The Killers' contract for success

The rock band will perform a sold-out show at the Cotillion on Saturday.

The Wichita Eagle


Hot. That would describe rock band The Killers, as evidenced by its sold-out show at the Cotillion on Saturday, and its gazillion-selling, aptly titled debut album, "Hot Fuss."

There certainly is a lot of fuss about the band, which emerged from obscurity to mainstream success faster than jurors in the Michael Jackson case changed their minds.

How did it happen? Here's an unscientific checklist for the Killers' drop-dead success.

1. Your frontman must have a cool name.

Brandon Flowers sounds like too perfect a stage name, but it's the keyboardist/singer's actual moniker.

2. Be a gambling man.

Flowers and fellow bandmates David Keuning on guitars, Mark Stoermer on bass and Ronnie Vannucci on drums come from glittery Las Vegas. Flowers was dumped from his original band, the synth-pop group Blush Response, around 2002, but he refused to quit writing and playing music. He gambled on his future by answering an ad placed by Keuning. The two clicked better than a seat belt, and started writing songs together.

3. Grow up in the wrong era.

Flowers is in his early 20s, a bit too young to have witnessed the New Wave craze when it was, well, new. But that didn't stop him from being inspired by the likes of such '80s pioneers as The Cars, the Smiths and the Cure.

4. Know your trivia.

Here's how much the band loved the '80s: it got its name from an obscure reference in a New Order video.

5. Carry extra blood.

While struggling to make ends meet in the band's early days, the guys had their prerequisite day jobs to pay the rent, and there were no shortage of them in Las Vegas: Vannucci was snapping pics of newlyweds at the Little Chapel of Flowers. Stoermer was a medical courier, transporting blood, urine and assorted body parts. Flowers was a bellhop. And Keuning worked the khaki set at a Banana Republic store.

6. Get a passport.

The Killers' meld of '80s New Wave synth-pop and '90s guitar rock, and its songs about jealousy, murderers and androgynous girlfriends, didn't exactly set the Las Vegas scene on fire. So around summer 2003, the guys went abroad when London-based indie label Lizard King plucked the band from a showcase in L.A. The Killers immediately received rave reviews in the U.K. Headlining tours ensued, and the single "Mr. Brightside" became a hit.

7. Come home.

Suddenly, the Killers were hot stuff. The guys came home, Island Records released "Hot Fuss," and a string of hits smothered the airwaves: "Somebody Told Me," "Mr. Brightside" and "All These Things That I've Done."

8. Be pretty.

It certainly helps that Flowers has cheekbones that you could slice cheese on, as the Killers have now graced more magazine pages than the alphabet.

9. Don't have two left feet.

The Killers remind us that rock music can be danceable, too. The rhythm-impaired are suddenly very nervous again.

10. Knock 'em dead.

The Killers' shows are selling out across America, proving that the '80s spirit is still alive. Thankfully, without all that big hair.