KINGS OF LEON: GETTING WITH THE TIMES

 
We really didn't set out to conquer the world. We're just trying to conquer one city at a time, and I think we've got about 13 cities now. We're on our way.

-Nathan

 

You've worked with Ethan and Angelo on all three records. Tell me a little bit about their roles, how they differ and how you guys interact with them.


Nathan in the Studio
Caleb: From a production standpoint, Ethan is like the stern father and Angelo's like the mother. You can always pull the wool over your mom's eyes. So, they compliment each other well. Ethan's more behind the board and Angelo's out there with us, strapping on the guitars and saying, "That doesn't work but maybe if you try this." Or, he'll just sit there, watch you and say, "You're on the right track. That's the way to go." Angelo is the voice of reason and the shoulder to lean on for us. He's been there from the very beginning, man. We're like his kids. He believes in us and he fights for us. It was always kind of a stiff situation between them until now. Now they're buddy-buddy. They have turned into one of the great production duos. Whether or not they know it, they just compliment each other so well.

Nathan: It's almost like they HAD to work together in the past. On this record, they were both looking forward to it.

You talked a bit about your history with Angelo. How did that relationship start?

Nathan: Nashville. We wanted to do some songwriting for pot money and called this number. They thought Angelo would work well with us, so we went and met with him.

Caleb: Before we ever wrote with Angelo, we hung out with him and got to know him some. From the very beginning, he got it. He used to be religious just like us. He was a Holy Ghost guy. Instead of trying to chug out some bullshit song for some bullshit country artist, we sat there and listened to records and hit it off so well. Angelo is a big part of what we do. He's a sweetheart, just a helluva guy.

Nathan, tell me about Caleb as a frontman and singer.


Caleb
Nathan: He's great. He's cool. He's open to pretty much anything. He has a lot of responsibility. I couldn't keep it up all day, every day like he does. The crowd wasn't that big last night and it was the best show we played on the whole tour so far. A lot of that has to do with Caleb. He's got the right amount of cockiness, the right amount of friendliness. He's not a big talker, likes to let you do the talking. It's kind of weird to talk about him as a lead singer 'cause he's my brother. All those things I hate about him as a brother might be the things I like about him as a singer.

Caleb, tell me about Matthew as a guitarist.

Caleb: Well, as a person he's pretty shy. He's not as confident as he should be. He's one of the better musicians in the band. He can fucking rip on the guitar. The thing is, he'll play something really cool but think it's stupid. So, he'll come up with something else and something else again. He just doesn't have the confidence. But man, when he gets onstage, wow. Have you ever seen his legs? When both his knees bend, he's fixin' to wail, man. He's fixin’ to get into it.

He's the outsider - we're three brothers, he's the cousin. He's quiet and stays in the background but when he goes up there and plays he takes it to another level. Matthew has always had great opinions. We'll end up leaving a song off the record that later on we looked back and regretted and Matthew was the one pulling for it. He's got a great sense of style as far as music goes.

I had the sense his addition to the band upped the ante as far as the music you guys were going to be playing. Is that a pretty fair assessment?


Kings of Leon
Caleb: Absolutely, absolutely. Matthew and Jared don't have great timing. Me and Nathan do. Of course, Nathan's a drummer and when my dad was a preacher, I was the backup drummer, so I'm a drummer too. Nathan and me keep the beats and the rhythms. Jared solos on the bass and Matthew, he solos and makes sounds. Because of that Nathan and me get to have a ball with them. We get to play around. They'll start playing something and me and Nathan will flip the beat. Jared and Matthew will get confused and we're just like, "Trust us." That's how a lot of the songs come together. We're playing beats against them.

Tell me a little bit about Jared as a bass player. He's not your typical bass player. He plays more like a lead guitarist.

Nathan: He's 19 years old and is already this good.

Caleb: He's a fucking madman. You better not print this shit 'cause he's already cocky as hell [laughs].

Nathan: He could go down as one of the baddest bass players [ever].


Jared by Jeremy Jones
Caleb: He doesn't love being on the road. He doesn't love what he does. He loves having a vehicle, a house and a pretty girlfriend. But, that little motherfucker, man, if he keeps at it, if we don't drive him crazy or if he doesn't get too big for his britches, he'll end up going down as one of the great ones.

Since I put Nathan on the spot, I've got to put you on the spot, too. Tell me about Nathan as a drummer.

