If you go
What: Kings of Leon, in concert.
When: 7:30 p.m. March 27.
Where: Moda Center at the Rose Quarter, 1 Center Court, Portland.
Cost: $29.50 to $59.50; $13 for parking.
Information: 877-789-7673 or rosequarter.com.
The last time Kings of Leon did a U.S. tour, things ended so badly that it looked like fans might have seen the last of the band.
On a July night in Dallas, Texas, the group's show went haywire when 40 minutes into the concert, singer Caleb Followill told the crowd he was going to go back stage and vomit, then drink a beer and the band would then come back out to do three more songs.
He didn't return to the stage. The show was over, and so was the tour. Twenty-six dates were scrubbed, and a message from guitarist Matthew Followill saying "There are problems in our band bigger than not drinking enough Gatorade" suggested that Followill might have spit up the career of the popular group, as well.
Soon rumors started swirling that the Kings of Leon had broken up and that Caleb had been ordered by the band to check into rehab — both of which the singer says were not true.
But the band very much needed time off. And that's exactly what happened, as the four band members — brothers Caleb, Jared (bass) and Nathan (drums) and cousin Matthew – got away from music, and for the first time since the band came on the scene in 2003, took an extended break.
For Caleb Followill, the hiatus started by trying to escape whatever chatter was surrounding the band.
"It was interesting," he said in a late January teleconference interview that also included his three bandmates. "At first it was, you know, it was just kind of like it felt very strange because I didn't really understand exactly what all was going on. And so I kind of took my head out of everything. I didn't watch television, I didn't get on the Internet or anything. I wanted to just completely separate myself from whatever it was that was being said. And in the process I started living. And then me and my wife just started enjoying, you know, life, and we would just walk around New York and go on adventures and discover new places and it was great.
"I felt like I gained a lot of culture and I read a lot of books and just, I don't know, did things that I hadn't done in a long time because I had been working so hard that, you know, after a while you work so hard that you end up, it just becomes a routine," Caleb said. "You don't really enjoy the moments that you should be enjoying."
That type of life lasted for a month or so, Caleb said, before he took a trip to Tennessee and the songwriting bug bit.
"I really just kind of started opening up," he said. "The music was something that was fun. It felt like it'd been years since I'd played. So I was really, I was writing a lot of melodic things and things that took me back to my youth.
By January 2013, the group was ready to begin work on its sixth album, "Mechanical Bull," which was released last September.
Though not the blockbuster that "Only by the Night" was, "Mechanical Bull" has done well. It debuted at number two on the "Billboard" magazine album chart and quickly produced a single, "Supersoaker," that went top 10 on "Billboard's" Alternative Songs and Rock Songs charts. A new single, "Wait for Me," has just cracked the top 20 on the Alternative Songs chart.
"Mechanical Bull" might win back some early fans for Kings of Leon." It still has spacious ballads in the vein of "Use Somebody" (The achingly lovely "Beautiful War," "Comeback Story" and "Last Mile Home"). But a majority of the songs are rockers, including the brisk "Supersoaker," the edgy, blues-hued "Rock City" and the hard-driving "Don't Matter."
In fact, Nathan Followill said "Mechanical Bull" reminds him in some ways of the first two Kings of Leon albums.
"I definitely think this record was kind of a refreshing, you know, not only look back at the music that we made on our first few records, but also kind of showed our growth of the band and showed that, you know, after all this time we are still comfortable with kind of embracing what that music was," he said.
The Kings of Leon will undoubtedly play a few songs from "Mechanical Bull" on the U.S. tour, but the band members didn't disclose much about the set list or the visual production for the show. The group, though, is clearly happy to be back on tour.
"I'm excited," Caleb said. "I think it's going to be a lot of fun. I think it's the first time in a while that our fans have had a breather from us because we've always been known for kind of working non-stop. And I think the fact that we've been away for a minute, I think people are really excited. And I know we're excited and we're going to try to bring something special to the table."