Killers frontman Brandon Flowers tells he does like girls, doesn't like Rolling Stone

Heather Adler
Published: Thursday, October 12, 2006
He’s a Mormon, but he smokes and drinks; he’s pompous enough to declare his record the “best album of the last 20 years,” but self-conscious enough to drastically change his sound because of the press; he loves mystique, but lives in the most scorchingly bright media spotlight. Meet the most paradoxical man in rock: Killers frontman Brandon Flowers.

With his spaghetti western-inspired mustache and new musical style to match, Flowers and the Killers have undergone a major metamorphosis since their smash debut, Hot Fuss. And the saloon-approved piano and soaring, epic, American sound of their sophomore effort, Sam’s Town, has been rewarded with a No. 1 position on Canadian charts, something that came as no surprise to Flowers.

“I thought when it [Sam’s Town] came out that it was bulletproof — even against critics,” Flowers asserts.

But what is surprising is that a man with seemingly endless confidence in his musical genius was prodded into changing his style — dropping the faux-British accent he was known for and abandoning the new-wave stylings for a more American nostalgia — by what others had to say about him.

“People focus so much on our English influences. I think it was talked about a lot. It almost made me feel bad about myself,” he admits. “Not that we’re not proud of those influences, because that’s where a lot of the great music in the world has come from, but I wanted to represent where I was from, and this is just kind of an overblown version of that — the bow-tie and boots.”

Like the oddly dualistic personality of Flowers himself, Sam’s Town has been met with reviews falling on opposite ends of the spectrum, with critics either adoring it or hating it. It’s something he admits “can’t help but affect you,” despite the fact he questions the reasoning behind some journalists’ dislike for the record.

“If you work at Spin or Rolling Stone and someone wrote some sweet article about how amazing the record is, all their buddies and all the writers at the place are going to make fun of him. That’s how it is and it’s just pathetic,” he asserts. “It didn’t used to be that way. The journalists are now the rock stars.”

Flowers prefers rock stars of yore, musicians like Morrissey, who managed to keep an element of mystique to their music and persona by largely staying out of the media. But he admits he’s surrendered to the fact that to make it in today’s music industry, you have to be ruthless and use every possible means — including giving in to the rabid curiosity of fans.

“It’s definitely difficult to have mystique and all that because if you don’t go do an interview with the radio, they just won’t play it. It’s really terrible. It’s really terrible,” he explains. “That’s where mystique just goes out the window. If you want to be successful, you’ve gotta give your fuckin’ toes and your stomach. And we’re givin’ it, and I can’t be ashamed because we want to be successful. It sounds dirty because I’m giving so much of myself but there’s no other way to survive right now. Only the fittest of the fit survive right now.”

Right now, Flowers isn’t just surviving — he’s thriving. But it wasn’t long ago that the band was just an unknown group of eyeliner-wearing pretty boys playing regular gigs at Las Vegas drag-queen club Tramps. Flowers says he looks back at those early days with pride, noting that, oddly, it was people’s dislike of the band that fuelled him to succeed.

“I had a chip on my shoulder because people didn’t like the band — that lit my fire. That put me on the stage and got me in people’s faces, because I knew how good ‘Mr. Brightside’ was and I knew how good ‘Jenny was a Friend of Mine’ was,” he explains. “It was fun playing in those bars and thinking, ‘I know how good these songs are and eventually everyone’s going to know.’”

Since Hot Fuss was released in 2004 the world has learned, and the band has gone from broke to four-times platinum. Flowers says the world tours and big business has forced them to seriously grow up.

“You are instantly considered a professional at something [after that success] and now there are business decisions that we have to make,” he says. “When you’re thrown into that, you’re forced to grow up. We’ve all grown up quite a bit in the past few years.”

Maybe Flower’s isn’t such a walking contradiction after all. Maybe he really does pine for mystique and strive to be the most memorable artist of the past 20 years — he’s just figured out he’s also a business man. Sometimes, that means playing both sides of the fence and being a little pompous. After all, only the fittest of the fit survive.

The Deadly Truth

From stories saying he’s deathly afraid of his birthday to rumours of bisexuality spun from the lyrics of some of the Killers’ songs, there’ve been plenty of rumours whispered and printed about frontman Brandon Flowers. We decided to give the crooner the chance to confirm or kill off some of the more outlandish yarns that have been spun about him.

Rumour: You once hit a drunk man who wandered onto the freeway and might have killed him
A. “I don’t know. I don’t want to talk about it.”

Rumour: “Andy You’re a Star” on Hot Fuss about a boy you had a crush on in high school.
A. “No. I’ve always been very aware of my sexuality. I’m very comfortable with that. I do like women. From very early on. Probably too early.”

Rumour: You have a specific drinking schedule and ask for different kinds of alcohol based on the day?
A. “Yeah, that’s in the rider.”
[This includes Maker's Mark whiskey and Absolut vodka on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. On Sunday, the band drinks tequila and Jameson Irish Whiskey.]

Rumour: You wrote “Enterlude” and “Exitlude” on Sam’s Town after having a dream about Kurt Cobain singing its melody?
A. “Yes. He was in a ship in the clouds. It was very extravagant, I guess.”