Caleb: I call myself a drummer but Nathan's a fuckin' drummer. We go on the road with a lot of drummers who can play a lot of hard stuff and Nathan's right up there with them. For this record especially, he brought the songs such a new life. Me and Nathan have the most fun together. We watch each other. If one of us wants to get fucked up before a show, we both get fucked up. There is no him or me with us. If he knows I'm doing something without him, he just gets pissed, and likewise with me.

You opened for Bob Dylan on this past tour. That's a long road between your first gig in England at a strip club in High Wickleman to opening for Dylan. What were your thoughts when you found out you were gonna open for him?


Kings of Leon
Caleb: I was and am a huge Dylan fan. For me, it used to be like, "How do you try to learn to do what he does? How do you try to beat that?" Then, the other night, it really hit me. He was up there and every line was insane. He's a fucking poet, whether or not he can still hit those notes or sing it the same. He knows the words he writes down should be heard. It's an honor to play with him. I got to meet him a few nights ago. I was walking up to my bus and he was walking in front of me. I didn't think nothing about it. He went to his bus. A few minutes later, I came off our bus and I was singing, "Christmas time is coming, Christmas time is coming." I looked up and he was standing there with his bodyguard looking at me. "Hey," he said, so I said hey back. He was just like, "Good to see you" and held out his hand to shake mine. Softest hands on any person I've ever met [laughs].

What's the significance of the album title?

Caleb: It's kind of an excuse. No matter the success, no matter the failure, whatever. Because of the Times. It was actually a church conference that we used to go to every year as kids.

Nathan: Aren't they gonna sue us or something?

Caleb: Oh, we'll be all right. If they're real Christians, they won't sue us [laughs]. Anyway, this conference was only for preachers and their kids. No common folk. But, [the title is] an excuse more than anything. Why did it work? Why didn't it work? Why did you change your look? Because of the times.

JamBase | California
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http://www.kingsofleon.com/

[Published on: 4/18/07]

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Comments

Juan Thu 4/12/2007 08:16PM
-2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Great article and glad to see J'base landed a nice interview with them. BUT... as far as the band goes... they really need to get over themselves. The new album is a major disappointment as far as I'm concerned. I suppose it is OK to have a rock n' roll ego if you're backing it up... but the ego here is FAR exceeding the talent. Dangerous territory for a band that has "conquered 13 cities." Sex drugs and rock n roll can only take you so far (with a few notable exceptions.) Add more substance boys or the glory of the first 2 albums will fade fast.

All Loving Liberal White Guy starstarstarstarstar Thu 4/12/2007 09:47PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

All Loving Liberal White Guy

kings of leon rule. a lot of the bland jam bands could learn a lot from them in how the music can be somewhat earthy and rustic and give it a kick in the ass. fuckin a! i can at least understand where people are coming from when they talk shit but if the music is good than i really dont care how arrogant and pretentious they are. it's the music that matters. people like jeff tweedy, anton newcombe, and robert pollard are all assholes but they are incredibally creative songwriters and musicians just like the KOL. i know that whole "bad booy son of a preacher man" stuff has been mentioned and glorified time and again but these guys are on a major label and major labels try to push an image. but fuck it. if it's okay to talk shit if you can back it up than its okay to look and act like a turn if your music rules and KOL rule!

All Loving Liberal White Guy Thu 4/12/2007 09:48PM
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All Loving Liberal White Guy

i meant to say "look like a turd".

NickBoeka Thu 4/12/2007 10:50PM
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NickBoeka

funniest. opener. ever...could it be any funnier.

TravlynnJoe starstarstarstarstar Fri 4/13/2007 06:03AM
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TravlynnJoe

It's a Phenomenal album, their best yet. Look forward to seeing them on tour.

Kings Of Leon have topped the UK album chart and are Number One with their third album 'Because Of The Times'.

chasetc20 starstarstarstarstar Fri 4/13/2007 08:47AM
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Saw this band at bonnaroo a few yrs back they rocked out a set in the rain i was impressed both by the music and the bands true passion for jamrock

mbridges starstarstarstar Fri 4/13/2007 09:37AM
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GREAT ARTICLE!!.........but,it.s Mt. Juliet,not Mt. Joliet.and the best music comin from that tiny town is not Kings of Leon...............its.................

www.oldunion.com
www.myspace.com/flatrockrevivalcom

mcarroll starstarstarstarstar Fri 4/13/2007 10:39AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

mcarroll

I like the new album, but I'll need some more listens before I can really compare it to the last two. So far I am pretty impressed. Check these guys out live, because they are a great live band. I saw them at SXSW and the new tunes really shine live. Can't wait to see a full length show at the Ogden in Denver May 5th.

ryan621 Fri 4/13/2007 01:21PM
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Best album yet, see ya at the ogden!

lovelivedos starstarstarstarstar Fri 4/13/2007 04:24PM
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lovelivedos

thanks for getting the "my band is better than yours" shit that always happens on these boards, mbridges. KOL are sick. get musical talent and calebs lyrics are always killer. cant wait for the 'roo performance, they need to come back to VA

dannymo starstarstarstarstar Fri 4/13/2007 07:19PM
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I know these guys are the darlings of the corporate press and they have such a facinating "story" but shit they rock!!!

