A hip retro band to die for

from Omaha

For four years, Mark Stoermer made a living as a medical courier.

That meant encountering corpses at the coroner's office and shuttling icky stuff across Las Vegas.

But for Stoermer, the job, which entailed spending a lot of time in a car, made him a better musician.

"The cars often had CD players, so I would spend my paycheck on CDs," Stoermer said by phone from a tour stop in St. Louis, where his band the Killers was to perform later. "That job actually helped me become more informed about music."

Those who are informed about today's trendy music, the so-called "hip" sounds that tend to escape mainstream radio, no doubt know about the Killers. But unlike many of the Killers' uber-hip counterparts, the band is a commercial hit. The group's debut album, 2004's "Hot Fuss," on major-label Island Records, has sold 4 million copies worldwide.

The '80s-influenced record has produced four hit singles, including "Mr. Brightside," "Somebody Told Me" and "Smile Like You Mean It."

Band members - bass player Stoermer, vocalist-keyboardist Brandon Flowers, guitarist Dave Keuning and drummer Ronnie Vannucci - are everywhere.

There they are in GQ, Spin, Playboy and People, acting all aloof in their skinny neckties, retro sneakers and designer duds made to look like thrift-store threads.

Stoermer, 27, takes all the fame and success in stride. He's humbled by the throngs of fans and feels fortunate to make a living as a musician.

Last month, he got to meet three musicians from his "all-time favorite" bands: David Gilmour of Pink Floyd, Paul McCartney of the Beatles and the Who's Pete Townshend. The three superstars, as well as the Killers, performed at Live 8 in London.

"That was maybe one of the biggest moments we've had yet. It was an honor to be a part of something like that," he said.

As for all the fuss over "Hot Fuss," Stoermer chalks it up to good tunes and good timing.

"We thought we had a record that could potentially do really well and get radio play, but you never know. It's surpassed expectations."

On Wednesday, the band performs a sold-out concert at Sokol Auditorium.

"We're looking forward to playing Omaha for the first time," Stoermer said. "Almost everywhere else, we've been two or three times. It will be nice to play for a fresh crowd."