Ronnie Vannucci interview

The Killers' drummer talks up his solo project


Solo project alert! The Killers’ amiable, hard-hitting sticksman Ronnie Vannucci Jr (centre) got a bit bored while Brandon Flowers was off doing his solo album so ended up laying down an LP under the moniker Big Talk. Fans of The Killers circa Sam’s Town will definitely find a lot to love on this eponymous debut (out on Little Oil/Epitaph now). Less synth-based than The Killers’ recent output, this is proper top-down, wide-open-road rock. Here’s all you need to know about the Vannucc (that’s pronounced ‘Vanooch’).

The solo album was unintentional.
I’ve always messed around with songs, but I purposefully left them with holes so the guys [the rest of The Killers] could get their fingerprints on them. ‘Yeah! Fingerbang this, dudes! Make it good!’

He was pretty secretive about it at first.
I almost didn’t want to show anybody; let anybody know. It’s so novelty – like, ‘Drummer in band that some people know! This guy wants to sing and be Dave Grohl.’ I was mindful of that and I wanted to wait until I had some finished songs.

His songs are more ‘butt rock’ than The Killers’ output.
I just keep writing and writing. I’ve got songs that would work for Killers stuff and songs that are like butt rock. What’s butt rock? It’s for people who don’t have Spock hair and who actually like women. I guess I am a proud butt rocker.

Most importantly he’s having a good time with it.
Yeah, I’m nervous to play live, but at the same time it’s a load of fun to get out there and play guitar. I’m not really taking it that seriously, this isn’t like my real job. I’m glad I did it. It’s one of the things I’m most proud of.

He’s had a beard for some time now, but it’s not because he’s hiding a weak chin. There’s power in his follicles.
It’s not all me, it’s the beard bugs too – they help me out. Got a little team in there and if I even say the word ‘shave’, there’s a mutiny. ‘Let’s get him! Ingrown hair! ingrown hair!’

It’s really just laziness.
I haven’t cut my hair in a while, either. I am clean, though. I like to take showers a lot.

Vannucci Jr and his wife have a special Christmas tradition.
To get in the mood for Christmas, the wife and I watch classic Christmas movies throughout December. Anything from It’s a Wonderful Life to Four Christmases or something modern. Not every night, but we try to do it a lot. We have the Blu-ray now. Frosty the Snowman never looked so real.

Vannucci was quite the joiner in high school.
I did the Future Business Leaders of America; I was in drama club; I wrestled; I was in everything but they did not have a music club. There’s a sweet picture of me wrestling from my school yearbook that’s made it on to the internet. But I’m not like an athletic dude. I tried to be and failed. It was bad. I only won two matches.

He has his dog Archie’s embalmed balls on the mantel.
He’s a runt, a boxer and they’re prone to developing cancer so we had him clipped and I decided to keep his testicles. Actually, I made my wife ask to keep the testicles – I didn’t go there. They’re huge, too! He’s such a tiny puppy but they almost look human-sized just floating there – they look like tiny brains!

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