All Loving Liberal White Guy Fri 4/13/2007 10:26PM
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All Loving Liberal White Guy

Dannymo,

I hear ya. the whole "image" thing of these guys is too much. but yes they rock. the image thing is only part of their label, RCA. look at all of the bands that they had over the years and the ones today where image has been a big deal: ZZ top, village people, all of the american idle winners, elvis, those lifelong silver spoon fed hipsters known as the strokes. RCA even got mad spiteful back in the late 70's/early 80's by trying to destroy Kenny Rodgers. Not that I like kenny rogers (except "the condition my condition was in song" from the big lebowski which is a guilty pleasure, but he is the gambler and does make a tasty chicken at his roasteries.

TravlynnJoe starstarstarstarstar Sat 4/14/2007 05:49AM
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TravlynnJoe


After the four-year party, the Followills come of age

Remember Kings Of Leon? Or has it been too long? They were Tennessee's very own apple-shaking, cinnamon-throwing, gak-hoovering answer to The Waltons, raised in the not-so-spacious backseat of a destitute 1988 Oldsmobile driven by their pa around the American south's Bible Belt while he preached fire, brimstone and sulphurous lakes of flame to the faithful. However, after not unreasonably coming to the conclusion that all the best broads were probably in hell anyway, the Followill brethren eschewed the Christian life in favour of the dark, debauched ways of rock'n'roll. And stone the crows if they didn't have a ball embracing it.

It helped that they were rather good, of course. Their whisky-soaked, nicotine-stained debut album 'Youth & Young Manhood' was one of the great records of 2003, and while its follow-up, 2004's 'Aha Shake Heartbreak', had neither its predecessor's element of surprise or its seemingly never-ending stream of singles, it was a triumph of substance over not-inconsiderable style nonetheless. But what really piqued our interest was the filth; the mountains of drugs, the fountains of booze, the veritable zoo of new and unheard-of genital parasites - it was one hell of a party, but one killer hangover. Especially when Kings Of Leon woke up one morning to discover they'd contracted the worst STD of all: children.

OK, not literally, although we'd be gobsmacked if there hadn't been a few scares along the way. But when you consider that the last we heard, they were in a seedy hotel room drawling "You're not so nice, but sex sells so cheap" on 'Aha Shake Heartbreak''s opener, the first lines of 'Because Of The Times' show that a little growing up goes a long way.

"I don't care what nobody says", croaks Caleb gently over the opening chords of 'Knocked Up', "we're gonna have a baby". Meandering in at over seven minutes long and with nothing that could realistically be mistaken for a chorus, it's a dark, downbeat introduction to the band's third album. Indeed, it could almost have been taken from Springsteen's bleaker-than-bleak 'Nebraska', and it works perfectly.

Following on from the precedent set by 'Aha...', Kings Of Leon are revealing themselves to be one of those bands whose records get progressively more fascinating as they get older, unconcerned that the lack of tunes could see their sales slump like a penguin under Pete Doherty's arm. Take 'Charmer', for example - driven by Jared's plodding, Kim Deal-esque bassline, it's a howling, primal, downright unsettling listen that'll have the terminally short of patience reaching to reload 'Molly's Chambers', and sharpish. Same goes for 'McFearless'. Cut from the same oily, sulphate-stained cloth, it's a million miles away from the Creedence Clearwater Regurgitated sound many would have expected them to return to after the experimentation of 'Aha...', and it demands perseverance before it pays off. Radical New Direction is a bit strong, but it's clear that KOL, along with long-time producer Ethan Johns, have been striving to add a new dimension to a band previously accused of having all the depth of a puddle.

