TALKING TO A KILLER: BRANDON FLOWERS

Listen to The Killers on Rhapsody...

By: Martin Halo


The Killers ©Anton Corbijn
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.

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.


Brandon Flowers :: Vegoose 2006
By Michael Jurick
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.

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 Killers :: Vegoose 2006 :: By Michael Jurick
"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."

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."

 
I am not a hipster and I am not trying to be. I believe there is nothing wrong with writing good songs, and I think that is what has been lost in all of this. People are either trying to be too cool or they are worried about just selling records.

-Brandon Flowers on today's music scene

 
Photo: ©Anton Corbijn


Brandon Flowers from TheModernAge.org
"I think that music is just as significant to people as it was in the past but I just don't think it is as good as it was," Flowers continues. "I think it is cheap and whorish - not in the way that people sell it but how they express it. They had the [Surpremes] in the past and now we have [Fergie]. There was a pureness to the music back then that we don't have now. Take Gwen Stefani, for example. I like this song 'Sweet Escape,' which reminds me of an old '50s girl group kind of song. But, she says, 'I'm acting like a skank' in it. That is exactly what I am talking about. Is there nothing better you can use for that lyric? I don't even know what that means exactly. Little kids are hearing this stuff and it just makes me wonder what is happening. We seem to be getting more morally terrible."

What Flowers was expressing struck me as uncommon and, even more, unexpected. Here are The Killers, a pop band in every sense of the word. They're mainstays on MTV and VH1, adored by millions, but in the center of this industry induced chaos they've managed to keep their credibility. In the midst of legions of loyal fans, Flowers retains his personal ideology.


The Killers
"You know, man, I went to all the cafes with all the 'Indie People' and the people that say they would be happy playing at the café for the rest of their lives," Flowers says. "Those people tend to be the most arrogant and mean people in the world, and I don't like those people. I have never been shy to say this. I am not a hipster and I am not trying to be. I believe there is nothing wrong with writing good songs, and I think that is what has been lost in all of this. People are either trying to be too cool or they are worried about just selling records."

"As an example, you are either Creed or you are Bright Eyes," Flowers explains. "We have lost the people who are in the middle - artists that wanted to make statements, have their credibility AND played to 30,000 every night. That gap still hasn't been fully filled. I think we are one of the bands that can do it but there is no place for it. There is no middle."


The Killers
Flowers' comments are eerily reminiscent of a conversation I had with another pop darling back in August of 2006. Toiling in the same indie hipster world as Flowers and The Killers, Jack White (The White Stripes, Raconteurs) had this to say: "As far as America goes, my whole trip lately has been to get as far away from hipster culture as I can. I don't want to be cool to those kids."

So how does a band like The Killers, The White Stripes or any of the other popular acts who actually have something to say balance fame with substance? It's actually pretty simple - write good songs and bring them to the people. You don't have to change your name or cut your hair or endorse Miller Light to be a musician that reaches the masses. On the flip side, the simple fact is that it's okay to have your music heard by millions. Flowers is proof that you can exist in a big way in this industry while still holding tight to your artistic ethics.

Check out Backstage with JamBase:
The Killers at Vegoose

JamBase | Sin City
Go See Live Music!


Take full advantage of all JamBase has to offer by signing up for an account!


You'll receive

show alerts

when your favorite artists announce shows, be eligible to enter contests for

free tickets

, gain the ability to

share your personalized live music calendar

and much more. Join JamBase!



 
 

Comments

deadyogi Tue 5/22/2007 06:08PM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Not a big fan of the killers but I have a newfound respect for this guys musical ethos.

hjgarcia starstarstarstarstar Tue 5/22/2007 06:42PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

hjgarcia

i agree...what this guy has to say is great...he definilty summed up the current music scene very well

karacter0 star Wed 5/23/2007 10:22AM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

karacter0

THIS MUSIC IS COMMON MAINSTREAM MTV CRAP! The guy talks the talk but doesn't walk the walk. I NEVER listen to commercial radio and don't own a TV, but the words "He doesn't look a thing like Jesus" are fused into my brain none the less. This music is just catchy, simple B.S. Here's to another million minutes of playtime for the same damned song.

