Killers: A bit of Bowie and The Boss
By Dan Nailen
The Salt Lake Tribune


Just two albums into his music career, The Killers singer Brandon Flowers is already comfortable with the critical slings and arrows that come with multiplatinum success.

He heard them even before the band's debut, "Hot Fuss," sold more than 6 million copies on the strength of hit singles like "Mr. Brightside" nd "Somebody Told Me." When that album arrived two years ago, people made fun of the band's glam attire, Flowers' fanciful lyrics about transvestites and murder and the obvious influence of David Bowie and '80s-era synth-rock bands on The Killers' sound.

All that negative attention didn't keep Flowers from talking about making "the best album of the last 20 years" as the band holed up in The Palms casino in its hometown of Las Vegas to record the follow-up, "Sam's Town." In an interview last week, Flowers sounded as if he knew he was putting a target on his back with such bold declarations.

"I just say what comes to me, and that's what came to me [when asked]," Flowers said. "I'm in a rock and roll band, and we're here to take it as far as we can go. And if we're not trying to make the best album in the last 20 years, then, you know, I don't know what the hell I should be doing, but it ain't this."

Suffice to say, Flowers and his Killers bandmates - drummer Ronnie Vanucci, guitarist Dave Keuning and bassist Mark Stoermer - will be doing "this" for a while. The sound of "Sam's Town" isn't the dramatic departure from "Hot Fuss" that some thought it would be, save for one area: Flowers' lyrics. Rather than making up romantic and/or sadistic tales about people he's fantasized about as he did on the first set of songs, Flowers focused his energy on reflecting the reality of the people growing up around him in Las Vegas, where he moved after spending his early childhood in Nephi.

The inspiration for Flowers' lyrical growth came from a surprising source for a guy who worshipped Ziggy Stardust growing up: Bruce Springsteen.

"I was just driving down the road one day, and I heard 'Born to Run' for the hundred thousandth time, but that day it sounded different," Flowers explained. " I don't know, I felt like I was hearing it through a man's ears, or through a different person's ears, and I just wanted to buy more of it. It's just such a surprise to fall in love with something again."

The Springsteen influence isn't completely obvious by any means, but it does come through in some of the characters populating "Sam's Town" songs like "Uncle Jonny," "This River Is Wild" and "When You Were Young." Flowers said Springsteen's ability to sing about working-class characters without putting them down is what drew him to The Boss' music. Flowers is also keenly aware that his bandmates don't necessarily share his newfound love of all-American arena rock like Springsteen and Petty, so he is quick to point out that is just one part of the sound of "Sam's Town."

"If you look at music, it's like climbing a tree, and so many people get caught on one branch," Flowers said. "We want to swing from branch to branch, and there's so many different songs and different genres, why [would] you want to get stuck on [one]?"