SCALING THE PYRAMID
By Gavin Martin 22/06/2007
WHEN Brandon Flowers leads The Killers onto Glastonbury’s Pyramid stage this Saturday night, it will be a moment full of sweet memories.
Raised on a steady diet of 80s and 90s Britpop, the historic three-day festival played a crucial part in his band’s elevation to international stardom.
“The only thing I knew about Glastonbury before going there,” reveals Brandon, 26, “was that the picture of The Smiths on the inside of Hatful Of Hollow was taken in their dressing room there.”
Speaking at the end of The Killers’ recent sold out US tour at the Red Rocks festival in Colorado, Las Vegas-born Brandon reveals he’s always taken a keen interest in the UK scene.
“I used to get British music magazines to see what was going on,” he says.
“There was a big picture of the crowd at Glastonbury taken from a helicopter. I put it on my wall for some reason – I don’t really know why. It just seemed such a positive thing, so many people getting together in a field to watch music.
“The first time we played there was an unbelievable experience. We’d just really broken through and people were starting to get the taste on their tongue for The Killers. Taking the stage at Glastonbury was the first time I’d really felt like a rock star. It’s given me a lot of confidence ever since.
“It gave me a real rush. They say, ‘Fake it ’til you make it’. Well, from then on I didn’t have to fake it anymore – it was a reality. That was the night I got the badge. And I still have it.”With their second album Sam’s Town celebrating the culture of their native Las Vegas, The Killers have now asserted their American roots alongside their Anglophile passions. Glastonbury may be a nice place to visit, but there’s no doubt where Brandon’s heart lies.
“I love Las Vegas,” he smiles. “I miss it when I’m gone. The excitement of going other places is still there, but I always want to go back home. Sometimes I’m whisked away by the idea of Europe in the summertime, New York in autumn, whatever it is. Those are still fantasies, but I always want to go back.
“I’ve created my own
world that I live in there, with Elvis, Frank Sinatra, Cadillacs...
those are the things I love about it. Even though that’s all gone, I
still see that side of it. Now I’m embracing the beards and suits.
It’s going back to our heritage when our grandfathers used to wear
those bootlace ties.
Brandon admits that the intensive touring schedule The Killers have undertaken in the past four years has taken their toll on the band’s internal relationships. One of their favourite on-the-road DVDs is Metallica’s Some Kind Of Monster, a portrait of a band in crisis.
“I can see how they got in the position they’re in,” Brandon admits.
“You learn from people’s mistakes and sometimes you have to make your own. It’s refreshing to see that people have been through what we’ve been through – that drummers and singers generally have the same complaints.
“We still sort things out with our fists though. Having a therapist on tour is still 90m album sales away. The other day I was in a sporting goods store and I started hitting the punch bag. I’m thinking about getting one to take away the tension.”
Flowers laughs off suggestions of a power struggle in the band, with him determined to call the shots.
“Everyone has their own vision,” he laughs. “I do dream about having physical confrontations with the band quite a lot, but it’s been a long time since it really happened.”
Back home, Brandon’s wife Tana is due to give birth to their first child, a boy, next month and he is still finding it hard to keep his pledge not to drink on the road.
“I feel good though,” he grins. “But I miss the camaraderie. I miss hanging out with everybody and it’s not quite as much fun. I don’t sleep as much, play a lot of keyboard and drink chocolate milk, so it has been creatively stimulating giving up drink.”
On the festival circuit this summer, Brandon hopes to see various bands he loves but has only ever heard on record, chiefly The Arctic Monkeys and Arcade Fire. The person he most hopes to meet is Val Kilmer, a favourite on The Killers DVD collection. But it’s clear that the prospect of this weekend’s third Glastonbury appearance is what really gets him excited.
“I recently saw a documentary in the US where they were talking about Glastonbury and I thought, it must be about the festival,” he says. “Turns out there’s a whole other side to it, a lot of clairvoyants and such go there. I didn’t know about that. So I’m real excited to go back this year. I’m going to scream to the heavens.”