Brandon Flowers, American singer and keyboard player with American rock band The Killers was born June 21st 1981. The killers were 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) completed the current line-up of the band in 2002.
The name The Killers is derived from a logo on the bass drum of a fictitious band portrayed in the music video for the New Order song “Crystal”.The group has released three studio albums, Hot Fuss (2004), Sam’s Town (2006) and Day & Age (2008)and Battle Born. They have also released one compilation album, Sawdust (2007) 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.
The Killers trace their beginings to 2001, when Flowers was fired by his first band, a Las Vegas synthpop trio known as Blush Response After attending an Oasis concert at the Hard Rock Hotel during The Tour of Brotherly Love, Flowers realized his calling was to be in a rock band and began searching for like-minded musicians. He eventually came across an ad posted in a Las Vegas newspaper by Dave Keuning, a 25-year-old guitarist who had moved to Vegas from Iowa a year earlier. When the pair met they bonded over similar musical influences and immediately began writing songs together in Keuning’s apartment. In November 2001, they headed to Kill The Messenger Studio in Henderson, Nevada along with recently recruited drummer Matt Norcross to begin recording a demo; they recorded two tracks: “Mr. Brightside”, which was the first song Flowers and Keuning wrote together, and “Desperate”. A month later they recorded two more, “Under the Gun” and “Replaceable”, with Keuning’s roommate Dell Neal on bass.
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 venues around the city where they would also hand out free copies of their demo. 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, don’t 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. However, The Killers, whose early live sound was also described as erratic, had, by the summer of 2002, fired drummer Matt Norcross and replaced him briefly with Brian Havens, who also was eventually fired. Bassist Dell Neal later left the band due to personal reasons.
Ronnie Vannucci Jr. joined The Killers shortly before Neal’s departure. Vannucci was well-known on the Las Vegas music scene, having played in numerous bands since a young age. It was while he was drumming for other bands including Daphne Major and Romance Fantasy in 2002 that he had met The Killers. Ronnie’s first show with the band was on August 30, 2002, at a club called The Junkyard. Playing bass for The Killers that night was Mark Stoermer, who was at this point the lead guitarist for local progressive rock band The Negative Ponies. The band were keen on Stoermer joining them on a permanent basis with full commitment, but he was reluctant to leave The Negative Ponies. Stoermer eventually accepted the invitation to join. According to Ryan Pardey who booked many of the band’s early shows “They (The Killers) became a great band when Ronnie and Mark joined.
The four of them would get together in Vannucci’s garage to work on song ideas. They would also sneak into the band room at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (where Vannucci was studying classical percussion) at night to practice. It was during this period that the band wrote much of their debut album Hot Fuss including hit singles “Somebody Told Me” and “Smile Like You Mean It”. The band continued playing at small venues around their hometown, often playing Sunday nights at a transvestite bar named Sasha’s (later renamed Tramps).
Braden Merrick, brothers dicvoereed their demo on a website dedicated to unsigned bands in the Las Vegas area; after attending a live show he offered to help the band find a record deal and eventually became their manager. He took the band to the San Francisco area, to Berkeley, California, to record demos with former Green Day manager Jeff Saltzman, they then sent the demo tapes out to major record labels in the US. The band was invited to perform at a number of showcases but were ultimately not signed, the band however did catch the eye of Alex Gilbert, who was an A&R rep from the United Kingdom. Gilbert took a demo with him back to the UK and showed it to his friend Ben Durling, who worked at the newly formed Independent label Lizard King Records in London. Despite not yet meeting the band in person, Lizard King were quick to offer the band a deal based on the strength of the five song demo. The Killers signed with the British label in July 2003.
