THE KILLERS
By: Nicole Roberge

Sound Waves Magazine
June 2005

The Las Vegas-based band known as The Killers have made their mark on modern music with such rock-infused songs as ''Somebody Told Me'' and ''Mr. Brightside.'' The band, consisting of Brandon Flowers (vocals, keyboards), David Keuning (guitars), Mark Stoermer (bass) and Ronnie Vannucci (drums), formed after Flowers read Keuning's ad in a local paper seeking to start a band. As Flowers had recently been kicked out of his former band for refusing to move to Los Angeles, he decided to respond to the ad. The first song they wrote together was the current hit ''Mr. Brightside,'' and from then on they knew they were a perfect match. Eventually, Stoermer and Vannucci were added to the equation and since then the Killers have been taking the world over with their debut album, “Hot Fuss.”

The album consists of songs ranging from upbeat melodies with jabbing lyrics to more subdued and prolific gems of reflection. The Killers initially garnered quite a following with their dynamic live shows and stage presence, but aside from their stunning demeanor, the band is far more notable lyrically. Young Mr. Flowers is a mere 24, yet writes well beyond his years, and to him the concept of songwriting is quite simple. ''To have a beginning and an end…a lot people don’t,'' he says, of how he composes a song, which is one of the most basic ways yet many songwriters don’t seem to follow it. ''For the most part, finish the whole story,'' he adds, and that is exactly what he does on ''Hot Fuss.''Each song is its own entity-an entire story in the span of three minutes. The band weaves a tale and through the lyrics and the music, they take you with them. It’s hard not to immerse yourself in one of their songs and become completely captivated by it, only to come out at the end wondering what kind of ride they just put you on. But no matter how crazy it got, you still loved every second of it.

The Killers make an effort in every aspect of their job to entertain. Besides striking lyrics and incredible musicianship, the band can be truly noted as entertainers. ''It's a little bit of theatre''Flowers says of their live show. ''I never did it in school or anything but I just try and use my body the best I can to convey what’s going on in the song. It's fun for people to watch and it helps for me pass the time on stage,'' he says with a laugh. ''But really, I think that people can grab on to it a little bit more when it's exciting. Those types of shows really had an effect on me growing up.''

As a kid, Flowers was always into music and played piano, but did not see himself pursuing it as a profession until after a high school relationship ended. ''I was in a relationship with someone and it was too full on a relationship so I didn’t have time for music. The first love is always a suffocating thing, but basically when that girl left me, I was free. I was devastated of course. I thought it was the worst thing that's ever happened to me, but it ended up giving me the freedom of playing music and that became what I wanted to do. That’s what I devoted my time to and it just grew in leaps and bounds. Every time I wrote anything it just got better and better, and it’s still like that,'' he says, but even after high school, he still wasn't completely engaged.

He began playing music more often and took a couple classes in college, but it was nothing that really thrilled him. He played around with a couple different bands, most notably one where they played synthesizer music, but never any gigs, he says. They eventually kicked him out and then the Killers came to be. ''This is my first band really, and that was the first time I sang,'' he said of the bands beginnings. The outcome is a pretty remarkable feat for a songwriter who had never sang before. “We just didn’t have a singer and I just tried it. I wanted to write the lyrics to the songs so I figured I should sing it.''

It was from the first meetings of the band that Flowers knew everything would come together, and though this was his real first taste of working in music, his talents were always just waiting to come out. “I’ve always felt that it was in us. Even when I was young, I felt like I understood it more than the people around me understood it. I don't know if my mentality was different when I listened to good music or a song or performance. There was always a bit of me that thought I could do it. So when we first started, of course we weren't that great. 'Mr. Brightside'was one of the first songs we finished. So I don't want to say it came easy…we worked hard but we've always had this bigness…it's the Las Vegas type bigness about us…the knack for writing songs,'' he says.

It's that Las Vegas attitude, combined with succulent melodies and innovative lyrics, that had the band's album certified gold, while gathering three Grammy nominations and even an opening slot for U2. And as exciting as that all is, Flowers is most excited about the trend in today’s music with a focus on quality bands and musicians, as opposed to teen pop sensations. ''It's heading in a more positive direction. People are embracing it because it's real. We don’t look like somebody put some jeans and a tank top on us and highlighted our hair. I think people get it because it's real and they want that. It's a good thing and we’re really happy to be a part of what's going on right now in music. It's an honor. The radio's changing and to be one of the bands that’s helping do that will forever be something we're proud of. Even if it just lasts a while,''he says, adding that though the musical landscape is changing, it is still as uncertain as ever. ''It's hard right now because some rock stations are shutting down and we're lucky because we've crossed over to some pop stations. But it's gonna be difficult for new rock bands.''

With the rise in singer-songwriters and rock bands, it now seems as if younger kids are getting into more quality music, as opposed to whatever is thrown at them on the radio. Whereas the later is often the case, now it seems as if kids don't have to search as much to hear good music, it is more accessible, and that is something that Flowers also embraces. ''It's great and I'm really happy about it. I'm not being cocky when I say this, but I think kids will be smarter. If it's more tasteful music, it's gonna be better for the kids. Without this type of music, I wouldn’t be the same person I am now. I started when I was 12 or 13 listening to The Cars and The Cure and I’m so happy that I did,''he says, adding, ''I just really attached myself to these older bands because they were better musicians and the songs were better. I just feel like it was more of what I wanted.''

As a band, that is exactly how they want to be viewed-as a group of musicians and songwriters putting out real, quality music, and it seems as if the band has already accomplished that. And they have done so without worrying too much about the mechanics of it, and instead just doing what comes natural. “I don’t put too much thought into it, it takes the fun out of it,” he says of creating and listening to music. ''If it's a good song, it's a good song. A lot of people pick things apart, but if it's catchy, that's a great thing. And if the lyrics are great, then that's even better. There's people that worry and want to know exactly where the bass should be in the mix and if the drums are lined up and if that all technically sounds great. No, it's, ''does it sound good or doesn't it?' The other stuff doesn't matter,'' he says, and it seems as if that method is working quite well for the band.

Even outside of the musical aspect, Flowers tries not to keep a formula. Onstage, fans have seen the energetic lead singer transform into an actor of his music, but while he claims he does whatever comes natural with the song, he does sincerely want to reach out to the audience. ''I really am paying attention to the audience and really trying to get to as many people as I can. I actually do make an effort of that; I want to make a connection with people. Sometimes it becomes run of the mill because we do it so much and I’ll find myself thinking about what shoes I'm wearing or something,'' he says with a laugh. ''It's really weird because we're so used to playing that I won't even miss a beat. I'll be thinking about something totally different and I don't miss a word. But it’s just from muscle memory. Normally, I'm really trying to connect with people,'' he added. And Flowers has such an endearing earnestness about him that it is hard to not to believe him when he says it, and even harder not to notice it when he performs.

So what else could a band want that has already accomplished so much? ''To write a song with Otis Redding…about the fourth of July,'' Flowers claims. That may not be something he can accomplish, but he’ll be busy enough with other plans. The Killers are currently on a headlining tour before they meet up overseas with the boys of U2. They have also already begun writing songs for the follow-up to “Hot Fuss.” With a full plate, Flowers says the band is happy and excited about everything that’s still filling up their agenda. One of the things that keeps them going is their song ''All These Things That I’ve Done,'' which they play every night. ''It is just powerful,''says Flowers. ''We could play the worst show in the world and finish with 'All These Things That I've Done’ and leave happy.'' I'd guess that their fans would leave happy too, and that for all those things they've done, they're a band that is planning on doing a whole lot more.