Brandon Flowers (vocals/keyboards), David Keuning (guitar), Mark
Stoermer (bass), and Ronnie Vannucci (drums) took the fashionista
pop world by storm in summer 2004 with "Somebody Told Me.
had to happen eventually. When you survey previous exports from
the city of Las Vegas: an assortment of suspect hair metal bands;
one-hit wonder Toni Basil; err. Andre Agassi. It was only ever
a matter of time that a group would emerge from Sin
City to wipe
the slate ceremoniously clean, giving the inhabitants of that
Nevadan outpost some fresh hope and an escape from their culturally
see. The unique habitat in which our subjects developed, their
native characteristics shaped by external factors (in this case
Messrs. Morrissey, Bowie, Ocasek, Gallagher, Presley, Smith, Sumner,
Corgan, Cocker, Byrne, Lennon, to name but a few.) would go towards
creating a band so clearly the product of their environment and
yet so perfectly adapted to becoming a truly dominant species
in the world of pop. Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you
It was late
2002. Brandon Flowers (yes, it is his real name) had been dumped
by his one previous group, a synth-pop outfit named Blush Response,
when he refused to move with the rest of the band to L.A. Cruelly
ditched, but inspired by seeing Oasis play (incredibly, the Brothers
Grim had made it all the way to Vegas in one piece) he saw that
his life needed more guitars. When he clocked Dave Keuning's small
ad in a local paper naming that band as an influence - and what
with Oasis not exactly factoring in the pasty Vegas music scene
- he took it as fate that they should be together. "He was
the only person to reply to my ad who wasn't a complete freak",
remembers Dave, fondly. "He came over with his keyboard and
we started going through song ideas straight away. I had the verse
to "Mr Brightside" and he went away and wrote the chorus.
That was the first song we wrote together and remains the only
song that we've played at every single Killers show".
So far so
romantic, then. The early core of the band was cemented and their
amazingly-previously-unused moniker appropriated from a New Order
video. The premise of said promo was - since New Order themselves
were looking rather on the chubby side - to represent in the promo
the perfect band - with the greatest song as well as model good-looks
and youth on their side - to represent Barney & Co. That band
was called The Killers. "It gave me the ambition that our
actual band should be as perfect as their fictional band,"
says Flowers. And so began our heroes' journey...
out a couple of different bass players and drummers, Brandon and
Dave met Ronnie Vannucci, a photographer at the Little Chapel
of Flowers and student of classical percussion at UNLV, and Mark
Stoermer, who was making ends meet as a medical courier (blood,
urine, the odd body part - all glamour). In between these couldn't-make-it-up
day-jobs (Brandon, for the record, was a bellhop at the Gold Coast
Hotel; whilst Dave garnered valuable training for his current
all-the-ladies-love-an-axeman dilemmas whilst enjoying trysts
with lady-shoppers at his Banana Republic job) the newly-complete
Killers set to writing what we can assuredly state to be one of
the most exciting debut albums you'll have heard in a very, very
120 degree temperatures in the garage that became their rehearsal
room provided a suitably intense hot-housing effect. And when
they couldn't get into the garage they'd use Ronnie's spymaster
knowledge to gain mid-night access to the facilities available
at his University's music school. "There was about 2000 sq
ft of luxurious practice space complete with drum sets, marimbas,
cymbals, pianos etc. So, for about a month or two we lugged a
Marshall to sing out of, a Deville to play the axe through, a
Bassman for the keyboard, a bass cabinet for Mark and I used the
UNLV pep drum band set," reminisces Ronnie. "Though
I'd like to make clear that no instruments were mistreated during
this time as we are, and continue to be, respectful, professional
and, last but not least, resourceful musicians."