Not that everyone's favourite doyens of prostate-endangering denim have gone all po-faced on us. After all, being in Kings Of Leon is a fucking riot, as shown by the shuffly-veering-on-violent funk of 'My Party', in which Caleb - rather hilariously for a man who appears to weigh no more than the average paperweight - threatens to "Flip you upside down and mop this place". And on the rather fantastic 'Fans' - a semi-acoustic anthem-in-waiting that's perhaps the closest this record gets to old-school KOL - he's even forced to admit that London's "Rainy days, they ain't so bad when you're the King/The King they want to be".

Yet these dalliances are brief, as this is an album all about growing up and moving on - Jared's almost old enough to buy his own drinks these days, after all. And so you get a triumvirate of truly special moments, from 'True Love Way''s epic, stadia-filling self-reflection, to 'The Runner''s ghostly Overlook Hotel-esque waltz, in which Caleb concedes that "I talk to Jesus every day", to the sublime, slow-burning 'Arizona', which brings things to a suitably huge close. Boasting all the wide open space of U2's 'The Joshua Tree' without any of the overblown pomp to spoil it, it's without doubt the best thing the band have ever recorded.

As ever with Kings Of Leon, this record is a song or two too long and, in a rather alarming (for their record company, not you) continuation of form, worryingly light when it comes to the kind of tunes that'll get you tearing the seams of your jeans on the dancefloor. But that's a problem for the accountants. As it stands, 'Because Of The Times' cements Kings Of Leon as one of the great American bands of our times. It's good to have them back.

Review by Barry Nicolson of NME Magazine

gmoo starstarstarstarstar Sat 4/14/2007 02:09PM
Show -3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
nucleus Sat 4/14/2007 09:51PM
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new record kicks ass. They truely are the Kings!

bigfro Sun 4/15/2007 03:57AM
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peaton Sun 4/15/2007 03:40PM
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peaton

Okay lets get serious here, the kings of leon kick ass. And for all you haters who claim te are sell outs or only "nice to look at" I can say that I am yet to hear them played on the fucking radio. They are a great rock band and they deserve a lot of attention. Even if they do potentially get mainstream, I think they will do a hell of a lot for mainstream music. I know I'll get crap for saying this, but Phish had Farmhouse, Kings of Leon are just as badass even if this album does make them more popular.

gmoo Sun 4/15/2007 05:41PM
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peaton Sun 4/15/2007 06:10PM
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peaton

let me clarify my last sentence. I did not mean to say, just as badass as phish, I meant to say just as badass as they have always been. Which is quite badass.

Smittea starstar Mon 4/16/2007 10:49AM
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WanderingBard starstarstar Tue 4/17/2007 09:14AM
Show -3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
bigfro Tue 4/17/2007 03:21PM
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mcarroll Wed 4/18/2007 10:27AM
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mcarroll

What album did you listen to, bigfro? And tell me when you heard these so called sell out pop tunes on the radio or saw them on MTV. Just wondering if you have any knowledge to back up your comment, or if you just write comments about bands you don't know about.

Smittea starstar Wed 4/18/2007 01:04PM
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Smittea

Looks like some people are seeing them for who they truly are. No need to slam us folks we aren't slamming you. We're just being honest with our experiences and knowledge of this band. I too thought some of the song off their first album were decent. After a couple more listens and delving a little deeper they seemed a little more prefab than original. You have to admit, they were getting some amazing gigs with little or no exposure. Looks like these comments will elicit another thumbs down.... oh well.

mcarroll Thu 4/19/2007 11:51AM
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mcarroll

So you apparently know who they truly are? That makes sense.

D14 starstarstarstar Fri 4/20/2007 01:36PM
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D14

Nice comment Bridges! Yeah, check out OLD UNION for sure! KOL definitely has "it." I enjoyed their kinda lazy garagey first 2 albums for what they were, just fun and loud. I think should just stick to what they know and not try too hard. I'm not really impressed w/ the new album, partly because I don't understand it, like what are they going for? It's funny to see them around the local bars and no one else even recognizes them but yet, they can't even walk the streets overseas.

berou Sun 4/22/2007 10:34AM
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Their new album is freakin' weak. Derivative radio rock. Come on guys - get back to business.

SAHTHEGREAT Mon 4/23/2007 02:44PM
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This album kicks ass. If you don't like it you are an idiot. Do not compare with the new emo bullcrap. This is an original band with a unique sound. Can't wait to see them at the ROO!!!!

