I’m a Vegas boy. I always have been and — even though I just moved my wife and kids to Utah — I always will be. This past Sunday on a flight home from Australia, I flew over my hometown. Forehead to the window I looked down on Las Vegas and felt a prick of nostalgia. I thought about my mother buried below, I thought about my friends in Henderson, and I even traced Flamingo road down to where it meets the 95 and pin pointed my high school, Chaparral. I could see the city as a whole, but I couldn’t look close enough to see what was about to unfold. It’s hard to believe it’s real. My prayers go out to those whose lives were taken and to everyone else affected by this nightmare. I’m devastated for my community and for all of the people who gather together to see live music. Some of the happiest moments of my life have happened at concerts. They are a rite of passage, a holy communion, or just the kind of escape from the stress and the grind of daily life that so many people need. My heart swells when I hear the stories of people putting their lives on the line to help each other — defying the stereotypes of what people say Las Vegas is all about. We’re all long lost brothers and sisters. I miss my town, I miss my mom, I miss these victims I didn’t even know, but I look forward to getting together with you real soon to keep their memory alive.
The set — which was released Sept. 22 through Island Records — debuts atop the chart with 118,000 equivalent album units earned in the week ending Sept. 28, according to Nielsen Music. Of that sum, 111,000 were in traditional album sales.
The Killers just can’t seem to catch a break.
You’d think that penning one of the most iconic, ubiquitous pop songs of the millennium would win you some points. Same with putting out a debut album that almost single-handedly prolonged the life of rock radio for an extra year or two. By all accounts, Brandon Flowers and company are nice guys who work hard, put on an exceptional live show, and have a better track record of radio singles than any other rock band this side of the Foo Fighters. But The Killers have never been cool. They certainly never earned the stamp of approval from critics, who took the “No Fun Police” stance against the singles from Hot Fuss and then vowed to bury the band when Brandon Flowers had the audacity to suggest that 2006’s Sam’s Town would be “one of the best albums in the last 20 years.” Most music writers expected The Killers to be a flash in the pan, and they were graciously willing to help the band reach their inevitable demise.
But a funny thing happened along the way: The Killers held on. As radio rock died, they kept writing hits. As the critical darling indie rock bands of the early 2000s slid toward mediocrity or obscurity or both, The Killers remained stubbornly present. Now, 13 years after Hot Fuss and five years after their last album, The Killers are back, and they are every bit as inescapable as they always have been. In the release week of September 22nd, which saw a massive deluge of new albums from acclaimed and up-and-coming artists, no one got as much press as The Killers.
Like many fans who woke up this morning to scans of the ‘Q’ magazine interview floating around in various Killers communities, I am heartbroken to hear the rumors that had churned over the past several months of Dave Keuning seeking an arrangement simliar to Mark Stoermer’s had turned out to be true.
Do you think a band like yours could gain similar traction in the present day?
“It could happen — but there hasn’t been anybody good enough. If there was a band like the Strokes, or Interpol, people would talk. [Points outside to Brooklyn] If there were some kids out there right now playing [Interpol’s] ‘Obstacle 1’ tonight, I would hear about it, you would hear about it. But there isn’t.”
Yeah, I don’t think that’s it.
Overall, Flowers feels like he made progress on one major front. “I put more of an effort to be more personal on this record,” Flowers says. To open up, the 36-year-old reflected on turning 21 for the tongue-in-cheek lyrics to “The Man” (“I was doing things that I thought maybe a man should do, but I was still just a kid,” he says), he tapped into the vulnerability he felt as a child in 1990 watching Buster Douglas knock out then-undefeated Mike Tyson and realizing “nothing lasts forever” (the soaring “Tyson vs. Douglas”) and he sang words of support to his wife, who suffers complex PTSD stemming from childhood traumas (the atmospheric “Some Kind of Love”). “It’s really emotional,” he says of the last tune. “I played that for her, and she just sobbed.”
While the band was trying to push their sound forward, they also started looking back. In the fall of 2016, they celebrated the 10th anniversary of their second album, Sam’s Town, with a pair of shows. “Playing those gigs, I realized how cohesive an idea [Sam’s Town] was,” Flowers says. “That reminded us that we really want to make a record here, not just slap a bunch of songs together…. I think we’ve done it again on this album. It’s the closest thing we’ve done to Sam’s Town.”