The Killers' Brandon Flowers has had a pretty life-altering 23 months. He saw his band's debut album, Hot Fuss, go triple platinum, he toured the world, got married and got in a fair share of verbal sparring with his contemporaries.
And somewhere in the midst of all that, he found time to turn 12 years old all over again.
"I prefer to call it my rebirth," Flowers said. "I had something happen that I didn't ever think could happen. I fell in love with the Smiths and the Pet Shop Boys when I was 12 years old, and I never thought that could happen again. But after meeting a lot of those people, who were my heroes and idols, and seeing them onstage, something changed. We'd drawn large crowds, and it felt like we were getting to the same sort of place, and it made me feel like I couldn't look at those people in the same light anymore.
"And that was kind of sad, but then I had another one of those 12-year-old experiences when I was 23, but this time with Bruce Springsteen. And it was just — it was elation," he continued. "I couldn't believe how happy his music made me and how good it was. He's a gift, and I didn't know. I mean, I knew 'Born in the USA' and 'Glory Days,' but I didn't know that he covered so much ground, and there was something in his music that touched what I was going through, the process of falling back in love with my America."
And it's that feeling of reconnecting with America — which began when the Killers returned to the States at the end of the touring cycle for Fuss in October (see "Killers Give Details On New LP, Admit They Kind Of Like Fall Out Boy") — that fuels the band's second album, due in September.
"Springsteen touches on the American dream, and that's everybody's dream. And it's such a great idea — whether or not it's still happening today. Most of the songs are about getting to that place, of making it to the promised land. I don't think it's about getting rich; it's the idea of working hard and having your castle in the sky," Flowers said. "And that idea runs through the record. It's very optimistic. And we're all from working-class families, and that's why our songs are good, because we don't do it half-assed. Nothing was handed to us, and so we don't settle. We're not afraid to throw a song away because it's not good enough. A lot of people won't do that."
Since early January, they've been holed up in Las Vegas' luxurious Studio at the Palms with producers Flood and Alan Moulder, working on 16 songs (titles include "Bones," "Where the White Boys Dance," "For Reasons Unknown" and "My Lists") that feature horns, strings and even a glockenspiel. And if it sounds a bit adventurous, and a bit mature, well, that's exactly the way the Killers wanted it to be.
"We're still influenced by English rock and pop music, but we're all kind of transforming or getting older," Flowers said. "[Guitarist] Dave [Keuning] had a baby, I got married, and you look at things differently. I mean, I don't really know anything about Manchester, England. I've been there a couple of times, and I realized, 'This feels like the Smiths, but it's not me.' "
While Flowers has matured as a songwriter, he's still not above getting in some choice digs at a few of his old sparring partners, including Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz, who recently offered to take Flowers out to dinner to bury their feud (see "Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz Asks Killers Singer On Dinner Date").
"Yeah, I heard about that. Our lawyer sent us something about it. I never said anything bad about him, I just said I didn't want to share our A&R guy [Island Records' Rob Stevenson], and I still don't. He's a busy guy, but he should just be busy with us," he said. "I don't know if I'd go to dinner with [Wentz]. I mean, I go to Nobu all the time."
Clearly Flowers hasn't lost any of his frontman swagger. Just ask him about the new record, and he'll give you a response that should make the Killers' fans and detractors very happy.
"I can't walk around with a chip on my shoulder all the time. I have to realize that people aren't going to like us," he said. "We just have to make the best album that we can. And we're doing it. This album is one of the best albums in the past 20 years. There's nothing that touches this album. And that sounds like I'm being cocky, but I'm just so excited. I hope that helps people. I hope people hear this album and realize that you don't need to worry about the second album."