living Las Vegas
Bob Gordon - Thursday, Jan 18, 2007
Las Vegas sensation The Killers roll into town for the Big Day Out
this month. Bob Gordon catches the band in the midst of yet another
Sometimes the folks in rock bands turn out to be doing just what it
seems like they should be doing. For Ronnie Vannucci Jr, drummer of
The Killers, it’s an appropriate situation involving a highway and
fleeting visit home to Las Vegas.
“I’m on the Interstate 15 in Utah somewhere,” he says, chirpily.
“We’re going back to Vegas. We have to make it back there to catch
an early flight out in the morning to go to LA to do the Tonight
Show With Jay Leno. We’re on a little road trip, seeing all the
Indeed, that’s been the mode since the release of the band’s second
album, Sam’s Town. The Killers have been seeing the sights of places
far, far away from the lights leading back into Las Vegas.
“Oh yeah, definitely man,” Vannucci Jr says. “There hasn’t been a
wink of time off, really. It’s the way that it goes when you’re
trying to get everybody to listen to your record. You’ve gotta get
Typically, The Killers are a band that are much good at sitting
still anyway. Having toured endlessly in support of their 2004 LP,
Hot Fuss, the band wound up that era in November, 2005. Some time
off seemed on the agenda, but it seems that a need to see what was
going to happen next proved all too strong.
“Well we didn’t `do’ any time off,” Vannucci Jr remarks. “We maybe
took two weeks off before getting right back into the rehearsal
space and just writing for the next record.
“I think I had two or three days at home, but it quickly became
`well why don’t we get back into the rehearsal space now to see how
we’re all firing? How easy or how hard it’s going to be to make some
songs?’ We had a lot of ideas from soundchecks already, little demos
that we’d all brought in or whatever.”
Vannucci Jr says that the band allowed itself to sit back briefly
and take stock of what they’d started as in 2002, how far they’d
come and perhaps, most importantly, to use this way of thinking to
take them further ahead.
“We just thought it’d be better to move yet maybe have a little time
to sit down and think how lucky we’ve been so far, and not to get
lazy and rely on the success of one album that did okay, you know?
“You’re put in such a fortunate position… we don’t live in mud huts
or anything (laughs) but we didn’t come from much so this
opportunity has been really special to us. We’re not lazy people so
we didn’t want to be lazy about work, so we decided to give it
The fact that The Killers were afforded the opportunity to record
and release a new album in a comparatively short time following a
significant 2004 success is unusual. Real album success mostly means
that a band ends up on the road for three to four years touring
behind it to milk the original success. Not so, in this case, for
“That’s true,” Vannucci Jr considers, even if it seems he doesn’t
want to knock that scenario either. “Though that’s not to say that
those bands who do rely on one album a tour for three or four years
are doing anything bad.
“I mean, a music career, being in a band, can be a pretty custom
deal. You can shape it how you want and what we want is to be an
important band for as long as we can, you know? A lot of bands out
there that we look up to have done that.”
In any case it is The Killers’ own experience that marks them as
somewhat fascinating. From singer Brandon Flowers’ departure from
his first band as a result of not wanting to leave his home for Los
Angeles in 2001; to the formation of The Killers in 2002 and the Las
Vegas folklore that surrounds them even though their popular success
had its seeds in the UK. Then there’s how the Sam’s Town album has a
vastly different kind of epic intent to their 2004 Hot Fuss debut.
Put simply, The Killers aren’t afraid to be big.
“I think we’re in a good space right now in a lot of respects,”
Vannucci Jr muses. “In the beginning we were all very ambitious and
we wanted to be… this huge band. And we still do. We were putting on
shows and playing like we were playing a 20,000 seat arena.
“Now that we’re playing some 20,000 seat arenas we’re still giving
it a shot but we’re bringing a sense of… I don’t know what the hell
we’re doing but it seems like we’re getting more in touch with the
more realistic side of things while still being into the bigness of
happening to be in a band that play big rock’n’roll songs.”
And while writers may posit how things moved on from one album to
the next, Vannucci Jr is clear on how the mission remains the same.
“At the very beginning we were very honest and nothing was ever
contrived,” he says, “but we were dressing up and playing these
shows and inviting people into this… type of reality. Now that we’ve
done that we want to try and still bring people into another place
that satisfies them.”