The Killers Get Fangy

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Joined: 11/17/08
Posts: 303
Full Access
Joined: 11/17/08
Posts: 303
10/22/2009 4:07 am

The Killers: Mark Stoermer, Brandon Flowers, Ronnie Vannucci, and Dave Keuning

With The Twilight Saga: New Moon about to hit theaters in November, anticipation (and hype) is at a fever pitch. The New Moon soundtrack was just released last week, four days ahead of schedule to stem an Internet leak, and is expected to sell in the millions. To have your name in any way attached to the wildly popular Twilight franchise means huge sales potential and a fair amount of exposure.

As the author of the teen vampire romance series, Stephenie Meyer’s writing is strongly influenced by the music she listens to. Her creative process is so intertwined with music that she hand selects the bands that will appear on each soundtrack. This time out, The Killers made the cut.

The Killers are an alternative rock band who are considered part of the post-punk revival movement. The group came together in Las Vegas, Nevada, in 2002 when vocalist/keyboardist Brandon Flowers, fresh from splitting with his first band, answered an ad for fellow musicians that was placed in a Vegas newspaper by guitarist Dave Keuning. Flowers and Keuning clicked and soon recruited drummer Ronnie Vannucci, Jr. and bassist Mark Stoermer into the fold, completing a lineup that has held since the band’s inception.

The quartet set out playing small clubs and drag shows around Vegas, and eventually attracted the attention of Alex Gilbert, a British representative for Warner Bros., who took the group’s demo to a friend at the indie label Lizard King when Warner Bros. passed on them. The group signed with the British label and released “Mr. Brightside” on UK radio in August 2003. On the strength of that single, The Killers headed to the UK to play the bars and clubs of England where they generated a buzz that caught the ear of American rock fans and earned the band a recording contract in their homeland.

The Killers catapulted smack into both the UK and US mainstream with the 2004 release of their debut album, Hot Fuss. The record landed at the top of the album charts and remained in the Top 50 of the Billboard 200 for over 50 weeks. Boosted by the singles “Mr. Brightside,” “All These Things That I’ve Done,” “Somebody Told Me,” and “Smile Like You Mean It,” Hot Fuss was nominated for five Grammy Awards and has sold in excess of 7 million copies. The band toured for two years straight behind Hot Fuss.

Riding the wave of their debut album, The Killers participated in the Live 8 benefit concert that was held on July 2, 2005. The benefit’s aim was to pressure governments into taking action toward relieving poverty and increase awareness of the situation with a string of concerts that took place simultaneously around the globe. Live 8 attracted music’s elite and saw The Killers sharing the London stage alongside such legendary bands as The Who and Pink Floyd, who were reunited for the first time in 24 years. (With the 2008 death of Richard Wright, Live 8 would also mark the last time Pink Floyd would play together in their classic lineup.)

In October 2006, The Killers released their second album, which was entitled Sam’s Town. Although the record met with mixed reviews from critics and fans alike, it sold over 706,000 copies worldwide in the first week of its release and landed at #2 on the Billboard chart. Sam’s Town popped the singles “When You Were Young,” “Bones,” “For Reasons Unknown,” and “Read My Mind,” a song Flowers once called the best the band had ever written.

The following month The Killers recorded a live session at Abbey Road Studios as part of the UK performance series/documentary, Live from Abbey Road, performing an almost totally unplugged set. They’ve recently recorded a second installment for the series.

The band continued their roll of good fortune in 2007 when they nabbed two Brit Awards and headlined the Glastonbury Festival, the largest greenfield music and performing arts festival in the world, where they played alongside bands such as Coldplay, The White Stripes, and Elvis Costello. In November ‘07, The Killers released a compilation album called Sawdust, which contained B-sides, rarities, and some new material.

With an album coming out nearly every year, The Killers hardly appear to be at a loss for creative inspiration. In November 2008, the band’s fourth studio album dropped. That record, Day & Age, again went straight to the top of the charts in both the UK and the US. The first single from the album was “Human,” a dance song whose lyrics were inspired by disparaging comments made by Hunter S. Thompson about how America was raising a generation of dancers. Chris Williams of Billboard described the song as “merging a Boss-like melody over a New Order-injected rave-up,” and praised it for “…stretching the soundscape of alternative rock, which has increasingly become difficult to differentiate between mainstream rock.” Voted the Best Song of 2008 by the readers of Rolling Stone magazine and coming in at #77 on a UK radio station’s “100 Greatest Songs of All Time” poll, “Human” nonetheless put off some fans who were disturbed by the song’s dance beat and confused by the lyrics, which an exasperated Flowers addressed in Rolling Stone.

With so much success behind them, the challenge for The Killers now becomes retaining the enviable position they’ve been in from the start. Being part of the whole Twilight phenomenon is certainly a step in the right direction. Artists are already lining up to be included on the soundtrack for the third installment, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, which is scheduled for a June 2010 release. Even Madonna herself has expressed interest.

The New Moon soundtrack has a darker, more melancholy feel to it than did its Twilight predecessor, which included songs by Linkin Park, Meyer favorite Muse (who appear on both soundtracks), and two by Paramore. There are a lot of acoustic instruments on the new record that give it an indie feel and help set the tone for the film’s more somber themes of loss and longing. The Killers contribution is a song called “A White Demon Love Song”.

The band is also involved with the Project Red charity, an initiative to raise money for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The charity was started, in part, by U2 frontman Bono. Since December 2006, The Killers have contributed three Christmas songs to the cause, one every year, with a 2009 song in the works, tentatively titled "Happy Birthday Guadalupe."

Also headed our way this year from The Killers’ is their forthcoming live album and DVD, due for release on November 9, 2009. The album was recorded in July 2009 during a two-night performance at the Royal Albert Hall. The DVD includes behind-the-scenes footage from festival dates The Killers headlined during the summer of ‘09 as well as interviews with crew and fans. Be sure to check it out.
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