Brandon Flowers on Jamming with Haim and Why He Hates Wearing Suits Onstage
It's always challenging for indie bands to stay relevant, and few existing acts have had as much long-term success as The Killers. The Las Vegas-based quartet fronted by the devilishly handsome Brandon Flowers is pretty much an anomaly: After cementing their place in the music scene in 2004 with the release of their critically-acclaimed debut album Hot Fuss (and a very memorable performance on The O.C.), they returned two years later with Sam's Town, which yielded "When You Were Young"—largely viewed as one of their most successful singles to date.
RELATED: Marina Diamandis Talks Froot and Shedding Her Electra Heart Alter-EgoSubsequently, 2008's Day & Age and 2012's Battle Born sold a collective four million copies and earned a slew of awards, including Best International Band by NME. But despite the group's massive worldwide success, their fearless leader Brandon Flowers has chosen to fly solo in recent years, coming out with his second of two albums this May, called The Desired Effect. But die-hard fans need not worry: According to Flowers, The Killers aren't going anywhere. We caught up with the singer after his show at Webster Hall in N.Y.C. Here's an excerpt from our conversation:
What was it like growing up in Vegas? Are you a big fan of The Strip?I love it. Some people can't wrap their heads around it. I actually grew up on the outskirts in a town called Henderson, but we'd visit when family members would come in from out of town. We'd go see The Mirage, or The Luxor would be finished and be the biggest hotel in the world. There was always something exciting happening.
I read you worked as a bell boy out there.I started out working at golf courses and then I moved on to bussing tables at Caesar's Palace and The Aladdin. Then I became a bell man at The Gold Coast just off the strip. I thought it was very exciting. I thrived off of the hustle and bustle and the turnover rate.
Should fans of The Killers be worried about your burgeoning solo career?No, it's nothing too different from the last one. An ideal world for me is to be able to do them both right now.
The Desired Effect sounds like a departure from your last solo album (2010's Flamingo). Is that due to teaming up with producer Ariel Rechtshaid (Haim, Vampire Weekend, Madonna)?Ariel's funky. He brings the funk.
He must've recruited Danielle Haim for your collaboration on "Can't Deny My Love."He produced their record, so she was around. A lot of people don't realize what a great dummer she is and how musical she is.
Haim had a big blowout debut similar to The Killers in 2004. Do you have any words of wisdom for the sisters?It's tough. The ideal trajectory for a band used to be to start off and get bigger as you go, and you evolve and you have a breakthrough record. That's the romantic notion of it all. But when you come out with a big record first, you're just instantly thrust into the limelight and all those expectations are put on you. They should just approach the next record like there's no tomorrow—just like they would've done the first one. One of the best pieces of advice we ever got was from Bono: "Spare us the interesting second record." One is great, but it isn't enough.
Are you sick of playing songs from Hot Fuss at this point?I think it's nice. There are people that are going to be at the concerts that have heard it live 100 times, and there are people that it'll still be their first time, so I'm still buzzing off of that. I haven't gotten tired of it yet.
Let's talk about your style for a minute. You used to be a big proponent of the suit. What made you decide to abandon that look?Honestly, it's tough to perform in. The more that I got involved in becoming the frontman, the harder it was. You think of Freddie Mercury onstage in a tank top and a pair of jeans, and he was free to perform. Had he been confined to a three-piece suit, he wouldn't have been the performer that he was. But there's probably a middle ground we could find without being as scantily clad as Freddie was.
Do you have a favorite piece in your wardrobe right now?Probably the sparkly Saint Laurent jacket I wore on The Tonight Show. I hate saying the name [of the designer], though. I call it "S.L."
Listen to "Can't Deny My Love" below, and pre-order The Desired Effect for $8 on the iTunes Store.