By Sarah Rowland
Oct 19 2006

The multi-platinum Las Vegas rockers have survived the sophomore slump with their new album, Sam's Town. Now all they need is to survive their frontman's mouth.

Only two albums into their career, and the Killers already have their very own 'controversy' section on Wikipedia. Not too bad, considering no one in the four-year-old synth-rock quartet has ever been slapped with an extramarital paternity suit, punched out a photographer, or walked offstage after three songs.

No, the reason the Las Vegas-bred rockers are on so many people's shitlist is simply because every time lead singer Brandon Flowers opens his mouth, someone is there to record it - whether he's verbally bitch-slapping his Island Records label-mates in print, taking credit for "bringing back the song," or predicting that his band's new sophomore album, Sam's Town, will become recognized as "the best album in 20 years."

"I think some people are confusing confidence with cockiness," says guitarist Dave Keuning, who, along with drummer Ronnie Vannucci, sat down with WE hours before putting on a killer show at the Orpheum last Wednesday (Oct. 11). "We're not trying to knock other bands down. We just love our album."

"I mean I'm not gonna say it's the best, but it's definitely one of the best," interjects Vannucci, who spent most of our Q&A texting back and forth with Tegan and Sara about getting them on the guest list. But despite being so engrossed with his cell, he still found time to point the finger at the media for his frontman's image problems.

"Whenever you let press in, in the middle of making a record, one of two things is going to happen: either you're going to be like, 'Ah fuck, we're really struggling with it,' or you're gonna say, 'We're so fucking proud of this record; it's the best thing we've ever done,'" says Vannucci. "And they happened to catch Brandon on a high point. A lot of people don't realize where that quote came from, since 99 per cent of what's written about us is taken out of context."

Fair enough. But what about all the times he's gone on record dissing Fall Out Boy and the Bravery, inciting a blog war with the former? Can that all be chalked up to unethical journalists cutting and pasting words for the sake of good copy, or is it a case of Flowers needing to put a lid on it?

"Both," Vannucci and Keuning say in unison. Keuning elaborates: "The thing about Brandon is I don't always agree with what he says. But on the one hand I respect him for saying whatever he wants to say, because I wouldn't want him to feel that he should be censored, and that goes for all four of us. Sometimes even he regrets it the next day, but people don't see that. They just see [him saying] 'I hate this' or 'I'm so awesome.' They don't see the next day when he's going, 'Maybe this [other band] isn't so bad.'"

Regret is a bitch. But, unfortunately for Flowers, when it came time to review Sam's Town, many critics couldn't find it in their hearts to factor in his lack of reserve and media savvy. As a result (in this writer's opinion, anyway), far too many were chomping at the bit to pounce on Flowers and judge the group for its perceived bravado as opposed to the merits of its music.

Which is too bad, because Sam's Town is a damn fine album. Granted, it takes a few listens to get it. Instead of riffing on the new-wave revivalism that was so prevalent on their multi-platinum debut, Hot Fuss, the Killers rock out their synth sound, like on the disturbingly catchy title track; turn up the guitars for numbers like the searing ode to coke addiction, "Uncle Jonny"; and crank the vocal theatrics to an all-new level, most notably on the "Glory Days"-indebted "When You Were Young." The latter song has prompted especially harsh criticism from reviewers, leading some to go so far as to liken Sam's Town to Meat Loaf's 1977 pomp-rock opus Bat Out of Hell - a comparison that Keuning has a hard time getting his head around.

"I guess people are going to think whatever they want to think," he says, "but, for the record, the word 'meatloaf' was not used once during the making of our album."

Good to know.