Mu­sic

THE KILLERS FRONT­MAN TONES DOWN THE SWAGGER, BUT STILL THINKS HIS BAND IS THE BEST IN THE WORLD

Newsweek International - - NEWS - BY AMY FLEM­ING @Amy_flem­ing

Bran­don Flow­ers Mans Up

THE PRE CON­CERT ob­ses­sions of some rock stars re­volve around green room snacks or the or­der of the song list. For Bran­don Flow­ers, the sin­u­ous front­man of Las Ve­gas band the Killers, it was the color of the con­fetti. When bits of pa­per rained down on a crowd of 65,000 fans at Lon­don’s Hyde Park in July, they per­fectly matched the bub­blegum pink of his leather blazer. “I had been plan­ning that for months,” says Flow­ers the next day, adding that the crowd’s eu­phoric re­sponse was “like plug­ging into the uni­verse—al­most like eter­nity or some­thing. I hope I never get used to that.”

The Hyde Park show, the Killers’ rst ma­jor con­cert in ve years, was a walk-up to the re­lease of the band’s fth al­bum, Won­der­ful, Won­der­ful. And the pink jacket—a nod to the theme of the record’s rst sin­gle, “The Man”—was what the now-36-year-old Flow­ers wore for the re­lease of the band’s de­but al­bum, Hot Fuss, in 2004. It was the mo­ment that in­tro­duced a key in­gre­di­ent in the Killers’ pop­u­lar­ity: Flow­ers’s rak­ish public per­sona. The lyrics for “The Man” sub­tly mock a hubris once com­pared to that of a TV evan­ge­list: “Noth­ing can break, noth­ing can break me down/don’t need no advice, I got a plan.”

“My vi­sion of what mas­culin­ity is has de nitely changed,” he says. “As I’ve had more ex­pe­ri­ence, I’ve come to re­al­ize it’s more about com­pas­sion and em­pa­thy.”

Flow­ers grew up idol­iz­ing the bat­tling Gal­lagher broth­ers of Oa­sis, in­spi­ra­tion, per­haps, for his early swagger; in an early in­ter­view, he re­marked of emo and pop-punk bands, “There’s a crea­ture in­side me that wants to beat all those bands to death.” Not long af­ter, he apol­o­gized for that com­ment, and the bad-boy shtick was al­ways an awk­ward t; Flow­ers was raised, and re­mains, a de­vout, tee­to­tal Mor­mon who fre­quently and uniron­i­cally ex­claims, “Holy cow!”—as in his re­sponse to early e orts by the band’s la­bel, Island, to sen­sa­tion­al­ize them. “Holy cow,” says Flow­ers, “I’ve heard la­bel pres­i­dents talk about how their favorite artists are stars both on and o stage—be­cause of the con­tro­versy that they were whip­ping up—and my in­ter­nal con­science, or what­ever, just knew that wasn’t right.”

The Killers’s global pop­u­lar­ity (with roughly 22 mil­lion al­bums sold to date) comes with bene ts. “I don’t want to cater to a speci c thing to try and be on the ra­dio,” says Flow­ers. Won­der­ful, Won­der­ful, pro­duced by Jack­nife Lee (U2, REM), in­tro­duces funkier lay­ers to the band’s an­themic synth pop, as well as de­cid­edly un-poppy themes. The song Flow­ers is proud­est of, “Rut,” is from the per­spec­tive of his wife, Tana Mund­kowsky. “She has a com­plex ver­sion of [post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der] from her child­hood, and it’s her speak­ing,” he says. “It’s emo­tional and the only song I’ve had to sit down with her and play at the pi­ano, just to make sure it was OK with her.”

Mund­kowsky and Flow­ers met as teenagers in Las Ve­gas and have three young sons. Par­ent­hood, he says, has had its own soft­en­ing e ect. “When I see how di er­ent my kids are—yet they came from the same two peo­ple—it just opens your eyes to ev­ery per­son you see on the street, and the di er­ences in the strug­gles.”

A third track, “Some Kind of Love,” o ered a chance to meet a long­time hero, Brian Eno. The song was writ­ten over an Eno in­stru­men­tal, but his camp wouldn’t per­mit the Killers to re­lease it. “We tried to change the song,” says Flow­ers, “but we could never make it as good.” Shortly be­fore the al­bum was mas­tered, Flow­ers en­listed mu­tual friends to email and text Eno: “Just at least let me talk to him and ex­plain it.” Fi­nally, he got Eno on the phone, and per­mis­sion was quickly se­cured.

Their con­ver­sa­tion o ered some­thing else: the op­por­tu­nity to clear up a per­ceived slight. Flow­ers was told that Eno had de­clined to pro­duce the Killers’ sec­ond al­bum, Sam’s Town. “For 11 years, ev­ery time I’ve gone on stage or put my pen to pa­per, I’ve car­ried with me that I’m not good enough for Brian Eno,” says Flow­ers. “So I said to him, ‘Were you asked to do Sam’s Town?’ He said no. Who knows if it was some shady move from my record la­bel or what­ever, but that felt good.” Won­der­ful, Won­der­ful will be re­leased on Vir­gin EMI on Septem­ber 22.

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