Killers (The) Biography
Part of the post-punk revival movement, The Killers draw their influences from music styles of the 1980s. The group's debut album, Hot Fuss (2004) brought the band mainstream success. The Killers' second album, Sam's Town, was released in 2006, and the compilation album Sawdust containing B-sides, rarities, and new material, was released in 2007. Their third studio album, Day & Age, produced by Stuart Price, was released in 2008.
In 2001, Brandon Flowers was abandoned by his first band, a synthpop band known as Blush Response, after he declined to move with the rest of them to Los Angeles, California. He then met David Keuning after responding to an ad that Keuning had placed in a Vegas newspaper which listed Oasis, The Cure, U2, and The Beatles as influences. Ronnie Vannucci Jr. and Mark Stoermer were approached by Flowers and Keuning with an offer to join "The Killers", a name which comes from the bass drum of a fictional band in the music video for the New Order song "Crystal".
Initially, The Killers played at small clubs in Las Vegas, Nevada, where they often played at drag shows. With the band's lineup stable and its repertoire of songs expanding, the band attracted the attention of Alex Gilbert, a British representative for Warner Bros. Though Warner Bros. did not like the band, he took the demo back with him, showing it to friend Ben Durling, who worked at UK indie label Lizard King ) and BBC Radio DJ Zane Lowe. The Killers went on to sign with the British label.
In August 2003 , Mr Brightside premiered on UK Radio. The Killers then travelled to England and began to play shows in bars and clubs. They received rave reviews from journalists and fans in the UK and it wasn't long before the buzz travelled across the Atlantic and they were eventually signed by Island Def Jam in the US.
The Killers released their album Hot Fuss in June 2004 in the United Kingdom on Marrakesh Records, and in the United States on Island Records. Hot Fuss has been classified 4x Platinum by the BPI and 3x Platinum by RIAA. The band also had chart success with its singles "Mr. Brightside", which reached the Top 10 in the UK when released, and "All These Things That I've Done". However, their main mainstream success came when they scored a number three chart position in the UK with their re-release of "Somebody Told Me".
The members of the band appeared as themselves in the episode "The New Era" of the teen television drama The O.C., which aired in December 2004. 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.
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 people would remember 20 years from now", though the album received a mixed response from critics and fans. 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 sold over a million copies by January 2007. The album produced four singles in the United Kingdom and United States: "When You Were Young" released in September 2006, "Bones" which was released in November 2006, "Read My Mind" which was released in February 2007, and "For Reasons Unknown" which was released in June 2007. The first single from Sam's Town, "When You Were Young", entered the chart on downloads alone at number five, and the following week on its official release went to number two on the UK Singles Chart.
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, "A Great Big Sled", which benefited Product Red. This was followed by the release of "Don't Shoot Me Santa" in November 2007. 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 June 2007, The Killers headlined the iconic Glastonbury Festival.
The band released a compilation album called Sawdust, containing B-sides, rarities, and some new 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 album also contains the songs "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town", (a Kenny Rogers and The First Edition cover), "Romeo and Juliet", (a Dire Straits cover), and "Daddy's Eyes", a B-side from "Bones"/Best Buy Bonus Track to Sam's Town. 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 that was previously available on the Spider-Man 3 soundtrack is included on later pressings of Sawdust. The band released a cover version of Joy Division's "Shadowplay" on the American iTunes Store that same month.
The Killers finished working on a third album, which was released on November 24, 2008 in the UK and November 25, 2008 in North America. Brandon Flowers confirmed the album's title as Day & Age in an interview with NME. 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", although originally planned for Sawdust, it was released on September 22, with the music video released on iTunes on October 16. The band released a third Christmas single in December 2008, "Joseph, Better You Than Me". It features Elton John and Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys. Proceeds from the downloads will benefit Product Red. 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.
In an interview with Q magazine, Vannucci revealed that the band was planning to record an album of cover versions. On July 13, 2009, UNICEF, MTV EXIT (End Exploitation and Trafficking) and the US Agency for International Development used a shortened version of the song "Goodnight, Travel Well" in a video to promote awareness of sex trafficking. The Killers finshed 4th in the MTV Greatest Superstars poll which was run throughout August 2009 on MTV: the poll included all genres of music.
In September 2009, it was announced that the band is releasing a live DVD and Blu-ray of their July 5-6, 2009 concerts titled Live from the Royal Albert Hall, along with an edited 80-minute CD of the performance, on November 9, 2009. They have also contributed the song "A White Demon Love Song" to the New Moon Soundtrack. A 2009 Christmas song for Product Red is in the works, tentatively titled "Happy Birthday Guadalupe", this time collaborating with Wild Light.
Since going platinum, the band (and principally Flowers) have incited a few rivalries—most notably with The Bravery and Fall Out Boy, who are both labelmates (Island Records). Flowers has said that these bands, especially The Bravery, are riding on the coattails of the success of The Killers, to which Bravery frontman Sam Endicott replied calling Flowers 'A Little Girl' and a 'Kid in a Wheelchair'.
Additionally, in an article of NME, Flowers claimed Fall Out Boy was hogging the A&R man both bands share, setting off Fall Out Boy's bassist Pete Wentz. However, after Wentz made a couple of rants on his blog in September 2005, he offered a virtual cease-fire. Flowers has since apologized to The Bravery, Fall Out Boy, and Panic at the Disco, saying "I'd like to take it all back - these people are just doing what they want to do, just like I am," and said that he was "not proud of" his actions.
In February 2006, The Killers' former manager, Braden Merrick, filed a lawsuit alleging breach of contract when he was fired in May 2005. The lawsuit [was dismissed on October 9th 2009] was a legal action filed against the band by its former manager, In a statement released by Merrick's attorney, an official for the band was quoted: "The Killers are pleased that the matter has been resolved and thank Braden Merrick for his contributions." The release also says, "Braden Merrick expressed his best wishes for the band’s continuing worldwide success."
Fired by The Killers during their ascent to worldwide fame, Merrick filed a $16 million [£10,000,000] breach-of-contract suit in federal court in Los Angeles against the Las Vegas-based band in February 2006. His chief complaint was that after the band began making millions with its original release, "Hot Fuss," and touring worldwide, they simply stopped paying him his reported 25% service fee (from the band's annual gross income) for a contract that Merrick claimed ran through 2007. The Killers swiftly filed their own breach-of-contract counter suit, alleging Merrick's poor management had cost the band millions. Merrick is now a partner at a new music label, Bright Antenna.