Inspiration has never eluded Las Vegas' The Killers, and it's a damn good thing it hasn't, because their newest record, their third studio album entitled Day & Age, is full of their finest songs to date. "I think about moments when we were coming up with 'When You Were Young,' or, in this case, 'Spaceman,'" Flowers says. "If we'd decided at that moment, 'Let's go to the park,' they might not have happened. It's scary. It almost makes me not want to stop because I could be missing out on these wonderful songs. They're out there for the taking--you've just got to grab them."
Together with bassist Mark Stoermer, guitarist Dave Keuning, and drummer Ronnie Vannucci, Flowers helped to mold the album into 10 songs that work best together as a whole, each individually describing an evolution of the Las Vegas band's sound. "We're always pushing ourselves," says Stoermer, "and there's a lot of diversity here--from anthemic rock to dance songs." Flowers adds: "We felt like Sam's Town was a continuation of Hot Fuss, and we feel like this is a continuation of Sam's Town. But at the same time, Day and Age is totally different from both of them, while still sounding like us. It's kind of looking at Sam's Town from Mars."
Those familiar with the band's oeuvre will recognize their signature in the synth-heavy "Human," four minutes of sweeping, epic rock, on which Flowers sings: "My sign is vital/ My hands are cold/ And I'm on knees, looking for the answer/ Are we human, or are we dancer?" He says the lyrics were inspired by a disparaging comment made by Hunter S. Thompson about how America was raising a generation of dancers. But the song also had some help from album producer Stuart Price (aka Jacques LuCont), known for his work with Madonna and Missy Elliot, and who'd previously remixed "Mr. Brightside." "He was the icing on the cake," says Stoermer.
"We had just put 'Human' together, and we wound up shooting over to his house after dinner [in London]," Flowers recalls of his first time in the studio with Price. "A few hours later, we had something very close to what you hear now. I was on cloud nine." He continues: "When we walked into his flat, the first thing I saw was picture of the cover of The Man Who Sold the World, and further down the stairs there was a picture of Eno in his Roxy Music days. I just kind of felt that we'd found our man."
That he'd find comfort in the signifiers of those artists shouldn't come as a surprise: The band's made no secret of their admiration for both art-rock and stadium giants (collaborating with the likes of Lou Reed, who guested on "Tranquilize," a single from Sawdust, 2007's collection of B-sides, rarities, and new songs). Formed in Las Vegas in 2002, the band belongs to the lineage of high-energy rock bands that manage to be both commercially successful and critically acclaimed (both of their studio albums have received endless column inches bursting with praise), and it's almost mind-blowing to consider that without the classifieds section of a local paper, they might have never been.
Flowers first met guitarist Keuning while perusing said classifieds for fellow musicians; when Dave's ad mentioned The Beatles, Oasis and more, Flowers knew he was on the right track. They claimed the name The Killers (taken from the bass drum of a fictional band in a New Order video), and eventually recruited Stoermer and Vannucci into the fold, all of them agreeing that there seemed to be an intangible something to the music they were making, as well as the response they were generating from people who saw them play. And as these performances became bigger and bigger, and praise for the band began to spread rapidly, A&R men came from the UK and the US to see them, eventually leading them to sign with Island Records in America. Their debut, Hot Fuss, catapulted them onto the global stage upon its 2004 release, selling millions of copies around the world. The band toured for two years straight behind Hot Fuss, playing more than four-hundred shows, and eventually returned to Vegas to begin to work…