The four member band consists of vocal leader Brandon Flowers, guitarist David Keuning, bass player Stoermer, and drummer Ronnie Vannucci. 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 to represent 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.After trying 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 long time.
Writing in 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 the everyday.
Word soon 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. From here, 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; playing with 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). It wasn’t 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.
Natural born 'Killers'
Actually, not really. Those songs about murder? They're pure fiction, we're told.
Las Vegas is a breeding ground for many things, but considering that most DJs in town play Korn and Slipknot in between striptease sets, good music has never been one of them. But even Sin City's bad music genes can have the occasional mutation.
Enter Vegas natives The Killers, four new-wave hipsters whose synth beats, glammy guitars and morbid tales of love sound like Duran Duran and Depeche Mode teaming up for a blackjack game. Even Morrissey himself took notice of the group's debut, "Hot Fuss," and enlisted them to open his summer tour.
Between stops in Europe and Japan, and before a series of dates with the Pixies, The Killers will stop in Chicago for their own headlining gig. We caught up with singer Brandon Flowers to find out what the, er, fuss is all about.
Your album dwells a bit on murders and stalkers. Where's all this anger from?
I've always loved crime shows on TV, and I love horror films. "The Ring," "The Exorcist," "The Omen." The old man in "The Exorcist"--oh my gosh. He scares the hell out of me. It's fun to write about dark things. Some of the characters are real, but none of the murders are true, though, I promise.
You've played Chicago a few times. Have you gotten to hang out in the city at all?
It's cliched, but we went for Chicago-style pizza. It was awful. I still love the cheap pizza --Little Ceasar's, Pizza Hut.
Before joining The Killers, I hear you were a bellhop at the Gold Coast Hotel in Vegas.
First of all, I was a bell-man. And it wasn't as exciting as it's made out to be. It was usually just miserable. I'd make like $2 on the graveyard shift. It was Western-themed, and sometimes, when the rodeo was in town, I used to have to cart these really heavy brass sculptures into the cowboys' rooms, like an old man smoking a pipe, or a cowboy riding a bull. I don't know what was going on with that.
Rumor has it that Andy Dick recently got, um, fresh with your lawyer.
He humped his leg at Coachella. Whatever. Isn't he in his 40s? Grow up, dude. It's OK to be young at heart, but humping someone's leg is ... well, a little too young.
Your sound is decidedly retro. Is that a conscious choice?
Yeah, well, I don't want to really be influenced by someone right now. Maybe it's an ego thing. Everything today sucks ... Bands like The Stills bother me because they're all style and no substance. It's totally obvious that these kids don't love the classics like we love them. They're just in it for the now.
The last time you played in Chicago, one of your amps caught on fire. What happened?
Just a freak accident, really. It was my monitor. We were playing "Mr. Brightside," and I saw a little flame, and five seconds later it was flames everywhere, two feet high in the middle of the stage.
Feel like you were having a Hendrix moment?
Ah, I don't know. We put it out with a fire extinguisher, which wasn't very Hendrix at all. It was definitely not one of rock's greatest moments
Killers To Kick Off Tour In April
Band will debut new songs on North American trek. With no official plans to head back into the recording studio anytime soon, the Killers will treat fans to bits and pieces of their new material when they hit North American stages beginning in early April.
"We want to have some surprises for people,'' said drummer Ronnie Vannucci, who is excited to
be able to play some of the band's brand new songs for fans who have seen them live more than once (see "Killers Enjoy Better Hotels As They Plot Their Evolution").
The band will kick off the tour on April 11 in Phoenix. Dates have been announced through May 3, with shows in U.S. cities including Los Angeles, Seattle and Denver as well as the Canadian cities Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary.
No opening act has been announced, but the band is considering a few options.
"We're just going through bands right now and seeing what we like, and we'll find somebody good," said lead singer Brandon Flowers.
Despite touring the globe and getting a largely positive reception, the Grammy-nominated Killers remain humble about their performing abilities.
"We're just trying to get a good live show going," said Flowers. "There's nothing more that we can really do."
Killers tour dates, according to their label:
4/11 - Phoenix, AZ @ Marquee Theater
4/12 - La Jolla, CA @ RIMAC Arena
4/13 - Long Beach, CA @ The Vault 350
4/16 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Wiltern
4/17 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Wiltern
4/19 - San Francisco, CA @ Fillmore
4/21 - Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater
4/22 - Vancouver, BC @ Vogue Theatre
4/26 - Edmonton, AB @ Red's
4/27 - Calgary, AB @ MacEwan Hall
4/29 - Boise, ID @ The Big Easy Concert House
5/2 - Salt Lake City, UT @ Kingsbury Hall
5/3 - Denver, CO @ Paramount Theater
The present story of The Killers
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 “Hot 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.
The Killers - Somebody Told Me
To say 2004 has been a good year for The Killers would be the understatement of 2004.
The Las Vegas quartet have released debut album Hot Fuss, which has already well surpassed 1 million sales worldwide, had a UK top ten hit with Mr Brightside, released in May to huge critical acclaim.
