WITH record sales topping 15 million, The Killers’ remain one of the biggest acts of the last decade.
And now – in their eleventh year – the American band returns for a full-UK tour with a new album under their arm, Battle Born.
It’s been a long time in the making, with the band’s members taking time out from The Killers to pursue solo work.
They reconvened to create an album that’s not only turned industry heads but that’s also had their fans begging for more. Extra tour dates have been added and demand for the band remains high.
Yet, amidst the whirlwind of success, Brandon Flowers takes time out to explain why the band has returned to its Americana roots – and routes – in Battle Born.
“I’ve always been fascinated by the sense of America as a melting pot, that we aren’t a specific race. All our ancestors came here for something better and in a lot of cases it wasn’t an easy journey. You don’t just get here and discover it’s the promised land either – there’s a lot of work to establish yourself.
“That’s in our blood as Americans, I think. I don’t know whether that’s what the record is all about necessarily, but it’s definitely one of the ways I see America when I’m writing about it.”
Flowers takes this idea of a ‘journey’ into his lyrics. The Way It Is sees an American boy driving his father’s car across desert vistas. The musicality of the track is as varied as its terrain – instrumentation is rootsy as well as poppy.
“Even though I’m from here, being away so much means I understand why people romanticise those visions of the States. I feel a real love for it, it still touches me.
“Maybe that’s because I live in the South West too, it’s not like the big metropolitan towns. The open roads, the sweeping skylines, the sunsets, if you grow up here it becomes part of your DNA and you’re naturally drawn to writing about it,” says Flowers.
The Killers’ group hiatus from performing and recording also helped the album, according to Flowers.
“I definitely didn’t see it as negative,” says Flowers. “I kept singing and performing which was really good for me, I know that. It kept me oiled up and ready to go. I love playing music, and I was proud of my record. It meant that when I came back into The Killers, I felt strong.”
Flowers believes his solo work also helped develop his craft as a songwriter.
“I knew that I had to make every song count, which is a useful thing to be reminded of. I realised when I toured it that the songs weren’t as physical as Killers songs tend to be, which is something I had to adapt to. I had to learn how to make different kinds of songs still capture the attention of an audience.”
One of the singer’s favourite tracks on Battle Born is Miss Atomic Bomb.
“Something in my body changes when Miss Atomic Bomb starts,” he says. “Whether I did something right with the keyboards, I don’t know, but it’s like something holy happens to me when I hear that intro. There are a few songs I’ve listened to in the past which have made me have that feeling but I’m really thankful that I have one of my own.”
Inspiration for the title came from Flowers’ fascination with the local history of Nevada.
“I was researching Nevada history a few weeks later and there’s this iconic picture of the first Miss Atomic Bomb. The title jumped out at me.”
It was also Nevada state that inspired the album’s title, Battle Born, which is the state’s slogan.
And the album takes the listener from state to state, through its Americana-drenched pop.
Flowers says: “Some of my fondest memories are going on family road trips up to Montana or San Francisco and listening to my parents’ albums. The idea of making music that fits into that environment isn’t something you deliberately do, but it becomes natural. The song and the journey become linked – they go hand in hand.”
The Killers play at Sheffield Motorpoint Arena next Thursday, November 8.