From small-time gigs in Las Vegas, to selling out Wembley Stadium and, finally, rocking Sandance this October, it’s been quite a journey for The Killers’ stylish frontman Brandon Flowers. Time Out sits down for a chat.
His head ringing with stadium cheers, his eyes rolling with platinum discs, Brandon Flowers might just be the most fulfilled man in rock. Having nurtured dreams of Bono-level stardom since his earliest years, this summer he and The Killers finally played their first stadium show at Wembley in London, penning a brand new song tracing their rise ‘from guitarist Dave [Keuning’s] bedroom’ to mark the occasion.
The celebrations roll on – in November they release greatest hits album Direct Hits to commemorate the tenth anniversary since they played their first gig outside America, in which time they’ve sold 15 million albums worldwide. To top it all off, they are set to play Sandance in Dubai on Friday October 11. Here, the style-savvy rocker fills us in on all things Killers.
Before the release of your 2012 album Battle Born The Killers took a four-year hiatus. What was the strangest thing you did with your time off?
Probably make a solo record [2010’s Flamingo]. Most people after touring and working that long probably wouldn’t have done that. I didn’t take time off really. I don’t wanna lose it. Creativity, if you don’t nurture it and work on it, it can go away. Even then, it doesn’t mean you’re gonna keep it just because you work on it either. So keeping on and writing is important to me.
Did anybody struggle with the break?
I don’t think so, no, they were rejoicing!
You took family camping trips during the break, what did you get up to?
I prefer places with hiking, but my kids are so small we went on little trails. People don’t realise how close to Vegas some of these places are. We saw deer 45 minutes from my front door. We have the Colorado River which supplies Lake Mead, the largest man-made lake in the world, it’s amazing. The Hoover Dam made this lake and I heard they’re gonna start filling it up as it’s low. I take my kids down to the lake and you can see where the water line where it used to be. My dad takes me and shows me where he used to cast when he would fish, now it’s dirt. It’s crazy!
How are the band getting on?
I don’t like it when we disagree, because it’s a democracy and we have different ideas on things, but it’s been pretty positive so far.
The album contains a prequel to ‘Mr Brightside’ called ‘Miss Atomic Bomb’. After singing about the bitterness of that real-life relationship in ‘Brightside’, was this your chance to lay it to rest?
It was 11 years ago so I’m obviously over the girl. It doesn’t keep me up at night, I’ve moved on, but there is a sense of closure in a weird way. It’s in the lyrics: ‘The dust has settled/My eyes are clear’.
The ‘Miss Atomic Bomb’ image comes from the families in the ’60s who’d go out to the desert to watch nuclear tests – did your family ever go?
My mom went out. Cancer doesn’t run in my family – no grandparents or great-grandparents or anything like that, nobody, and my mom had brain cancer. The trailer park where my family’s from, it’s in the desert and there’s these slabs of concrete left over from where the trailers were. I went there one night and a guy that grew up with my mom and dad was visiting his particular slab. He was there visiting his sister who had brain cancer, and his wife had died of it. So I instantly thought of the tests.
Did any films or books have an influence on your new tracks?
The Colour Of Money. It was a gift from my brother, another imparting of some kind of knowledge, a passage rite for me. It was music and certain films that he would introduce me to. Films like Caddy Shack of course, but this one was kinda out of the ordinary, I guess.
I love the soundtrack, Warren Zevon, Robert Palmer, Don Henley and stuff like that. It’s a combination of the whole vibe of that movie. And At Close Range, the Sean Penn movie. The way that movie looks and the way it’s lit is inspirational to me.
There’s been talk of you ditching flamboyance – anything you look back on with particular embarrassment?
Getting more comfortable in my own skin and feeling more confident is somehow taking the place of feathers and pink leather. I wouldn’t take back the feathers. I felt empowered when I put that jacket on, that was a ceremony, I loved it. But I can’t wear them forever. I gave them to the London Hard Rock.
What’s been your most extravagant spending spree?
I have a Ford F250 truck. It’s too big! I love driving it and I love that I have the freedom to do that.
The Killers play Sandance, October 11, tickets from Dhs295. www.timeouttickets.com