Skip to main content

Home Music Music News

The Killers’ Brandon Flowers on his love for UK crowds and new music plans

As The Killers hit the road for a delayed UK tour, Brandon Flowers tells Rolling Stone UK about the state of America and how they're already working on new music

By Nick Reilly

The Killers' Brandon Flowers performs live in Southampton
The Killers' Brandon Flowers performs live in Southampton (Picture: Rob Loud)

When The Killers released Imploding The Mirage in 2020, the Las Vegas rockers came storming out of the Nevadan desert with the soundtrack to a stadium-sized party that, for obvious reasons, none of us were quite capable of having at the time.

But two years later, frontman Brandon Flowers is on a mission to prove that the party has been more than worth the wait.

“Man, it’s been a long time coming,” comes his unmistakable drawl down the line, the night after the band kicked off their delayed UK tour in Doncaster last week.

It’s a string of dates that show off the band’s devoted relationship with the UK. They see the band taking in shows in cities often neglected by other stadium-sized touring artists (see Norwich, Southampton), which is both a testament to their close-knit relationship with this country and a chance for that party to finally happen – even it’s two years later than planned.

While it means that songs off Imploding The Mirage now go down like old friends with a Killers crowd who are fully acquainted with that record’s charms, it’s also an opportunity for the band to show off their moodier seventh album Pressure Machine – which dropped just a year later.

The Killers' Brandon Flowers live in Coventry (Picture: Rob Loud)
The Killers’ Brandon Flowers live in Coventry (Picture: Rob Loud)

On that record, Brandon offered an uncompromising look into his childhood growing up in Nephi, a city in rural Utah. A passionate slice of heartland rock, tracks such as ‘West Hills’ saw the band tackling the opioid crisis plaguing America, while ‘Quiet Town’ examines how a town responds to a tragedy.

But, as he explains in our full interview, it’s all systems go yet again on new music from The Killers – with their latest single set to drop this summer. You can read our full interview with Brandon below.

Hello, Brandon! You’re back on tour in the UK…

It’s been a long time coming! We were scheduled to do these gigs in 2020 and we’re still wrapping our heads around the fact that it’s actually happening. That we’re on tour and starting to find that groove. We’re getting there, but it’s taken a minute. When it comes to being on stage it’s natural, but the machine is so big. We’re gaining familiarity with that, but once I get that microphone in my hand, all of it melts away.

It’s interesting how extensive this tour is. Usually stadium bands might do the major cities, but you’re really travelling the entire length of the country.

Look, we’ve been coming here for 18 years and developed a rapport that’s really special. It’s a surprise to us, but at the same time I always felt of course we’re going to be welcomed here. A lot of the music we love came from here and it’s been a wonderful near two decades. We’ll never be able to repay the people here in the UK for what they did to our career, right back to those early gigs in 2004.

The Killers' Ronnie Vanucci Jr
The Killers’ Ronnie Vanucci Jr (Picture: Rob Loud)

How’s it been finally playing the new songs? Does that two year wait mean that fans are more used to songs from Imploding The Mirage and Pressure Machine.

They’ll always be considered Covid albums, but I think there’s a lot of beauty in that. Fans of our were really able to sink their teeth into those records. A larger mass of people consumed more Netflix than music though, so it’s always strange to come out with new music because you get one shot in each town.

Some things surprise you though, ‘Fire on Bone’ feels so natural and easy on stage. We’ve been playing it right after ‘Somebody Told Me’ and it feels like it’s been there forever. There are victories!

Pressure Machine, in particular, saw you drilling down on the issues plaguing Middle America, such as the opioid epidemic on ‘Quiet Town’. Has anything improved since you wrote it?

In regards to the opioid epidemic it’s gotten worse. We had more opioid overdose deaths in America in 2021 than any other year. It’s a sad catastrophic thing we’re dealing with and I so hope we can find a way out of it. It’s affected people in my family, in our drummer [Ronnie Vannuci Jr]’s family. People in our town and it’s just sad. It needs to be dealt with and I don’t have the answers, but I was able to express my feelings and it sounds cliched to say it was cathartic, but it was cathartic to write about it on Quiet Town. To address the grief that I was carrying around, but didn’t realise until I wrote those words down. Music can be amazing like that.

You also released ‘Land of the Free’ in 2019, which addressed, among other things, America’s mass shootings. We saw the horrendous events in Uvalde recently. What do you make of it?

It’s heartbreaking. What’s sad is that we’ve come to expect it. It’s not shocking, it’s just heartbreaking because people should be up in arms and our politicians should be fighting to figure it out and they’re just not.

It’s a big part of American culture and when those laws were passed, they [politicians at the time] couldn’t have foreseen the kind of guns and ammunition that people could go and buy at a local store. They had no idea that was going to happen and we need to figure out a way to address it, whether it’s stricter gun laws, background checks and who has access to them.

I’m not the first person to say this, but the sad thing is that we’ve grown accustomed to these stories. I have three kids that are fourteen, twelve and eleven right now. To imagine them being there just breaks your heart.

Why isn’t the necessary change happening?

It’s just such a big issue for the right. A lot of people are going to vote Republican, that is a major issue for them and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

Back to that tour, you’ve got Sam Fender supporting in London. His tales of growing up in a small town and the trauma contained within that similar to the themes of Pressure Machine.

Yeah, we’re definitely kindred spirits and it’s always nice to see new people coming up that have something to say and songs to go along with it, which is the holy grail! That song ‘Seventeen Going Under’, wow.

It’s funny because I was writing Pressure Machine and checking out a couple of his songs on YouTube and I thought if I don’t write this album then this kid’s going to write it! Cos Pressure Machine isn’t your typical Killers album and it really lit a fire for me to pursue that record.

Any special guests planned for those shows? That double bill of Johnny Marr and Pet Shop Boys at Glastonbury in 2019 was pretty special.

That was one hell of an encore! You know I’d never met Johnny Marr before we met backstage. We rehearsed This Charming Man and went out and did it like we always did it. It just occupied this surreal part of my psyche and it also was fully commonplace because I’m so familiar with his music. Watching it back you can see moments of those. We’d love to have someone come out in London maybe, but we need to put the feelers out!

Is new music on the horizon?

Yeah, it’s always on our mind and we’re always working. We have a single that is going to come out in the summer that we’re thrilled about. We never sit down and have a roundtable discussion about which direction we’re going to go, we just follow the music. This song in particular we recorded with Shawn Everett and Stuart Price. It sounds exactly as it should!

Is this new single the first taste of a new album then?

In the current conditions, what’s beautiful about it is that you can just release a song, but I have a sneaking suspicion that we’ll have a new album. There are certain touchstones that it’s tough to extract from the band and those are things that we should wrap our arms around and be proud of. I think you’re going to see some of that on the record. We’ve never been afraid to experiment a little, but the first thing you’ll hear in the summer is going to be very Killers!