The Killers come home
a bit wiser - and primetime players
Las Vegas City Life
September 17, 2004
BY JEFF INMAN
There are different levels of cool in the music world. The personal
cool that covers like a dust cloud. The new band cool that reeks of
garage sweat and comes with its own set of dreams. The local band
cool that bubbles up with a few actual fans rather than just
friends. The hot-shit-"It"-band cool of massive hype and critical
praise. The crossover cool that hits when more than just hipsters
start paying attention. In the last couple years, the Killers have
worn them all during their rise from the Boston Bar & Grill to
Bumbershoot - which just depended on the group's mood and the number
of mentions in England's New Music Express.
But no matter how many fabulous parties the hometown boys have taken
in or massive shows they've played, nothing could have bought the
Killers the cool they'll get in December when they hang with a nerd
named Seth Cohen. See, the group just finished shooting an episode
of "The O.C.," which is set to run during pre-holiday sweeps. Now
the Killers are primetime cool.
"If it was the Killers playing some birthday party at the Peach Pit,
we wouldn't have done it," says drummer Ronnie Vannucci. "But it was
written into the script that the Killers were playing at a club,
which is what we already do. We just didn't want to compromise
anything. We're not about to start doing Miller Genuine Draft
commercials or anything."
An "O.C." gig is a far cry from playing for Nat and the 90210 gang
back in the heady days of Brandon. Now a spot on the Fox drama is
like getting the seal of approval from the high priest of music
geeks. Cohen, played by sensi-nerd Adam Brody, has championed groups
like Death Cab for Cutie and the Shins so much its affected both
their bottom line, and surprisingly, their indie cred. A few
well-placed shots of a band playing somewhere among all the
bickering and jealousy is a thumbs-up to a few million kids.
Vannucci didn't know that when the Killers' A&R man pitched the idea
to the band. "We've been on the road too much to watch TV," he says
matter-of-factly. In fact, the group had barely heard of the show.
But after a read through of the script and some reassurances from
producers, the band decided to play TV star.
And really, filming the show was just another moment in the string
of rock-star weirdness that has surrounded the band since its debut,
Hot Fuss, has become an iPod essential. According to Vannucci, all
those standard clichés are true: the glad-handing industry dudes who
smile smarmily, the fawning fans that want to touch you, the odd
tour-induced disconnect from reality. Days blur like a cute groupie
after a fifth of gin. It's a challenge to not drown in it all. Of
course, Vannucci and the rest of the Killers are thankful for the
success; it's not only what the group wanted, but also, in a way,
what the group expected from the day the band plucked its name from
that New Order video.
But it's also a hell of a lot of work. Whenever Vannucci says the
word whirlwind, it comes out like he's just finished running a
marathon. And he talks about the business side of things - namely,
decisions about everything from T-shirts to the band's website - as
an annoying distraction that takes away from the one thing the group
really cares about: the music.
"It's all been really fast and really superficial," Vannucci says.
"You just try to keep grounded, but you don't ever get back down to
And for Vannucci normal does not include hanging out with TV stars -
though, it seems to be more common as of late, considering some of
the sightings at recent gigs. Even so, when the cast started coming
up to the band on set to ask for autographs, that was just too much.
"They came up to us with CDs for us to sign," he says with a laugh.
"I was like, 'Oh, come on, you're on TV.'"