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NME Sept.21,2005

It's taken just two years for The Killers to take over the world. And they're not stopping there...

The last two years have amounted to a conquest of Alexandrian proportions for The Killers. Since leaving behind the bright lights of Las Vegas for the grim environs of London's Dublin Castle for their first ever UK show in September 2003 they've gone from being 'The Synth Strokes' to a glittery plateau of their own. Today, the day after The Killers scooped an MTV Video Music Award in Miami, 50 Cent frolics poolside with a bevy of ho's, Hulk Holgan (!) stalks the hallways of The Killers' hotel and Johnny Knoxville goons around impressing starstruck kids.

They've now sold over four million copies of their debut album Hot Fuss, turned down the headlining slot at Glastonbury (but still managed to steal the show), played to a fifth of the planet Earth's population at Live8, and strode colossus-like, into our hearts and minds.

Britain swooned over them from the start. How could we not, when they were Brits in all but suntans and superior dentistry? They took the cornorstones of indie - The Smiths, The Cure, erm, Shed Seven - and glammed them to within an inch of their lives. They had hand-on-heart earnestness and murderous glints in their mascaraed eyes and were the most British band ever to emerge from America. By the time the Yanks caught on, they were already heroes here in their adopted homeland, with a string of top ten singles, a BRIT's nomination and top billing on 2005's NME Awards Tour. Yet one thing still eludes them...

"I still haven't received The Bono Talk!" laughs Brandon. "We met him at Live8 and we've played shows with U2, and I've received a few words of wisdom, but not the full-blown lecture or anything. One of the few things he told us was to spare people the 'interesting' second album. He makes a lot of sense. He's the king of what we do, so when he says something you'd better listen."

All These Things That I've Done
But what do U2 think of your well-publicised desire to knock them off their perch?

"I think they probably appreciate that we have the same zest as they had when they were a young band," Brandon explains. "Rock 'n' Roll is about taking it where you can, it's not about restrictions, even though they're older now, it's still in them to put up a fight. If a kid handed you a demo tape that had 'Vertigo' on it, you would freak out. If all this takes us to the point where we're still together when we're 40, well, that's where it takes us, and hopefully we'll still be writing good music. I mean, John Lennon and David Bowie wrote great music for a long, long time. It's all a shot in the dark for us at them moment, but right now we're doing alright. We'll take it as it comes."

The release of 'Hot Fuss' sparked a 15-month-long touring frenzy that only came to an end with their appearances at Reading and Leeds last month, and frankly, it's taken a visible toll on them. Bearded and dishevelled bassist Mark Stoermer seems completely unaware of anything going on around him, guitarist Dave Keuning has already booked a seat on the next plane to Vegas while drummer Ronnie Vanucci is left to buoy waning spirits with a constant stream of half-hearted-witticisms.

"We've been on it for a long time now, but we're still only on our third single in America. We were lucky enough to have the success of 'Somebody Told Me' and 'Mr Brightside' and now we're on to 'All These Things That I've Done', and it's doing well, so we've just got to keep doing what we're doing. It would have been easy to stop, it would be easy to take a break, but I want people to know. It's important to me. But it's almost over now. We're almost there."

I Wanna Shine On In The Hearts Of Men
But not quite yet. You see, The Killers are on a mission, and like four Dior-tailored Terminators in expensive mascara, they will not stop until they've converted the remaining six people in the world who have only the vaguest of ideas who they are.

"If I woke up tomorrow and nobody knew who I was anymore," says Brandon somewhat unsuprisingly, "I'd probably go out and start another band. Some days I wish it would happen. But I've been vocal about this sort of stuff before. I might be a ham, but I welcome the attention. In fact, I enjoy it. It's early on just now, so maybe in ten years I won't enjoy it so much, but right now I'm sucking it all up. The downside to all that is that I have to be on guard all the time. For example, I went to see a movie with my cousin in Las Vegas and I noticed a couple of people filming me on their mobile phones.I wasn't being Brandon Flowers from The Killers anymore. When they're getting me onstage, that's fine, but outside of that, when you're just doing what you're doing... you know you walk differently, you carry yourself differently from when you're onstage. That I don't like."

But it's not just about posing for pictures with Paul McCartney and sharing pool space with 50 Cent. Attention is one thing, but what The Killers crave is idolatry. In short, they want to mean something to you.

"When we started this," says Brandon earnestly, "we set out to make music that we liked, but also to make music that affects people. Music affects me deeply. I wouldn't be the person I am if I went off listening to Slipknot or Tool, you know? I realise the importance of what we're doing and if we can write great music that can last and be important to people, like The Cars and Morrissey and The Beatles are to me, then that would be enough. There are so many bands who write bullshit, and I don't know how they can play it every night without being embarrassed. We've got a monkey on our back because we've sold about four million records, and that's very tough to beat.

Everything's been going so great recently that I was sure I was going to die in a plane crash on the way home from Reading and Leeds. it's fuelled something in me. I want to come back and make an even bigger splash."

If anyone can take on Brandon Flowers and come out on top, it's Brandon Flowers. Brought up in the shadow of an over-achieving older brother, and believing himself to be destined for greatness from an early age, to call him 'driven' is an understatement -it goes somewhat deeper than that.

