Sometimes just getting the bare necessities covered can make all the difference. Like finding a place to rehearse. Since most neighbors don't like being blown off their couch, Rock groups have been relegated to practicing in basements and garages, usually with several inches of concrete between them and the outside world. But The Killers managed to score rehearsal space at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas - UNLV.
After being dumped by synth-popsters Blush Response over whether or not to relocate to L.A., keyboardist Brandon Flowers attended a 2002 Oasis show and decided next time around he'd like to be in a more guitar oriented band. An ad in a local music paper, referencing Oasis as an influence, led Flowers to hook up with David Keuning. The two began writing songs with "Mr. Brightside" being their first effort. Keuning had a verse and Flowers added the chorus.
As often happens finding the rest of the group was a bit more difficult. A series of bassists and drummers tried out before Ronnie Vannucii and Mark Stoermer were enlisted. But even with the line-up in place it was tough going. Day jobs, rather than gigs, paid the bills. Flowers worked as a hotel bellhop, Keuning did time at Banana Republic while Stoermer was a medical courier hauling blood, urine and body parts. Knowing Vegas he was probably a very busy fellow. That left Vannucci who, aside from being a photographer at the Little Chapel of Flowers, was also a classical percussion student at UNLV.
After a few life-threatening rehearsals is a hot box of a garage, the ever resourceful Vannucci, was able to sneak the group into the UNLV band rehearsal space for late night sessions. That was much better, especially for Vannucci, since there was already a drum kit at UNLV he didn't have to haul his around.
The Killers, who took their name from a New Order video, soon built a local rep but their first label contract came from the London based indie Lizard King. The group left for England to record and tour. Later, an appearance at the CMJ (College Music Journal) show in New York led to a worldwide (except the UK) deal with Island. '04 saw the release of their "Hot Fuss" CD which went multi-platinum.
Still hanging on to their Vegas roots (refusing to relocate to L.A.), The Killers, in October, '06, released "Sam's Town," the title referencing an old school Vegas casino/hangout.
Not that there was a cause and effect but the group appeared on the season premier of Saturday Night Live and the following week "Sam's Town" reached #2 (behind Evanescence's "The Open Door") on the Billboard 200 album chart selling more CDs than Beck ("The Information") and Jet ("Shine On") combined.
"Sawdust," the Killers compilation of remixes, b-sides, unreleased songs and covers, was released in '07. The set featured "Tranquilize," a collaboration with the legendary Lou Reed, and a bit of a glitch. A demo of "Move Away" was included rather than the version of the song that appeared on the Spider-Man 3 soundtrack. Flowers blamed their label for the error (sure, why not?).
Turning right around, The Killers issued their third studio effort "Day & Age" in late '08. "Human" was the lead single. Prior to the album's release the group once again appeared on Saturday Night Live. They performed the single and "Spaceman."
"Day & Age" went to #1 in the U.K. and #6 on the Billboard 200. With a big push from "Human," the album sold more than four-million copies. At the NME Awards, the band won the Best International Band honor for the third time ('05 and '08 were the other two years). A successful world tour was only halted by death of Flowers' mother in '10. Asian and Australian dates were cancelled.
Going on hiatus, band members engaged in solo projects. In '10 Flowers recorded "Flamingo," featuring "Hard Enough" and "Welcome To Fabulous Las Vegas," the latter of which was a collaboration with Rilo Kiley singer Jenny Lewis.
"Jenny has helped me out on a couple of songs," Flowers told NME in an interview. "She's always popped into my mind whenever I think about getting a female vocalist involved because she's a fellow child of Las Vegas, too."
Album producers included Stuart Price (The Killers' "Day & Age" album), Daniel Lanois (Bob Dylan, U2) and Brendan O'Brien (Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen).
"I feel like I'm getting something out of my system with this album, but I want the next Killers album to be a wonderful collaboration between four guys who are ready to make the best record that they possibly can," added Flowers.
Utilizing the talents of a veritable fleet of big name producers (Steve Lillywhite, Damian Taylor, O'Brien, Price and Lanois), The Killers produced "Battle Born," their fourth album.
Without a new album to promote, The Killers launched a '16 tour. It hit a bump when the group announced that Stoermer was taking a break. While still involved with The Killers, he planned to make a solo album and "pursue other educational goals."
As the holiday season rolled into view, "Don't Waste Your Wishes," a Christmas charity album, dropped in conjunction with the 10th anniversary of (RED). Co-founded by Bono (U2), the organization worked to eradicate AIDS in Africa.
2004 Hot Fuss
2006 Sam's Town
2008 Day & Age
2012 Battle Born
2016 Don't Waste Your Wishes
You might suspect that a group called The Killers would sound like Motorhead, a full tilt outfit, or at the very least, a retro jump-jive boogie band. But they are neither. As their debut "Hot Fuss," shows, The Killers are an accessible pop-Rock group with a good ear for melody and enough punch to keep things interesting.