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Q&A: Brandon Flowers

The Killers singer worships the Strokes and can’t handle John Mayer

Brandon Flowers

Brandon Flowers of The Killers, during MTV's "TRL", January 18th, 2005.

James Devaney/WireImage/Getty

I‘M ENGAGED, AND THE REST OF the band is spoken for,” says Brandon Flowers, frontman for the Killers. “Yes, we’re slowly becoming the lamest band in the world.” Not just yet, though. Almost a year after its release, the Killers’ debut, Hot Fuss, is hanging near the top of the charts. In April, Flowers — a fashion-conscious Las Vegas native who occasionally defies his Mormon faith by smoking Marlboro Lights and drinking alcoholic beverages — will lead the Killers on a thirty-date U.S. tour before they trek to Europe in June to open stadium dates for U2.

When did you first realize you had a decent voice?
I was playing keyboards with a couple of guys before the Killers started. We demo-ed this one song, and the singer had the most awful voice I’d ever heard. The guitar player sang it next, and that didn’t work. They looked at me. So I went into a little closet, and when I came out the singer obviously didn’t like the fact that I was better than him. For them it was hard hitting the notes, but it just came naturally to me. And I loved it.

Your first band was called Blush Response. Has there ever been a worse band name?
Um, Kajagoogoo is pretty bad. And Steely Dan is a sad name. I like some of their songs, and they’re named after a dildo, but the name still sucks.

Do you remember your first time onstage with the Killers?
Me and Dave [Keuning] played Cafe Roma, in Vegas. It used to be a hip little place, right across from Unlv, where kids in black Converses could go drink coffee and smoke. There was an open mike, and we did “Mr. Brightside” and a song called “Replaceable.” It was terrible, awful. Before we went on, I was looking for a place on the floor to get rid of whatever I’d eaten that day. I didn’t throw up, but after my voice broke a couple of times I decided that I’d just play keyboards, because singing made me so nervous. But then I started drinking before those early gigs, like, six or seven beers, and that made it easier.

What’s the most sophisticated piece you can play on piano?
I’m not very good. I was at my peak when I was thirteen. I could play some Bach, who is my favorite classical musician, and I used to love playing Elton John, like “Your Song” and “The One.”

If you went to hell, what song would be playing over and over?
What song do I hate? I think “Daughters,” by John Mayer, would be a good candidate. I don’t know why he bugs me so bad.

Which Cars tune do you most wish you’d written
“Since You’re Gone” is a pretty good one, but I’ll go with “Heartbeat City.” [Sings] “Oh, I’m glad you made it, I can’t complain/Oh, Jackie, what took you so long?” I love the Cars! There’s a kid who lives down the street from me; he’s about fourteen. That’s the age when I started getting into the good stuff, so I bought him the Cure’s The Head on the Door and the Cars’ Greatest Hits.

Who’s more fun to play to: American or British crowds?
I think they appreciate music more in England because they’re not as spoiled as we are, you know, with the movies and cars and toys. They definitely like different songs. Like, we have a song called “Midnight Show,” and in America they love it. In England they don’t move at all. What’s wrong with them? [Laughs]

Who’s the best band out there?
The Strokes. I don’t really understand all the bad press for their second album. I like Room On Fire more than the first one. It’s got a similar feel to it, but they really grew.

What song would you like U2 to invite you to sing when you tour together?
I was in the car last night singing “Pride.” I have some lungs on me, but I cannot hit those high notes. So I hope Bono doesn’t call me out for that one. I really love the song “In a Little While,” from All That You Can’t Leave Behind. And I’d die to just be onstage with them and sing that one line, “And when I go there” [from “Where the Streets Have No Name”]. That’s the part for me.

What band would you like to see reunite?
I don’t obsess about it, but I’d like to see the Smiths. Morrissey and Marr wouldn’t do it for me — I need the whole package. But that seems unlikely because of the lawsuits. They’re due to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame soon. They’re all still alive, so I wonder what’ll happen.

Do you ever hang out with any hip-hop stars?
I met a couple of them at a Universal party. It was cool to meet Jay-Z. I watched someone go up to him and say how much they loved his outfit. Jay said, “Thanks, dog, it’s Purple.” I was really confused, because it wasn’t purple. Then I learned it was a Ralph Lauren Purple Label suit.

If your cell phone was hacked into, what celebrity numbers would be found?
Um, I don’t think I have any, besides Alex from Franz Ferdinand.

I saw David Bowie leaning over the balcony at your last New York show. That must’ve scared the shit out of you.
I could see him the entire time. I was fucking dying, ’cause he’s the one for me. He came backstage afterward, and I shook his hand, and he said, “I felt like I just saw the history of rock & roll.” I think he was basically saying we rip off from every genre.

Ouch.
No! It was a good thing.

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