Fashion rocks magazine Fall Issue

Dressed to Kill
The Killers slayed millions with their sleek sound and style. On the eve of their return, Liza Ghorbani wonders if they can live up to the hype.

Brandon Flowers owes a lot to his idols. As a kid growing up in a Utah farm town so small it didn't require a single stoplight, he escaped boredom by disappearing into the English-music scene he created in his bedroom. With the Smiths, the Cure, and New Order on heavy rotation, Flowers discovered what it felt like to be cool and decided he'd like to make it a full-time job. He would travel two hours to Salt Lake City with his older brother to see his heroes live, and once even stole a teacup that Morrissey drank from. "I believed for some reason that these people were going to change my life," he says. "And they did."

Flowers, of course, went on to be an adulated rock star in his own right as the front man of the Killers (who lifted their name from New Order's "Crystal" video), the Las Vegas band known for their soigne style as much as for their neo-New Wave hits. Onstage, Flowers dazzles crowds with his rhinestone-covered keyboards, glam getups, and kohl-eyed sexual ambiguity, and offstage he dazzles some more by mouthing off in the press about the wannabes riding his Dior coattails. "You can have fun and be out there and be smart, and you don't have to be standing onstage looking at your shoes," he says, and then scoffs, "your black Converse." And so, with the notion of resurrecting the fun in music with catchy choruses, showy style, and a pinch of pomposity, the Killers effectively sold three million copies of their debut album, Hot Fuss, and almost twice as many copies worldwide, while snagging five Grammy nominations and fancy fans like Bono and Morrissey in the process. ("He doesn't know I was the superfan," Flowers says with a laugh.)

And now, after spending months holed up in the Fantasy Tower studio of the Palms Casino Resort with seminal British producers, Flood (U2) and Alan Moulder (Smashing Pumpkins), the Killers return with their second album and a whole lot more to prove. Similar bands like Franz Ferdinand have fallen into the sophomore slump with diminishing record sales, but the Killers plan on getting bigger and bigger. "We're unable to do it any other way," says Flowers of the band's knack for hits. "I still remember being in the control room and listening to 'Somebody Told Me,' and I knew at that moment. It was undeniable."

True to form, Flowers deemed the band's upcoming release the "best album of the last 20 years," happily thumbing his nose at critics who label him as arrogant, explaining, "If you say you're the best band in the world, half the people you tell are going to believe you." And since touring the globe, the Anglophile musician has realized there's no place quite like home, so along with Cure-like atmospheric keyboards and harmonies reminiscent of the Police, the new album features some surprising new influences of the American-songwriter variety, including Jim Croce, Bruce Springsteen, and Tom Petty. "Our sound hasn't changed that much, but the sentiment or where the song is coming from has changed," says Flowers. "It's from a much more real place."