Dirty Rock and Rollers The Killers Are Carving Their Niche On the Local Scene

from Billboard Magazine

7th December 2002

by Jaime Buerger.

"I think our music is terribly sexy", says a deadpan Ronnie Vannucci Jr., the 26-year old drummer of the Killers. "We're not really trying to sound that way. It just comes out like that."

In a town such as Las Vegas, these homegrown rockers don't seem to realize the irony in aligning themselves with a culture where sex is a bloated marketing point driven by the corporate gods. After all, this is a city where the many varities of nudie bars are as prevalent as the coffee incarnations offered by the ubiquitous Starbucks. Yet the Killers brand of entertainment is an anomaly in Sin City. It isn't forced or packaged in the way that much of Las Vegas' other extra-curricular activities are. In a city where punk has always drawn the biggest crowds and Limp Bizkit-flavored rock is something aspired to by many local bands, the Killers are determined to carve their own niche into the music scene. And people are taking notice. The four-piece new wave inspired band - besides Vannucci, the Killers are comprised of singer Brandon Flowers, guitarist Dave Keuning and Mark Stoermer on bass - have been playing together less than a year and have yet to sign a record deal. Still, its three song demo has been promisingly reviewed by local press, and, though the bands first gig was just this past Spring (2002), the Killers are quickly gaining a solid reputation for their live shows. Sporting glitter and eye shadow that's as much David Bowie as Robert Smith, Vannucci says of his bandmates, "We're all hams. Its ridiculous."

For those eager to smack a label on the Killers, its easy to throw them in the same camp with similarly monikered bands playing dirty rock 'n' roll for the masses (the Strokes, the Vines, the White Stripes, the Hives). And while the Killers do share the fuzzy guitar riffs and raw vocal characteristics of the new school of garage rockers, the band is just as likely to give a nod to glam-rock stalwart T. Rex as it is to influential garage-revivalist Mick Collins. "We've been pigeonholed as sounding like '80s rock, and I'm just going to give you the standard answer: That's when we were kids. That's what we grew up on," says the 21-year old Flowers. "We grew up on New Order, the Smiths, the Cure, and Depeche Mode."

Despite the respect and interest received in Vegas, the Killers' music remains largely unheard by those outside of the local scene. "We're not afraid to say we're ready to do whatever it takes - well, within reason - to make people love us," Vannucci says. But the band is patient, preferring to focus on producing a higher quality demo than promoting itself as the musical flavor of the month in an attempt to attract major-label attention. "We know that rock 'n' roll fashions come and go. The way I look at it, if it's fucking good, it's gonna stick around," Vannucci reasons. "What we're about is playing good rock 'n' roll music, and I think it's a matter of time before people wake up and realize there's something here (in Las Vegas) and that something needs to be heard."