The Killers

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The Killers

The Killers in concert
Background information
OriginLas Vegas, Nevada, United States
GenresIndie rock,[1] alternative rock,[2] post-punk revival,[2] heartland rock
Years active2001–present
LabelsIsland, Vertigo, Marrakesh
Websitethekillersmusic.com
Members
Brandon Flowers
Dave Keuning
Ronnie Vannucci, Jr.
Mark Stoermer
 
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The Killers

The Killers in concert
Background information
OriginLas Vegas, Nevada, United States
GenresIndie rock,[1] alternative rock,[2] post-punk revival,[2] heartland rock
Years active2001–present
LabelsIsland, Vertigo, Marrakesh
Websitethekillersmusic.com
Members
Brandon Flowers
Dave Keuning
Ronnie Vannucci, Jr.
Mark Stoermer

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 band originated in Las Vegas, Nevada. 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".[3]

The group has released four studio albums, Hot Fuss (2004), Sam's Town (2006), Day & Age (2008) and Battle Born (2012).[4] They have also released one compilation album, Sawdust (2007) and one live album 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 a total of 15 million worldwide.[5]

Contents

History

2001–03: Origins and formation

In 2001, Brandon Flowers was abandoned by his first band, a Las Vegas synthpop trio known as Blush Response,[3] after he declined to move with them to Los Angeles. After seeing Oasis play at the Hard Rock Hotel during the band's The Tour of Brotherly Love, 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, a 25 year-old guitarist who had moved to Vegas from Iowa a year earlier. The pair shared similar musical influences and soon began writing songs together in Keuning's apartment. 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, 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.".[7] 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.[6]

By August 2002, drummer Ronnie Vannucci, Jr. had joined the band, and 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".[8]

Initially, The Killers played at small venues 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 website dedicated to local unsigned bands,[9] after attending a few of their live shows he offered to become the band's manager. He took the band to the San Francisco area, to Berkeley, California, to record demos with former Green Day manager Jeff Saltzman and mix engineer Mark Needham, they then sent the demo tapes to major record labels in the US. Most of the record labels turned them down, but one company, Warner Bros. Records, invited them to perform at a showcase. Though Warner Bros. was not impressed by the band after the showcase, the band did catch the eye of Niall Norbury,[10] who was from the United Kingdom. Norbury took the band's demo back to the UK with him, playing it for friend Ben Durling, who worked at UK indie label Lizard King Records. The Killers signed with the British label in July 2003.[11]

2003–06: Hot Fuss

On August 19, 2003, the song "Mr. Brightside" premiered on DJ Zane Lowe's BBC Radio 1 show in the UK.[12] The Killers then travelled to London and began to play shows in bars and clubs, and critical reviews were generally positive. On September 29, 2003, they released the song "Mr. Brightside" on a limited number of CDs and vinyl records in the UK. As a result of the buzz generated in the UK, upon returning to America, they were invited to play at the ASCAP CMJ Music Marathon in New York City.[13] A number of labels showed interest in the band, and they eventually signed with the record company Island Def Jam in early 2004.[8]

The band's Hot Fuss 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.[14]

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] Extensive touring and a number of hit singles led to the album becoming a huge commercial success. Hot Fuss reached Number 1 in the UK in January 2005, seven months after its release, 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 had success with "Mr. Brightside", which became the band's first Top 10 hit in both the UK and US,[18] "All These Things That I've Done,"[19] "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.

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.[20] 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.[21]

2006–08: Sam's Town and Sawdust

The Killers' second album, Sam's Town, was released in October 2006 under Island Def Jam Music Group.[22] Brandon Flowers said that Sam's Town would be "one of the best albums of the past twenty years";[23] It received a mixed response with some praising the album and others mocking it. However, Rolling Stone ranked Sam's Town as the number one underrated album of the decade. The album sold over 706,000 copies worldwide in the first week of release, with a number two debut on the Billboard chart.[24] 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.[25] 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.[26] In the same month the band's Tim Burton directed video for Bones won Best Video at the NME Awards. During the Sam's Town Tour The Killers headlined Madison Square Garden for the first time as well as Glastonbury Festival.[27]

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.[28] The album's first single "Tranquilize", a collaboration with Lou Reed, was released in October 2007.[28] 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.[29]

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.

2008–10: Day & Age

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.[30] 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.[31] 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. 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).

After the release of Day & Age, the band embarked on the worldwide Day & Age Tour from 2008 to 2010. The tour was a huge success, with sold-out shows both domestically and internationally. It also marked the first time The Killers played on the continent of Africa.

In late February 2010, Flowers' mother died after a two year fight with brain cancer. This resulted in a premature closing of their Day & Age tour and 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.[32]

2010–present: Hiatus and Battle Born

In January 2010, the band announced that they would take a short break after being on the road for the better part of six years.[33][34] The break lasted for about a year-and-a-half, during which band members devoted themselves on solo projects, while the band made sporadic other contributions.