Smittea Tue 4/24/2007 07:47AM
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Smittea

SAHTHEGREAT - It is comments like yours that validate everything the detractors have said about this band. If their fans (like yourself) lack a certain degree of sophisitacation, one can only assume that they listen to bands/music of the same quality. Party on Garth!

mcarroll Tue 4/24/2007 10:54AM
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mcarroll

Smittea, your comment is just as ridiculous as SAHTHEGREAT's. Of course when he says "If you don't like it you are an idiot," he is making a fool of himself. However, one stupid comment does not validate the rest of the stupid comments posted here, either. There are plenty of people with sophisticated music tastes that love Kings of Leon, myself being one. The problem I have with a lot of people who comment on this site is that as soon as they see an article about a band they may not like, they immediately start trashing that band instead of moving on to another article they may be interested in. Try that for a change, instead of arguing that a band is not good because of one person's comment on a website, because that is not a very convincing argument.

Smittea star Tue 4/24/2007 12:01PM
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Smittea

mcarroll : That is not entirely true. I don't lie in wait for articles about bands that I don't like only to slam or trash these bands. I was intrigued when I first heard Kings of Leon,... however, after listening a little more and reading some articles about this band, they appeared to more fabricated than authentic. It is not that their sound was genuine, it was that they were being touted for their "image" more than their music by the music industry. Again, if you read one of my earlier posts, they do not appears to have paid their dues in order to garner some of the big name gigs that they have had. Many great bands struggle for years in order to be asked to open for someone or play a major gig like Bonnaroo. KoL didn't seem to have to do this at all. I have keeping an eye out for their dates and venues,... all of a sudden... BAM for little or no reason. I genuinely believe that what I have read and observed about this band to be accurate.

...and I do know that my comments were rediculous, sometimes you just feel like posting responses to assenign comments. I don't slight you for doing that to me, you did it rather artculately.

mcarroll Tue 4/24/2007 01:50PM
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mcarroll

Here is my argument to that...I think that their music is quite genuine and interesting. I could care less if the industry has touted them for their image. The music is the important thing to me, and I think it is great. As far as paying their dues goes, they have a blistering live show. Bonnaroo and Coachella, U2, Dylan, and Pearl Jam (generally bands that successful choose their openers), saw it and asked them to either play their festivals or open for them. Impressing people with your talent and being rewarded for it should in no way be frowned upon. They also tour relentlessly. One month after opening a concert for U2 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, they were back in the area playing a gig at the Fox Theater in Boulder (750 capacity). That was a couple years ago, and they have been back through here a number of times since playing 750-1500 capacity venues, so I don't think you can say they haven't earned it. If you don't like the band you don't like the band, but I don't agree when you say that their limited success here and larger success in Europe isn't deserved or that they are fabricated.

SAHTHEGREAT Wed 4/25/2007 01:50PM
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Smittea,

I like tunes brother that is it. I don't try to read into these things so much. Good music is good music no matter how you look at it. There is no political value, no "scene" value, just music. That is it! I like it, if you don't that is fine but don't say that I lack sophistacation. McCarrol, sorry for the "idiot" remarks, but god damn man, this album rocks out! I meant to say if you are a fan of music (which we all are because we on this site daily) you would probably like album.

That's it! Peace!

WanderingBard starstarstar Wed 4/25/2007 07:00PM
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Ok, I said this new album "drinks curdled bull milk" compared to Aha. That's just because I don't like seeing this album get so much more praise than Aha! Aha was (is) AMAZING.
But having listened quite a bit to the new album, I must amend myself- this album is really good. McFearless, Knocked Up, Trunk, Arizona, On Call, Camaro... all really good songs.
I up my estimation.

peaton Wed 5/9/2007 08:08PM
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peaton

I agree wanderingbard with most of your comment. If newbies want to hear the best of kings of leon, please buy Aha Shake Heartbreak, beause its the best album of the past decade. I do like a lot of tunes on the new album, but most of the ones that I like are not the favorites of many others. I think On Call was a poor selection to release as a single. I think the best songs on the album are the runner, fans, ragoo, knocked up, and camaro. The Kings rule, but I cant cant lie when I say that I like having them to myself. It would be great if they could make money and stay off of mtv. Please dont call them emo tho, I listen to them and I do cut mysef nor do I hate my parents.

Willicia0313 starstarstarstarstar Fri 6/1/2007 09:40AM
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Great article! "Because Of The Times" is one of the best albums I have listened to in a long while. I have been a fan of KOL since their debut and to hear their growth on each album is incredible. I am heading out from work to see them in ATL tonight and can't wait.
I just can't understand someone who doesn't dig their new album. You need to have your head examined if you don't think "My Party" is one of the sickest jams ever!!