The Killers come to Sandance - interview

Drummer Ronnie Vannucci chats ahead of Dubai gig

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With an eclectic roll call of bands, ranging from classic reggae and folk to Chicago-infused house and stadium rock, Sandance has really pulled out all the stops for the new season. Here we put the festival under the spotlight and speak to some of the headline artists involved.

Ronnie Vannucci from The Killers chats about life on the road and the band’s latest album, Battle Born
Having taken an 18-month hiatus following the band’s Day & Age tour, during which Vannucci Jr produced an album with his side project Big Talk, The Killers returned last year with Battle Born, an anthemic album created with a string of big-name producers including Stuart Price, Steve Lillywhite and Brendan O’Brien. The subsequent promotional tour for the record has seen them sell out arenas across the world, including playing their biggest show to date to over 70,000 fans at Wembley, in the UK, in June this year. We chat to Vannucci about life on the road and the band’s musical direction ahead of Sandance.

How is it being back on the road again?
It’s good. It’s exhausting, we’ve just come off of having played for more than a year straight now. I think that we’re playing better than we ever have before, so that’s good. The shows are better than they’ve ever been.

Is that because of the break?
I can’t help but think that had something to do with it, a nice little reset. After this tour, I think we’re going to need another reset because we hit it so hard. It’s tough to do, man. It’s not only the physical stresses of being here, there and everywhere in a month’s time, it does mess with your brain a bit. You’ve got to take time to be normal at some point, otherwise you get weird.

Is it harder to keep going with so many shows. Do you really need to perform as much? Surely you can pick and choose your concerts these days?
Well, I hate looking at it that way because I don’t ever want to take for granted what hard work actually accomplishes. I don’t ever want to rest on what we’ve done before. I’m into movement and mobility – I want to keep creating and moving forward.

Is there a conflict between that and feeling like the crowd always expect you to play the well-known songs from your back catalogue?
It’s a juggling act. You learn how to do both. There are people who really like the songs that you wrote ten years ago and then you have to satisfy your own brains with new stuff. That’s how it is for me. I feel like it is for everybody. I can’t speak for everyone else in the band – I mean, it’s just me and you talking – but I want to keep moving forward, I want to keep creating. As far as what the world knows, they only know what we tapped into, like, five years ago. It takes a while to get the rest of it out. I’d like to keep that all going.

By contrast, Battle Born feels like much more of an arena album. Was that a natural result of the sort of venues you play these days or was there a conscious effort to make the record that way?
A little bit of both. I think that when we were writing these songs in a room together, we were looking at how these songs would translate live – how can we custom build these songs to be live songs? And that’s actually how we did the record, we tried to play as much live as possible.

The Killers play Sandance, October 11, tickets from Dhs295. www.timeouttickets.com

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