|Origin||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States|
|Genres||Indie rock, new wave alternative rock, post-punk revival, heartland rock|
|Labels||Island, Vertigo, Marrakesh|
Ronnie Vannucci, Jr.
The Killers are an American rock band formed in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2001, by Brandon Flowers (lead vocals, keyboards) and Dave Keuning (guitar, backing vocals). Mark Stoermer (bass, backing vocals) and Ronnie Vannucci Jr. (drums, percussion) would complete the current line-up of the band in 2002. The name The Killers is derived from a logo on the bass drum of a fictitious band, portrayed in the music video for the New Order song "Crystal".
The group has released four studio albums, Hot Fuss (2004), Sam's Town (2006), Day & Age (2008) and Battle Born (2012). They have also released one compilation album, Sawdust (2007) and one live album titled Live from the Royal Albert Hall (2009). To date, the band has sold over 6 million albums in the United States, over 5 million albums in the United Kingdom, and a total of 17 million worldwide.
2001–03: Origins and formation
In 2001, Brandon Flowers was abandoned by his first band, a Las Vegas synthpop trio known as Blush Response after he declined to move with them to Los Angeles. After seeing Oasis play at the Hard Rock Hotel during the The Tour of Brotherly Love, Flowers realized his calling was to be in a rock band and began searching for like-minded musicians. He eventually came across an ad posted in a Las Vegas newspaper by Dave Keuning, a 25 year-old guitarist who had moved to Vegas from Iowa a year earlier. The pair shared similar musical influences and soon began writing songs together in Keuning's apartment. By the end of 2001, they had recorded a demo at Kill The Messenger Studio in Henderson, Nevada; the demo featured four tracks including early versions of "Mr. Brightside" and "Under the Gun". Local drummer Matt Norcross played drums on the demo while Dell Neal, who was Keuning's roommate at the time, covered bass on two of the tracks. Keuning and Flowers played their first live show together at an open mic night at the Cafe Espresso Roma in Las Vegas in January 2002; the pair, joined by Neal and Norcross, began playing numerous venues around Las Vegas where they would also hand out free copies of their demo. The Killers brought a unique style to the small Vegas music scene which was predominately filled with punk, nu metal, and rap bands, one local reviewer stated "The Killers, thankfully, don't come across like any other band in town" and described their sound as a mix between the "pop styles of British music and the lo-fi fuzz of modern indie rock.". However, The Killers, whose early live sound was also described as erratic, had, by the summer of 2002, fired drummer Matt Norcross and replaced him briefly with Brian Havens, who also was eventually fired. Bassist Dell Neal later left the band due to personal reasons.
Drummer Ronnie Vannucci, Jr. and bass player Mark Stoermer were members of other bands who regularly played on the same bills as The Killers, both were eventually persuaded to join Keuning and Flowers and by November 2002, the band's current line up was complete. The four of them began practising in Vannucci's garage as he was the only member who owned a house. They would also sneak into the band room of UNLV (where Vannucci was studying percussion) at night to practice. The band claimed that they wrote much of the debut album Hot Fuss during these sessions including the hit single "Somebody Told Me".
The band continued playing at small venues in Las Vegas, where they built a small but loyal following. Talent scout Braden Merrick spotted the band after hearing one of their demos on a website dedicated to local unsigned bands, and after attending a few of their live shows he offered to become the band's manager. He took the band to the San Francisco area, to Berkeley, California, to record demos with former Green Day manager Jeff Saltzman and mix engineer Mark Needham, they then sent the demo tapes to major record labels in the US. Most of the record labels turned them down, but one company, Warner Bros. Records, invited them to perform at a showcase. Though Warner Bros. was not impressed by the band after the showcase, the band did catch the eye of Niall Norbury, who was from the United Kingdom. Norbury took the band's demo back to the UK with him, playing it for friend Ben Durling, who worked at UK indie label Lizard King Records. The Killers signed with the British label in July 2003.
