The Killers are a Grammy-nominated American rock band from Las Vegas, Nevada. Formed in 2002 and made up of Brandon Flowers (vocals, keyboards), Dave Keuning (guitar, vocals), Mark Stoermer (bass guitar, vocals) and Ronnie Vannucci Jr., (drums, percussion), they released their debut album, Hot Fuss, in 2004. Their second album, Sam's Town, was released in early October 2006.
Most famous for their hit singles "Somebody Told Me", "Mr. Brightside" and "When You Were Young", their music is based on British influences and on the music of the 1980s, particularly New Wave music and later, on epic 'Americana' artists such as Bruce Springsteen.
Before the band was formed, all four members had various jobs. Flowers, who had dropped out of college, was a bellhop for a while at the Gold Coast Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Dave Keuning, who was originally from Pella, Iowa, dropped out of Kirkwood Community College, then the University of Iowa, and finally moved to Las Vegas in January of 2000. He worked there at a Banana Republic store, stating that it was a terrible job and he finally quit when a new manager was appointed and he wouldn't allow Dave to listen to music in the backroom. Mark Stoermer worked as a medical courier, delivering various medical supplies while studying philosophy at UNLV. Ronnie Vannucci was a student of classical percussion at UNLV to become a teacher and worked as a photographer at the Little Chapel of the Flowers and as a pedicab driver at the Desert Passage mall inside the Aladdin Hotel.
In 2001, Flowers was abandoned by the first band that he was in, a synth pop band known as Blush Response, after he declined to move with the rest of them to Los Angeles, California. Shortly thereafter, Flowers attended an Oasis concert, and, realizing that he wanted to make the transition from a keyboard band to a true rock band, began searching for a guitarist. It is said that between then and his first meeting with David Keuning, he was rejected by a potential guitarist who claimed that "this 'Duran Duran' crap wasn't going to go anywhere." After gaining his fame, Flowers was waited on by that same guitarist in a Las Vegas restaurant. Then he met Keuning. He responded to an ad that Keuning had placed in the paper that listed, among other things, Smashing Pumpkins and Oasis as influences. The two hit it off immediately and began rehearsing. They were joined by a bassist (Keuning's roommate) and a drummer.
Both bassist and drummer quickly moved on to other things, and the drummer would later sue the band, claiming that he wrote "Mr. Brightside." After their departure, Vannucci and Stoermer (who were both in other bands at the time) were approached by Flowers and Keuning with an offer to join "The Killers," a name which comes from the bass drum of a fictional band in a New Order video for their song "Crystal."
After watching a few of their early shows, Vannucci acknowledged that the group was very green and would need a lot of work to become a polished act. Additionally, their fanbase was scarce and they hadn't yet worked out their image. However, Vannucci would eventually join the band.
Stoermer was the last to join. He filled the remaining post at least partly because he and Flowers had quickly become friends. They played their first gig as the new band at a club in Vegas called The Junkyard. After Vannucci sold his house the band found themselves without a garage to rehearse in and took to sneaking into UNLV's music rooms, where Vannucci was attending college, in order to practice.
Initially, the Killers played at small clubs in Las Vegas, Nevada. With the band's lineup stable and their repertoire of songs expanding, the band began to attract attention from talent bookers, local agents, major label, scouts—and a UK representative for Warner Bros. Though the Warner Bros rep passed on the band, he took the demo back with him, showing it to a friend who worked at UK indie label Lizard King. The Killers would sign by the end of the summer, and moved to England. They also chose this time to create the band logo as we know it today after being shown the website of a company called dubtitled whose founder was friend of the founder of Lizard King.
They released their album Hot Fuss on June 7, 2004 in the United Kingdom on London-based indie record label Lizard King Records, and June 15 in the United States on Island Records. Their first single, "Somebody Told Me," was released on that same year. The band also had chart success with their singles "Mr. Brightside," which reached the Top 10 in the UK when released, and "All These Things That I've Done." However, their main mainstream success came when they scored a number three chart position with their re-release of "Somebody Told Me."
The Killers' second album, "Sam's Town," was released on October 2, 2006 in the UK, and October 3 in the USA under Island Universal. Brandon Flowers quoted that Sam's Town will be "one of the best albums in the past twenty years," though the album has received a mixed response from critics and fans. The first single from Sam's Town "When You Were Young" debuted on radio stations in late July 2006. In late August 2006, it was offered as a downloadable track before the album's debut. The single then entered the chart on downloads alone at #5 and the following week on its official release went to #2 in the UK. It was unable to knock the Scissor Sisters off the top spot. Their single, "Bones," was the second video from the band, and was directed by Tim Burton.
Promoting Sam's Town, the band returned as the musical guest for the 32nd season premiere of Saturday Night Live on September 30, 2006. They performed "When You Were Young" and "Bones." The album sold over 700,000 copies worldwide in the first week of release, with a No. 2 debut on the United World chart. Their next single off Sam's Town is rumoured to be "For Reasons Unknown".
