Thursday, January 28, 2010

Hiatus Aside, I Believe In The Killers

The Killers’ fans are a little nervous lately. The band recently confirmed that they would be taking a well-deserved hiatus following six years of non-stop recording and touring. Naturally, the rumor mill is working overtime with unsubstantiated speculation of solo projects or band break-up. While solo projects are a plausible option for a band that may desire different things from a period of hiatus, any talk of a break-up by journalists, bloggers, fans, or otherwise cannot be supported by any messages given by individual band members or people close to them.

If you have read my essays before, you know that I am a big fan of the Killers. But not only do I enjoy their music, in observing the choices they have made in the past several years, I have a lot of respect for them as a unit. I think they make smart decisions and I have confidence in the band’s future; here are a few reasons why you should too:

The Killers have taken the hometown mantra to heart – “What happens between us, stays between us.” Chalk it up to loyalty, maturity, strict band policy, or just old-fashioned class – they keep it all in the family. When you fight in privacy you can say things that cannot be taken back, but when you make even the slightest disparaging comment publically, not only can you not take it back, you can also be assured that journalist after journalist will raise the issue again. A public feud will elevate band resentment and cause irreparable damage to internal relationships. Even when Flowers made the comment that Sam’s Town was one of the best albums in 20 years, causing a shit-storm of backlash against the album, none of the other members dwelled on that mistake or publically assigned blame for making the comment.

I get the feeling that a Killers hiatus will be measured in months, not years. This band has been extremely prolific since their debut, and they often credit their working class background with their drive to push themselves harder. Whether together in the studio or working on side projects, I believe that - creatively, at least - they won’t be on hiatus. Further, it was reported that the band members worked alone in the early stages of the Day & Age album and then electronically shared ideas for the other members to work off of. They have already developed a system to make music together while they are apart. Not to mention, they own their own recording studio in Las Vegas.

This is a band that seems to have a collectively open mind about sound exploration. Each album the Killers release has been uniquely different and has demonstrated a willingness to branch out in a different direction. If Dave Keuning said to the rest of the band “Hey guys, I’m trading in my Strat for a Dobro”– well, it is not hard to imagine that we would be treated to one hell of a Killers blues album. Like any relationship, the key to longevity is to grow together and to foster individual interests. If the Killers are, in fact, as open-minded in the studio as their resulting products seem to suggest, then band members have a judgment-free environment to pursue various creative outlets. Further, because their sound changes, they can’t really be pigeonholed as “electro-pop,” “Americana rock,” or any other label. I think this serves them well as they continue to evolve.

Ask Lou Reed or Elton John to join us in the studio? Sure! See if Tim Burton wants to direct our video? Why not? The Killers make things happen because, from the very beginning, the word “can’t” is not in their vocabulary. Not only do they aim high, they are not afraid to do things that may seem uncool to the indier-than-thou crowd. But no matter how high their ambition is, the Killers are grounded by their authenticity. This is a band where everything – the music, the videos, clothing, stage design – is creatively homegrown.

Compared to past decades, it is so hard now for bands to retain the mystique that is critical to keep fans interested. Overexposure may get you well-known fast, but it isn’t the key to longevity. The Killers are selective about TV appearances and interviews and generally don’t seek out publicity that does not involve stage performance. They have a Twitter account and keep fans informed and interested without sharing too much. Further, the discretion and loyalty of the band’s touring musicians and crew is admirable; many also have Twitter accounts and they give fans a taste of the touring life without revealing anything about the inner-circle.

The ability to make music that connects deeply with people is a powerful gift and the Killers have revealed a true humility and realization of this fact. I am not a member of any fan communities, yet I find myself envious of members of the Killers fan community, the Victims. Even as an outsider, I have witnessed the unbelievable bond that fans have formed with one another over their common love for the music. When you wade through the public declarations of love for Brandon Flowers, you see fans connecting over the issues we all face: career dissatisfaction, family obligations, and the day-to-day grind. I recently watched a video tribute that the Victims made in honor of the death of a fellow Victim. It’s quite remarkable.

There are probably several bands that demonstrate some of the qualities mentioned, the Killers just happen to be my favorite example. Who knows how close to the mark I am with these observations; no one knows what goes on within a band’s inner circle until someone comes out with a tell-all exclusive. I sincerely hope that never happens. What I do hope is that the Killers enjoy their time off the road with friends and family, find fresh inspiration during their hiatus, and surprise us all with a fantastic new album before too long. Hey, at the very least - come December - we can always count on a new Killers Christmas tune!



  1. Thank you for that wonderful and well written blog about my favorite band. I am a victim and you definately sounds like a victim too. Can we predict that this band will last for a long, long time? Well, i really hope this adventure will last forever...

  2. Thank you for those eloquent and wonderful words about my favorite group of boys. I enjoy your writing very much! Fantastic insight and thoughtful musings.

  3. Who am I a bigger fan of, AZ or The Killers??? You so eloquently conveyed everything I believe and appreciate about this band. You're an honorary Victim, Iike it or not :-) do you mind if I post a link to your blog on the Victims site?

  4. Thank you all for your wonderful comments. I really appreciate them!

  5. Fabulous!!! Thank you so much for putting into words what all Victims feel. We'd love to have you join us.

  6. They are the best band in the world and certainly the most hard-working. They have toured far and wide for the last few years and must be sick to death of doing the same songs - I don't know how they can keep sounding so fresh each time they knock out 'Human' again and again.

    I saw them in France last July and even though the blurb in between the songs was very similar to the blurb in betweend the Albert Hall concert (best concert DVD in my collection) I don't blame Brandon for a minute. He must be perpetually exhausted!

  7. The Killers are the best songwriters TODAY! No one's song's sound so original, so catchy, so clever, and SO DANCEABLE! They were one of the bands that helped Rock music become fun to listen to again. I think the last time rock and roll didn't get you all depressed and angry, was when Gun's and Roses, AC/DC, Ozzy were big. Sure the Killers don't have Crunchy guitars sounds like these bands but why should that matter, Listen to their songs are crafted and not whether the song goes DAh DAH DAH DAH! Are we all Beavis and Buttheads? And The Killers sound amazing live, Brandon gives it his all hitting all the notes, The guitar is loud as hell, the rhythm section is locked in, and the light show is beautiful and futuristic. What more do you want from an original rock band that sounds good NOW!

  8. Nice write up! The Killers have radically found their way to the top of my list (and... for me... that's saying a lot! ranking just under The Smith's/Morrissey and The Cure). Never even knew your little blog was out here... thanks!

  9. The Killers are a little great band, wish them a long long life full of success, they really deserve it.

  10. Great piece, insightful analysis.

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  12. Hey, great article on The Killers.