2003–06: Hot Fuss
On August 19, 2003, the song "Mr. Brightside" premiered on DJ Zane Lowe's BBC Radio 1 show in the UK. The Killers then travelled to London and began to play shows in bars and clubs, and critical reviews were generally positive. On September 29, 2003, they released the song "Mr. Brightside" on a limited number of CDs and vinyl records in the UK. As a result of the buzz generated in the UK, upon returning to America, they were invited to play at the ASCAP CMJ Music Marathon in New York City. A number of labels showed interest in the band, and they eventually signed with the record company Island Def Jam in early 2004.
The band's Hot Fuss Tour started in the UK in May 2004. Prior to that, the band had played support slots for British Sea Power in the UK, Morrissey in the US and Stellastarr in both the UK and US; during the spring and summer of 2004, the group played much-praised sets at festivals across Europe and North America which helped add to their growing fanbase.
The Killers released their debut album Hot Fuss in June 2004 in the United Kingdom on Lizard King Records and in the United States on Island Records. Extensive touring and a number of hit singles led to the album becoming a huge commercial success. Hot Fuss reached Number 1 in the UK in January 2005, seven months after its release, and has been classified 6x Platinum by the BPI. It also reached the top spot in Australia, where it was certified 3x Platinum, and has also been certified 3x Platinum in the United States and Canada. On the UK version of Hot Fuss, "Glamorous Indie Rock and Roll" replaces "Change Your Mind" as track 8.
The band had success with "Mr. Brightside", which became the band's first Top 10 hit in both the UK and US, "All These Things That I've Done," "Somebody Told Me," and "Smile Like You Mean It."
In 2005, The Killers were nominated for three Grammy Awards; Hot Fuss was nominated for Best Rock Album while "Somebody Told Me" was nominated for two awards including Best Rock Song, in the UK they won an NME Award for Best International Band.
In July 2005, The Killers performed on the London stage of the Live 8 concert, playing "All These Things That I've Done". Robbie Williams incorporated the song's refrain "I've got soul but I'm not a soldier" into his own performance. Coldplay and U2 followed suit and, at their separate concerts played in Las Vegas, with The Killers in the crowd, incorporated the line into their songs "God Put a Smile Upon Your Face" and "Beautiful Day", respectively.
2006–08: Sam's Town and Sawdust
The Killers' second album, Sam's Town, was released in October 2006 under Island Def Jam Music Group. Brandon Flowers said that Sam's Town would be "one of the best albums of the past twenty years". It received a mixed response with some praising the album and others mocking it. However, Rolling Stone ranked Sam's Town as the number one underrated album of the decade. The album sold over 706,000 copies worldwide in the first week of release, with a number two debut on the Billboard chart. The record has been certified 4x Platinum in the United Kingdom, Platinum in the United States, and 2x Platinum in both Australia and Canada. The album produced four singles: "When You Were Young" (Platinum in the United States, Diamond in Brazil), "Bones", "Read My Mind" and "For Reasons Unknown".
The Killers recorded a live session at Abbey Road Studios for Live from Abbey Road on November 29, 2006. They performed an almost totally unplugged set, which included a rendition of the Dire Straits hit "Romeo and Juliet". In December 2006 the band released a Christmas charity song (the first of what would become an annual tradition), "A Great Big Sled", which benefited Product Red.
In February 2007, The Killers attended the BRIT Awards in the United Kingdom, where they performed "When You Were Young". The band won two awards — Best International Group & International Album. In the same month the band's Tim Burton directed video for Bones won Best Video at the NME Awards. During the Sam's Town Tour The Killers headlined Madison Square Garden for the first time as well as Glastonbury Festival.
The band released a compilation album called Sawdust, containing B-sides, rarities, and unreleased material, in November 2007. Sawdust has been classified Platinum by the BPI. The album's first single "Tranquilize", a collaboration with Lou Reed, was released in October 2007. The first pressing of Sawdust contained a rare demo version of "Move Away" which Brandon Flowers later stated was a mistake on the part of the band's record label; the proper version the group intended to put on the album was previously available on the Spider-Man 3 soundtrack is included on later pressings of Sawdust.
