The Killers ride new-wave legacy with style

From  nynewsday
June 1, 2005

Though their influences are mostly British, The Killers may owe their growing success to their beloved hometown, Las Vegas.

In the past year, the Sin City quartet has racked up Top 20 hits with the retro-poppy "Somebody Told Me" and "Mr. Brightside," and the rockier "Smile Like You Mean It" is currently climbing the charts. With its mix of catchy choruses and its video-friendly image, the band -- singer Brandon Flowers, guitarist Dave Keuning, bassist Mark Stoermer and drummer Ronnie Vannucci -- has garnered more mainstream attention than nearly all its new new-wave compatriots combined.

"We're just as surprised as anybody," Vannucci said, calling from a tour stop in Cincinnati. "We always believed in our music and we always dreamed big and thought globally, but the stars aligned for us."

Now that the band has established an audience, Vannucci said the group is more focused on entertaining them. "We come from Vegas so we've developed some showmanship," he said. "With this kind of music, there's a certain level of flamboyance that's expected and we hope we can deliver. Image has always been an important part of rock and roll. It should never overshadow the music, but it should complement it. When we were practicing in a 128-degree garage, we weren't wearing Prada suits, but it wouldn't seem right for us to come out playing our music in jeans and T-shirts and a trucker cap."

The Killers' mix of style and substance is another throwback to the new-wave days of New Order and Duran Duran. And at least one of the band's influences thinks they got it right. New Order singer Bernard Sumner, who even knew that The Killers took its name from the fictitious band in New Order's "Crystal" video, said he's a fan. "Being an influence is flattering if you like the band," Sumner said. "I think they've taken us as an inspiration and done something else with it."

The Killers plan to continue stretching the boundaries of the new-wave legacy in the fall, when they head into the studio to work on the follow-up to "Hot Fuss."

Vannucci said the band has about 30 songs or song fragments written for the next record, adding that it has been testing some of the completed songs on the current tour. "They're still in their early stages, so it's hard to say what they'll become," he said. "They're more rock and roll songs. We're not going to create another 'Somebody Told Me.' They sound like Killers' songs."

"The great thing about our album is that the songs are not all in the same vein," Vannucci said. "We could use it as a springboard to go in almost any direction. We could do a rock album, an electronic album. We could even do a gospel album and get away with it."