claypool4life starstarstarstarstar Wed 5/23/2007 12:57PM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

karacter0 i am sorry to say but you are sadly mistaken The Killers are one of the most creative mainstream bands. The nex genreation will listen to them when bands like disco biscuits finally rest in peace. Now do not think I am a huge fan of them I have there albums, but what Brandon Flowers is saying is so true.

dedhed6111 Wed 5/23/2007 01:39PM
Show -3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
MartinHalo Wed 5/23/2007 04:27PM
-2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

MartinHalo

Being on MTV has nothing to do with selling out, selling out is what happens once you are there. As an artist their goal is to have their music heard. How they conduct themselves while they are conducting their business is another argument. Chris Ross from Wolfmother and I had a discussion on how for them selling out was getting signed to a major label and leaving Australia. Do you think in retrospect they feel they sold out on Australia? No, I believe, and they believe they are making their root base very proud.

Same deal goes for Keller Williams, he admited to me that MTV doesn't make a credible artist by any means... and he was blunt about that. But do you think he would like to get his videos on there? You betcha. For him the issue is that Viacom over looks him as an artist they can market.

Does Albert Hammond Jr, think that Justin Timberlake will start dropping acid and change the world? Of course not, but does he look to use an outlet like MTV to his advance, of course.

Just take a step back and look at it from all perspectives. Then make a judgement on whether the Killers are in any way a non-credible or viable musical project.

brotherreed starstarstarstarstar Thu 5/24/2007 09:08AM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

brotherreed

....The Killers are boss.
Sams Town is epic, so give it a chance if you haven't listened to it.

j-bizzle star Thu 5/24/2007 09:41AM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

j-bizzle

didn't they have a very public fight with that other crap band the bravery? enough said. this guy sounds like he is putting different faces on for different people. i for one don't buy it, he'd probably sell out his mom for a chance at an appearance on TRL.

Justin Gillett starstar Thu 5/24/2007 08:42PM
-2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Justin Gillett

The Killers are a very good band, their drummer especially rocks hard, but it is clearly evident that Brandon Flowers is full of himself although he does his best to conceal that fact. Never the less, they are a good band and I hope their next record is better than their last one, which was a slight disappointment even though I'm still listening to it.

Not to piss of the writer but learn how to write a fucking interview piece for the love of god.

radarlin star Thu 5/24/2007 11:53PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

radarlin

Killer are crap. Saw a glimpse of them after The Mars Volta set in Las Vegas over Halloween. Couldn't even compare to what Volta put on and walked away. Their music is not catchy it is crap and strangely annoying. To put it simply "The Killers suck." What a waste of time Jambase.

karacter0 star Fri 5/25/2007 08:09AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

karacter0

Half the comments here say that the Killers suck! I thought I was putting myself in the line of fire by speaking my mind, but it seems I'm not alone. Thanks for the backup, all.
Hey Jambase, lay off the pop culture! People are going out of their way to tell you how bad it sucks.
"Quality not Quantity", please.

Makisupa_McGee Fri 5/25/2007 04:29PM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Makisupa_McGee

im with you karacter0. i dont hate the killers but i caught a bit of em at vegoose, and it was NOT a solid performance.

Im not super into that type of indie rock, but i still go to places like Bottom of the Hill in SF and know a good indie act when I see it.

Also, after reading this Flowers...sounds like a real deuche

redplate Sat 5/26/2007 10:49AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

redplate

I reallly dont understand how this emoesque stuff keeps showing up here. The killers are a pop band not a jamband. put this article on popbase. I think this guy is wrong. he has some good points but many bands have gotten a certin ammount of fame without being played on the radio every 5 seconds. Look at phish, primus, grateful dead, etc. All of these bands our revered arround the world as great music expereiences but all of them only had 1 "commericial" success. They reffused to keep pushing more singles out. I think a musician can stay true to fan with out being on the radio every five seconds and still make money in the process. I personally feel if you release more than one music video and keep pumping out stuff for mtv then you are turning some of your fan base to MTVs fake music.