In 2008 the band picked up two awards in the first NME Awards USA, including "Best Band" and "Best Track" for "Tranquilize". "Sawdust" was also nominated for best album.
2008–11: Day & Age and hiatus
The song "Spaceman" was released on the band's third studio album Day & Age on November 4, 2008. This song was number 17 on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 Best Songs of 2008. The song has been used regularly as the opening song during the band's tour.The group began performing the song at shows during their Summer 2008 tour and played it as part of a two-song set on the October 4, 2008 episode of Saturday Night Live. They also performed the song on November 4, 2008 on BBC2's Later... with Jools Holland.
The Killers' third album, Day & Age, was released on November 24, 2008 in the UK and November 25, 2008 in North America. They worked with Stuart Price who did the Thin White Duke remix of "Mr Brightside" and produced "Leave the Bourbon on the Shelf" and "Sweet Talk". The first single from the album was "Human" which was released on September 22 and has been certified Platinum by the RIAA. Day & Age became the band's third studio album to reach number one in both the UK and Ireland, it reached number six on the Billboard 200 album chart. It has also been certified 4x Platinum by the BPI.
In February 2009, the band won Best International band at the NME Awards for the third time following wins in 2005 & 2008. Later, they were awarded the ASCAP Awards' highest honor, the Vanguard Award, for their musical genre's "impact on the future of American music". During the summer of 2009, The Killers headlined a number of festivals across Europe including the Friday night show of 2009's Hard Rock Calling in Hyde Park, London, they also headlined American festivals Lollapalooza and Coachella for the first time. On July 5–6 at the Royal Albert Hall, London The Killers recorded their first live DVD, "Live from the Royal Albert Hall". It was released in November and played at various cinemas across the globe. Live from Royal Albert Hall was certified 4x Platinum by the BPI (UK) and Platinum by the RIAA (US).
After the release of Day & Age, the band embarked on the worldwide Day & Age Tour from 2008 to 2010. The tour was a huge success, with sold-out shows both domestically and internationally. It also marked the first time The Killers played on the continent of Africa.
In late February 2010, Flowers' mother died after a two year fight with brain cancer. This resulted in a premature closing of their Day & Age tour and cancellation of dates in Asia. Two Australian dates in Sydney and Perth were also cancelled; however, both the Gold Coast and Melbourne concerts went ahead, with the Day & Age tour finally coming to a close in Melbourne on February 21 as the headline act at the Good Vibrations Festival at Flemington Racecourse.
In January 2010, the band announced that they would take a short break after being on the road for the better part of six years. The break lasted for about a year-and-a-half, during which band members devoted themselves on solo projects, while the band made sporadic other contributions.
2011–present: Return and Battle Born
The band returned to the stage in 2011 when they headlined the new International Lollapalooza Festival in Santiago, Chile on April 2, 2011. They also performed at the season closing Top of the Mountain concert in Ischgl, Austria on April 30, 2011. They headlined for the second time Hard Rock Calling in Hyde Park, London on June 24, 2011. The Killers were the inaugural headliner of the new Orlando Calling Festival in Orlando, FL on November 12, 2011.
The band began work on their fourth studio album in May 2011 at their Las Vegas studio. After a year of recording the Killers revealed in May 2012 that their fourth studio album will be titled Battle Born. During recording, the band worked with producers Steve Lillywhite, Damian Taylor, Brendan O'Brien, Stuart Price and Daniel Lanois. The album was mixed by Alan Moulder, who also worked on the band's first two albums, and was released on September 18, 2012 (released on September 14, 2012 in New Zealand and Australia). In April 2012, saxophonist Tommy Marth committed suicide. Marth had contributed to Sam's Town and Day & Age, as well as touring with the band.