On August 19, 2003, the song “Mr. Brightside” premiered on DJ Zane Lowe’s BBC Radio 1 show in the UK The Killers travelled to London the following month to spend a week playing at influential live music venues across the city. On September 29, 2003, the song “Mr. Brightside” was released in the UK on a limited number of CDs and vinyl records, critical reviews of both the song and the shows were positive, NME magazine noted the band’s retro sound. Then the US began showing strong interest in the band and they were invited to play at the ASCAP CMJ Music Marathon in New York City. They eventually signed with the record company Island Def Jam
The band finished recording Hot Fuss in November 2003 with Jeff Saltzman, they decided to keep many of the previously recorded demos as they felt they had a spontaneity that re-recordings would not have. Shortly afterwards they returned to London having been invited to support British Sea Power on their UK tour, the band also worked with Alan Moulder at Eden Studios and Townhouse Studios mixing tracks for their upcoming album. They continued playing support slots during the first half of 2004 most notably touring both the US & UK with Stellastarr and opening for Morrissey on two separate occasions. The band filmed their first music video for the Spring 2004 release of “Somebody Told Me” which was to be the band’s debut single in the US and second single in the UK. The band’s first headline tour started in the UK in May 2004. During the spring and summer of 2004, the group played well-received sets at festivals across Europe and North America which helped add to their growing fanbase. The Killers released their debut album Hot Fuss on June 7, 2004 in the United Kingdom on Lizard King Records and a week later in the United States on Island Records.
The track listing differed depending on territory, in the UK and Australia “Glamorous Indie Rock and Roll” replaces “Change Your Mind” as track eight. Extensive touring and the success of the Grammy Award nominated singles “Somebody Told Me”, “All These Things That I’ve Done” and “Mr. Brightside” led to the album becoming a huge commercial success. The Killers were named The World’s Best Selling New Group at the 2005 World Music Awards, and also won the MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist and were also nominated for three Grammy Awards with Hot Fuss being nominated for Best Rock Album, in the UK they picked up an NME Award for Best International Band. The band was recognized by Rolling Stone as the “best-selling new rock band of the past year” in June 2005. Lead singer Brandon Flowers had also gained media attention, being named both Sexiest and Best Dressed Man at the NME Awards, In July 2005, The Killers performed at 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. 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.
The band fired manager Braden Merrick in 2006, Merrick later filed a lawsuit against the band for breach of contract and their new manager and lawyer Robert Reynolds for $16 million each.The band counter sued citing that Merrick’s poor management had cost them millions. The case was settled in 2009. Shortly after finishing touring for Hot Fuss, The Killers headed back into the studio to start recording their highly anticipated second studio album with producers Alan Moulder and Flood, who were working together for the first time in a decade. Sam’s Town was mostly recorded at Studio at the Palms in Las Vegas, with finishing touches added to the album at Criterion Studios, London in June 2006. Upon completion of the album, Flowers claimed he felt the band had made “one of the best albums of the past twenty years” and that he wanted the album to capture “everything important that got me to where I am today”. In July 2006, the lead single “When You Were Young” was premiered and it became a hit, gaining another two Grammy Award nominations and mostly positive reviews with many bringing attention to the influence of Heartland rock on the song Dustland Fairytale The Killers’ second album, Sam’s Town, was named after a locals casino in the band’s hometown of Las Vegas.The Killers also recorded a live session at Abbey Road Studios for Live from Abbey Road on November 29, 2006. They performed an almost totally unplugged set, which included stripped back versions of the album’s title track “Sam’s Town”, “When You Were Young” and a rendition of the Dire Straits hit “Romeo and Juliet”. In December 2006 the band released a Christmas charity song, “A Great Big Sled”, which benefited Product Red. This has since become an annual tradition.
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. In the same month the band’s Tim Burton-directed video for the album’s second single “Bones” won Best Video at the NME Awards. The band recorded the video for third single “Read My Mind” in Tokyo, Japan during a break in their Sam’s Town Tour, the single release was accompanied by a remix of the song by the Pet Shop Boys. The Killers also began headlining arenas including Madison Square Garden for the first time, they also headlined a number of major European festivals during 2007 including Glastonbury Festival. The band released a compilation album called Sawdust, containing B-sides, rarities and unreleased material in November 2007 including the song “Tranquilize”, a collaboration with Lou Reed, And a cover of “Shadowplay” by Joy Division which was recorded for the soundtrack to the Anton Corbijn directed biopic Control.
