THE KILLERS

Over the solo phase and sta­dium- ready.

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE -

BRAN­DON Flow­ers, front man of Las Ve­gas’s least throw­away ex­port The Killers, re­cently read an ar­ti­cle about U2’ s The Joshua Tree.

The premise was how most bands who want to play to the masses now live in the shadow of the land­mark 1987 al­bum.

Flow­ers, who was six when the U2 al­bum was re­leased, has made no se­cret of aim­ing for U2- size pop­u­lar­ity, helped by the U2- sized rock an­thems he likes to write.

But ge­o­graph­i­cally, he has a ‘‘ strange re­la­tion­ship’’ with The Joshua Tree and the desert- friendly plant it was named af­ter. ‘‘ In a way, ev­ery band since The Joshua

Tree lives in the shadow of that record,’’ Flow­ers says.

‘‘ I lit­er­ally live in the shadow of joshua trees. I’m re­minded ev­ery day of that al­bum, I drive past those trees ev­ery sin­gle day. I prob­a­bly think about The Joshua

Tree ev­ery day when I see them. I don’t know that it’s good for me. It’s a lit­tle bit de­press­ing.’’

Flow­ers’ am­bi­tion is un­de­ni­able. In 2008, when The Killers ( pic­tured) wanted to wind down af­ter five years of a re­lent­less tour/ al­bum sched­ule, Flow­ers had other plans.

Bur­dened by a ‘‘ cre­ative ex­plo­sion’’, he re­leased a solo al­bum, Flamingo, and toured it throughout 2010.

‘‘ What am I go­ing to do?’’ he said. ‘‘ This is some­thing I’ve spent seven years hon­ing and craft­ing. I don’t want to take two years off.’’

His band­mates splin­tered in var­i­ous direc­tions. Drum­mer Ron­nie Van­nucci Jr formed his own band, Big Talk, and toured with them.

‘‘ It felt like the pres­sure was off,’’ Van­nucci says. ‘‘ It felt like karaok­ing with your drunk friends. It did what it did.’’

Dur­ing the down­time, Van­nucci and Flow­ers sang The Killers’ When You Were

Young at a warm- up show – Van­nucci on gui­tar, not drums. Flow­ers also learnt from his solo pe­riod. ‘‘ I didn’t re­alise how many mid- tempo songs I had on my solo record,’’ he says.

‘‘ I’m so used to the freight train we have.

I had to fig­ure out a dif­fer­ent way to get the crowd go­ing. It was fun though. It was a lit­tle bit more free . . .’’

Bat­tle Born, the fourth Killers al­bum, by­passes most of those pesky mid- tempo mo­ments for some sta­dium- ready an­thems. It is a sax­o­phone- free zone.

‘‘ The last record ( 2008’ s Day and Age) was done re­ally quickly,’’ Van­nucci says.

‘‘ It was play­ful and ex­per­i­men­tal. Then we re­alised there’s not a lot of gui­tar on here . . . It’s nice to have some rock back.’’

The Joshua Tree ’ s pro­ducer, Daniel Lanois, is one of five pro­duc­ers on Bat­tle

Born. The band say it was sim­ply due to the fact no one pro­ducer was avail­able to work solely on what be­came their long­est record­ing pe­riod to date. ‘‘ Un­nat­u­rally long,’’ Van­nucci notes.

Luck­ily they now have their own stu­dio – also called Bat­tle Born – in a non­de­script busi­ness area in Las Ve­gas.

‘‘ If you’re go­ing to be in a band for any length of time it’s a wise in­vest­ment,’’ Vanucci says. ‘‘ We see it as more of a club­house than a stu­dio.’’

An­other ben­e­fit of Flow­ers’ solo ca­reer was his work with a vo­cal coach. ‘‘ I had to learn some tricks,’’ he says. ‘‘ And it helped me with this Killers al­bum. I’ve been work­ing on singing higher, get­ting more com­fort­able up there. Not a lot of peo­ple get it right.’’

Vanucci starts to talk about the state of mu­sic. ‘‘ I hear some of the s--- that’s on the ra­dio, I see Satur­day Night Live per­for­mances and think what is go­ing on? And we’ve only been away for a cou­ple of years. So I’m very much look­ing for­ward to re­turn­ing for us to make our mark, that in­deli­ble re­minder.’’

Flow­ers shuts down any line of criticism of other bands in any­thing other than vague terms, not­ing new rock bands aren’t writ­ing enough mem­o­rable songs. He is no longer the head­line ma­chine, slat­ing other bands he felt be­neath him.

‘‘ We’re done slag­ging,’’ Flow­ers says. ‘‘ It’s nice to not do that any more.’’

Flow­ers is happy to talk about the peo­ple he loves. Like Mark Knopfler – The Killers have cov­ered Dire Straits’ Romeo

and Juliet in the past – Flow­ers’ love of Bruce Spring­steen of­ten gets con­fused with his Knopfler- isms.

‘‘ I came across Dire Straits later on in life. Which is an­other strange thing in my story. Most peo­ple fig­ure out where they’re headed out early on and stick to that. I had this weird re­nais­sance in my mid- 20s, all this s--- I’d never heard be­fore. Like Dire Straits.

‘‘ I knew Money for Noth­ing, but I didn’t know Mark Knopfler was a ge­nius. I had no idea. Now I do. He’s added into the pot. With The Cure, New Or­der, The Smiths, Spring­steen and ev­ery­body else. They’re all dif­fer­ent, but that’s what makes us what we are I guess.’’

BAT­TLE BORN

(Univer­sal) out now

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