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 wasnt 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 bands debut album, is loaded with agreeable guy longs for girl cuts, such as Mr. Brightside and Smile Like You Mean It. The bands 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 bands four albums, including 2012s Battle Born, have received critical and commercial acclaim, which is no mean feat.
Theres 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 dont want to redo what we just did. Its about evolving.
The latest Killers album lacks the anthemic style of Hot Fuss and misses the intensity of the exceptional 2006 disc Sams 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 weve 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 didnt over-think it, and as a result I think this is the easiest record weve 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.
I think its a good thing to have some mystique, Vannucci said. Less is more. But thats hard to do in this age of YouTube, which is about nothing being sacred. It should be all about the music. Were 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.
Its clear that the band members adore Bruce Springsteen his influence is all over Sams Town. The Boss poetic touch is especially present in the guitar solo of the albums 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 thats in Brandon as well.
Itll 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 dont know what well do, Vannucci said. Weve talked about it and we have different opinions. I know what I want to do. I have a guitar in my hand and Im right by a tape recorder. I would like to make another Killers album, but well see. I dont have to think about it so much because we do have this tour. Were really having fun out with each other and thats a good sign. Well see what happens.