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By: Martin Halo
The American musical landscape is a vastly diverse place. In the North, California's beatnik poets and magnificently timeless songwriters ride gallantly over the horizon. In the South, blues, soul and ramshackle rock 'n' roll emanate from the Bible Belt and Route 40. Our hearts are still broken over the destruction in New Orleans, while Manhattan stands on its own as a bridge between the brawn of American audacity and English pop charm. The nation is a beautiful portrait painted by the traditions of each geographic region.
The Killers ©Anton Corbijn
With the advent of cable television and other large corporate media outlets, artistic borders have shrunk drastically in this new, unified mainstream world. The byproduct of this change is an American public who, in the majority, believes the success or merit of a musician rests within MTV Countdowns and American Idol voting. For those of us who know better, rock 'n' roll is still strong in hearts and in the minds of the people. It thrives on stepping out of the box, away from force fed formulas, all in the gamble to experience something real. And there's no better example of this modern cultural melting pot than Las Vegas, Nevada.
April 19 was just like any other afternoon; a late lunch and what I thought was going to be just another interview with Sin City's The Killers, but what transpired was something that I haven't experienced from a pop artist since the Fall of 2006 with Beck. Brandon Flowers was upfront, unapologetic and real.
Brandon Flowers :: Vegoose 2006
By Michael Jurick
Emerging onto the scene in 2004 with Hot Fuss, The Killers were pop music darlings cashing in on a flurry of masterfully crafted singles including "Mr. Brightside," "All These Things That I've Done" and "Smile Like You Mean It." Consisting of Flowers (vox/keyboards), Dave Keuning (guitar), Mark Stoermer (bass) and Ronnie Vannucci (drums), the band is currently touring in support of their follow-up, Sam's Town, which was released last October on Island Records.
"There have been a few times in my life when music has just struck me," says Flowers. "I used to hear my brother playing The Cure from his room. It was like a forbidden thing because he would hide himself in there and listen to his records and cassettes. There was something exciting about it because he was older and cool and I wasn't allowed to be in there. There were all these weird posters on his walls [laughs]. But, what I liked about The Cure was the pop songs. It made me realize how powerful music could be."
"The thing that started me on music in a big way was The Cars," continues Flowers. "Later on, I started listening to The Smiths and Morrissey, which ended up being the most prevalent influences of my life. I mean Morrissey just consumed me. I eventually moved on to New Order, Bowie and the Beatles. Recently, it's been all about Tom Waits and Bruce Springsteen."
The Killers :: Vegoose 2006 :: By Michael Jurick
Originating from Las Vegas, Flowers touches upon the tinsel music scene of Sin City's desert. "People are lost in Las Vegas, but it's not their fault. The radio market is getting a little better. I think there is a new station there now," says Flowers. "It just seemed like everyone was really behind. Everybody was still doing Limp [Bizkit] and Korn within the clubs. I mean if that is what is in your heart and you love it, then so be it."
Asked whether the isolation of the desert contributed to the time lapse, Flowers responds, "I think it was somewhat of that. I really don't know why we were so behind on things. It was a great thing for us because we stood out! People just hated us [laughs]. I mean it was great because people publicly spoke about how much they hated us and it ended up giving me a chip on my shoulder. A chip usually isn't a positive thing, but I looked at it that way because I feel that I have something to prove."