By Alexander Laurence
Killers debut album, Hot Fuss, is the hottest American
record of the year so far. We no longer have to leave it
up to the English to satisfy our musical palette because
we now have the Killers. They combine a love for British
music, with showmanship and killer hooks. The Killers are
Brandon Flowers (voice/keyboard), David Keuning (guitar),
Mark Stermer (bass), and Ronnie Vannucci (drums). This bunch
met in Las Vegas two years ago, after Brandon left his previous
band. They recreate the feeling and emotion of New Wave,
while saying something absolutely new.They are well dressed
and the bass player looks like Jesus Christ. These guys
are what the doctor ordered. I spoke to Ronnie Vannucci
the day their record was released. The Killers will be playing
in New York City soon.
I just saw you guys play at Weenie Roast 2004 just a few
days ago. That was good. You went on at about 5pm.
Ronnie: Oh yeah. That was hotter than hell. We loved it.
The sun really shone on us that day. We are still cutting
our teeth with things. It's good that we can get a good
spot on the main stage. We do what we do with every show.
It may sound cheesy but we give it our all. We hope people
enjoy it. It is a battle being in direct sunlight.
AL: Brandon's face was projected on the screen quite often.
He looked like he was sweating a lot.
Ronnie: Yeah. It's pretty hot up there.
AL: You grew up in the suburbs of Las Vegas? How has that
influenced the band?
Ronnie: Yeah, if you can call it that. It's a strip in
the middle and houses that surrounds it. I don't know if
growing up there has influenced us in any specific way.
Las Vegas has established itself with any music scene. You
have to rely on what is happening in neighboring cities
like Los Angeles. That is where people used to think they
needed to go to prove themselves or make themselves known.
I think that it comes down to having good songs. It doesn't
matter where you live.
AL: When did you meet each other?
Ronnie: About two years ago. David and Brandon met through
an ad. I met them at a gig. They had been The Killers a
few months before I joined. They didn't have a solid lineup.
I joined and then we found Mark. We decided that we had
to get really serious. We knew we had to practice every
day and write songs.
AL: How many shows have you played back then?
Ronnie: We played a few local shows. We have played a shitload
of shows in La Vegas. But our first connection with the
outside world was when we went to England in September 2003.
It is all still pretty new to us.
AL: You went over to England first before playing any big
tours in the United States?
Ronnie: Yeah. Our first tour was in England. We had played
New York City and Chicago when we were still unsigned. We
did a few things here and there, but England is where things
started for us.
AL: What sort of shows did you play there?
Ronnie: At first we were playing shitty support acts at
no name clubs. Then we got better supporting gigs. People
saw us play and thought we were a good band. Things started
to happen very fast.
AL: When did you record the album?
Ronnie: The record is half demos. We made a demo first.
That led to a single for an indie label in England. That
led to an EP and an album. We had a lot of songs recorded
already. When we thought about putting the album together
we kept a lot of the original demos because they all had
certain spontaneity to them. Half of the songs we recorded
before we ever went to England.
AL: You made a self-released EP when you played that first
Ronnie: Yeah. It was a four song EP of the demos. It was
released through Lizard King who was our label in the UK.
When we did the album we remixed the songs. It was a limited
edition. It created enough static to make some waves.
AL: When you worked on the final album, did you work with
Ronnie: We worked with Jeff Saltzman. We gave him credit.
But we constructed all the songs and mostly did everything
ourselves. We had a guy recording for us. We gave him producing
points for recording us.
AL: Did you do live tracks or how did you go about recording
Ronnie: Yeah. No recording was more than three takes. That
is what I meant by the spontaneity of the record. We weren't
trying to make a big record. We just tried to write some
good songs and play good and try to make it the best we
could. We were just recording songs over the course of a
year when we had time. The original demos turned out to
be so good that we kept them.
AL: Did you do a lot of overdubs and vocal doubling?
Ronnie: No. There wasn't a lot of production involved.
It is almost like a live show or rehearsal. We would like
to work in the studio for a few months. We could see where
that takes us. Maybe we will do that with the second record.
AL: How do you write songs in the band?
Ronnie: Each song is different. Some songs will come from
all four of us. Someone will make up a melody or a line.
