The Killers


The Killers
The Killers

The Killers in concert
Background information
Origin Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Genres Indie rock,[1] alternative rock,[2] post-punk revival,[2] New Wave[3]
Years active 2001–present
Labels Island, Vertigo, Marrakesh
Website thekillersmusic.com
Members
Brandon Flowers
Dave Keuning
Mark Stoermer
Ronnie Vannucci Jr.

The Killers are an American rock band that was formed in 2001, by Brandon Flowers (lead vocals, keyboards) and Dave Keuning (guitar, backing vocals). Mark Stoermer (bass, backing vocals) and Ronnie Vannucci Jr. (drums, percussion) would complete the current line-up of the band in 2002.

The Killers have released three studio albums, Hot Fuss (2004), Sam's Town (2006) and Day & Age (2008). They have also released one compilation album, Sawdust (2007) containing B-sides, rarities, and unreleased material, and one live album and DVD titled Live From The Royal Albert Hall (2009).

To date, the band has sold over 6 million albums in the United States, over 5 million albums in the United Kingdom and over 15 million worldwide.[4]

The name The Killers comes from the bass drum of a fictional band in the music video for the New Order song "Crystal".[5]

Contents

History

Formation (2001–2002)

In 2001, Brandon Flowers was abandoned by his first band, a synthpop trio known as Blush Response,[5] after he declined to move with them to Los Angeles, California.
After seeing Oasis play at the Hard Rock Hotel, Flowers realized his calling was to be in a rock band and began searching for a guitar player. He eventually came across an ad posted in a Las Vegas newspaper by Dave Keuning, who shared similar musical influences. The pair began writing songs together in Keuning's apartment. And by the end of 2001, they had recorded a demo tape at Kill The Messenger Studio in Henderson, Nevada, the demo featured four tracks including early versions of "Mr. Brightside" and "Under the Gun". Local drummer Matt Norcross played drums on the demo while Dell Neal who was Keuning's roommate at the time covered bass on two of the tracks.

Keuning and Flowers played their first live show together at an open mic night at the Cafe Espresso Roma in Las Vegas in January 2002. The pair joined by Neal and Norcross began playing numerous venues around Las Vegas where they would also hand out free copies of their demo.[6] The Killers brought a unique style to the small Vegas music scene which was predominately filled with Punk, Nu Metal and Rap bands, one local reviewer stated "The Killers, thankfully, dont come across like any other band in town." and described their sound as a mix between the "pop styles of British music and the lo-fi fuzz of modern indie rock."[7]. However, The Killers early live sound was also described as being erratic and by the summer of 2002 the band had fired drummer Matt Norcross, he was briefly replaced with Brian Havens, who was also eventually fired. Bassist Dell Neal later left the band due to personal reasons. [8]

By August 2002, drummer Ronnie Vannucci Jr. had joined the band; bass player Mark Stoermer completed the band's line up soon after. Both Vannucci and Stoermer befriended Keuning and Flowers while playing with other bands on the live circuit in Las Vegas. The band initially practiced in Vannucci's garage as he was the only member who owned a house. The band would sneak into the band room of UNLV (where Vannucci was studying percussion) at night to practice. The band claimed that they wrote much of the debut album Hot Fuss during these sessions including the hit single "Somebody Told Me".[9]

Getting signed (2003-2004)

Initially, The Killers played at small clubs in Las Vegas, where the band built up a small but loyal following. Talent scout Braden Merrick spotted the band after hearing one of their demos on a local Vegas music website,[10] after seeing them perform live he offered to become the band's manager.