KPLMMJ Sat 5/26/2007 02:16PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

i like jack white's quote in the article. I feel he is being real and telling the truth..this guy, not so much.. Jack White>just about anyone out there...

chaseman starstarstarstar Sat 5/26/2007 05:54PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

At least Flowers is calling people out for their crap (i.e. Fergie, Gwen Stefani). The Killers at a glimpse could seem like any other pop/rock group, but this article makes me see them in a different light. If you're not into a catchy tune (a reason why they are marketable), go on to the next group. But, hating on a group for being themselves and achieving the sound they want isn't fair. They are creative and talented, and they do reach the middle ground Flowers spoke of.

MartinHalo Sat 5/26/2007 06:02PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

MartinHalo

Hey KPLMMJ,

toss me your email and I'll send over the entire conversation with Jack White. He holds nothing back.

kaiserbun starstar Mon 5/28/2007 11:57AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

i'm not sure what to think about his perspective, hard to tell if he is for real or not. i guess i kind of like the stance he is trying to take. it seems to me that most of the mainstream scene really isn't about the actual music anymore. all of your music can be absolute crap, but if you have one or two catchy songs and the right look you'll be a superstar. people will come to your shows and cheer and listen to all the awful songs just so they can hear the couple catchy songs. and the worst part is that most of the time those songs are played exactly like they are on the album. i guess i can't blame these bands since they are making millions doing it, but it just doesn't really seem like real music to me. just an opinion though.

johnnygoff starstarstar Mon 5/28/2007 08:04PM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

johnnygoff

interesting thing about this crossover mainstream/festival bands (ie -- raconteurs/white stripes, killers,) dis the mainstream and hipsters, yet embrace festivals like Bonnaroo that embody the hipsters)...sorry, I know I am a hipster persay, but I never deemed those 'hipster qualities' as negatives. Back to The Killers and Brandon Flowers ---- I personally think The Killers sounds grows old quickly for me. If they want to continue to stay on the scene, even with 'pissing in our ears' hipters----Flowers needs to relinquish more of the vocals to his bandmates. good interview despite too much kiss-assing --- (that's what PR Firms are for....even in features reporting) cheers.

BGsteveBG star Mon 5/28/2007 11:36PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

BGsteveBG

The Killers are really, really crappy. Same with muse and fallout boy and all american rejects. this douche is just trying to rebel against exactly what makes him famous, and him talking shit about other bands is a total see-through attempt to get people talking about him. lame.

BGsteveBG star Mon 5/28/2007 11:37PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

BGsteveBG

.. And, Please, Jambase, no more killers articles, its like your poisoning us

Wilson75 starstarstar Tue 5/29/2007 11:01AM
Show -4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
Wilson75 starstarstar Tue 5/29/2007 11:02AM
Show -5 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
djseraphim starstarstarstarstar Tue 5/29/2007 11:38AM
Show -4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
rulosa01 star Wed 5/30/2007 08:04PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

COOL PEOPLE ...... who play shitty music ..... shouldn't be on jambase.

cmaxwell star Thu 5/31/2007 10:53AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

BOO KILLERS!!!
YAY JAMBANDS!!

hnkscrpio star Sat 6/2/2007 02:01PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

hnkscrpio

The Killers are exactly not what I would like to see on here. They do enough interviews on MTV. Why doesn't Jambase leave spots like this to up and coming bands that already don't have a huge enough media spotlight to start considering dating Lindsay Lohan. If I were an independent musician, seeing The Killers on here would really set me off. I really don't care what Brandon Flowers has to say, probably about how they sound like a crappy euro pop Cure rip off.

karacter0 Tue 6/12/2007 02:51AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

karacter0

If I was forced to listen to pop rock, I would choose the Slip.

kirkbrew star Tue 6/12/2007 02:01PM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

kirkbrew

I liked The Killers better when they were called The Smiths. Even then, I didn't like them all that much.

If you are going to rip someone off, make it someone good with tallent. I do agree with his comment about Gwen Stefani.

Despite that, these guys will be as relevant as carbon paper in 5 years.

imperialguy starstarstarstar Sat 6/16/2007 08:55PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

The Killers are a great live band. Besides, I don't want everyone to like all the same bands-the shows would be too damn crowded! You keep you "crap" bands and I'll keep mine.