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No capes required
Nick Brown and Jared Followill created Smoke & Jackal in their spare time.

Two friends deciding to start a band after a few bottles of red is hardly news. It's a different story entirely when the friends happen to be a Followill, of the Kings of Leon Followills, and the singer of a band the BBC, NME and MTV all tipped as one to watch last year.

So, when KoL bass player Jared Followill teamed up with Nick Brown, of Nashville band Mona, to form Smoke & Jackal earlier this year, it was newsworthy.

The word "supergroup" was even bandied about. "I'm wearing a cape right now," Brown laughs.

Such hyperbole is a poor fit when it comes to Smoke & Jackal; both men emphasise the project was a result of happenstance and not some grand strategy.

"A lot of people think it was a planned thing, but it really wasn't that at all," Brown confirms. "It was just two friends that had a couple weeks off and got drunk and made some noise."

It was a rare moment of downtime between respective touring commitments, starting work on a new Kings record and Brown finishing the follow-up to Mona's self-titled debut LP of last year.

"We were actually hanging out at (Brown's) house and we were about to go to a bar," Followill recalls. "I had a couple of ideas that I had kicked around that didn't really suit Kings of Leon.

"I had even played them around the guys and, if you play an idea for the guys, then you pretty much know immediately if it's going to be a song or not because they'll seem excited by it and start playing with you."

Followill says the Mona frontman also had ideas to show off so the pair didn't make it to the bar; they made a beeline for Brown's home studio instead.

In one night of jamming, a third of what would become a six-track EP was fleshed out, including lead single No Tell, which BBC presenter Zane Lowe declared the "hottest record in the world" in August.

Stylistically, if you placed KoL and Mona on a map, and drew a line between them, Smoke & Jackal's EP1 would largely move up and down that line, alternatively closer to one or the other depending on the song.

While Brown says any similarities are the obvious result of two musicians doing what they do - "you can't get your DNA out of you" - both agree Smoke & Jackal signifies a new direction.

"The direction we took was good because it didn't step on any toes with our own bands and it wasn't going to take any ideas away from our music," Followill says.

With no plans to tour or record a full album, and a commitment to avoid looking like "cheesy dudes trying to push a side project", Smoke & Jackal is what it is: a moment in time between two friends.

EP1 is out now.