Las Vegas’ Killers Hit The Jackpot After Brits Make A Fuss

Overseas buzz leads to major-label contract, hit song in the States.

Wedged somewhere between the Little White Wedding Chapel, Caesar’s rolling and clanging slot machines, and theaters full of giggling showgirls is the garage that gave birth to Las Vegas retro-rockers the Killers.

The band’s debut album, Hot Fuss, pairs energetic beats with morose lyrics, letting pop hooks guide dark vocals. The influences are clearly British, drawing on the sounds and styles of Oasis, the Smiths and the Cure, to name a few, but the Killers’ consciousness of their cheesy roots combined with the guts to lay it all on the line is clearly Vegas.

Formed two years ago, the Killers took their name from a New Order video for the song “Crystal,” which features a fictional band called the Killers. With sheepishness and requisite indie snarkiness, lead singer/pianist Brandon Flowers said of the name: “It doesn’t hurt that it’s from New Order instead of Bon Jovi or something.”

When Flowers was kicked out of his previous band, a synth-pop group, he felt his next band would need more guitars and an Oasis vibe. Guitarist Dave Keuning turned out to be just the man he was looking for after Flowers saw Keuning’s ad in a local paper, naming Oasis as an influence.

As Flowers and his new bandmates — which also include bassist Mark Stoermer and drummer Ronnie Vannucci — crafted the bulk of the music that would eventually comprise Hot Fuss, word began to spread. Eventually, British indie label Lizard King Records signed the Killers and released their self-produced demo EP in Europe to critical acclaim.

Last summer the band toured the U.K. with British Sea Power and Stellastar and, buttressed by a slew of stories in the British press, the Killers found themselves on a roll that even the highest of high rollers would envy. Stateside, they inked a deal with major label Island Def Jam, which released Hot Fuss on June 15.

First single “Somebody Told Me” reveals the Killers’ British influences and pop appeal immediately, while a second listen to the dark lyrics behind the energetic beat helps to separate the band from its indie brethren. The video, though, is reminiscent of early offerings from the Strokes, the Hives and the Vines as the band introduces itself in front of a wall of flashing bulbs begging you to take notice. It’s a little easier to forgive the Killers for it, given the pay-attention-to-me ethos of their hometown.

Were they perhaps actually from England or even New York, the Killers might have been dismissed as another wannabe hipster band, but their Vegas roots help the band retain its self-effacing humor. Said Flowers of the group’s debut: “I listen to it as much as I listen to anything still. It’s pretty pathetic.”

Killers tour dates, according to Pollstar:

  • 7/19 – Kansas City, MO @ The Hurricane
  • 7/20 – Oklahoma City, OK @ Bricktown Live
  • 7/22 – Dallas, TX @ Trees
  • 7/23 – Houston, TX @ Engine Room
  • 7/24 – Austin, TX @ Stubb’s Barbeque
  • 7/25 – El Paso, TX @ The T Lounge
  • 7/26 – Tuscon, AZ @ City Limits
  • 8/16 – New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
  • 8/17 – Providence, RI @ The Call
  • 8/26 – Tempe, AZ @ Big Fish Sports Pub
  • 8/27 – San Diego, CA @ San Diego Street Scene
  • 8/28 – West Hollywood, CA @ The Troubadour
  • 8/29 – Santa Ana, CA @ Galaxy Theatre
  • 8/31 – San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall
  • 9/1 – Orangevale, CA @ The Boardwalk
  • 9/3 – Vancouver, BC @ Richard’s on Richards