The Killers

Written by P. BROWN

What Went Right?

IF I HAD A 15-YEAR-OLD SISTER, we’d listen to The Killers together without shame. Really, the band’s an anomaly…so immediately likeable, yet indie enough (at least initially) to pass. Their blend of ‘80s synth, new wave and more modern day progressive gels so perfectly it’s sometimes almost disgusting. But in the end, it’s good to once again be able to like something so popular without being embarrassed about it. Thanks, Killers.
Originally from Las Vegas, The Killers basically have the same old story. The garage. The rough start. The quick explosion into worldwide fame. The controversy. Yet there’s a difference and it’s tough to pinpoint. Hopefully the following talk with bassist Mark Stoermer will help.

So how did The Killers first get together?
They had a different guy playing bass and drums in the beginning. It didn’t work out. It was only for a few shows. I went to their third show and [drummer] Ronnie [Vannucci] started coming out as well. Eventually the four of us started playing together. We were practicing six days a week, five hours a day in a garage. We wrote like 40 songs before we made Hot Fuss, which had 10 of those. From there, one thing led to another. We played usually at least a show-a-week at the Vegas bars. We made a demo, did some showcases for labels and got turned down by everyone in the US. Until we got an indie record label deal in the UK. And after that, with some press, we were starting to catch a name. Then labels in the US were interested.

Was there kind of a sense of I-told-you-so?
Yeah, there was a sense of it, but they would never admit it.  I think A&R people and record labels in general are very nervous and only will sign something if it’s proven. It’s kind of a Catch 22.

Am I just ignorant, or is this kind of an uncommon occurrence? Because the last time I heard of someone getting flown to England to break through was Jimi Hendrix.
It’s fairly common. It was kind of the same thing with The Strokes and The White Stripes. The UK has a different rock scene. The radio breaks new bands. And it’s easier… If you’re a new band, the radio will play you. Because they’re always looking for what’s new. In America, everything’s kind of locked in.

You’ve got your fair share of hits. Who decides which songs are considered singles, and are you surprised certain songs haven’t been considered such?
We knew what the singles were before we even had a record deal on the first album. There was some counseling from people at the label. But we were never forced to put anything out as a single. And every time, the choices had been what we thought were going to be the singles, anyway. There’s always a couple songs we thought could’ve maybe been singles if they were released like that, but…everything we chose to be a single, we thought could’ve been, too.

I’m interested in your name. With MySpace and whatnot, it’s easy for a group to find like six bands with the same name. Were there any problems getting dibs on “The Killers?”

No, surprisingly there wasn’t, especially because Killers is such a common word. It’s been used by a cover band or two, and some metal band from Europe. But they never trademarked the name, so there were no legal problems with us.

Early names?
No. But right before we got it trademarked, we were a little nervous that somehow we wouldn’t be able to. We assumed that maybe someone in the world had trademarked it already. We couldn’t think of [a name] as good, so we’re lucky we didn’t have to change it.

So for any new bands out there, would you recommend to trademark that shit early?
Check into it at least. Make sure no one has it. Because it would suck to have a good name, and lose it or have to change it right when you get a record deal.

Loaded question: Is this a stepping stone toward other crazy shit you guys will end up doing separately, or is this “Killers or bust?”
The future’s unpredictable. I think we’re hoping to stick together and have some longevity as long as we’re having fun doing it and proud of the music we’re making. But you never know, things could change.

Generic question. Very generic: Any talk of another album any time soon?
There’s a few ideas out there that we try at sound check. Same thing we did on the last album. But a lot of the heavy writing will probably come after we’re off the road. You just never know. It’s just too early to tell.