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Q&A: Brandon Flowers

Killers frontman on Madonna, Memphis’ best ribs and ‘Pretty in Pink’

Brandon Flowers, The Killers

Brandon Flowers in 2009.

John Shearer/WireImage

We kind of nailed it,” says singer Brandon Flowers about the Killers’ balls-to-the-wall, festival-closing set at Lollapalooza. “It wasn’t just the size of the crowd — the response was shocking for us. It was one of the biggest moments we’ve ever had.” The Killers are spending the rest of the summer hitting arenas and amphitheaters around the U.S. “We feed off the crowd’s energy, so I hope Lollapalooza is a sign of what’s to come.” Flowers and his better half, Tana, welcomed their second son, Gunnar, on July 28th, and we check in with Dad on a rare day off at home in Las Vegas. “I’m driving to Caesars Palace right now,” he says from behind the wheel of his ’59 Corvette. “I like to play some roulette and blackjack, and take my wife to dinner — keep the economy going.”

How is Day & Age living with you?
It sits well with our other two albums. It’s obviously a little more on the pop end of things; it’s not quite as masculine as Sam’s Town, but I like it. “Spaceman” is such a playful tune, it makes my body do things that I’ve never done before. “Human” is one of our best recordings so far. I don’t think we’ve made our best album yet, and that makes me happy, to know it’s still out there.

What’s your least-favorite Killers song? 
When I hear “Glamorous Indie Rock & Roll” I want to crawl under a rock.

What’s your favorite U.S. city to hit on tour?
We really come alive in Nashville and Memphis. I love the history there. I’ve gone to Sun Studio and Graceland twice. I’m a big Johnny Cash fan, so it was cool to go to those places and imagine those guys walking around. And we love the food. In Memphis, I get the dry-rub ribs at Rendezvous.

Day & Age producer Stuart Price compared you to Madonna, saying that you two shared a similar drive and determination to succeed. In your case, where does that come from?
I’ve never had anything very traumatic happen to me, like Madonna [losing her mother], so I can’t say anything like that. I don’t know exactly where it comes from, but I have a hunger. I thought everybody liked music the way I did, but I realized I was different when I was 17 — I got jealous when I heard a New Order album. That was the turning point when I started really pursuing music. When I get inspired by something, I get the chills, whether it’s T. Rex or Bruce Springsteen. There’s a demon inside me that wants to do something that good.

Who are you currently jealous of?
Fleetwood Mac. I’ve been listening to Rumours and some of the Eighties stuff. Some people are strictly Seventies Mac fans, but they really kept it going.

The rumor is that the Killers will release an album of covers. How’s that going?
It’s a dream right now. People are running with that idea a little prematurely. We’ve done one thing so far: We collaborated with the guys in Louis XIV on [Murray Head’s] “One Night in Bangkok.” So we have that. Now we need 11 more songs.

On Rufus Wainwright’s last album, he wrote a song about you called “Tulsa.” The lyrics say you “taste of potato chips in the morning.” What’s up with that?
Wishful thinking. I don’t know why, in his imagination, he’d pick potato chips. We were both playing the same night in Tulsa, and after our shows we ended up in the same bar. We hung out for an hour and a half, tops, and I’m so impressed with how he turned that into a song. He does compare me to Marlon Brando in there. I’ll take that all day.

Would you ever try acting? You must get offers.
I have to say, I get annoyed with people that leapfrog around like that. It’s like taking advantage of a situation that you’ve been given. If I were an actor, I’d be pissed if I saw a musician trying to act. And if you’re an actor, you have no business making an album, no matter how good you sound when you sing in the shower.

Do you have a favorite musical moment from a John Hughes film?
I wouldn’t be in music without Pretty in Pink. Echo and the Bunnymen’s “Bring on the Dancing Horses,” the Smiths’ “Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want,” New Order’s “Shellshock,” and the movie itself — it really shaped me.

Where exactly were you when you came up with the line “I got soul, but I’m not a soldier”?
I can specifically remember being in Ronnie’s [Vannucci] garage when I wrote that. I don’t know why I wrote it, but I know I’d been listening to a lot of U2’s Joshua Tree and All That You Can’t Leave Behind. Some people act like that line is nonsense, and I just don’t understand that. If you listen to the song, it makes perfect sense. Our fans get it.

Do you and your bandmates have any special or bizarre talents?
Ronnie’s a fucking cowboy. He’ll go camping on horseback, Wild West style, and I’m very envious. Mark [Stoermer] has a black belt in tae kwon do. And Dave [Keuning] speaks Klingon — I’m not kidding. Me? I’ve got nothing on them. 

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