Vegas rockers invade Atlantic City
By ALAN SCULLEY pressofatlanticcity
Published: Thursday, May 3, 2007
Photo provided by Island Def Jam Music Group
But if one considers Vegas a city with a neon-bright, big-as-life personality, where nothing is too glitzy, fun awaits at every turn and living large is a way of life, then the Killers may truly have gone Vegas with its new CD, “Sam's Town.”
At least that's how Killers singer Brandon Flowers sees it.
“I think it's just a natural thing,” Flowers says. “We've been going away from home so much, and we wanted to have a connection with where we're from. It is a big arena where we live. It's a beautiful place. It's in the Mojave Desert, and everything's red and gray and purple and brown, and it's wonderful. Then you've got the glitz of the city. I think we managed to take it into the dirt, up in the mountains, and then there are parts where you go back into the city.”
As the bigger-than-life comparison to Las Vegas suggests, everything about the Killers seems bigger and bolder on the new CD.The songs are anthem-like in sound and scope, with wall-of-sound guitars – supplemented by strings and horns on some tracks – and the pop hooks to match. Even Flowers' modest vocals on “Hot Fuss” have grown to take on a Bono-ish sense of drama.
In super-sizing its sound, the Killers also may re-shape its image as the band that has led a retro-‘80s movement that has seen a wave of groups emerge with records that evoke evoke everyone from Bauhaus to the Cure to the Cars and Depeche Mode.
Flowers, though, feels “Sam's Town” reflects a wider range of influences than “Hot Fuss” – not that the group was bent on escaping any particular image that debut CD created.
“We didn't love it,” Flowers says of the '80s-retro tag. “I understand how people want to tie things, and we use keyboards and we like a lot of the music from the '80s, so it's going to come out. We weren't necessarily making an effort to shed that. We weren't saying, ‘OK, well we don't want to be called '80s anymore.' We had the time and the resources to make the album we wanted to make (with ‘Sam's Town'), and we're influenced by the '50s and the '60s and the '70s and the '90s, too. I think it all kind of shows its face on there.”
Flowers knows better than to deny the '80s influence, considering it was a key facet of his songwriting even before the Killers formed. In fact, his previous group, Blush Response, was even more synth-pop oriented than the Killers.
That band dumped Flowers in 2001 after he chose to stay in Las Vegas rather move to Los Angeles. Flowers then met guitarist Dave Keuning through an ad in a local paper, and they formed the early edition of the Killers soon afterward. By 2002, the group's early rhythm section had been replaced by current bassist, Mark Stoermer, and drummer Ronnie Vannucci, and the Killers were off and running.
Flowers says the success of “Hot Fuss” – as well as the bigger recording budget it allowed – emboldened the band to think on a grand scale for the new CD. “Sam's Town” is already being called the Killers' arena rock album, and Flowers didn't balk when that description was mentioned.
“I think we have these ideas in us, the string arrangements and the brass, but it was taking a risk (on ‘Hot Fuss') for us just to put the choir on all of these things,” Flowers says. “People were thinking, ‘Who do these people think they are? This is their first album.' So we were a little cautious. We walked on eggshells a little bit. Now it's all kind of thrown out the window. We've had the success of ‘Hot Fuss,' and we feel like we're allowed to do what we want.”