He took the band to Berkeley, California to record demos with Jeff Saltzman and Mark Needham, they then sent the demo tapes to major record labels in the US; most of the record labels turned them down but they were invited to perform at a showcase for Warner Bros. Though Warner did not like the band they did catch the eye of Alex Gilbert, a British representative for the label, Gilbert took the demo back with him, showing it to friend Ben Durling, who worked at UK indie label Lizard King Records. When label head Martin Heath was asked in an interview with HitQuarters what appealed to him about the band he said, "Great and interesting original-sounding songs. When we met Brandon Flowers for the first time it was very clear to me that he was a major star. He had huge charisma. He completely believed in what he was doing. He just stood out and carried the music."[11] The Killers signed with the British label in July 2003.[12]

On the 19 August 2003, "Mr. Brightside" premiered on DJ Zane Lowe's BBC Radio 1 show in the UK.[13] The Killers then travelled to London and began to play shows in bars and clubs, the crowds grew every night through word of mouth and critical reviews were extremely positive, on 29 September 2003 they released Mr. Brightside on a limited number of CDs and vinyl records in the UK. As a result of the buzz from the UK, upon returning to the US they were invited to play at the ASCAP CMJ Music Marathon in New York City[14] many labels were keen to sign the band afterwards and they eventually agreed to sign with Island Def Jam in early 2004.[9]

Hot Fuss (2004–2006)

The Killers released their debut album Hot Fuss in June 2004 in the United Kingdom on Lizard King Records and in the United States on Island Records.[15] Hot Fuss reached Number 1 in the UK and has been classified 6x Platinum by the BPI.[16] It also reached the top spot in Australia, where it was certified 3x Platinum, and has also been certified 3x Platinum in the United States and Canada.[17] On the UK version of Hot Fuss Glamorous Indie Rock and Roll replaces Change Your Mind as track 8.

The band's first headline tour started in the UK in May 2004, prior to that the band had played support slots for British Sea Power in the UK, Morrissey in the US and Stellastarr in both the UK and US, during the spring and summer of 2004 the group played much praised sets at festivals across Europe and North America which helped add to their growing fanbase.[18]

The band then had success with their singles "Mr. Brightside," which became the bands first Top 10 hit in both the UK and US,[19] "All These Things That I've Done,"[20] "Somebody Told Me," and "Smile Like You Mean It."[15]

In 2005, The Killers were nominated for three Grammy Awards; Hot Fuss was nominated for Best Rock Album while Somebody Told Me was nominated for two awards including Best Rock Song, in the UK they won an NME Award for Best International Band.[21]

In July 2005, The Killers performed on the London stage of the Live 8 concert, playing "All These Things That I've Done." Robbie Williams incorporated the song's refrain "I've got soul but I'm not a soldier" into his own performance.[22] Coldplay and U2 followed suit and, at their separate concerts played in Las Vegas, with The Killers in the crowd, incorporated the line into their songs "God Put a Smile Upon Your Face" and "Beautiful Day," respectively.[23]

As of 2011, Hot Fuss has sold over 7 million units worldwide, it was the 26th best-selling album of the decade in the United Kingdom. It spent 173 weeks on the UK Albums Chart, more than any other album.[24] Rolling Stone magazine ranked Hot Fuss as the 43rd best album in their "100 Best Albums of the Decade" list[25]

Sam's Town (2006–2007)

The Killers' second album, Sam's Town, was released in October 2006 under Island Def Jam Music Group.[26] Brandon Flowers said that Sam's Town would be "one of the best albums of the past twenty years";[27] It received a mixed response with some praising the album and others mocking it. The album sold over 706,000 copies worldwide in the first week of release, with a number two debut on the Billboard chart.[28] The record has been certified 4x Platinum in the United Kingdom, Platinum in the United States, and 2x Platinum in both Australia and Canada. The album produced four singles: "When You Were Young" (Platinum in the United States, Diamond in Brazil), "Bones", "Read My Mind" and "For Reasons Unknown".

The Killers recorded a live session at Abbey Road Studios for Live from Abbey Road on November 29, 2006.[29] They performed an almost totally unplugged set, which included a rendition of the Dire Straits hit "Romeo and Juliet". In December 2006 the band released a Christmas charity song (the first of what would become an annual tradition), "A Great Big Sled", which benefited Product Red.