In June 2012, The Killers released a trailer for their new album Battle Born. The first single from the album was "Runaways". It was voted the Best Song of Summer 2012 by Rolling Stone Magazine readers. The album had the third highest opening week in the UK for 2012 albums and became the band's fourth No. 1 album in the UK (Brandon Flowers' fifth). It was voted the #2 album of 2012 by Rolling Stone Magazine readers, with single "Miss Atomic Bomb" voted the 'Best Song of 2012' in the accompanying poll.
The Killers headlined several festivals in North America and Europe in summer 2012, including the UK's V Festival and Sziget Festival in Hungary. The band also headlined the 2013 Big Day Out music festival in Australia. Additionally, they will headline T in the Park for their third time and Lollapalooza for their second time. On June 22, 2013, the band are set to perform at the 90,000 capacity Wembley Stadium; it will be their biggest show to date. The tour will end at Padang Stage in Singapore on September 21.
The Killers own and operate Battle Born Studios where members recorded Battle Born, Day & Age, Flamingo, Big Talk and Another Life. Other artists who have recorded there include Mötley Crüe, Elton John, Imagine Dragons, Jerry Lee Lewis, BB King, Wayne Newton, as well as members of Third Eye Blind, Aerosmith, and Kansas.
- In 2010, Brandon Flowers released a solo album, titled Flamingo. It charted as a top ten album in ten countries including reaching No. 1 in the UK where it has been certified Gold. Single "Crossfire" became Flowers' fifth top ten single in the UK, including work by The Killers.
- In 2011, drummer Ronnie Vannucci released an album titled Big Talk via his own record label, Little Oil, in a team effort with Epitaph Records. Vannucci also featured as a guest artist on Mt. Desolation's self-titled debut album.
- In 2011, bassist Mark Stoermer released his debut solo album titled Another Life as a free download via markstoermer.com for a limited time, with a physical self-release following. Stoermer also produced the Howling Bells's third album, The Loudest Engine, released in 2011 via Cooking Vinyl.
- Studio albums
In other media
A cover of "Don't Fence Me In" appeared on advertisements for the state of Nevada's 2013 tourism campaign.
A cover of the Raspberries' song "Go All the Way" appeared on Tim Burton's 2012 film Dark Shadows (an adaptation of the late 1960s gothic soap opera) playing over the end credits. However, the song does not appear on the film's soundtrack.
A cover of "Ultraviolet (Light My Way)" appeared on a cover album of U2's acclaimed 1991 album Achtung Baby. The 2011 cover album, titledAHK-toong BAY-bi Covered, was released in the October 25 issue of Q Magazine.
Track "Spaceship Adventure" appeared on Nickelodeon's Yo Gabba Gabba, where the group were referred to simply as "Brandon, Ronnie, Mark and Dave", as opposed to "The Killers", in order to be more suitable for young children.
Track "A White Demon Love Song" appeared on the New Moon soundtrack in 2009.
- Hot Fuss Tour (2003–2005)
- Sam's Town Tour (2006–2007)
- Day & Age World Tour (2008–2010)
- Battle Born World Tour (2012–2013)
Hot Fuss has sold more than 7 million units worldwide, it was the 26th best-selling album of the decade in the United Kingdom. It spent 173 weeks on the UK Albums Chart, more than any other album. In 2013, Gigwise readers ranked it No. 1 "Best Debut Album of All Time". Rolling Stone magazine ranked Hot Fuss as the 43rd best album in their "100 Best Albums of the Decade" list, and "Mr. Brightside" was ranked the 48th Best Song Of The Decade.
Sam's Town has sold over 5 million units worldwide. The readers of the American music magazine Rolling Stone, in December 2009, voted Sam's Town the No. 1 "Most Underrated Album of the Decade". While in the UK, Sam's Town was the 70th best selling album of the decade, and Q magazine ranked it as the 11th best album of the decade.
