The Killers

The Killers

After a five-year hiatus, the Las Vegas quartet prepares for the release of their next album.

After a five-year hiatus, the Las Vegas quartet prepares for the release of their next album.

Photography: Anton Corbijn

Text: Landon Peoples

This article originally appeared in VMAN38, on newsstands now. Order your copy here.

"You've got the soul of a truck on a long-distance haul, you've got the grace of a storm in the desert, you've got some kind of love," hums a track off the Killers' next record, Wonderful Wonderful. And after more than a dozen years in the business, it seems the rock band from Las Vegas has some kind of drive, too. Come September, frontman Brandon Flowers leads members Ronnie Vannucci Jr., Dave Keuning, and Mark Stoermer back to the stage with a new song, a new style, and a new story.

"I first heard the phrase when I was in Sedona, Arizona. There was a storm and it was beautiful. When the desert storms, it's like da Vinci, or like how the ocean is to other people, or whatever—it's my favorite thing. And I heard this chant, this 'Wonderful, wonderful' chant: I ended up being able to base a lot of things on it," Flowers explains. "The record is about my wife, and I use a drought as symbolism for her life and waiting for the rain. So, it all sort of came together like that."

But getting everyone in the studio, even getting the band all in one place, wasn't so easy. It's been 13 years since audiences first fell in love with the Killers—when, as the lyrics go, Flowers came out of his cage and rocked out with "Mr. Brightside." Since then, the band members have completed a number of solo and side projects, including, for many of them, fatherhood. Yet they come together again with a unified sound and theme that may remind fans of the group's sophomore album, Sam's Town.

Flowers compares their new work to an arrowhead: speeding through each era of the Killers, taking with it what worked, leaving behind what didn't, and piercing the threshold of what rock music is today. "I think the songs are all definitely different," Flowers explains. "You're trying to make a record and capture what's happening right now, and I think what we show on this record is a lot of maturity. We've inhabited the skin that we're in and the age that we're in, and we're not just trying to please the people who liked Hot Fuss or the people who liked Sam's Town. We're really giving a glimpse of truth from our perspective."

FROM LEFT: BRANDON FLOWERS, MARK STOERMER, RONNIE VANNUCCI JR. WEAR CLOTHING THEIR OWN (NOT PICTURED: DAVE KEUNING)

To reenter the ring, the band begins with "The Man," a single that, as descried in Flowers's lyrical manner of speech, symbolizes a door that's seconds away from being swung shut, but is stopped just in the nick of time. "'The Man' is the door closing, and the man just sticks his bicep in the door to stop it. He allows room for these other songs I'm so proud of to be here," Flowers says. "I think it totally worked with the theme of the record, but it's deinitely grabbing people by the ears, and I think it's gonna be a perfect way to introduce the rest of the album."

Similar to their previous feats, Wonderful Wonderful is chock full of lyrics both airy and meaningful, elevating their signature sound to a place of reflection while still adhering to the virtues of good ole rock and roll. And while the Killers are known for their live shows and catchy choruses, Flowers thinks fans will be thrilled with the happy medium they've found. "We're lucky because we have such a pop sensibility to us that is mixed in with the stories that we kind of get the best of both words," he explains. "Some people just love a good melody and good tune, and they don't necessarily care what the singer is going on about. And then there are other people—and I guess I'm more on the other side—who've always paid close attention to lyrics and learned things from music."

Flowers continues, "I've always loved great lyricists like Morrissey and Neil Tennant when I was growing up. As I got older, it became David Bowie and Bruce Springsteen, so I've always been really aware of the lyrics. So, we're lucky that people pay attention to both."

After a life in Las Vegas and a career that's taken them from one end of the world to the other, it seems you can take the Killers out of the desert, but you can't take the desert out of the Killers. But Flowers admits that his life along the Strip is coming to and end. "If you listen to 'Rut,' which is my wife's song—'The city's always breathing, I wish that it would die' in the bridge. My wife can't be there anymore and I've got to get her away from Vegas," Flowers reveals. "In that song, some of the lines are exploring some of the things I do hate about it. I love it, but there are things I hate about it, especially when I see it through my wife's eyes."

However, for those who have followed them from Hot Fuss to now, it seems that no matter where they are, no matter the distances that separate them, the slot machines and the neon buzzing will always follow. And as Wonderful Wonderful exemplifies, the show goes on.

UP NEXT

Get Weird this Winter With Vetements FW17