In February 2007, The Killers attended the BRIT Awards in the United Kingdom, where they performed "When You Were Young". The band won two awards — Best International Group & International Album.[30] In the same month the bands Tim Burton directed video for Bones won Best Video at the NME Awards. During the Sam's Town Tour The Killers headlined the iconic Madison Square Garden for the first time as well as Glastonbury Festival.[31]

In December 2009, Sam's Town was voted by readers of Rolling Stone magazine as the most underrated album of the decade.[32] In the UK Chart Sam's Town was the 70th best selling album of the decade and Q magazine ranked it as the 11th best album of the decade.[33]

As of 2011 the album has sold over 4.5 million units worldwide.

Sawdust (2007–2008)

The band released a compilation album called Sawdust, containing B-sides, rarities, and unreleased material, in November 2007. Sawdust has been classified Platinum by the BPI.[34] The album's first single "Tranquilize", a collaboration with Lou Reed, was released in October 2007.[34] The first pressing of Sawdust contained a rare demo version of "Move Away" which Brandon Flowers later stated was a mistake on the part of the band's record label; the proper version the group intended to put on the album was previously available on the Spider-Man 3 soundtrack is included on later pressings of Sawdust.[35]

In 2008 the band picked up two awards in the first NME Awards USA, including "Best Band" and "Best Track" for "Tranquilize", "Sawdust" was also nominated for best album. [21]

Day & Age (2008–2010)

The Killers performing in September 2009 in the United States

The Killers' third album, Day & Age, was released on November 24, 2008 in the UK and November 25, 2008 in North America. They worked with Stuart Price who did the Thin White Duke remix of "Mr Brightside" and produced "Leave the Bourbon on the Shelf" and "Sweet Talk". The first single from the album was "Human" which was released on September 22 and has been certified Platinum by the RIAA.[36] Day & Age became the band's third studio album to reach number one in both the UK and Ireland, it reached number six on the Billboard 200 album chart.[37] It has also been certified 4x Platinum by the BPI.

In February 2009 the band won Best International band at the NME Awards for the third time following wins in 2005, 2008 & 2009.

During the summer of 2009, The Killers headlined a number of festivals across Europe including the Friday night show of 2009's Hard Rock Calling in Hyde Park, London , they also headlined American festivals Lollapalooza and Coachella for the first time. On July 5–6 at the Royal Albert Hall, London The Killers recorded their first live DVD, "Live from the Royal Albert Hall". It was released in November and played at various cinemas across the globe. Live from Royal Albert Hall was certified 4x Platinum by the BPI (UK) and Platinum by the RIAA (US).

Their song "A White Demon Love Song" was added to the New Moon soundtrack.

In late February 2010, Flowers' mother died after a two year fight with brain cancer. This meant a premature closing of their Day and Age tour cancelling the Asian dates. Two Australian dates in Sydney and Perth were cancelled; however, both the Gold Coast and Melbourne concerts went ahead, with the Day & Age tour finally coming to a close in Melbourne on February 21 as the headline act at the Good Vibrations Festival at Flemington Racecourse.[38]

Hiatus (2010–2011)

In January 2010, the band announced that they will take a short break after being on the road for the better part of six years.[39][40]

The band, invited by US President Barack Obama, played on the White House South Lawn on July 4, 2010 for the second annual "Salute To The Military" United Service Organizations concert as part of Independence Day celebrations, which Flowers described as a "monumental honour".[41] Despite their hiatus, the band got together to play "Human", "Somebody Told Me", "Mr. Brightside", "A Dustland Fairytale", "God Bless America/Read My Mind" and "When You Were Young".[42] The band also played at a progressive campaign rally on July 8, 2010 in Nevada for Obama and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid who was up for re-election. The Killers played an acoustic version of "Read My Mind" and did a folksy rendition of the state song, "Home Means Nevada".