"I'm a competitive person," considers Brandon over another cigarette. "Not many people get to the position that I'm in right now without being that way. They might say that they're not because they're such an artist, but I admit it. I don't think there's anything wrong with that, it's what sparked all those great songs by the Stones and The Beatles. Music isn't as good as it used to be, and it could use a little more competition. People need that fire underneath them."

When All Is Lost The Battle Is Won
In case you hadn't guessed, he's talking about The Bravery, who discovered the steelier side of Brandon's psyche the hard way. Their fued has been the indie cat-fight of the year, a hilarious manbags-at-dawn stand-off. Yet the two bands not only share a press officer, but also an A&R guy. What gives?

"Oh it was all real," protests Brandon. "To me our A&R guy is our A&R guy, and I want all of his attention. I don't like it when he signs anybody else, and he signed them. And now he's just signed Fall Out Boy, which means more of his attention will go to them that should've gone to The Killers. Nothing against them or The Bravery, but The Killers deserve it more. It bothers me. At first I didn't want to hurt anybody's feelings, but it just developed a life of its own. But, y'know, I'll live."

It's Indie Rock 'n' Roll For Me
But all of that is dust on the horizon of Brandon Flowers' mirrored aviators. What interests The Killers now is the future; they'll spend the next four months in Vegas writing their second album, before recording it in January. Of all the new songs written, 'All The Pretty Faces' you've most likely already heard at this summer's festivals. It's a dark, atmospheric and downright nasty dissection of a fizzled out relationship, with Brandon imploring over some major riffage, "Help me out, I need it/I don't feel like fucking you no more". "That song is a lot heavier," says Brandon of the first bourne fruit of his current labours, "but it's very exciting. I think it could be better still, but that's the great thing about taking it on the road, we can gauge people's reactions to it. There's another new one called 'Where The White Boys Dance', which is everybody's favourite. It makes me feel dirty. I'd probably describe it as being like 'Somebody Told Me' soaked in blood. It sounds a little like Talking Heads in that it's got a lot of different parts but a very repeatitive rhythm. I love it."

However, controversy has rendered the future of two other new songs uncertain. 'Where Is She?', written about the murder of Scottish teenager Jodi Jones by her boyfriend Luke Mitchell in 2003, now it seems unlikely to make the final cut, while 'Uncle Johnny Did Cocaine' seems certain to raise a few family issues for Brandon.

"'Where Is She?' caused a fuss we really didn't mean it to. It's still a great song, and we'll definately record it but if it does make the album, we haven't done our jobs properly, because we need to write even better songs than that. 'Uncle Johnny Did Cocaine' has been tossed around and changed a few times already. I like the title a lot, and I love the fact that it sounds like an Iggy Pop track, but it could cause a few problems because I actually do have an Uncle Johnny who had a drug problem..."

Here's the catch: you're going to have a long wait to hear these songs a year, at the very least. In fact, it's entirely possible that the next time we see The Killers, they'll be headlining Glastonbury 2007, but they will return to reclaim your hearts.

"We should be given the fucking keys to Britain!" laughs Brandon. "With the way that Americans are perceived around the world, it's an honour that that we're able to come over and get so much love. We couldn't have asked for anything more. I just wouldn't exist without my brother listening to The Cure and The Smiths. We owe everything to Britain. Without you guys, it just wouldn't have happened."

Do The Killers have a message for the British fans who've stuck with them through two years of madness?

"We're all working-class boys in The Killers, so we're not lazy. And I guarantee that our next album is going to be worth the wait - because there is gonna be a bit of wait and we're sorry - but promise you we will be back..."

Until then, ladies and gentlemen, Brandon Flowers has left the building...

 

The first NME interview
September 2003, Las Vegas
Brandon: "We were nervous and excited. We all knew about NME, so it was a big deal for us. We'd only played two shows outsied Vegas, so to all of a sudden be doing a photoshoot and interview with NME, was important."

NME Hotlist Pictures
January 2004, London
Brandon: "We're all funny looking in this one. I look like a twerp. I'm such a tart! Dave looks good in this one. He looks hungry. He's full now!"
Dave: "That is one starving kid right there."

Glastonbury 2004
Brandon: "I remember we were trudging through the mud, and we watched a little bit of Keane as we were walking to this place. Those were some nice ladies."
Mark: "It was the first time we'd been introduced to wellies."

Storming V Festival/First NME Cover
August 2004
Brandon: "It was a big deal for us. We didn't see it until we landed at Heathrow airport, and we each bought a copy. Whoever made the decision not to use group photos, I just want to let them know I had to put up with Dave complaining about it for a long time. And no, we still haven't listened to Shed Seven yet!"

NME Awards Tour
January 2005, UK
Brandon: "That's where the pink blazer was introduced. It kind of sums up our band in a nutshell. But it's not salmon! That was the worst thing. Just call it pink! That's what it is. I think we'd have to dip into the old Elton and Liberace wardrobes to top that one. I'm not going to tell you how much it was, but it still hurts, I'll tell you that."

Glastonbury 2005
Brandon:
"Maybe in 2015, if we never have another hit we'll look back and think 'Fuck, we should've said [to a headline slot]' but hopefully we'll be able to headline it in a couple of years, when we've earned it. I felt we were definately one of the headliners anyway."

The Carling Weekend: Reading and Leeds
Brandon: "Our big goodbye. We'll see you soon. Everything's been going great up to here, but we want to come back and make an even bigger splash."