They were first up on a triple bill featuring the Skeeters and country star Billy Joe Shaver and, upon seeing a room full of cowboy hats, immediately decided to country up their sound.
A decade-ish later, KOL is sitting on a six-album discography, alt-rock hits “Sex on Fire,” “Use Somebody” and, from its current album, “Mechanical Bull,” the Springsteen-esque “Supersoaker.”
On Wednesday, they’ll come back to Atlanta to launch a 10-week tour, only this time, the room is a bit bigger, as in Philips Arena big. And they’re most definitely the headliner, having corralled crackerjack blues guitarist — and recent Grammy recipient — Gary Clark Jr. to open.
“I feel like we probably have a great relationship with people in the South. You know, we definitely enjoy playing there,” KOL’s guitarist Matthew Followill said in a recent band teleconference. “I feel like, you know, it’s our people. They kind of relate with us.”
His cousin, bassist Jared Followill, chimed in, “Maybe (the tour is starting in Atlanta) because it’s close to Nashville and you don’t want to play your hometown show first, so you kind of go to a city that’s close.”
Whatever the reason, the Followills — Matthew, Jared, singer Caleb and drummer Nathan — are prepared to give fans a career-spanning show that, said Matthew, will also be, yes, bigger. (Jared, Caleb and Nathan are brothers.)
Here is what the guys had to say about a few other things.
On what to expect from the show:
Matthew: "We've already been rehearsing longer than we've pretty much ever rehearsed for a tour. Mainly because I think we don't really know what to do because we have so many songs and we want to try to please everyone. So we're either going to have to kick songs out that we've had in the set forever or just play for three hours."
Caleb: "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 and I think the fact that we've been away for a minute … I think people are really excited, and I know we're going to try to bring something special to the table."
On being on the road now that Matthew, Caleb and Nathan are all fathers.
Nathan: "I actually enjoy the thought of my wife and daughter being able to come out on the road. I'm pretty sure the back of the bus will be turned into a nursery instead of a nice luxurious king-sized bed for daddy. But hey, it's worth the sacrifice."
On what they’ve learned from touring and how they’ve changed.
Nathan: "It's like once you have kids and get married and all that — all that good stuff — it kind of changes your perspective on what you do after the show more than anything. Only because, you know, your daughter's waking up at 7 a.m. whether daddy went to bed at 10 p.m. or 4 a.m. So I think it makes you a little more responsible. I mean, not to say that we still don't have a good time and don't know how to let our hair down. But as you grow up and get older, you realize certain things aren't as important as they used to be."
Caleb: "There are so many things that we've done and we've done a million times. And after a while, you start to look for something else. And I think for me at this point, I'm just really excited to go out and step up our game, and to go out there and try to compete with all forms of music as far as our show goes … I think for me that's the kind of stuff that I'm excited about and want to be focused on with this. You know, just making our lives feel better, and also continue to grow as a band. It's not all about the party for me anymore. Or at least not this week. But we'll see what it's like next week."