The Killers released their fifth Christmas single, titled "Boots" on November 30, 2010 in North America, despite the band taking a break.[43]

The band performed a tune called "Spaceship Adventure" for the February 7 2011 episode of Nickelodeon's "Yo Gabba Gabba."[44]

They were the inaugural headliner of the new International Lollapalooza Festival in Santiago, Chile on April 2, 2011.[45] They also performed at the season closing Top of the Mountain concert in Ischgl, Austria on April 30, 2011.[46] They headlined for the second time Hard Rock Calling in Hyde Park, London on June 24, 2011.[47] The Killers was the inaugural headliner of the new Orlando Calling Festival in Orlando, FL on November 12, 2011.[48]

In October 2011, The Killers contributed a cover of Ultraviolet (Light My Way) to a cover album of U2's acclaimed 1991 album Achtung Baby. The cover album, entitled "AHK-toong BAY-bi Covered", was released in the October 25th issue of Q Magazine, and features covers by artists such as Jack White, Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode, and Patti Smith. [49]

Battle Born (2011-present)

The band began work on their fourth studio album, tentatively titled "Battle Born"[50], in May 2011 at their Las Vegas studio.[51] In a Q Magazine interview taken in June, Flowers stated that album would have "great stories told through real rock music", potential songs include a seven-minute epic titled "The Slot Tech", "Runaways" and "The Rising Tide."[52] In September, drummer Ronnie Vannucci told NME that the band would begin recording the album in Nashville, Tennessee in October, and that the producer had been chosen. Both Vannucci and Flowers have stated that the album will feature a heavier use of guitars than their previous album Day & Age.[53]

Christmas singles and other Charity work

The Killers have become recognized for their work with the Product Red campaign, headed by Bono and Bobby Shriver. To date they have released five Christmas themed songs and music videos, A Great Big Sled (2006), Don't Shoot Me Santa (2007), Joseph, Better You Than Me (2008), ¡Happy Birthday Guadalupe! (2009) and Boots (2010); all proceeds from which have been donated to Product Red campaign and the fight against AIDS in Africa. They have also enlisted the help of other acts including Elton John, Neil Tennant (Pet Shop Boys), Toni Halliday (Curve), Wild Light and Mariachi El Bronx.[54] The songs have been released each year on World AIDS Day, December 1.

Additionally, their song "Goodnight, Travel Well" was used in an effort to promote awareness for sex trafficking headed by UNICEF, MTV EXIT (End Exploitation And Trafficking) and the US Agency for International Development.[55][56] The song "Hotel California" was covered by the Killers and Rhythms del Mundo for climate crisis and natural disaster relief. [57][58]

Solo Work and Collaborations

The Killers own and operate Battle Born Studios where members recorded Day & Age, Flamingo, Big Talk and Another Life. Other artists who have recorded there include members of Motley Crue, Elton John, Third Eye Blind, Aerosmith, Kansas, Jerry Lee Lewis, BB King, Howling Bells and Wayne Newton.

  • On September 3, 2010, Brandon Flowers released a solo album, entitled Flamingo. It reached Number 1 in the UK where it has been certified Gold.[59]
  • Drummer Ronnie Vannucci released an album in a side project called Big Talk via his own record label, Little Oil, in a team effort with Epitaph Records. The album was released on July 19, 2011.[60]
  • Vannucci also featured as a guest artist on Mt. Desolation's self-titled debut album. He plays drums on Track 7. He also features as a guitarist.
  • Bassist Mark Stoermer released his debut solo album titled Another Life on November 1, 2011 as a free download via markstoermer.com for a limited time only, a physical release on both CD and vinyl will follow at a yet to be announced date. The album will be self-released.[61]
  • Stoermer has also produced Howling Bells third studio album, The Loudest Engine, which was released on September 12, 2011.[62][63]

Band members

Official line-up

  • Brandon Flowers (2001–present) - lead vocals, keyboards, bass guitar
  • Dave Keuning (2001–present) - lead guitar, backing vocals
  • Mark Stoermer (2002–present) - bass guitar, backing vocals, guitar
  • Ronnie Vannucci Jr. (2002–present) - drums, percussion

