April 11: The Killers
Mar. 27, 2007 01:23 PM
The Killers proved they're not a British band from America with
their sophomore album, Sam's Town, a rock record full of soaring
sounds fit for arenas, like many of the big venues they'll be
playing on their upcoming Read My Mind tour. The outing is the
band's first American tour in five months, and they come to
Phoenix's Dodge Theater April 11. Drummer Ronnie Vanucci, 31, talked
about recording in a casino, firecrackers and sketchy journalism.
This is your first tour back in the U.S. in five months. What are
you feelings about coming back to the States?
The simple things -- 7-Elevens, the English language, modern-day
health care. advertisement
What would you say are the biggest differences between your
international fans and your American fans?
I might get in trouble for saying this, but it seems like it's much
more of a way of life to go see a show or go to a festival. It's a
big deal, you bring your kid to their first concert. In America, as
far as rock n' roll and pop music goes, it's kind of like wearing a
trendy shirt. It's more of a trendy thing. That doesn't speak for
all of them, you can kind of tell when you're in different places,
you spend enough time, and you've got your eyes open to it. It just
seems that's kind of the main difference. That's not to say that
it's black-and-white, though, I do want to clarify that. It's not
always like that in America. It is always like that in the U.K. and
in Europe. It's definitely a thing to do. People go on picnics,
people go on family vacations, people go see rock n' roll shows.
It's what they do. In America, it's a little more specialized.
Overseas you've won many awards, but you haven't won a Grammy
yet. How does it feel to win these international awards but miss out
on the Grammy?
In both cases, it doesn't really affect me or us that much. It's
nice, it's kind of like getting the cherry on top of the sundae.
We've always kind of been a band more about making a good record
than worrying about awards or anything like that. The other side of
the coin is it's nice to be respected by a country or your peers. It
doesn't mess with our heads or anything in either situation--it's
more of an after-thought. I don't have space on the mantle anyway.
It's nice because in a lot of ways, the U.K. and Europe have always
been the trendsetters for what happens over here. So if that message
gets sent across over here from there first, I think that's a good
What can people expect from the Read My Mind tour?
We've been playing every song (from Sam's Town) and then some
B-sides and doing a couple covers and doing some stuff from Hot Fuss
as well, a nice collection of both old and new. We've been doing a
cover of a Joy Division song called 'Shadowplay.' We've also got a
couple covers in our back pocket. I don't want to spoil the fun.
Nowadays, to compete with ticket prices, we've kind of always been a
band that's giving your money's worth. On the Hot Fuss tour, they
wanted to charge $35 a ticket. We lowered the show guarantee for
what we get paid to make those tickets back down to $15 or something
affordable, because these kids, I don't know how much money they
have for rock n' roll concerts. We thought, 'Here we are, barely one
record out, and they want to charge $40 for a fucking rock n' roll
ticket.' I mean, we're not that big yet. Now we're on our second
record, and some places still want to charge 35, 40 bucks a ticket.
If they're going to be paying that much, let's give them something.
Let's play longer, let's do more for production, let's bring them a
show. On our time off and in-between tour dates on our days off,
we've done things, made little films. We went to Australia and
booked a studio and made intro music. We've brought a whole bunch of
wood with us and stopped off in New Mexico for some firecrackers.
We'll bring a couple smoke bombs and full-length mirrors and trick
On Sam's Town, there's a lot of different instrumentation--for
example the horns on "Bones." Are you bringing along any extra
We bring Ted along. Ted's my friend from high school. We've been in
bands since we were in high school. This is the only band we haven't
been in together. He's kind of a multi-instrumentalist. He's
bringing guitar and keyboards and singing some background, so we
bring him out, let him out of the cage.
Do you think performing songs from Sam's Town is any more
challenging than performing songs from Hot Fuss?
Yeah. You still want to win people over with these songs that
haven't been kicked in yet. It's nice. It's a good thing for us,
too, because you don't want to get too cocky or too sure of
yourselves. You still want to work for it. In many respects, I think
that kind of keeps us on our toes and makes it fun to play Sam's
Town and makes it a little more challenging.
What's your favorite song from Sam's Town?
It changes all the time. 'Sam's Town,' I guess. I like the way it's
good a rock n' roll ferocity to it. It's got its orchestral
parts--there's probably every instrument you can think of in that.
