by Amanda Factor
Not that it comes as much of a surprise, but Chart isn't the first media outlet to ask The Killers questions about their hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada.
"Everybody does," says guitarist David Keuning, a little wearily, when quizzed about their town of origin. The real question, however, is how did a cultural wasteland like Vegas, home to countless cheesy casino acts, not to mention Celine Dion live, produce a band with as many electro-rock gems as The Killers?
Keuning can't really account for why so few bands come from Vegas, but he points the finger at bad radio.
"There's one nu-metal station, which I could flush down the toilet. They replaced the best college station with a light jazz station. And there's an '80s station," he says, summing up the extent of progressive music that gets played in the city.
Thus it goes without saying that when he met keyboardist Brandon Flowers through a newspaper ad, Keuning was stoked to meet someone who shared his passion for British bands like Oasis. The two immediately collaborated to write the synth-heavy "Mr. Brightside" and following the recruitment of drummer Ronnie Vannucci and bassist Mark Stoermer, The Killers' debut Hot Fuss was created.
Of course, it was also nice to meet someone who wasn't a complete freak.
"You don't know some of the other people who came to my door," says Keuning. "Forget about being talented. Brandon was the only person who was even normal."
He recalls one auditioning musician, the "big dude" who had a tattoo of four lines with a fifth line crossing them, which he said represented family members who had died. "I thought it was curious and a little morbid."
It's hard to resist pointing out that there's some pretty morbid lyrical matter on Hot Fuss, specifically songs about stalking ("Andy You're A Star") and murder ("Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine"). But for all of Hot Fuss' deep, brooding vocals and Cure-inspired textures, it boasts several tracks that rate high on the danceability scale, like the first single "Somebody Told Me." Factor in the band's good looks and indie aesthetic and it may explain why Entertainment Weekly derisively commented "Isn't it a little too early for a Strokes tribute band?"
Keuning exasperatedly shakes his head.
"Critics don't pay attention. We have a keyboard, The Strokes don't. They have two guitarists, we don't. The music is different too, obviously. It's funny. People will do anything to put you in a category."
The band couldn't care less about being more "hip" or "indie" — they just wanna be themselves.
Which means maintaining some of their existing hipness.
"When we were shopping for labels, one of them said 'One of the things you guys could do is go down to a park somewhere and have a picnic and hand out hot dogs and balloons that say The Killers on them.' We all just looked at each other and said 'That doesn't seem like something we would do.' Nothing against hot dogs and picnics, because I love hot dogs. But can you see us down there handing out hot dogs? It was just ridiculous. And this guy was serious."