Much of The Killers' music is based on British influences (indeed the band are often described as the "Best British band to have come out of America") and on the music of the 1980s, particularly New Wave music. Flowers has also said in interviews that the larger than life sound of many of the band's songs is due to the influence of living in Las Vegas, a city where everything is about flash and who can top whom. Despite their appreciation for the wave of post-punk bands that sprung up during the 80s, the band members are also avowed fans of New Order, Pet Shop Boys, Dire Straits, David Bowie, Morrissey, U2, and The Beatles.
On January 15, 2005 and September 30, 2006, The Killers were the musical guest on Saturday Night Live. In the past, they have appeared as musical guests on: Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and Late Night with Conan O'Brien. In Britain, they have appeared on Top of the Pops, Friday Night with Jonathan Ross and Later with Jools Holland. They performed for an episode of Austin City Limits that aired on November 5, 2005. The Killers also performed an episode of The O.C.
The Killers performed at the 2005 Glastonbury Festival on the Pyramid Stage, on Friday night, after they turned down the Sunday headline spot when Kylie Minogue canceled after being diagnosed with breast cancer. They turned down the offer, stating that they didn't think they had enough songs to fill a headline slot. However, they attracted one of the biggest crowds at the festival. They also performed at the T in the Park festival in Balado, Scotland on July 9, 2005, during which, following The Killers' own set, Flowers performed "Crystal" with New Order. They then jetted off to Vienna with U2, in order to support them on the European leg of their Vertigo Tour. They also appeared at the Carling Weekend as second on the bill to The Pixies.
The Killers performed on the London stage of the Live 8 concert on July 2, 2005. They performed "All These Things That I've Done." To their surprise, Robbie Williams (who performed after them) incorporated the song's refrain "I've got soul but I'm not a soldier" into his own performance. Coldplay and U2 followed suit, and at their separate concerts played in Las Vegas, with The Killers in the crowd, they incorporated that famous line into the songs "God Put a Smile Upon Your Face" and "Beautiful Day," respectively.
On February 14, Valentines Day, The Killers attended The BRIT Awards in England, and performing "When You Were Young". The band were also up for 2 awards, being nominated for International Group & International Album. The band won both awards, defeating the Scissor Sisters and Gnarls Barkley. On picking up the award, Brandon said "This means such a lot to us. Thanks for making our dreams possible”, and he scurried off stage.
The Killers will headline Glastonbury 2007.
Since going platinum, the band (and principally Flowers) has managed to incite a few rivalries - most notably with The Bravery and Fall Out Boy, who are both labelmates (Island Records). Flowers has said that these bands, especially The Bravery, are riding on the coattails of the success of The Killers. Additionally, in an article of NME, Flowers claimed Fall Out Boy was hogging the A&R man both bands share, setting off Fall Out Boy's bassist Pete Wentz. However, after Wentz made a couple of rants on his blog in September of 2005, he offered a virtual cease-fire. Brandon has since apologized to The Bravery, Fall Out Boy, and Panic! at the Disco, saying "I'd like to take it all back - these people are just doing what they want to do, just like I am," and that he was "not proud of" his occasional jealousy.
Also in NME, Keuning went on record as saying "All those bands, Fall Out Boy, Panic! at the Disco, they are only influenced by each other and Blink 182. How can that be a good thing?" Panic! at the Disco recently made an appearance on the November 14th episode of Total Request Live, and made it appear that they don't seem to hold a grudge against the Killers, saying that they "love the new album."
Brandon Flowers, in interviews with several music magazines, claimed that the song "Where Is She?" was based on Jodi Jones, a Scottish girl whose boyfriend, Luke Mitchell, was found guilty of her murder. Many, especially in Scotland, saw this as an insult to her memory, and Flowers (speaking for the band) gave a formal apology, telling the Sunday Herald, "I came across kind of badly. I'd hate to cause offense or further hurt because of it... there's no way on earth I could ever possibly pretend to know what it must actually feel like to suffer such a thing, and I wouldn't presume to appropriate any other individual's feelings for a song."
In February 2006 The Killers' former manager, Braden Merrick, filed a lawsuit alleging breach of contract when he was fired in May of 2005. Merrick's contract was to have run through 2007 and the two sides had been negotiating a settlement before the lawsuit was filed.
Flowers has recently gone on record claiming that Green Day's politically driven concept album American Idiot displays "calculated Anti-Americanism." He explained that he has problems with the album content itself and also the fact that the band's recent live DVD, Bullet in a Bible, was filmed overseas. The taping of the concert, featured on Bullet in a Bible, shows thousands of English fans singing along to "American Idiot." He said, "I just thought it was really cheap. To go to a place like England or Germany and sing that song - those kids aren't taking it the same way that he meant it. And he [Billie Joe Armstrong] knew it." Stating that he feels Green Day's DVD is a bit of a stunt, he went on to say that he feels The Killers' most recent release, Sam's Town, is a much more accurate representation of American culture.