Las Vegas Turnaround
Whatís All the Hot Fuss About?óThe Killers
by Rex Rutkoski


     To Brandon Flowers, itís all very normal. To many, the fact that he and most of the band members in The Killers call Las Vegas their hometown is nothing if not intriguing.
      Itís one thing to visit occasionally, to soak up the glitz and glamour, to let the spinning wheels, the whirling numbers, mesmerize. But to actually LIVE there? Whatís that all about?
      We might be surprised, suggests Flowers, frontman for the band that is intriguing regardless of any geographical connection. The groupís debut album, Hot Fuss, entered the Top 10 after 39 weeks on the charts. Itís now double Platinum.
      "Las Vegas is always about bigger and better. Itís always about whatís the next hotel; will it be the biggest in the world, bigger than the other one? And itís flashy and billboards and Sinatra and Newton, old pictures of the Rat Pack, it gets in your blood when you grow up with it every day, the glamorous side of things," he says.
      "I really like it. I enjoy dressing up when I go out and putting nice carpet on the stage." Having said that, is there, in one respect, too much stimulation, almost to the point of overkill, in Vegas, even to the extent that it could cloud what artistic decisions are made?
      "Weíre influenced by things that are not from Vegas," says Flowers. "We love British rock and the Doors and a lot of New York bands. Our sound comes from all of these other places. Las Vegas is an aesthetic and state of mind."
      But when it comes to live, what the Killers are all about is "Vegas," he says. "We are from Vegas. Show is in our blood. We want people to enjoy it. There are places for everybody in our show. I feel so much more excited about our songs. They make me want to move and use my body. That makes it more fun to watch, and for me."
      The band acquired its moniker from a fictional group in New Orderís "Crystal" video. Their early acceptance has been "just unbelievable," he says. "It happened really quickly."
      The view from inside the industry is "absolutely" different from the days when they were on the outside looking in, Flowers says. "They want to sell records. So do we. Weíve never been ashamed of that. But itís definitely much more business than we thought. We thought it would be rock and roll and we would go play shows. Itís not that way. Itís definitely a business."
      They are really catching on quickly in acquiring that business acumen, he says. "You have to be that way or not make it. Even your favorite band, whether it was Led Zeppelin or a band that threw TVs out hotel windows [the Who perhaps?] knew what was going on."
      Artistically, the quartet is here to bring back songs in the old-fashioned sense, Flowers says. "Itís good songs, good songwriting and good stories."
      That concept has been watered down by too many others, he suggests. "We were lucky enough to have the sense of songwriting now. A lot of bands arenít," he adds. "Our songs right now are hitting people. Sometimes it just doesnít transfer for a lot of bands we like. They may not get to sell as many records as we are."
      He believes the Killers music has a universal appeal. "We think about everyone when we are writing lyrics and songs. People canít write about their hometown and the streets they live on. It doesnít transfer to me in Las Vegas. I try to be conscious of everybody." It was the state of mind in which he found himself when he sat down to write. "It was everybody," he re-emphasizes.
      The material on Hot Fuss contains the songs the Killers had been playing in bars in Vegas. "We just recorded them the way we were playing them. Some people thought they were overproduced, but we produced it. Some thought it maybe was too shiny. So is Las Vegas."
      Flowers thinks it is a great first record. "Things will be so much better on the second. We will take more time with the guitar and keyboard sounds."
      The bandís creative process is different every time, he explains. "Sometimes I have a line or Mark will come up with a chord change, or Iíll have a whole song or Dave [Keuning] will have a guitar part."
      He was listening to a lot of David Bowie when he was writing. "I was definitely going for Ďcool,í but it wasnít just about that," he says. "There are songs about everything from jealouslyóand Iím a very jealous personóto all the things Iíve done."
      They now see music as more than just a career, but a way of life. "Itís become that," he says. "Itís such an important thing to me going to see a band. Music has changed my life. I know that if I had grown up listening to hip-hop, instead of the Cars or Morrissey, I would have been a different person. When you are 12 or 13, it shapes you. We take what we do seriously and realize people are shaped by it. At the same time, people in their 40s who are into us say we remind them of some of their favorite bands."
      They want to be tasteful and aware of what they are saying in their music, he says. Some who embrace the Killers want to just bop their heads to the music, he says. Some want to dissect the lyrics. "Thatís why our music is good for everybody," he says. "If you want to hear a story and dissect everything, and listen to the lyrics in a song like ĎJenny,í you can do that. Or a song like ĎSomebody Told Me,í you donít have to think about it, just like it. Even that one, though, people want to talk about."
      Flowers says music means everything to him. "I was big on sports as a kid, but I couldnít wait for my mom to pick me up so I could play the new cassette I brought. Iíd always sing along. Thatís why Iím proud of us. We are so diverse. Our songs cover a lot of ground."
      All of which gives him a sense of optimism about the Killersí future. "Radio is changing, but we are getting played. And the industry is getting rid of the fakers," Flowers says. "There are bands, like us, who are passionate about the music. We really want to earn a place in peopleís hearts and hopefully write important songs."