The kitchen sink is in there. I like multi-instrumental-type songs
and production, and that's kind of got it all, plus it's got the
rock. And it says something, too, so I like it. We could have
recorded it better. We play it a lot better live than we did back
when we recorded it.
(Singer) Brandon (Flowers) called "Read My Mind" the best song
the band has ever written. Why did you decide to release it as the
third single rather than the first or second?
It's a big bear trap, and you got to leave all these little tasty
morsels along the way. That's the way I think of it, as a giant bear
trap, and you leave little bits and pieces of precious goodies along
the way. I think we've got one more left in us ('For Reasons
Unknown'), and we'll call it quits.
You recorded Sam's Town in Las Vegas. Would you record there
again in the future?
Yeah, definitely. It's home, it's easy. It was nice to sleep in my
bed every night and not have to worry about cab fare. We'd drive
there. We'd go home. It was nice. If I wasn't doing anything or one
of the other guys were going to spend all day on a guitar lick or
whatever, I was at liberty to go home or go do something else. I had
maybe one of those (bad) days, to be fair, but it's nice to know
you're close to home.
Do you think recording in a casino made the process any different
than if you had gone to a traditional studio?
Modern-day casinos have every amenity known to man. You can get
anything you want there. I'd recommend it. You don't know you're in
a casino when you're up in the studio closed-in anyway. Anything can
be happening outside and you wouldn't know it, or underneath you in
our case. It's weird, the third floor below us was the casino, but
it's just one of those things. It was just totally convenient--food
at all hours. We'd break for an hour-and-a-half, and we'd hit the
buffet. Here we were, just studio hair, zoned-out eyes, and you've
got the soft serve machine 15 feet away. It's like heaven.
When you would go to places like the buffets, what were people's
Nobody really had any idea. There were a couple little encounters,
but nothing too weird or outstanding. Everybody was polite for the
Some negative things have been written about the band in Las
Vegas, so did you have any hesitation about going there to record?
I wouldn't call it a backlash, really. A backlash is when they're
boycotting your concerts and not buying your record anymore. A lot
of journalists in Las Vegas, we know who they are, it's so funny,
they were all in a band, frustrated musicians, they were all pissed
off they didn't get a record deal or whatever, so they took up the
English language and tried to write a little bit and put it in
papers. It's not so bad. It's our home. We can go out and not get
egged or anything.
Do you think naming the album Sam's Town and writing the song
"Sam's Town" changed some people's minds about you guys?
Some people don't get it. Some people don't know what to think of
it. Overseas, they think it's Americana, they think it's Uncle Sam,
and that's cool, that's one of the cool things about all the
different perceptions of the record about names and everything. It's
kind of neat to see people's take on it. I don't think it's affected
it too much.
The first three videos from this album have been pretty epic.
What role do music videos play in the band?
It's really the only chance to give an image to a band for people
who only watch TV. For those of us who are in bands who are
frustrated filmmakers or closet actors, it's a nice way to use that
as a creative vehicle. We've been fortunate enough to work with
really great directors and people who have a lot of great ideas. In
a lot of ways, it makes it fun for us. It's a change. We write songs
and are inside of a rehearsal space or are touring or are in a
studio. It's very rare you get cameras in front of us and have to
put a visual with the audio. It's nice.
Do you consider yourself a closet actor?
I never have before. All my friends are telling me I should be in
the next Van Wilder remake. I think it'd be fun to mess around with
it, but I'm just a guy who plays drums.
Brandon is known for being very outspoken about other bands. How
do his comments affect other members of the band?
The band is kind of like how a family operates. That's just how it
is. I think if you've got something on your mind, say it, just know
the repercussions of it. A lot of it's kind of old news that's been
stirred up by the media or taken out of context. There's a lot of
tricks that can be used regarding media. You can really make a
mountain out of a molehill to your benefit in a lot of cases.
Somebody takes a picture of his (expletive), and next thing you know
you're always hearing about this dude. It's ridiculous how it works
sometimes. It's just like if you and I were in a car, going to
Quizno's to pick up a sandwich. You've got something in the player,
and I say, 'This song kind of sucks,' and you don't think anything
of it, you're like, 'No, they don't, they're kind of cool, I like
the dude's hair.' And I'd be like, 'I don't care about his hair, the
song kind of sucks.' The only difference there is someone's got a
microphone or a pen and paper out, and all of a sudden it's the
Describe the Read My Mind Tour in five words or less.
Smoke, mirrors, firecrackers, live animals