VH1 Storytellers is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, and we’re kicking off the franchise’s season with a narrated performance by Kings of Leon on Friday, May 13. Back in April, we had the opportunity to attend the taping of the show in Nashville, the rockers’ hometown, and between production rehearsals and backstage access, we couldn’t help but snoop around the security-filled set.
“The show was amazing from top to bottom,” boasts coordinating producer Lara Fried, who watched the Storytellers taping from the production truck. “The band was charming, and you could tell that doing the show in Nashville made it extra special.”
Indeed, it was. And it wouldn’t be right if we didn’t share the spoils with our loyal VH1 Blog readers. Feast your eyes on the behind-the-scenes pics below, and don’t forget to check back for more exclusive KOL content before the premiere. Trust us, we’ll share ALL the juicy details. In the meantime, let us know what question you want us to ask the band in our Decision poll, presented by Bing. — Lacey Seidman
After being together for almost fifteen years, indie rockers Death Cab For Cutie have seen their fair share of shows, festivals and venues. But until last night, frontman Ben Gibbard never felt it “appropriate” to talk about their songs’ inspiration, or more specifically, his intricate writing process. “I’m still figuring it out for myself,” admitted the lead singer, figuratively scratching his head as he explained the varied characters and scenarios that have occupied Death Cab’s lyrics over the years. However, in front of our VH1 Storytellers production crew and a slew of psyched-up fans in a Los Angeles studio last night, Ben opened up and finally shared the band’s story in his own way, painting pictures with words, allowing us all to be transported back in time to shake hands with his vision.
Hailing from Bellingham, Washington, we learned that Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben, Nick, Chris and (then-drummer) Nathan moved to Seattle early in their career, and were initially frustrated by the hungry artist lifestyle. According to the stories he shared with us, eating humble pie was a ongoing fixture in Ben’s creative process: Being laughed at by a car full of girls on the highway for driving his 1992 “couch on wheels” Buick Regal was part of Gibbard’s impetus for writing “Title and Registration,” and the modesty the band faced in the Seattle transition — what they then considered to be “the big city” — he found to be specifically trying. “There are few things more demoralizing than groveling for a job that you don’t even want,” Ben stated plainly when articulating the origins for “The Employment Pages,” a track off their second LP, We Have The Facts and We’re Voting Yes.
If you’re a fan of music, you know very well that the music industry can sometimes serve up one-dimensional talent. Vocalists. Songwriters. Producers. Entertainers. The “flavor-of-the-week.” They excel at one thing very well, and God bless ‘em, they make an exceptional living doing so. However, as Cee Lo Green soared through his body of musical work during last night’s VH1 Storytellers taping at Sony Pictures Studios in Los Angeles, it became clear to us (as well as a room full of diehard fans) that his talents are much more multi-faceted than your run-of-the-mill chart-topper. Donning a white shirt covered in sparkles, and surrounded by a kick-ass, all-female band, the man of the hour actively did what he does best: connect with his audience.
Visibly excited, Cee Lo’s carefully-planned set allowed him to present his stories with true richness and delicate authenticity. And it makes sense; since the inception of his career, Green’s song-writing has been deeply rooted in his personal life, reflecting everything from his spiritual beliefs to whimsical sexual quips to torturous anguish. Starting his narrative somewhat chronologically, Cee Lo journeyed back to his Dungeon Family roots, bringing out Big Gipp, Khujo and T-Mo — fellow members of his early career group, Goodie Mob — to perform. Together, they disclosed detailed and passionate song inspirations, nodded at their career’s humble beginnings, and (ZOMG!) announced the group’s forthcoming reunion.
As a group known for keeping their personal lives close to the vest, it was a true treat to have Kings of Leon open up to our VH1 cameras last night in Franklin, Tennessee. Privy to an intimate performance that revealed the band's versatile character, the audience did NOT want to sit down, and trust us when we tell you that this taped show —which will kick off an incredible 15th season of Storytellers on May 13th— is one that we're extremely proud to eventually share! Even if he was a smidge nervous at the onset, frontman Caleb Followill led the Kings' charge, discussing topics that spanned their early days as a group, his often-intoxicated songwriting process, succumbing to wearing tight pants they once found foolish, and their … wait for it – ¦ sexuality.
– This is our dream and we want to do this forever, – remarked Caleb as he ventured down memory lane, literally quoting his own thoughts from years earlier. In the music business for over a decade now, the close-knit group (comprised of brothers Caleb, Nathan, and Jared, along with cousin Matthew) has achieved a level of success that they admit once daunted them. Forced to ignore fears of surrendering their cherished solitude to the masses, the Followills continued to make music that they felt defined them. Now on the other side of fame, the humble rockers actively nod at their beloved Southern roots, and during our Storytellers shoot, showed appreciation for fans that believed in them from the beginning, and for the Nashville community where they call home.