Las Vegas City Life
August 8, 2002

This feature is a monthly collaboration with The website's Band of the Month - along with an underexposed yet rising band picked by CityLife - will be featured every month, as a way of covering bands both big and small.

The Killers came out of nowhere. That may explain why a band that has existed less than a year is getting so much attention lately. Unlike almost every other Las Vegas band, the four young men who make up the Killers did not spend years playing in the local trenches. They did not network and build relationships with sound-alike acts. They did not have their friends and their friends' bands come out to fill up their audiences. The Killers have created a buzz in the rarest way possible: They've written great songs and won over crowds with old-fashioned rock 'n' roll pomp.

"The one thing that's kind of interesting is that none of us were really from the Vegas music scene," says bassist Dell Star. "None of us really played with a lot of these bands. It's really the first major thing that all of us have done."

Formed by Star and guitarist Tavian Go last August, the band now known as the Killers was rounded out by vocalist/keyboardist Brandon Flowers and drummer Buss Bradley. Though ranging in ages and backgrounds, the recent transplants to Las Vegas (except for Bradley) share a common love of good pop music - from Led Zeppelin to the Smiths. Hailing from all over the country - including Missouri, Iowa and Utah - the quartet wrote songs without the taint of the overly-aggressive Vegas brand of music, nor the influence of modern nu metal and active rock. When the time came to play the local clubs, the Killers were booked with completely incompatible bands (English pop-influenced indie rock bands are a rare breed, especially in Las Vegas), but they succeeded nonetheless.

"Even people who are into hip-hop are into our music," Go says. "And some of the people who are into our music have come out of the woodwork, because there's no one else to see."

In their short time as a band, the Killers have played at almost every local venue - the Boston, Junkyard Live, Crown & Anchor - and even made a trip to play the Gig in Los Angeles. Their perspective on the Vegas scene is relatively fresh, but the Killers still offer surprisingly similar opinions to those of more jaded local musicians.

"Part of the problem with this music scene is the bands," says Go. "The other part is places to play, and the other part is that no one shows up at these places."

Centered mostly around testosterone-heavy rap-rock, groove-metal and emo-core, the Las Vegas music scene doesn't often tolerate diversity or community outside of each band's musical niche. The Killers, with their Bowie-influenced glam posing, catchy riffs and keyboard tinkling, fall somewhere outside of those niches. In the insular Vegas scene, that separatism can either destroy a band or elevate it beyond the status quo. So far, the Killers seem to be keeping their heads above the crowd - and they've got their sights set on much higher ground.

"Of course, we want to get signed, make a record," Flowers says. "I think we could make an awesome record right now."

The band feels confident about the strength of their songs and appears ready to take it to the next level. Demos are slowly being sent out to record labels, and the band wants to hit the road to check out nearby music scenes in Salt Lake City, Phoenix and Los Angeles. Lack of decent transportation and funds are keeping the Killers tethered to Sin City right now, which the band has mixed feelings about.

"There's too many people that want to be tough," says Go. "I don't want to name names, but there's a lot of bands who are all about Limp Bizkit. Even the punk scene has a really bad attitude."

Though there seems to be as much complaining coming from the Killers as from long-time locals, their criticisms are based on observation more than experience. That kind of perspective could

help explain why Vegas bands never seem to get out of their self-imposed ruts. They may have no problem being frank about the downside of the Vegas scene, but the Killers also remain focused on the upside.

"It's fun to play," Go says. "We don't want to make it sound like we're miserable. We have fun."