The Killers have won five NME Awards: "Best International Band" in 2005, 2008, 2009, and 2013 and Best Video for "Bones" in 2006. They have also received two awards in the first NME Awards USA in 2008 for "Best Band" and "Best Track" for "Tranquilize". In 2013, the band won "Best Animated Video" for the Warren Fu directed, "Miss Atomic Bomb" at the MVPA Awards. The band has also been nominated for seven Grammy Awards. In 2006, the band won the BRIT Award for "Best International Band", while the album Sam's Town went on to win "Best International Album". To date, the band has received six nominations for "Best International Band" at the NME Awards and three nominations for "Best International Group" at the BRIT Awards.
In 2008, Rolling Stone readers voted Day & Age the "Album of the Year" and "Cover of the Year". In 2009, readers voted "Sam's Town" the #1 "Most Underrated Album of the Decade". In 2012, readers voted "Battle Born" the #2 "Album of the Year" and single "Miss Atomic Bomb" the "Best Song of 2012".
Eleven songs by The Killers feature in the book XFM's 1000 Greatest Songs of All Time; frontman Brandon Flowers also wrote a foreword for the book.
In November 2009, "Mr. Brightside" was voted the best song of the decade by the listeners of the British alternative rock station XFM. Over 14,000 individual votes were cast by XFM listeners via the station's official website. "Somebody Told Me" was ranked No. 9 and "All These Things That I've Done" was ranked No. 22. Other songs not in the Top 25 include "When You Were Young" at No. 31, "Read My Mind" at No. 86, and "Human" at No. 94. Absolute Radio listeners also voted "Mr. Brightside" as the best song of the decade.
Amazon.com UK released their lists of the best-selling artists and albums of the decade, with The Killers coming in at No. 3 in Top 10 best-selling artists of the decade.
Activism and philanthropy
Invited by U.S. President Barack Obama, the band played on the White House South Lawn on July 4, 2010 for the second annual "Salute To The Military" United Service Organizations concert as part of Independence Day celebrations, which Flowers described as a "monumental honor". Despite their hiatus, the band got together to play "Human", "Somebody Told Me", "Mr. Brightside", "A Dustland Fairytale", "God Bless America/Read My Mind" and "When You Were Young". Flowers, Keuning and Stoermer also played at a campaign rally on July 8, 2010 in Nevada for Obama and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid who was up for re-election. The Killers played an acoustic version of "Read My Mind" and did a folksy rendition of the state song, "Home Means Nevada".
In February 2011, Flowers had a private one-on-one lunch with Mitt Romney during Romney's visit to the Republican Party convention in Nevada. In October 2012 Flowers confirmed that the band had declined an offer to support Romney, stating that the band were staying neutral in the election.
In April 2013, the state of Nevada asked The Killers to record a cover of "Don't Fence Me In" which features in a new Nevada tourism advertising campaign in connection with the state's new slogan "A World Within. A State Apart." According to the state director of tourism cultural affairs, Claudia Vecchio, she had only one band in mind for the commercial.
The Killers have been involved with the Product Red campaign, headed by Bono and Bobby Shriver. To date they have released seven Christmas themed songs and music videos: "A Great Big Sled" (2006), "Don't Shoot Me Santa" (2007), "Joseph, Better You Than Me" (2008), "Happy Birthday Guadalupe!" (2009), "Boots" (2010), "The Cowboy's Christmas Ball" (2011) and "I Feel It In My Bones" (2012). On November 30, 2011 they released the (RED) Christmas EP on iTunes which features all six songs that had been released up to that point. All proceeds from the songs have been donated to Product Red campaign and the fight against AIDS in Africa. They have also enlisted the help of other acts including Elton John, Neil Tennant (Pet Shop Boys), Toni Halliday (Curve), Wild Light and Mariachi El Bronx.
Additionally, their song "Goodnight, Travel Well" was used in an effort to promote awareness for sex trafficking headed by UNICEF, MTV EXIT (End Exploitation And Trafficking) and the US Agency for International Development. The song "Hotel California" was covered by the Killers and Rhythms del Mundo for climate crisis and natural disaster relief.
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