THE KILLERS - Sam I Am
Confirmed this week as starters for the 2007 Big Day Out, The Killers have just released their second album, Sam’s Town. ANJAY HODNETT speaks to guitarist Dave Keuning.
The Killers have gone for broke on their new album, Sam’s Town, with the help of super-producers Flood and Alan Moulder. Gone is the chintzy disco ball pop of their 2004 debut, Hot Fuss, in favour of a meatier, more substantial record.
Still as slick as a tube of lip-gloss, the Las Vegas four-piece have lost the irony in favour of a more nostalgic take on their retro sound.
“We wanted people to take it serious, so … I think the lyrics are a little bit deeper, and we had a lot more to prove with the music, that we could write a good album and were not just some little one album gimmick band,” explains guitarist Dave Keuning down the line from New York where the band are appearing on US sketch show Saturday Night Live.
“We really want people to know we’ll be around making albums of various styles, but with a big emphasis on quality, because we really want to be doing this for a while.”
So, The Killers are going to be around for a long time then? Well, based on the reception Sam’s Town has already received, they’re well on their way, with notorious UK sloganeers the NME labeling them ‘The Best Band To Come From Anywhere, Ever!’ and many other early reviews giving the album a big two thumbs up.
Of course when you enlist a couple of dynamos behind the desk, such as Flood and Alan Moulder (U2, Smashing Pumpkins), you know you’re playing with the big boys and you better deliver the goods.
Keuning, however, saw it as a very logical choice.
“We had a lot of respect for the albums they’d made and we wanted our album to, you know, sound big, and we knew they could get that sound. It’s hard to really know how it would have sounded without them, but we chose them.”
What is also noticeable is the theme running through Sam’s Town - concept album of sorts, if you will. Where Hot Fuss was a record of individual songs with nothing tying one track to the next, Sam’s Town is an album full of nostalgic yearning for the good old days, where simpler, small town values prevailed. Keuning explains that they never intended this, it just happened naturally.
“I think it just kind of turned out that way,” he considers. “We went in with 16 songs and it was only in the last month or so that a concept started to form to be completely honest. Certain songs were weeded out and Brandon’s (Flowers) lyrics weren’t written until the last month and that’s when it all started to correlate a little bit and then the interludes were added and they kind of made it, finished it you know, a hello and a goodbye. So it only came about at the end that it is kind of a concept record but we didn’t set out to make one.”
They did want to give the album a homey feel though. The title, Sam’s Town, is named after a casino on the outskirts of Las Vegas not far from where Flowers grew up and the band chose to record in a new, state of the art studio inside a Vegas casino.
“It’s in the Palms Hotel,” explains Keuning of the studio. “It’s the best studio in Las Vegas. There isn’t hundreds to pick from but we wanted a good studio and we wanted to record at home rather than go to LA. That seemed to work best for us, we were gone on the road for so long, we wanted to sleep in our own beds.”
But the band are already back out on the road again with another relentless touring schedule so it seems recording is the only time they actually get to go home.
“It’s kind of hard. I wish I was home more often, it’s part of the job though. We didn’t really take any time off after Hot Fuss, we started writing and recording pretty soon after and went straight back into touring again so maybe after this second album tour is done we’ll take a little break.”