Saving a prayer till the morning after
October 7th, 2004
By: Dylan Young
The Killers take a decidedly non-homicidal approach to potential detractors.
If you're a band that's poured blood and sweat into an album, you've got to
wonder how happy you're going to be when people start referring to your efforts
as their "guilty pleasure." Sure, it's bloody nice that people are listening,
and if they're enjoying it, well, that's great too, but why "guilty"? It's like
being bitch-slapped with a compliment - yeah, I really like your music but don't
tell anyone, 'kay?
That's exactly the kind of double-edged success that Las Vegas, pop rock
super-newbies The Killers are experiencing. Their album Hot Fuss was the stuff
of NME hyperbole before it had even hit the shelves, with the vaunted music rag
stating that "right now few bands are a safer bet than The Killers."
When I ask Killers' singer/keyboardist Brandon Flowers how he feels about the
buzz surrounding the band being largely about the buzz surrounding the band, he
displays a surprisingly reflective poise for someone in their early 20s.
"Yeah, I guess it's kind of annoying, but really I'm just happy people are
talking about the album at all. We knew what a long shot it was going to be
getting into this. We've been amazingly lucky."
And what about the band being characterized as a guilty pleasure?
"That's a funny thing. What's a guilty pleasure anyway? I guess it's something
you like for its quality in spite of it being uncool at the time."
Flowers may have a point. Though The Killers ply a masterful tweak on the
hook-laden twang of '80s revivalism, their version of it has a much more
mainstream drift than that of, say, Franz Ferdinand or stellarstar*, their
slavishness to the appeal of the massive chart-scorching single being that much
more obvious. Hot Fuss has all the twinkly, emotive heart that John Hughes
movies promised us, but lacks the underground cred to give it edge. In a sense,
The Killers are being screwed by their success. Flowers manages to find
perspective on it.
"People used to call Duran Duran a guilty pleasure," he notes. "Michael Stipe
was doing an interview recently and he was saying that he used to consider them
his guilty pleasure even though he would insult them publicly. He regretted it,
saying that today he believes that they were a strong band."
"So, I don't really mind the characterization so long as people eventually come
around to appreciating what we're trying to do. I guess we're a little more
clean-cut than The Strokes or The White Stripes and in a sense we still have to
pay our dues, but that doesn't mean we can't write a good song."
So are Duran Duran still a good band?
"No, they make awful music now,' exclaims Flowers. "I just got the new album and
it's laughable. If you want the model for a band that lasts, look at U2.
"I don't know what it is," he muses. "You know what it is? U2 accept that
they're getting older and they write songs about being 40-year-old dads. Duran
Duran still write about being young and glamorous. I think it's about maturing
with your songs instead of trying to maintain this artificial image."