Rated: Rock Royalty

Nashville’s Kings of Leon are back to reclaim the rock’n’roll throne.

Thanks to 2008’s smash Only by the Night, Kings of Leon became one of the world’s biggest bands. But superstardom hasn’t made them immune to pigeon crap, as a recent incident in St. Louis proved. Jared Followill, the band’s bassist, wiped away the poop and told us about their latest album, Come Around Sundown.

Will you be disappointed if this album isn’t a huge success?

I know we shouldn’t be, but truthfully, yeah. We feel like we made a better record, but it probably won’t be as big. If it’s not a huge commercial success, it’ll probably gain back the critics who thought the last one wasn’t as good. It’s win-win. The last thing we wanted was to make a bad record. Then we’d all have to punch ourselves in the faces.

How is being an arena band?

Shows are more fun in a club, but everything else is much better. The riders, the backstage area…The feel is cleaner and nicer. You don’t feel like you have the flu all the time.

What can you have now that you couldn’t have before?

Tons of stuff. We travel with a ping-pong table. TVs everywhere. Right now we’ve got pay-per-view of the Oklahoma game. Anything we ask for gets done in about an hour. We’re super spoiled.

You’re only 23 and joined the band when you were 15. Do you feel like you lost a childhood?

It has to feel normal to me because it’s me, but I know it’s not normal at all. I dropped out of school and at 16 was touring Europe with the Strokes and Interpol, doing drugs and getting drunk. It was a weird time, but it was perfect. It scares me to say, but if I died now I couldn’t complain.

Have you bought anything nuts?

We’re not crazy. I got a Nissan GT-R supercar that’s fun to drive. And I got a big-ass house in Nashville that’s fun to hang in. I kind of feel like the little boy in Blank Check.

Tell us about being crapped on and stopping in the middle of a show.

There were pigeons in the rafters in St. Louis. I was told if crap got in my eye, it could blind me. On the third song, management pulled us. It was lose-lose; we were a laughingstock either way. We’d be singing “Use Somebody,” and I’d be covered in pigeon shit. That’s not badass rock’n’roll. That’s just humiliating.