April 11: The Killers
Nicki Escudero
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?

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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 thing.

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 everybody.

On Sam's Town, there's a lot of different instrumentation--for example the horns on "Bones." Are you bringing along any extra players?

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 reactions?

Nobody really had any idea. There were a couple little encounters, but nothing too weird or outstanding. Everybody was polite for the most part.

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 written word.

Describe the Read My Mind Tour in five words or less.

Smoke, mirrors, firecrackers, live animals