The Killers dream up new look, sound
By JANE STEVENSON - Toronto Sun
The Killers frontman Brandon Flowers has taken a major beating in the press for changing his Las Vegas band's sound, not to mention his look, on their sophomore disc, Sam's Town.
But the singer-keyboardist has a good reason for moving away from British-era glam and wearing eyeliner, and into Americana-inspired rock and western outfits.
"I don't feel like wearing eyeliner right now," said Flowers, 25, in a turquoiseadorned bolo tie, snakeskin jacket, skinny jeans and boots in a Toronto hotel room yesterday prior to the group's sold-out show at Kool Haus last night.
"I've been thinking about having kids soon. And, you know, my dad didn't wear eye-liner. I don't think I would have wanted him to." For God's sake, Flowers even has a moustache and beard.
"I feel good," he insisted. "I feel it fits the songs and every kid dreams about being a cowboy."
In all seriousness, Flowers grew up in a Mormom household with posters of Morrissey, The Cure, David Bowie, The Beatles, Oingo Boingo, and The Cars, on his bedroom walls. But when the British music- worshipping Flowers went overseas with The Killers, who broke through in 2004 with their out-ofnowhere monster debut, Hot Fuss, which sold five-million copies worldwide, he was so disappointed with the way he was treated as an American abroad that he wanted to make a record that celebrated what was good about his homeland.
"It was just weird, I'd never felt that before," said Flowers, who spent Grade 6 through high school living in Nephi, Utah. "If we met somebody that was from France, which was a real rarity for anybody foreign to be coming through this town, it was just such a treat. You kind of wanted to poke 'em, or just listen to them. And going (overseas) and having the opposite of that, they were just really rude."
Flowers was also listening to Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, along with Dire Straits and Peter Gabriel, before making Sam's Town, but just don't ask him to go on about The Boss.
"I don't want to talk about Bruce Springsteen anymore," he said. "I've talked about it. I love him. I do. It's all anyone wants to talk about. (The press) think that we're namedropping or that we're trying to put ourselves in that class. But I'm not. And those things have showed their face on the album but I think it's more in my lyrics and every now and then a vocal melody but the music is still very English. It's still a lot of Bowie and U2."
Working with British producers Flood and Alan Moulders (Smashing Pumpkins, U2, PJ Harvey, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Nine Inch Nails and Depeche Mode) tends to do that.
But when asked if he saw himself taking the path of a musical chameleon, Flowers didn't hesitate. "Yeah, I like it. I don't know what I'm going to be like on the third album. A lot of it comes from insecurities that people have. I was never secure about myself. I still am not. But for some reason, when I'm a Killer, I lose it."
Not exactly the kind of statment you'd expect from someone who reportedly told British music weekly NME that Sam's Town was "the best album of the past 20 years."
"Ambition is dead," said Flowers about his reported cockiness. "You're not allowed to dream anymore."
Still, the biggest surprise about meeting him is that he comes across downright shy and boyish in person.
"People expect me to walk in a room with a cape on, and people spraying my face and feeding me grapes," he said with a laugh.
Sam's Town getting killer reviews across the pond?
Despite debuting at No. 1 in Canada and No. 2 in the U.S., The Killers' new album, Sam's Town has been lambasted in the U.S. and Canadian press with generally better reviews overseas.
"It's strange but I don't think it's going to reflect the sales," said frontman Brandon Flowers. "I think the songs will take care of who we rope in on this. And it's true we will probably lose fans that are missing the eyeliner and maybe the disco beat, but I love singing these songs and I wouldn't change it."
Flowers said he doesn't mind the polarizing effect that Sam's Town has had despite the overwhelming lovefest that greeted The Killers' 2004 debut, Hot Fuss .
"I think that's good. I'd rather they love us or hate us, than just feel nothing. Or mediocre about it."
Flowers has even been checking out what critics think of the live show. "I read all the reviews and for the most, they're really terrible," said Flowers without an ounce of bitterness.
"They've been talking about how tired we look in our live shows and it's because we are and it's ridiculous, we just started. And it's a real problem right now. And I want to strangle somebody but I can't. I signed up for it.