bit of the devil in them.
Olaf Tyaransen, 23 Nov 2007
How did your education work when you were on the move so much?
“My mom would do it primarily, but if we knew that we were gonna be somewhere for more than six months, we’d enrol in one of the schools there. But for the most part it was my mom.”
Jared has no regrets about his unconventional nomadic upbringing: “It definitely made us closer than most families that I know. More than anything, it made me really close to my mom because she was always there. It made it more difficult for me to go to school because I felt kind of uncomfortable because it wasn’t what I was used to. You know, going to school with a bunch of other kids, rather than just waking up at 11 and doing my own work with my mom right there. It just seemed a little more difficult.”
As the sons of a travelling preacher man, the three brothers attended countless religious services and were often enlisted to sing gospel songs or play backing drums. When their parents divorced in 1997 – a fairly serious no-no within the Pentecostal community – Leon left his ministry. Although it has recently been reported that he was actually defrocked, the boys claim he resigned of his own volition because, “he knew it was time.”
After an upbringing like that, are you still religious?
“Well, I’m definitely not too into organised religion, but I still pray,” he admits. “I dunno, it would just seem weird not to. I don’t really understand how some people cannot believe at all because... I mean, if you’ve reached a point where you don’t believe in anything, it’s almost like then why wouldn’t you just kill yourself? Because if nothing’s gonna happen, with all these bad things that happen in the world, wars and diseases and stuff like that, it seems like if there’s no afterlife then you might as well just kill yourself. So I kind of have to believe in something. It’s what keeps us going.”
After their parents’ divorce, the boys and their mother, Betty Ann, moved to her native Oklahoma for a brief time, before eventually settling in Nashville. Because of their father’s strict religious beliefs, previously they hadn’t been allowed to listen to anything other than gospel music, but suddenly they were free to explore other musical and cultural avenues. This sudden exposure to contemporary American pop culture was a total revelation – initially, at least.