The band enlisted Stuart Price to produce their third studio album, he had previously remixed their songs under his Jacques Lu Cont moniker, the most notable being the remix of “Mr. Brightside”. They first met Price at his London home in 2007 to discuss the possibility of him producing some unreleased tracks for their b-sides album Sawdust, they recorded a demo of “Human” a new song that would become the eventual lead single from Day & Age which was released in October 2008 with Brandon Flowers describing the song as “Johnny Cash meets the Pet Shop Boys”. The song went on to become a huge hit worldwide, the lyric “Are we human, or are we dancer?” created much confusion and debate due to its grammar and ambiguity, with some believing the lyric was “dancers” or “denser” rather than “dancer”, Flowers explained that the line was inspired by a Hunter S. Thompson quote where he stated America was raising “a generation of dancers”. The Killers’ third album, Day & Age, was released on November 18, 2008. Brandon Flowers stated that “Day & Age” was “like looking at Sam’s Town from Mars”, the band have called it their “most playful record” with the album making use of saxophones, steel drums, harpsichord & tribal chanting. It also became a huge success and contains the songs “Goodnight, Travel Well” and “A Dustland Fairytale”. The band embarked on the Day & Age World Tour, on every continent except Antarctica and headlined US festivals Lollapalooza and Coachella. In 2009 The Killers recorded their first live DVD, “Live from the Royal Albert Hall”.
From 2010 The Killers to a break Which lasted for about a year-and-a-half, during which band members devoted themselves on solo projects. sadly in 2010, Flowers’ mother died after a two-year fight with brain cancer. This resulted in the cancellation of dates in Asia. Two Australian dates in Sydney and Perth were also 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. In 2011 the Killers headlined the new International Lollapalooza Festival in Santiago, Chile and performed at the season closing Top of the Mountain concert in Ischgl, Austria on April 30, 2011. They headlined Hard Rock Calling for the second time in Hyde Park, London on June 24, 2011 and The Killers were also the inaugural headliner of the new Orlando Calling Festival in Orlando, FL on November 12, 2011. Sadly In April 2012, Tommy Marth, who had played saxophone on the band’s Sam’s Town and Day & Age albums, toured with the band during their Day & Age World Tour and can be seen performing with the band on the Live From The Royal Albert Hall DVD, committed suicide at his Las Vegas home. The band released their fourth successful studio album “Battle Born” in 2012, produced by Steve Lillywhite, Damian Taylor, Brendan O’Brien, Stuart Price and Daniel Lanois featuring the single “Runaways”. They also headlined Saturday night at the inaugural Firefly Music Festival in Dover, Delaware. The band’s Battle Born World Tour includedAmerica, Europe, Australia, Russia and China. They also headlined festivals across Europe, Australia, South America & North America. In October 2013 The Killers headlined the inaugural Life Is Beautiful Festival in Las Vegas, concluding their Battle Born World Tour.
On September 16, 2013, exactly ten years to the day of their first show in London, The Killers released “Shot at the Night” which was produced by Anthony Gonzalez. The also released their first greatest hits compilation, Direct Hits on November 11, 2013, featuring songs from all four studio albums, plus the new single “Shot at the Night” and another new song “Just Another Girl”. the band also played a number of festivals in 2014 including the opening night of the new T-Mobile Arena on the Las Vegas strip on April 6, 2016. the band (including Stoermer) also celebrated the tenth anniversary of their second album, Sam’s Town, by playing two nights at the Sam’s Town Hotel and Gambling Hall, which the album was named after. The Killers wrote and performed all the instruments (minus the vocals) for the track “Mixed Signals” off Robbie Williams’ latest studio album, The Heavy Entertainment Show. In 2016, The Killers released a Christmas compilation album Don’t Waste Your Wishes with 100% of proceeds donated to the Product Red campaign they will headline the 2017 Australian Football League (AFL)Grand Final entertainment show on September 30, 2017
Some of the Killers best known songs are Mr Brightside,smile like you mean it, When You were Young, Bones, Read my Mind and For Reasons Unknown. The Killers have also performed at T in the Park, Lollapalooza, Glastonbury Festival, V Festival and performed a barnstorming set at the 2013 Isle of Wight Festival. Brandon Flowers has also released two solo albums. His second solo album “The Desired Effect” was released in May 2015 and is described as a collection of big bold and brassy Stadium Ready pop/rock anthems. The Killers are set to release their fifth album, entitled Wonderful Wonderful, on September 20, 2017. The lead single, “The Man”, was released on June 14, 2017.