Some songs Brandon brought in. He had the songs and the
changes all written already. It was all there. Some songs
had maybe two of us working on it. Brandon and I worked
on "Believe, Me Natalie" together. Brandon and
David had written "Mr. Brightside" before Mark
and I were in the band. We are a band most importantly and
we work on all the songs together eventually. It makes it
fun because the creation of every song is so different.
AL: Brandon writes all the lyrics too?
AL: What does he write about in his songs?
Ronnie: All I know is half of his songs are half-fiction
and half-autobiographical. The songs are about different
subjects. If you wanted to know about anything specific
you would have to ask Brandon.
AL: There is a lot of romantic longings in the songs. It's
a make out album?
Ronnie: You think so? There is some romantic stuff in there.
That description would belong to us.
AL: I was reading the NME. They compared your band to The
Smiths. Are you Smith obsessive like they say?
Ronnie: We are not obsessed with The Smiths. The Smiths
were among the bands that all four members grew up with.
Those were our generation's bands. Those were some of the
first tapes we bought. Those were some of the first things
we discovered for ourselves so it's personal. It's very
easy for us to be in a room and make music because we have
a common background.
AL: Some of these articles also mention U2.
Ronnie: Yeah. U2 is a wonderful band. I still really look
up to them.
AL: What are some other bands that are definitely influences
but people haven't pointed out before?
Ronnie: We are fans of British music, but we are also fans
of American music. We like the Talking Heads, Blondie, and
others. We also like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Strokes, and
Interpol. We like Tom Petty, Tom Waits, and Lou Reed. We
like music in general. We just don't listen to The Cure
and The Smiths. That needs to be known.
AL: Does Brandon Flowers have a shrine to Robert Smith
or Morrissey on his wall at home?
Ronnie: No! Hell no! Actually we did play some shows with
Morrissey. We talked to him and he was positive. That was
some good validation of what we were doing.
AL: What other bands have you played with that you liked?
Ronnie: We just recently did three shows with Yeah Yeah
Yeahs. We were really stoked to be doing shows with those
guys. There are some great bands in England that people
should listen to like British Sea Power, The Black Velvets,
The Departure, and Surfer Rosa from Norway. We really enjoyed
playing with those guys. There is a band in London called
The Glitterati. They just finished a tour with David Lee
Roth. They are really good.
AL: The song "Glamorous Indie Rock and Roll"
is on the UK album but not on the American issue. Why is
Ronnie: We decided that England would be more receptive
to that song. We wanted to make the albums a little different.
AL: Have you seen any good movies?
Ronnie: We saw Harry
Potter when we were in London. Daniel Radcliffe is apparently
a fan of The Killers.
AL: He is obsessed
with The Killers. I read that interview. I was shocked.
He is supposedly the second wealthiest teenager in England.
He could buy a bunch of copies of Hot Fuss and keep
it in the charts all year.
Ronnie: Wow! Who knows?
AL: What are you up to this summer?
Ronnie: We don't have a day off until the middle of October.
We are playing all the festivals except Reading and Leeds.
We will be at Glastonbury, T in The Park, V Festival, Fuji
Rock, and a few more. I don't know exactly where we will
be for the next three months.
AL: When will you do a proper tour of the great American
Ronnie: It starts in July.
AL: What is your favorite part about being a musician?
Ronnie: Playing live shows is probably the best for me.
What is good about that is it's true for the most part.
It's a true representation of who we are as people and musicians.
We are out there naked. We are giving them a show. That
is the best thing about music: going from a hot garage with
some songs to a hot stage with people who enjoy the music.
AL: You are really a great drummer. It's like the second
coming of Keith Moon.
Ronnie: Thanks. I haven't destroyed any drum sets yet.
The Killers Live
Thu 07/15/04 Salt Lake City, UT Lo-Fi Cafe
Fri 07/16/04 Denver, CO Bluebird Theater
Sat 07/17/04 Albuquerque, NM Launchpad
Mon 07/19/04 Tulsa, OK Ikon
Tue 07/20/04 Oklahoma City, OK Bricktown Live
Thu 07/22/04 Dallas, TX Trees
Fri 07/23/04 Houston, TX Engine Room
Sat 07/24/04 Austin, TX Stubb's Barbeque
Sun 07/25/04 El Paso, TX The T Lounge
Mon 07/26/04 Tucson, AZ City Limits