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Kings of Leon go 'young and fun' for new album 'Mechanical Bull'

Rock band Kings of Leon pose on arrival at the 53rd annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California February 13, 2011. REUTERS/Danny Molosho
Rock band Kings of Leon pose on arrival at the 53rd annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California February 13, 2011. REUTERS/Danny Molosho

By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Rock group Kings of Leon are getting less serious with age, as the band prepares to bring "young and fun" new music on Friday to their fans across the world in a quirky collaboration with comedian Fred Armisen.

Kings of Leon, formed by Followill brothers Caleb, Nathan, Jared and cousin Matthew, are marking a decade in the music industry since their debut album "Youth & Young Manhood" was released in 2003.

After a hiatus in 2012, Kings of Leon are back on the road to support their upcoming sixth studio album "Mechanical Bull," due out in September.

Matthew Followill, the band's guitarist, said the new album will see the rockers embracing a lighter sound, set by the lead single "Supersoaker." The new album also marks a milestone in the band members' own lives as they have all become family men in recent years, getting married and becoming parents.

"It ended up being a lot more young and fun-sounding than the other albums. We're not so serious this time," Followill told Reuters of "Mechanical Bull."

"We're still the same people, we just have kids and it was really awesome. It made us almost have more fun in life and not take things so seriously, we just had a little more fun with things."

Formed in Nashville, Tennessee, Kings of Leon have steadily risen into the spotlight over the last ten years, breaking into the mainstream music charts with 2008's "Only By The Night," which featured hit singles "Sex on Fire" and "Use Somebody."

The band have picked up Grammy awards for their now trademark fusion of Southern blues and roots rock music, and Followill said they were experimenting with taking their sound in new directions on "Mechanical Bull."

"We have one song ('Don't Matter') that's the hardest rocking song that we've ever done, and it's the fastest, so that's new for us. We also have some steel guitar on this album and we have some strings at the end of one song, a quartet," he said.

The band suffered setbacks in 2011 when it was forced to cancel its U.S. tour citing health concerns after lead singer Caleb Followill walked off stage during a concert in Dallas, saying he couldn't sing.

Matthew Followill said a hiatus had already been planned and was needed after a grueling tour schedule in "the hottest summer," and that the time off has brought the members closer together.

"It just put everything in perspective, and we actually wanted to get back out there and we were really excited to make a new album, and I think it shows that we were really excited to be in the studio and with each other, playing music," he said.

The band has teamed up with U.S. comedian Fred Armisen, best known for "Saturday Night Live" and comedy series "Portlandia," who will direct a live stream of Kings of Leon's American Express Unstaged performance at London's Shepherd's Bush Empire on Friday.

Kings of Leon worked with the funnyman on a series of short comedic videos featuring a band competition, in which Armisen judges which Followill is the best member in the band. The results are expected to be revealed on Friday, and viewers can watch the band perform live at www.amexunstaged.com.

(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy)

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