As far as I can tell, there have been two water-cooler topics (meaning, of course, the virtual water cooler that is the blog world) surrounding the Killers as they have gradually made their way back into the limelight in advance of the November release of their third album, Day & Age. Last Friday night, in the 15 minutes-plus we got with half the band in a noisy loading-dock hallway backstage at New York's Hammerstein Ballroom, I managed to — sort of — bring up both of them with Brandon Flowers, the band's stylish, affable and sometimes-inscrutable frontman. If you think his lyrics are hard to decipher, try getting him to elaborate on something he'd seemingly rather not discuss.
First up was "Human," the new Killers single that the band performed a few weeks back on "Saturday Night Live." It features swirling synths and a galloping Pet Shop Boys-style rhythm, but what's really had people talking is that hook line: “Are we human, or are we dancer?" That's right: Not dancers, but dancer. Singular. The line, as the band's official Island Records bio points out, was inspired by a quote from Hunter S. Thompson, who once observed that America was "raising a generation of dancers." What exactly did the gonzo god mean by that, and how did it find its way into the song? "I just took it and ran with it," Flowers explained. "I think I know what he meant. I don't want to be too much of a preacher here, but you know, it's a mild social statement. And that's all I'm gonna say. We're just trying to write the best pop songs we can write." Fair enough. As for his lack of the plural on "dancer," he would only say, "I guess it bothers people that it's not grammatically correct. But I think that I'm allowed to do whatever I want."
I suppose so, BF. And I suppose, legally, that would include wearing whatever you want.
But that jacket Brandon's been sporting was definitely the other topic of conversation to come out of that "SNL" performance, particularly among my animal-loving friends, some of whom feel the singer should be redubbed "Brandon Feathers." He's always been a sharp-dressed dude, but this piece is something else — plumage sprouting from his shoulders like some avian admiral. Flowers jokingly tried to walk away when I told him I was a PETA member and seemed surprised to learn that the jacket was being discussed in the vegan community. He did, however, fill us in on who's responsible for it: British designer Fee Doran. "She goes by Mrs. Jones," he said, "and she's kind of an eccentric English woman who's worked with people like Kylie Minogue and the Scissor Sisters."
So, Fee Fi Fo Fum, is it owl? Is it pheasant? And is that, as some have suggested, fur on there too? "No fur," Feathers, er, Flowers said, adding, "I don't think anything was butchered for my jacket." Hm. Perhaps. There are fake feathers, but I have my doubts.
Are we human? Or are we butcher? We got no response, but perhaps you'd like to ask Mrs. Jones yourself. Good luck — and before you go thinking you might like to start sporting feathers yourself, I have one word for you: Icarus.