Former members

  • Matthew Norcross (2001–2002) - drums
  • Dell Neal (2002) - bass guitar
  • Brian Havens (2002) - drums

Additional musicians on tour

  • Ted Sablay (2006–2007, 2010–2011) - keyboards, guitar
  • Ray Suen (2008–2010) - keyboards, guitar, violin, backing vocals
  • Tommy Marth (2008–2010) - saxophone, backing vocals
  • Rob Whited (2008-2010) - percussion, backing vocals
  • Jake Blanton (2011-) - keyboards, guitar, backing vocals

Reception

Awards and nominations

The Killers have won four NME Awards: "Best International Band" in 2005, 2008 and 2009 and Best Video for "Bones" in 2006. They have also picked up two awards in the first NME Awards USA in 2008 for "Best Band" and "Best Track" for "Tranquilize". The Killers have also been nominated for seven Grammy Awards, but have yet to win. In 2006 the band won the BRIT Award for "Best International Band" and the album Sam's Town won "Best International Album".

Acclaim

11 songs by The Killers feature in the book XFM's 1000 Greatest Songs Of All Time, frontman Brandon Flowers also wrote a foreword for the book.[64]

In November 2009, "Mr. Brightside" was voted the best song of the decade by the listeners of the British alternative rock station XFM.[65] Over 14,000 individual votes were cast by XFM listeners via the station's official website. "Somebody Told Me" was ranked #9[65] and "All These Things That I've Done" was ranked #22.[66] Other songs not in the Top 25 include "When You Were Young" at #31,[67] "Read My Mind" at #86,[68] and "Human" at #94.[69][70]

Absolute Radio listeners also voted "Mr. Brightside" as the best song of the decade.

The readers of the American music magazine Rolling Stone, in December 2009, voted Sam's Town the "most underrated album of the decade".[71] The magazine also ranked Hot Fuss as the 43rd best album in their "100 Best Albums of the Decade" list.[72] and Mr. Brightside was ranked the 48th Best Song Of The Decade.[73] In 2008, Rolling Stone readers voted Day & Age the "Album of the Year".[74]

The Killers were at #2 on the Last.fm "Best of 2009" list with 12,471,571 album scrobbles.[75] in April 2010 Last.fm revealed that Mr. Brightside was the most listened to track since the launch of the online music service, with over 7.66 million plays scrobbled.[76]

Amazon.com UK released their lists of the best-selling artists and albums of the decade,[77] with The Killers coming in at #3 in Top 10 best-selling artists of the decade

Spin voted The Killers among the 30 Biggest Concerts of 2009[78] for their January 19 show at Magness Arena in Denver, Colorado. Spin's Tim Dwenger wrote about the show saying, "The production quality of the show was top notch, and it was immediately clear why The Killers are on the arena circuit."[79]

NME listed "Mr. Brightside" as the #5 best track on their "150 Best Tracks of the Past 15 Years" list. "All These Things That I've Done" came in at #56 and "Human" came in at #144.[80]

In December 2009, "Mr. Brightside" was voted the second-best song of the decade (and the best song by a non-British act) on the UK Channel 4 TV show Greatest Songs of the Noughties.[81]

Hot Fuss was the 26th best-selling album of the decade in the United Kingdom. It spent 173 weeks on the UK Albums Chart, more than any other album. Sam's Town was the 70th best-selling album of the decade in the UK.[82]

In October 2010, "Mr. Brightside" was voted #9 in the Greatest Guitar Riffs of the 21st Century so far by Total Guitar magazine [83]

Discography

Studio albums
Compilation albums
Live albums
  • Live from the Royal Albert Hall (2009)
Solo albums

Tours

  • Hot Fuss Tour (2003–2005)
  • Sam's Town Tour (2006–2007)
  • Day & Age Tour (2008–2010)

See also

  • List of awards and nominations received by The Killers

References

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