Killers Hit The Jackpot After Brits Make A Fuss
Overseas buzz leads to major-label contract, hit song in the States.
Wedged somewhere between the Little White Wedding Chapel, Caesar's
rolling and clanging slot machines, and theaters full of giggling
showgirls is the garage that gave birth to Las Vegas retro-rockers
The band's debut album, Hot Fuss, pairs energetic beats with morose
lyrics, letting pop hooks guide dark vocals. The influences are
clearly British, drawing on the sounds and styles of Oasis, the
Smiths and the Cure, to name a few, but the Killers' consciousness
of their cheesy roots combined with the guts to lay it all on the
line is clearly Vegas.
Formed two years ago, the Killers took their name from a New Order
video for the song "Crystal," which features a fictional band called
the Killers. With sheepishness and requisite indie snarkiness, lead
singer/pianist Brandon Flowers said of the name: "It doesn't hurt
that it's from New Order instead of Bon Jovi or something."
When Flowers was kicked out of his previous band, a synth-pop group,
he felt his next band would need more guitars and an Oasis vibe.
Guitarist Dave Keuning turned out to be just the man he was looking
for after Flowers saw Keuning's ad in a local paper, naming Oasis as
As Flowers and his new bandmates — which also include bassist Mark
Stoermer and drummer Ronnie Vannucci — crafted the bulk of the music
that would eventually comprise Hot Fuss, word began to spread.
Eventually, British indie label Lizard King Records signed the
Killers and released their self-produced demo EP in Europe to
Last summer the band toured the U.K. with British Sea Power and
Stellastar and, buttressed by a slew of stories in the British
press, the Killers found themselves on a roll that even the highest
of high rollers would envy. Stateside, they inked a deal with major
label Island Def Jam, which released Hot Fuss on June 15.
First single "Somebody Told Me" reveals the Killers' British
influences and pop appeal immediately, while a second listen to the
dark lyrics behind the energetic beat helps to separate the band
from its indie brethren. The video, though, is reminiscent of early
offerings from the Strokes, the Hives and the Vines as the band
introduces itself in front of a wall of flashing bulbs begging you
to take notice. It's a little easier to forgive the Killers for it,
given the pay-attention-to-me ethos of their hometown.
Were they perhaps actually from England or even New York, the
Killers might have been dismissed as another wannabe hipster band,
but their Vegas roots help the band retain its self-effacing humor.
Said Flowers of the group's debut: "I listen to it as much as I
listen to anything still. It's pretty pathetic."