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Caleb Followill on nepo babies: “I’m not giving my kids shit – they gotta get it themselves”

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Caleb Followill has shared his thoughts on “nepo babies” – children of successful parents who are given more opportunities through nepotism – and said that he won’t be “giving my kids shit” to help advance their careers.

The Kings Of Leon frontman spoke out about the debate in a new interview with The Independent, ahead of the band’s new album ‘Can We Please Have Fun?’.

It was here that the frontman – who is in the band alongside his brothers Nathan and Jared, and their cousin Matthew – opened up about the inspiration behind their ninth album, particularly how they looked back at their childhood to create the songs.

“I know every mother believes in their child, but she believed in us way more than you probably should believe in your kids,” he said of his mother Betty-Ann, who died in 2021.

“We didn’t have any money… A lot of people are far worse off than we were, but we went to bed hungry and we were embarrassed by the clothes that we wore as kids. But while all that was happening, our mum was still saying, ‘You guys know that you’re going to be really special. You guys are going to do something great.’ I don’t know if she fully believed it, but I know that she was going to make us believe it,” he added.

He also went on to say that the most important lesson he learned from Betty-Ann was that “You don’t have to have everything to go get everything. You can start with very little and go very far if you work hard.”

When asked by the outlet if his own children – whom he has with American model Lily Aldridge – would understand the same lesson or fall back on their parents’ success, he responded: “Nepo babies? No, I’m not giving my kids shit. They gotta get it themselves.”

Caleb Followill of Kings of Leon performs live on stage during day two of Lollapalooza Brazil at Autodromo de Interlagos on March 23, 2024 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

He also confirmed that although the album isn’t necessarily about his mother, it was inspired by her in many ways as the members “really wanted to make an album that she would be proud of. And [were] thinking of her every step of the way”.

‘Can We Please Have Fun?’ marked Kings Of Leon’s ninth full-length studio album, and the follow-up to 2021’s ‘When You See Yourself’.

It arrived on Friday (May 10), and was described by NME as seeing the band make a strong attempt to return to their roots.

“Many fans will be wondering if this is finally the record where KOL return to the dirty rock‘n’roll roots that we fell in love with in the first place? Well, yes and no. Kick-ass comeback single ‘Mustang’ finds Caleb back to his howling old, shouty self as he sings: ‘Oh there’s a Mustang in the city and it’s calling me out,‘ over rollicking guitar riffs,” read the three-star review.

“This is easily KOL’s most promising, liberated record for over a decade but still surprisingly restrained in places. Can they have fun? Yes it appears, in places, but they could have had a whole lot more.”

The frontman also spoke to NME ahead of the release, and recalled what he was looking to achieve with the LP.

 Caleb Followill of Kings of Leon performs live on stage during day two of Lollapalooza Brazil at Autodromo de Interlagos on March 23, 2024 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Caleb Followill of Kings of Leon performs live on stage during day two of Lollapalooza Brazil at Autodromo de Interlagos on March 23, 2024 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

“With this record, I was like: ‘Alright, big boy, it’s time to be a songwriter… I wanted people to feel the passion that went into [this album] and the honest, blue-collar hard work,” he said.

“We live in Music City, where the man next to you in the grocery store could be wearin’ overalls and you have no idea that he wrote the biggest country song in history.”

As for the discussion around “nepo babies”, the debate has gathered momentum in recent years, with many famous faces weighing in their thoughts on the term.

Earlier this month, Lily Allen claimed that the term is “sexist” and used for women much more than for men, as did actor Lily-Rose Depp – daughter of Johnny Depp and French singer Vanessa Paradis – who said that it is only used against women.

Similar sentiments have been expressed by Gwyneth Paltrow – who last year described the term as an “ugly moniker” while supporting her daughter’s career as a Chanel Model – as well as Noel Gallagher’s daughter Anaïs, who works as a photographer and model, and Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet’s daughter Zoë Kravitz, who has starred in The Batman, High Fidelity and more.

In recent months, the debate has come to a head again, with New Girl star Zooey Deschanel insisting that being the daughter of six-time Oscar-nominated cinematographer Caleb Deschanel (The Lion King, The Passion of Christ, The Godfather and Titanic) did not make it easier for her to break into the industry.

Similarly, Willow Smith – singer, songwriter and daughter of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith – revealed that she felt a sense of “insecurity” when it comes to being a ‘nepo baby’ ahead of the release of her new album ‘Empathogen’.

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