The Killers band continues to evolve

CorrespondentAugust 8, 2013 

The Killers Battle Born Tour

Brandon Flowers of The Killers performs on the "Battle Born" tour at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, on Thursday May 2, 2013 in Los Angeles. The Killers will play Red Hat August 12, 2013.

JOHN SHEARER — John Shearer/Invision/AP

  • Details

    Who: The Killers (with The Virgins)

    When: 7:30 p.m. Monday

    Where: Red Hat Amphitheater, 500 South McDowell St., Raleigh.

    Cost: $35

    Info: 919-996-8800

Bigger has always been better for The Killers. The Las Vegas-based pop-rock band has nailed the rendering of stylish, atmospheric arena-ready tunes.

“I think people forget that wasn’t what was happening when we started out,” drummer Ronnie Vannucci said while calling from San Francisco. “It was an indie world back then.”

When The Killers formed in 2002, lo-fi was in vogue, but there were music fans who were clearly underserved. They craved glitzy, dramatic songs of love and loss – and the Killers were more than happy to comply.

“Hot Fuss,” the band’s debut album, is loaded with agreeable “guy longs for girl” cuts, such as “Mr. Brightside” and “Smile Like You Mean It.” The band’s winning Cure-meets-Depeche Mode, with a touch of Duran Duran, style helped it move quickly up the music food chain and they were soon headlining amphitheaters.

Each of the band’s four albums, including 2012’s “Battle Born,” have received critical and commercial acclaim, which is no mean feat.

“There’s a tremendous amount of pressure to pull that off,” Vannucci said. “We want to be make the best album we can and hopefully appeal to fans, but we also don’t want to redo what we just did. It’s about evolving.”

The latest Killers album lacks the anthemic style of “Hot Fuss” and misses the intensity of the exceptional 2006 disc “Sam’s Town.” But the band, which also includes vocalist-keyboardist Brandon Flowers, guitarist Dave Keuning and bassist Mark Stoermer, did manage to craft gritty but pleasing blasts of earnest, melancholy rock.

“I think we’ve taken another step forward with this album,” Vannucci said. “We wanted to simplify things with this album. We just wanted to make the best music possible. We didn’t over-think it, and as a result I think this is the easiest record we’ve made.”

The band members, who will perform Monday at the Red Hat Amphitheater, try to focus solely on the music and tend to eschew a lot of press.

Maintaining mystique

“I think it’s a good thing to have some mystique,” Vannucci said. “Less is more. But that’s hard to do in this age of YouTube, which is about nothing being sacred. It should be all about the music. We’re not worried about what gets played or not because who knows why programmers select certain songs? We just want to make the best records and be around for a long time like our heroes.”

It’s clear that the band members adore Bruce Springsteen – his influence is all over “Sam’s Town.” The Boss’ poetic touch is especially present in the guitar solo of the album’s first single, “When You Were Young.”

“Bruce Springsteen is incredible,” Vannucci said. “When you think consistent American artist, stadium-playing performer, there is no one else you think of. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are an arena band. But there are no bounds for Bruce as a songwriter, performer or as a touring performer. He and the E Street Band have had an impact on many bands. That yearning for the hometown and the good old days is something that Bruce has done better than anyone, and I think that’s in Brandon as well.”

It’ll be curious to see what The Killers do when their long tour ends in November. Will Flowers record a solo follow-up to his underrated 2010 debut “Flamingo” or will the band reconvene in the studio?

“I don’t know what we’ll do,” Vannucci said. “We’ve talked about it and we have different opinions. I know what I want to do. I have a guitar in my hand and I’m right by a tape recorder. I would like to make another Killers album, but we’ll see. I don’t have to think about it so much because we do have this tour. We’re really having fun out with each other and that’s a good sign. We’ll see what happens.”

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service