They have since appeared on Top Of The Pops, CD:UK, Later with Jools Holland, and have even recorded a part on hit Channel 4 show The O.C, to be screened in the UK early next year.
Their hectic live schedule, including sell-out tours on both sides of the Atlantic and appearances at all the major UK festivals has helped to turn The Killers into one of the must-see, most talked about bands of the year. They boast Elton John, David Bowie, Noel Gallagher and Franz Ferdinand amongst their ever-growing array of A-list admirers.
The Killers plan to start 2005 with a bang. They re-release hit single Somebody Told Me on January 10 to coincide with a high profile headline tour, details of which are to be announced soon.
The Killers Start A New Year!
THE KILLERS celebrated New Year in LA with a thrilling countdown set.
The Las Vegas four piece headlined the Giant New Year’s Eve celebration in the city (December 31) alongside DJs Paul Oakenfold, John Digweed and Desyn Masielo.
The Killers played an hour long set of hits from their debut album ‘Hot Fuss’ as thousands cheered them on.
“I can’t really think of a better place for us to be,” frontman Brandon Flowers told the packed crowd, who braved the threat of rain to watch the band. “Los Angeles has been very good to us this year.”
The Killers nine song set included favourites ‘Jenny Was a Friend of Mine’, ‘All These Things That I’ve Done’, and ‘Somebody Told Me’. At times the crowd was so lively they surged, knocking open a gate with access to the stage, at others several women were spotted flashing the band.
“I wanna wish everyone a happy new year before we leave,” Flowers said before the band ended their set just before midnight with ‘Mr. Brightside’.
The Killers return to the UK later this month for the ShockWaves NME Awards Tour.
All Killer No Filler!
THE KILLERS have revealed plans to unveil new material for their forthcoming shows in the UK.
The band have completed three songs so far including ‘I Won't Let You Down, ‘Daddy's Eyes’ and ‘It's Only Natural’.
"We're trying to strip it down a little bit. Not have it be so busy. Just let it breathe and let it be a great song. We wrote some great songs on the first one, but these have more of a classic feel," singer Brandon Flowers told Billboard.com.
The Killers are due to play the sold-out ShockWaves NME Awards tour in the New Year along with two London dates on February 19 - a matinee and evening show at Brixton Academy.
The band will demo new material with U2 producer Flood and Swervedriver producer Alan Moulder once they complete their dates in Japan.
Drummer Ronnie Vannucci added: "That time will be used to get some ideas on tape and tie up the loose ends of the songs that have been written on the road."
The Killers debut album ''Hot Fuss''
Science: if you accept the principle of infinity (go with us here, because if you don't you're pretty much rubbishing every rule in the known universe from 'gravity' to 'people who wear scarves indoors being idiots') then, taken to its logical conclusion, every permutation of every possibility will eventually happen. So it was only a matter of time before the world of rock'n'roll threw up a band from Las Vegas (say it again - Las Vegas) who wished beyond wishes that they'd been born into the rain-soaked grudgery of 1980s British indie. To the point where the four members used to race each other to get the only two copies of this magazine that got stocked in Vegas. So let's not be under any illusions: The Killers are weird.
The first great thing about this band is that, after an epoch in thrall to garage rock, they're about to make U2 cool again. Better still, they inhabit a world of snuff and nonsense where hermaphrodites dance in casino halls and boyfriends murder girlfriends over bottles of bourbon - a stadium rock 'Baywatch Nights' with morals and cumshots. They are a band of Smiths fans from Las Vegas. Their singer is called Brandon Flowers. Their bass player looks like Jesus… on paper, The Killers are fantastic, and live they're even better. So, naturally, we've been pretty excited about them for a while now. And half of 'Hot Fuss' is just as good. This half: singles 'Mr Brightside' and 'Somebody Told Me' (which you already know). 'Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine' (Duran Duran with better basslines and dirtier hair), 'All The Things That I've Done' (for its gospel catcall "I've got soul but I'm not a soldier") and 'On Top' (icy synthtronica meets Springsteen) are all the equals of Bono or Le Bon. Then, just like a Baywatch Nights episode, it all goes a bit tits up.
If it was just that the rest of the album was beige filler, things would be simple. But it isn't. There's a song toward the end of 'Hot Fuss' called 'Glamorous Indie Rock & Roll', which is possibly the most teeth-grindingly embarrassing thing you will hear in your entire life. It's chorus, and we're not lying, goes, "It's indie rock'n'roll for me!" Jesus, Brandon, people go into rehab for less. But (and it's a big but), being a band of Smiths fans from Las Vegas, maybe it's just excruciating because it's honest, and maybe Mr Flowers is no more smart or guilty than those loveable idiots who ring up Westwood every weekend pretending to be black. And that's before you realise that 'Glamorous Indie Rock & Roll' is actually a facsimile of 'Bohemian Rhapsody', and you realise that The Killers' charm is to be clever and clueless both at once. Still, hate the sin, love the sinner. And The Killers have made half of the album of the year. Lucky that now we've got Napster, you only need to buy half.