Kings of Leon's Nathan Followill is confident that organizers of the upcoming Outside Lands Festival in San Francisco will keep stray pigeons as far away from the stage as possible. But, the drummer notes, "we're bringing a couple of muzzle loaders, just in case."
He's kidding, of course. But while answering questions for the first time about the pigeon infestation that forced the cancellation of Kings of Leon's July 23 show in Missouri, Followill told Billboard.com that the incident turned into a much bigger story than the band anticipated.
"I think in the end, it's going to help us more than it hurt us," Followill said during a conference call to promote the Outside Lands performance on Aug. 15. "It's just one of those things that happened, and looking back on it now it's a lot funnier than it was at the time. But we really felt bad for the fans -- especially those that had driven a ways and stood out in the heat all day. But sometimes, y'know, s*** happens -- in this case literally.
"We're happy to move forward and we've been having great shows since," Followill added, "so hopefully Pigeon-gate can officially be put to rest."
What's still thriving, however, is excitement over Kings of Leon's upcoming fifth album, which is still untitled and unscheduled. But that hasn't stopped the group from playing four of the new songs in its shows -- which have been identified as "Mary," "Immortals," "Radioactive" and "Southbound." Followill said the songs are from late sessions in New York City with producers Jacquire King and Angelo Petraglia, the same team that worked on KoL's 2008's platinum, Grammy Award-winning breakthrough, "Only By Night."
"They've been going over really well, a lot better than we thought they would," he said. "Some of them are getting better reactions than the older songs, which is bittersweet but great to see that [fans] are digging the direction we're heading in this record...It'll be great when we can play the whole new record. It's taken a lot of self-discipline to get up there and not play eight or 10 of the new songs.
The reception is also a relief, Followill acknowledged, because the album is "locked and finished," with no real ability to change anything that doesn't see to be working. "It's only confirmed that we're happy with the record we made and the choices we made song-wise," Followill said. "It's a great feeling to look down front every night, and there are kids singing every single world to songs that aren't even released yet, which just means they've watched them a gazillion times on YouTube. It makes you feel good that the fans are craving the new music that much."