It was during
these pressurised sessions that The Killers began to live up to
the expectations commanded by the roots of their name and wrote
the bulk of the songs that were to comprise their debut album,
the fittingly-titled Hot Fuss. Prolific writers, they were unearthing
songs of jealousy and paranoia; tales about murderers, stalkers
and Studio 54 AIDS victims; androgynous girlfriends and cuckolded
boyfriends; and songs of ambition and the desire to rise above
spread further afield about The Killers. The band came to the
attention of London-based independent label Lizard King, and they
made their way over to the UK for their first ever gigs outside
of Las Vegas (for some of the band this was even the first time
they'd needed a passport) and a limited edition release of "Mr
Brightside" in September 2003. Those lucky enough to catch
these first London shows came away pretty much unanimously enamoured
("A head-mashingly brilliant arsenal of tunes. Right now
few bands are a safer bet than The Killers", glowed NME),
while the group's subsequent appearance at New York industry fiesta
CMJ in October saw a swarm-sized buzz surround the band and a
worldwide (ex-UK) deal inked with Island Records.
the boys set to work once more: touring the UK with British Sea
Power; selling out their own headline shows, including a packed
Valentines' Day extravaganza at London's ICA; effortlessly upstaging
Stellastarr* on a further support tour and, amidst all this, confidently
self-producing their record, with final mixing expertise provided
by the legendary Alan Moulder (U2, Smashing Pumpkins) and Mark
Needham (Fleetwood Mac).
all plain sailing, of course - there were mishaps aplenty over
the three months that the recording took. The band were rocked
by an earthquake that propelled Ronnie from his drum stool during
the recording of "Believe Me, Natalie"; they had to
battle through fires in the Simi Valley to get to the studio to
record "Change Your Mind" (which appears on the U.S
version of the LP); oh, and they thought they were actually going
to die when their plane hit an air pocket and started free-falling
while on their way back to the UK for their gigs in December 03.
But somehow they made it through, and here we are, with The Killers
all set to release their debut album.
Hot Fuss features
eleven nuggets of reel-you-in storytelling genius and musical
nectar that belie the incredible truth that, when it's released
on June15th, chief songwriter and lyricist Brandon Flowers will
still only be 22 years old. These eleven tracks span from the
"very Vegas - like Ziggy came to town" first proper
single release "Somebody Told Me" (which glided into
the Top 30 in March 04); the aforementioned "Mr Brightside"
- a tale of jealousy that depicts that moment in a relationship
when you realise that your other half might be playing away and
this thought takes up residence in your psyche feeding the worst
fears and visualisations your imagination can then throw at you.
You'll find two-thirds of a murder trilogy (oh yes - don't rule
out the possibility of a future concept album) in "Midnight
Show", which starts off harking back to "Lipgloss"
before veering into far darker territory than old Jarvis would
ever have flirted with, in Pulp days at least, and "Jenny".
These two are connected by the story of a murder of a girl by
her jealous boyfriend ("There was water involved," says
Brandon, cryptically, "although he didn't drown her").
The first part of the trilogy, "Leave The Bourbon On The
Shelf", will, you can be sure, make an appearance at some
point in the future. It's a deliciously ambitious series that
belies the band's tender years, and they've already decided they'll
be calling on our favourite dark lord actor James Spader for the
video.. Elsewhere, meanwhile: "On Top" celebrates where
Brandon feels the band is at, while stalker's tale "Andy
You're A Star" and "All These Things That I've Done,"
a future smash hit if ever we heard one, saw Flowers realise his
dream of using a gospel choir in their recordings. This choir
- "Sweet Inspirations" - are best known for their work
with Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, and Aretha Franklin. "It
was such an amazing experience working with the choir in the studio
that we decided to incorporate one into special live shows, including
the the Spin Magazine show [at SXSW 04]," says Brandon
Fuss" is, to sum up, a triumph. A triumph that will see the
light of day concurrently in the UK on June 7th, and June 15th
in the U.S. It will be accompanied by a major touring as well
as a prestigious appearance at California's Coachella festival
and closely followed in the UK by an appearance at Glastonbury
at the end of June.
And as for
A Tale of Killers Future? Well, whatever it may hold, you can
bet your bottom dollar that it's going to be a blast.