When you think of famous cowboys, several people come to mind: Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Times Square's own Naked Cowboy, Ed "Too Tall" Jones ... and the list goes on and on. But despite the fact that he hails from a dusty Wild West town called Las Vegas, Killers frontman Brandon Flowers would probably never make that list, mostly due to his propensity for eyeliner and pancake makeup (the sequined keyboard he plays onstage doesn't help either).
But in the band's new video, for the gospel-riffic track "All These Things That I've Done," the guys are ditching the tailored suits and tight, tight trousers in favor of 10-gallon hats and snakeskin boots, patrolling a seriously creepy trailer park as honest-to-goodness cowboys in an ultra-modern Western. There's also a shower scene, some gratuitous midget action, a donkey, fake moustaches and a boomerang-wielding army of female assassins. Oh, and the clip tells a story — in non-linear fashion, of course — and the whole thing is shot in grainy black and white.
Confused? Well, you're not alone. The "Things" video is the brainchild of photographer/director Anton Corbijn, the man responsible for some of the most beautiful — and most head-scratching — videos in recent memory, including Nirvana's "Heart Shaped Box" and Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus." And when he approached the Killers with his arty cowboy concept, the band couldn't say no.
"I remember when I was a kid, looking at U2 albums or Depeche Mode albums, you always saw his name. And it's such a cool name when you're 12 or 13 years old. It's just so exotic-looking," Flowers laughed. "And he's responsible for taking these awesome black and whites and making these cool videos. So he was always somebody we wanted to work with, and I can't believe we got him."
Fair enough. But what about all the nonsensical non sequiturs? Were the Killers somehow keen on the hidden meanings behind Corbijn's directorial decisions?
"No, not really, the whole thing was his idea, and there's still some things in there that I don't understand," guitarist Dave Keuning said. "Like the donkey — I didn't understand what that scene's about at all."
"He doesn't like to give it up," Flowers added. "He didn't tell us. But we had a lot of faith in him, and whatever he told us to do, we did it. His first initial idea was cowboys, and then he talked to some people at the label and came back with this other thing, and we said, 'No, we know you wanted to do cowboys,' so we did cowboys."
In addition to playing dress-up with Corbijn, the Killers are also gearing up to play a show with one of the director's favorite subjects — and one of their all-time favorite acts — U2, at next month's Live 8 concert in London (see "50 Cent, Jay-Z, Mariah, U2, Coldplay On Board For Massive Live Aid Sequel"). The international concerts are designed to raise awareness on poverty in the developing world, and for the Killers to play is a rare, quasi-political move for a band that's about as apolitical as they come. Sort of.
"Well, we're playing because it's a way for us to get involved with the issue without getting political. We're going to go up there as humans, not as the Killers," Flowers explained. "We want to go up and feel like we're responsible for helping people without getting all political. Once you get political, you're in a whole new area. And we're not there yet — I don't know if we ever will be."
And while it's no secret that the Killers have been working on new songs during their seemingly endless world tour — whether it be during soundchecks (see "Killers' To-Do List: Lawsuit, Long-Form Video, Beef With The Bravery") or with tourmates Louis XIV in impromptu tour-bus jam sessions (see "Killers, Louis XIV Get Busy At The Back Of The Tour Bus") — fans attending Live 8 should only expect to hear a few new ones in their live set. The rest are still being tinkered with, and the band plans to take them into the studio sometime early next year.
"We've got a bunch that are ready to go, but then we've got a lot of stuff almost done that, when we have some time off, we'll finish," Keuning said. "We'd like to have about 18 to 20 new ones ready for when we go into the studio."
"There's one called 'All the Pretty Faces' that we're still working the glitches out of, but it's a good indicator of what our new songs will sound like," Flowers added. "It's big and open, it breathes a lot and there's still a song there. But we probably won't play it live, because it's not ready yet. But if you really want to hear it, you can download it from somewhere on the Internet, I'm sure."