NME Magazine December 13,2006 Thanks to AngelEmz for the scans
The Killers end their amazing year by making up with their emo enemies and -whodathoughtit?- releasing a christmas single! peace on earth,y'all
Before you get round to asking,"smiles Dave Keuning,The killers'Brillo-haired,acid-tounged guitarist,as he takes a seat in the south London photo studio we've gathered in to catch up with 2006's biggest comeback stars,"we don't want to talk about the bravery.we don't want to talk about Fall out boy.And there was never a feud between us and green day in the first place,so we don't want to talk about them either.Let's talk about something else,shall we?Next question."
Brandon Flowers,his bandmate,co-conspirator and chief architect of the Great Bloodbath of 2006,shoots us a wry smile that suggest the armistice has indeed at last been called.NME is truly gobsmacked:not since Christmas Day 1914,when British and German troops gave shelling the shit out of each other a rest for a couple of days and convened on No man's land for a friendly festive kickabout,has there been a ceasfire as unexpected,as baffling,and as downright heartening for one's faith in humanity as The Killers calling a halt to their verbal battery of all things emo,un-american and on the same record label as them.Then again,it is the season of goodwill to all men-even if those men are in bands Brandon flowers was last heard labelling as "dangerous." -and as 2006 draws to a close,The Killers aren't exactly short on things to feel good about.
It's been a long year for Brandon and the lads,five gruelling months of which were spent between studios in Las vegas and London,writing and recording the 'difficult second album'that would eventually become the walk in the park that was 'Sam's town'(1.6 million copies sold and counting).Since then,they've taken Sam's Town' around the world,culminating in last months triumphant UK live return and a sold-out three-night stand at Brixton Academy in london. In the interim,they've scored their biggest ever chart hit in the shape os 'when you were young'and worked with wild-haired gothic godhead tim Burton on the video for it's follow-up,'Bones'.They've traded blows with Green Day over their so-caled "calculated anti-americanism," turned down Pete Wentz offer of an all expenses-paid sushi binge,become best mates with rock's elder statesmen,Bono and Elton Johm,and now to top it all off,they've gone and recorded the best Christmas single since east 17 donned their white parkas and pretended they could play pianos.
Written partly as a riposte to the critics who accuse them of cheese-mongering mundanity,but mostly to raise money for charity,'A great big sled'-which,we can confirm,features Brandon ho-ho-ho-ing-was the last thing anyone expected The killers to do.Were'nt they supposed to be too busy searching for the spirit of America or something? "We'd always talked about doing a Christmas song,"protests Brandon."There have been some great ones.John Lennon,Tom Petty..those are amazing christmas songs,and we figured it was about time people had another good one,you know?So we wrote 'A great big sled'I realise now that I probably should've called it 'A great big sleigh',because that's what Santa rides,but it does'nt rhyme with 'red'-the next line!"
"It was a pretty fast turnaround,"interjects Ronnie Vannucci,who is sadly planning on shaving off his unspeakably amazing face-fuzz(far worthier of the media frenzy that Brandon's half-arsed spiv effort has generated) as a christmas present for his wife."I'ts not a big production,we didnt pay anybody half a million dollars to produce anything.We made it to benefit the less fortunate folks in Africa.It's all part of the Red campaign for World Aids Day."
"Yeah",says perennially stony-featured bassist Mark Stoermer."people are trying to make out like it's a gimmick or something like we're going for christmas number one.It's download-only,so it's not even eligible.And christmas number one really is'nt a big deal where we're from.We just though it would be fun."
"no matter what we do,"says Brandon "it doesnt even matter how much of ourselves or how much of our guts we put into something,people still try and take it as a laugh,you know? saying that we're cheesy or whatever.At least,that's how if feels.Life would be miserable if we went around listening to what everyone said about us and taking ourselves too seriously.so fuck it-here's our christmas song."
This is the third time in just over a year that this writer has interviewed The killers,and when the normally impeccably mannered (where emo isnt concerned)Brandon Flowers lets slip an expletive,it's not done lightly.Despite the amazing 12 months his band have just had,his ravenous appetite for success means that he won't be truly happy until he's outdone himself,and 'Sam's Town'has become as uniquitous as it's predecessor.Nay,more ubiquitous.He's not ashamed to admit that he want's the killers to be the biggest band in the world,which is a refreshing change from the usuall line about being "happy where we are" most band wheel out.what really riles The Killers,however,is the criticism they cop from smug indie scensters,particularly in their native Las Vegas.
"We played our new songs in vegas first and we got a really lukewarm reaction."say Brandon,"we had to come over here,to Blackpool to get the boost of confidence we needed.The love we get here in Britiain is like nowhere else."
"people in Vegas just gawk at us eyes wide,mouths open,grimaces Ronnie."it's a smaller town than you'd think.we're still playin to a bunch of fucking people we knew in english class who still don't like us." The killers reaction?A big,catchy,red-and-white hued,charitable fuck you with bells on.Not that they are especially christmassy people,you understand.