The band returned to the stage in 2011 when they headlined the new International Lollapalooza Festival in Santiago, Chile on April 2, 2011.[35] They also performed at the season closing Top of the Mountain concert in Ischgl, Austria on April 30, 2011.[36] They headlined for the second time Hard Rock Calling in Hyde Park, London on June 24, 2011.[37] The Killers were the inaugural headliner of the new Orlando Calling Festival in Orlando, FL on November 12, 2011.[38]

The band began work on their fourth studio album[39] in May 2011 at their Las Vegas studio.[40] After a year of recording the Killers revealed in May 2012 that their fourth studio album will be titled Battle Born.[41] During recording, the band worked with producers Steve Lillywhite, Damian Taylor, Brendan O'Brien, Stuart Price and Daniel Lanois.[41] The album was mixed by Alan Moulder, who also worked on the band's first two albums,[42] and was released on September 18, 2012 (released on September 14th 2012 in New Zealand and Australia). In April 2012, saxophonist Tommy Marth committed suicide. Marth had contributed to Sam's Town and Day & Age, as well as touring with the band.[43]

In June 2012, The Killers released a trailer for their new album Battle Born.[44] The first single from the album is called "Runaways", which received its first radio play on July 10, 2012.[45] The single was leaked on Tumblr only hours before its official radio preview.[46]

The Killers will be headlining festivals in North America and Europe in Summer 2012,[47] and will co-headline the Big Day Out festival in January 2013.[48]

Contributions and solo work

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 Mötley Crüe, Elton John, Imagine Dragons, Third Eye Blind, Aerosmith, Kansas, Jerry Lee Lewis, BB King, Howling Bells and Wayne Newton.

The song "A White Demon Love Song" was added to the New Moon soundtrack. The band also performed a tune called "Spaceship Adventure" on Nickelodeon's Yo Gabba Gabba, where the group were referred to simply as "Brandon, Ronnie, Mark and Dave", as opposed to "The Killers", in order to be more suitable for young children.[49]

The band recorded a cover of the Raspberries' song "Go All the Way" for Tim Burton's film Dark Shadows (an adaptation of the late 1960s gothic soap opera), which plays over the end credits, however the song does not appear on the film's soundtrack.[50]

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 25 issue of Q Magazine, and featured covers by artists such as Jack White, Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode, and Patti Smith.[51]

Band members

Current members
Former members
  • Matthew Norcross – drums (2001–2002)
  • Dell Neal – bass guitar (2001–2002)
  • Brian Havens – drums (2002)
Touring musicians
  • Rob Whited – percussion, backing vocals (2006–present)
  • Bobby Lee Parker – acoustic guitar (2008–present)
  • Ted Sablay – keyboards, guitar, backing vocals (2006–2007, 2011, 2012–Present)
  • Jake Blanton – keyboards, guitar, backing vocals (2011–present)
Former touring musicians
  • Tommy Marth – saxophone, backing vocals (2008–2010; died 2012)
  • Ray Suen – keyboards, guitar, violin, backing vocals (2008–2010)

Discography

Studio albums
Compilation albums
Live albums

Tours

Commercial and critical acclaim

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.[57] Rolling Stone magazine ranked Hot Fuss as the 43rd best album in their "100 Best Albums of the Decade" list,[58] and "Mr. Brightside" was ranked the 48th Best Song Of The Decade.[59]

Sam's Town has sold over 4.5 million units worldwide. The readers of the American music magazine Rolling Stone, in December 2009, voted Sam's Town the "most underrated album of the decade".[60] While in the UK, 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.[61]

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 received two awards in the first NME Awards USA in 2008 for "Best Band" and "Best Track" for "Tranquilize". The band has also been nominated for seven Grammy Awards. In 2006, the band won the BRIT Award for "Best International Band", while the album Sam's Town went on to win "Best International Album".

Eleven 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.[62]

In November 2009, "Mr. Brightside" was voted the best song of the decade by the listeners of the British alternative rock station XFM.[63] Over 14,000 individual votes were cast by XFM listeners via the station's official website. "Somebody Told Me" was ranked No. 9[63] and "All These Things That I've Done" was ranked No. 22.[64] Other songs not in the Top 25 include "When You Were Young" at No. 31,[65] "Read My Mind" at No. 86,[66] and "Human" at No. 94.[67][68] Absolute Radio listeners also voted "Mr. Brightside" as the best song of the decade.

In 2008, Rolling Stone readers voted Day & Age the "Album of the Year" and "Cover of the Year".[69]

Amazon.com UK released their lists of the best-selling artists and albums of the decade,[70] with The Killers coming in at No. 3 in Top 10 best-selling artists of the decade.

Activism

Invited by U.S. President Barack Obama, the band 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".[71] 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".[72] Flowers, Keuning and Stoermer also played at a 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".

In February 2011, Flowers had a private one-on-one lunch with Mitt Romney during Romney's visit to the Republican Party convention in Nevada.[73]

Philanthropy

The Killers have become recognized for their work with the Product Red campaign, headed by Bono and Bobby Shriver. To date they have released six 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), "Boots" (2010) and "The Cowboy's Christmas Ball" (2011). On November 30, 2011 they released the (RED) Christmas EP on iTunes which features all six songs. All proceeds from the songs 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.

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.[74][75] The song "Hotel California" was covered by the Killers and Rhythms del Mundo for climate crisis and natural disaster relief.[76][77]

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