SFTW meets Killers star
By JACQUI SWIFT
SEPTEMBER 22, 2006
The Sun Online
 
WHEN Las Vegas rockers The Killers returned to British soil, where else would they head but Blackpool Ė the Vegas of the North?

SFTW joined singer Brandon Flowers, guitarist Dave Keuning, drummer Ronnie Vannucci and bassist Mark Stoermer for a one-off show at the Empress Ballroom ó recorded for Radio 1.

Here, Brandon gives his first newspaper interview about the bandís killer second album ...

WHAT do you think of Blackpool? Any similarities to your home town?

Ha! I didnít see any similarities but itís a fun place. Itís a pretty place.

Weíve just been up the Tower and itís great. Weíre having fun.

Staging your comeback gig at this venue is something special. Were you aware of the Empress Ballroomís musical history?

I know about The Stone Roses etc but weíve played a lot of great places in England. Thatís whatís so cool about England, that there are so many venues for music which hold such history. You go into a little bar and see pictures of Oasis playing there when they were first starting out. We still get excited about it.

Itís only a year since we last saw you at Reading and Leeds yet youíre back with a new album, a new sound and even a new look.

Time goes by so quickly. Even though we have been away, we havenít stopped. We just went and wrote the album and it took just six months. We went right back into the lionís den.

Samís Town isnít as pop synth-orientated as Hot Fuss and has a much bigger sound. Why the change?

I think people should be excited about Samís Town because itís an exciting album. I really like that Achtung Baby sound by U2 and maybe weíre going that way.

But for anyone trying to find a reason not to like it, itís still us and weíre really proud of it.

The change came about because we were listening to different music like Bruce Springsteen and U2. I feel more comfortable with this sound now. I am so excited about it. Weíve been so blessed to have the love that we have in the UK. Itís a country thatís so excited about music.

How many tracks did you write for Samís Town? A lot of the rumoured tracks like Daddyís Eyes donít appear.

Daddyís Eyes is now a B-side. Itís Only Natural turned into the track Bones and I Wonít Let You Down has completely gone. Whereas The White Boys Dance and All The Pretty Faces ended up as B-sides on our new single When You Were Young.

We had tons of tracks. I think the best bands are able to throw away things that arenít up to snuff.

Weíre able to do that. Youíve got to be able to say: ďThis isnít good enough and I can do betterĒ and push on.

Hot Fuss sold millions of copies worldwide. How did that change your goals when you were making Samís Town?

Basically, the goal now is to keep progressing and growing and collecting an army. When You Were Young and Samís Town are the start of the next stage when things just get bigger and better. Itís fun to have people come together and love something. Itís a positive thing and we donít mind being a part of it.

Hot Fuss sold six million copies and if this album sells six million and one then I think weíve done a good job.

We donít worry too much about chart positions or anything about that but no matter what this album does in the first and second week, in 20 years when you look back I think Samís Town is going to be one of the greats.

Any contemporary albums coming close?

The new Razorlight album is unbelievable. Theyíre so good, theyíve really grown and they have their own sound.
Hot Fuss was your British album. Would you say Samís Town is your American one?

Yes, but it wasnít intentional to make an American album. I was writing about what I know about. I am an American and so it sounds more American but I think it still can be loved by everyone. I hope so ó I hope the British arenít offended!

Tell us about Samís Town and why it was such an influence.

Samís Town is a casino hotel which I grew up near in Las Vegas. It was always a part of my life, a monument for me. I wanted to make my mark on Las Vegas in a similar way to things I see in Manchester which are associated with Smiths songs. Like Abbey Road will always be part of The Beatles.

I love those types of things. Theyíre marking their territory and feeling proud of it and thatís how I feel about Las Vegas.

I saw you play guitar for the first time in soundcheck on For Reasons Unknown but not during the gig. Why?

Itís a new thing for me so I couldnít play guitar at the gig because it was for a Radio 1 show and I couldnít f*** it up. Iím still getting used to it. Iíve never played the guitar in front of people in the past because it was a confidence thing.

It must have been something special having Alan Moulder and Flood produce Samís Town.

Yes because theyíve produced some of our favourite albums including Nick Cave, U2, Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails and even Erasure.

We always had them on the list. Flood did Depeche Modeís Songs Of Faith And Devotion, which is an album Iíve loved since I was very young.

When it came out it was the heaviest and darkest thing Iíd ever purchased and it took me a long time to get used to it. I was only 14 then but now I think those songs are just beautiful.

Theyíre just smart and theyíve been around. They know what works in a band and what sounds good. We became brothers and we love them.

Why is Samís Town better than Hot Fuss?

Weíre a better band. We feel there is more depth. It sounds cheesy but Iíve become a man and that is what this album is ó itís a reflection of getting to that point.

Iím 25 now and so many things have happened. Iím married, I want to have kids and I feel this album is a great interpretation of whatís happened up until now. Kids are planned for soon ó we just donít want to have them while Iím on the road.

Does the album represent any personal troubles?

Yes, the struggles Iíve had with religion ó especially with being in a band. The Killers brought a whole weight on me and have had a weird pull for me. I have had a lot of pressure on me because of my religion. I donít want to make a big deal out of being a Mormon because of my family. A lot of attention is put on me because of it.

You often get criticised for being too confident or mouthy. Is that the real you?

I was taught to be like that. My dad always said: ďYou tell it like it is.Ē

Itís stuck with me, I guess, and now some people hate it. But from now on Iím just going to focus on things that I like rather than dislike and tell that like it is ó to keep the guys happy!

What was it like when you finished When You Were Young, knowing it was a mammoth single?

You know itís special ó we felt like that when we recorded it. It just came out of thin air. Songs are out there and itís just about being lucky enough to be in that moment to grab it.

And the next single, Bones?

Bones is good. Bones is the oldest song ó itís a couple of years old.

It was written on our tour bus. I thought it was going to be a B-side and then we added trumpets. Mark grew up playing trumpet and he had this idea for this trumpet line so we hashed it out and I just fell in love with it ó again. It just turned out to be so great.

The movie director Tim Burton did the video for it and it was great working with him. He was a great inspiration. Heís just on this earth to make it better.

And Uncle Jonny is a personal story?

Yes itís a true story about my uncle - my mumís brother - who did cocaine. Thereís more to the story than what I talk about in the song but itís tricky with family. Itís a great track. Read My Mind is another favourite. I feel itís the best song weíve ever written.

Live8 must have been a highlight of last year. Were you aware of the ďbattlesĒ going on in the run-up to the event as to whether you played?
It was weird. It felt like there was a big red dot on us. It was strange when we were there and we only had one song. I hope it was a highlight because that one song, All These Things That Iíve Done, was fitting. Iím glad we played it because it was the right song.

And other highlights of your career so far?

Singing with New Order at T In The Park was exciting. I was so nervous and Pete Hook was making fun of me about half an hour before I went on. Singing my favourite U2 song with U2 in Las Vegas was a treat, too. Both of our Glastonburys have been wonderful and memorable. Maybe weíll headline Glastonbury next year. Who knows? No oneís asked us yet.