"Last year I bought each of the guys a Beatles songbook,"says Mark."I thought we could all learn to play Beatles songs together.They didnt get me anything!I guess that makes the most festive Killer."Arguably the least festive Killer is Dave,whose sole happy christmas memory is "getting the Ewok village from Star wars when I was about six.To me,that was the sex."Brandon cites the time he shot himself in the head with a pellat gun as his most memorable christmas.
"I got a BB gun once,it's a gun that shoots little pellets.It was during the first Gulf war,and my dad brought back pictures of Saddam Hussein for me to shoot at.so I was shooting at one of them one time and I ran forward to it immediately after i'd fired to see how good a shot I was,but it ricocheted off the shed and came back at me square in the head.I learnt my lesson.I almost lost my eye that christmas!" "your folks bought you a BB gun for christmas?! guffaws Dave. "Yee-haw,son!"
Leave it to the ever affable Ronnie Vannucci,then-a man who still swears by the existence of old saint nick-to come up trumps when it comes to the crimbo recollections."One Christmas,I got a drum set,I'm the only musician in the family,but my parents,in an effort not to leave anybody out,bought musical instruments for my two younger brothers.I tried to incorporate my cousins in the end,but nobody else could play.I was a really big fan on the jackson 5 at the time,so I really wanted to start up the vannucci 5,but nobody wanted anything to do with it!oh! and iv'e got another one.I swear this isnt bullshit.I lived out in the woods of northern California for about two and a half years when i was 11,and my mom and dad would wake my brothers and me up really early,like 4am,to say that santa had been,that they'd heard someone ont the front deck.This one year though,they took us out to the deck where we saw hoof marks and sleigh tracks in mud...but there were no footprints anywhere!to this day they still insist that they ahd nothing to do with it,and they insist that it really was santa dude,I'm 30 years old,and i'll tell you right now,it was fuckin Santa!"
Would you ever dye that tremendous moustache white as a festive tribute to the big man? "i'm gonna wait until i hit my 50's that's a good age for the white moustache.Sam Elliott in 70's cop show the steets of san francisco that's what i'm going for." "i'm already having to dye mine black,"chimes in Brandon "i keep finding little white hairs in there,I'm only 25 and i'm getting old,man!if i just let it go ill be white pretty soon.
Oh yes we're on to the facial hair again.pogonology (that's the study of beards,follicle fans)has been almost as big a talking point as 'sam's town' itself this year,along with the band's ditching Dior for denim and glitz for grit.Not that the band themselves will profess to having noticed it,of course."so we've gone dark because we wear black now,huh? grunts stoermer."if you say so.." "To be honest with you,"quips brandon,arguably not being honest at all,"the changee in what we wear came from seeing the horrors on the cover of NME.We're just trying to jump on their bandwagon.we figured,'hey,those guys dress in black all the time and they seem to be getting alot of press,so..'we felt that we were'nt getting quite enough press!"
When it comes to black,of course,there's none more so than tim burton,director of such gothic fairytales as the nightmare before christmas,edward scissorhands,and,ahem,pee wees big adventure,and yet another superstar endorser of the killers,so much so that he elected to make his music video debut with 'bones'which,characteristiclly enough features skeletons.fornicating ones.how'd that all come about them?
"Bones is actually the oldest song on the album,it's a couple of years old,"explains brandon."and we were playing it one day when Mark had the idea to put brass on it,and all of a sudden it just clicked bones,brass,tim burton!he'd never done a music video so we didnt think he's ever say yes,but it all woked out.It was really exciting at first we were afraid of him,but he instantly crushes that.My favorite film of his is probably sleepy hollow,but the nightmare before christmas is amazing too,I just love the music on that film."
"he showed up a the studio unnanounced,"continues Ronnie,"and the minute he got there,there was a really good vibe.everyone was getting along,there were a lot of great ideas getting thrown around,and he seemed really happy to see us.when you meet someone like that,when you respect what they've done..we just left everything in his hands.we totally trusted him.we love all his films."
"He hasnt asked us to cameo in the sweeney todd movie he's making though.." They probably wouldnt have the time anyway,between planned collaboration with Jonny Borrell "we want to do a cover of the dire straits song'romeo and juliet' says Dave,''but we dont know if it's going to happen or not just yet.ask us in four day;s time")the massive Uk arena tour that's bookedfor February next year,and the general day to day business of becoming the biggest band in the world,a million units at a time.
And while 2007 is shaping up to be just as busy for the killers as 2006 was,as they take the gaudy glitz and neon lights of sams town around the world,there's one stop they're already hoping they can squeeze in."we would love to take sams town to Glastonbury,to the pyramid,next year,smiles brandon."micheal eavis hasnt asked us yet but i think they generally start asking people in the next couple of months,so i'm hoping we get the call real soon.it would be amazing to go back there.
In the meantime,however,there's the promise of christmas in las vegas (for a couple of hours,everything is calm,says ronnie,then around midday all hell breaks loose,and the casinos are always open)and time for reflection on what has undoubtedly been the biggest year of the killers young lives.but before we part ways,brandon has a special yuletide message just for you dear readers:"we are tightrope walking,skydiving wizards,and the difference between the wizard and the magician is that the wizards magic is real it's not an illusion.Merry christmas."