RCA Kings of Leon bassist Jared Followill and Nick Brown of Mona have teamed…
Kings of Leon's Jared Followill Says His Smoke & Jackal Side-Project is About 'Not Having Any Stress Involved'
- Posted on Oct 26th 2012 3:00PM by Aaron Brophy
In the case of Smoke & Jackal, the hastily assembled side-project of Kings of Leon's Jared Followill and Mona's Nick Brown, you can also add "catalyst" to its list of valuable properties. With both of their respective bands on breaks, the pair recorded their six song debut EP1 in eight days, largely "fueled by multiple bottles of red wine."
The creation of Smoke & Jackal really was just about some boozy, bored hanging out in Brown's basement studio making noises.
"We were just sitting in [Brown's] house and I was talking about how the band Kings of Leon, we were taking a little break," Followill tells Spinner. "And a couple of the guys are having babies and stuff like that and it could be a year, it could be six months, however long it would take without getting too ansty and get back in the studio. So I knew I couldn't just sit around and do nothing.
"And I was over at his house one night and he was like, 'Dude come down and check out this keyboard thing I came up with yesterday.' And we went down there, he played the thing for me, I was really excited about it... one thing led to another and we had the song pretty much finished except for the vocals and the lyrics that night.
"So after the first night we woke up and listened to the two ideas we had when we were drunk and they still sounded good to us, we were like 'OK, cool let's try to do a couple more.'"
The hasty creation of these songs is obvious, and certain areas clearly suffered. Lead single "No Tell," for example, features lines like "She only came to give some head/ She making messes in my bed." To which NME uncharitably declared, "no one wants to hear about Jared's weird groupie sex." For Smoke & Jackal, pesky things like lyrics were less important than the sonic adventure, though.
"We did things very fast and we weren't trying to get into deep storytelling or anything like that," he says. "We were trying to use vocals and lyrics like an instrument and just basically putting vocals and lyrics to a soundtrack and trying not to let any of that get in the way of the song.
"The only rule we really had from the very beginning was 'as soon as this is not fun, we're not going to do it,'" says Followill. "We argue with our own bands. We don't want to argue with a new band. We don't need that kind of stress. So we were just like, 'Let's just have fun.'"
Speaking of other bands, both Kings of Leon and Mona are slowly getting things together for their next albums. Which means it's mighty unlikely there'll be many Smoke & Jackal shows or tours any time soon.
"We both started this with nothing to do," says Followill. "And the EP's coming out when Mona's working on their second album right now. And they're almost done with it, so you know when you're in a band that when your record's done you have to start tons of press and Mona's going to have to tour. And Kings of Leon are in a stage where we are, like, there are 10 steps to making an album -- we're in like stage two right now. Like, writing songs still, still getting our songs together. We put a lot of emphasis on getting our songs together and having them finished before we go into the studio. We've never spent more than six weeks in the studio. So we're in the stages of working and doing things like that.
"So as far as touring goes, if there was a great demand for Smoke & Jackal, and the people were, like, 'You have to play live' and 'Everybody's asking for it,' we could definitely pull something together. It would just never be a 60 date tour or anything like that."
There's one other reason why Smoke & Jackal would never do a 60 date tour. And that's because this project isn't about the dollars. Followill can't stress enough that Smoke & Jackal isn't about business, it's about having a good time with your best friend.
"We both have bands that have tons of rewards for us," he says. "But like with any job they come with tons of stress. And with this we were just trying to do something with just rewards and not having any stress involved. Mainly he's one of my best friends in the whole world and we're just being very careful not to bring our own band egos into this and arguing with each other. In our own bands you have to finish a song, you have to finish an album. So if you butt heads on a certain part or thing, like, one of you is going to have to give in. There's going to be a compromise."
However, mediating a solution to any argument in Smoke & Jackal would take a different form. One mostly involving barstools.
"But for this, if we butted heads on something we could always leave the basement and go to a bar and never fight again," says Followill.
"If we ever, like, if this had to be our main band we'd hate each other within a month."