The Boss Helps
Killers Frontman Fall In Love With U.S.
Springsteen - not Brit rock -influences songwriting on band's fall
The Killers' Brandon Flowers
The Killers' Brandon Flowers has had a pretty life-altering 23
months. He saw his band's debut album, Hot Fuss, go double platinum,
he toured the world, got married and got in a fair share of verbal
sparring with his contemporaries.
And somewhere in the midst of all that, he found time to turn 12
years old all over again.
"I prefer to call it my rebirth," Flowers said. "I had something
happen that I didn't ever think could happen. I fell in love with
the Smiths and the Pet Shop Boys when I was 12 years old, and I
never thought that could happen again. But after meeting a lot of
those people, who were my heroes and idols, and seeing them onstage,
something changed. We'd drawn large crowds, and it felt like we were
getting to the same sort of place, and it made me feel like I
couldn't look at those people in the same light anymore.
"And that was kind of sad, but then I had another one of those
12-year-old experiences when I was 23, but this time with Bruce
Springsteen. And it was just — it was elation," he continued. "I
couldn't believe how happy his music made me and how good it was.
He's a gift, and I didn't know. I mean, I knew 'Born in the USA' and
'Glory Days,' but I didn't know that he covered so much ground, and
there was something in his music that touched what I was going
through, the process of falling back in love with my America."
And it's that feeling of reconnecting with America- which began when
the Killers returned to the States at the end of the touring cycle
for Fuss in October- that fuels the band's second album, due in
"Springsteen touches on the American dream, and that's everybody's
dream. And it's such a great idea - whether or not it's still
happening today. Most of the songs are about getting to that place,
of making it to the promised land. I don't think it's about getting
rich; it's the idea of working hard and having your castle in the
sky," Flowers said. "And that idea runs through the record. It's
very optimistic. And we're all from working-class families, and
that's why our songs are good, because we don't do it half-assed.
Nothing was handed to us, and so we don't settle. We're not afraid
to throw a song away because it's not good enough. A lot of people
won't do that."
Since early January, they've been holed up in Las Vegas' luxurious
Studio at the Palms with producers Flood and Alan Moulder, working
on 16 songs (titles include "Bones," "Where the White Boys Dance,"
"For Reasons Unknown" and "My Lists") that feature horns, strings
and even a glockenspiel. And if it sounds a bit adventurous, and a
bit mature, well, that's exactly the way the Killers wanted it to
"We're still influenced by English rock and pop music, but we're all
kind of transforming or getting older," Flowers said. "[Guitarist]
Dave [Keuning] had a baby, I got married, and you look at things
differently. I mean, I don't really know anything about Manchester,
England. I've been there a couple of times, and I realized, 'This
feels like the Smiths, but it's not me.' "
But just because Flowers has matured as a songwriter, he's still not
above getting in some choice digs at a few of his old sparring
partners, including Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz, who recently
offered to take Flowers out to dinner to bury their feud (see "Fall
Out Boy's Pete Wentz Asks Killers Singer On Dinner Date").
"Yeah, I heard about that. Our lawyer sent us something about it. I
never said anything bad about him, I just said I didn't want to
share our A&R guy [Island Records' Rob Stevenson], and I still
don't. He's a busy guy, but he should just be busy with us," he
said. "I don't know if I'd go to dinner with [Wentz]. I mean, I go
to Nobu all the time."
And despite his personal growth, it looks like Flowers hasn't lost
any of his frontman swagger. You just need to ask him about the new
record, and he'll give you a response that should make the Killers'
fans and detractors very happy.
"I can't walk around with a chip on my shoulder all the time. I have
to realize that people aren't going to like us," he said. "We just
have to make the best album that we can. And we're doing it. This
album is one of the best albums in the past 20 years. There's
nothing that touches this album. And that sounds like I'm being
cocky, but I'm just so excited. I hope that helps people. I hope
people hear this album and realize that you don't need to worry
about the second album."
- James Montgomery