Can you believe this Saturday (7 June) marks the 10th birthday of The Killers’ ‘Hot Fuss’? Seems like only yesterday that Brandon Flowers and co came caterwauling into our lives with their all-conquering debut. Anyway, to celebrate, here’s a stack of killer trivia about ‘Hot Fuss’, starting with the fact ‘Mr Brightside’ was the first song they wrote together, at only their second rehearsal.
While recording the album in Los Angeles, the valley where the studio was located was hit by several natural disasters. Forest fires coated the streets and cars with ash and, while recording the drum part for ‘Believe Me Natalie’, Ronnie Vannucci was thrown off his stool by an earthquake.
Fan favourites ‘Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine’ and ‘Midnight Show’ are two parts of a murder trilogy, the third being ‘Leave The Bourbon On The Shelf’ which finally appeared on the ‘Sawdust’ compilation album. The band harboured ambitions to make a film of the trilogy starring James Spader as the murderer.
The choir that feature on ‘All These Things…’ and ‘Andy You’re A Star’ were the Sweet Inspirations, who previously toured with Elvis. They also provided backing vocals for Jimi Hendrix, the Bee Gees and Dusty Springfield.
‘Hot Fuss’ probably would have sounded a lot different had founding guitarist Dave Keuning stuck to applicants from his advert in the Las Vegas Weekly newspaper for band mates. “Looking to start or join band? Influences: U2, Pumpkins, Oasis” his ad read. One response was from a tattoo-covered man who responded by listing all the dead people in his family. Oooookay then.
Ever wondered who or what “The Genius Sex Poets” is? The text, printed on the bass drum in the band’s ‘Mr Brightside’ video, was actually their original band name.
Many of the first home demos of ‘Hot Fuss’ songs recorded before the band went to Berkeley were sung by Brandon while sitting in the closet in Dave’s apartment, for the acoustics.
The album stayed in the top 40 UK album chart for an astonishing 179 weeks – just shy of Pink Floyd’s 211-week stint in the charts with ‘Dark Side of the Moon’.
During the band’s beginnings, drummer Ronnie Vannucci worked as a photographer at the Chapel of the Flowers to earn some money whilst writing and recording ‘Hot Fuss’. Brandon Flowers was a hotel bellboy.
During the group’s first ever shows, Dave Keuning used the stage name Tavian Go. You’ll find him under that name on the Killers’ first demo CDs. He dropped the name for ‘Hot Fuss’.
‘The Ballad of Michael Valentine’ appears on the deluxe edition of ‘Hot Fuss’, and is about a professional gambler, Rod Pardey Jr, an old bandmate of Ronnie Vannucci’s.
Drummer Ronnie Vannucci’s first drum kit – on which he wrote some of his parts for ‘Hot Fuss’ – was a present from his parents, purchased from a heroin addict.
The band claim to have written ‘Smile Like You Mean It’ in 8 minutes.
Before Ronnie Vanucci joined The Killers, he was in a band called Daphne Major who were a support act for The Killers at one of their gigs in 2002. He consequently quit Daphne Major to join them in the creation of ‘Hot Fuss’.
‘Andy, You’re a Star’ is written about a homecoming king and star athlete that Flowers went to school with.
‘Glamorous Indie Rock & Roll’ was a dig at the snotty indie scene focused around a Vegas hipster hotspot called Café Espresso Roma, where Dave and Brandon played their first ever show together and the band would rehearse despite sneers from their contemporaries about this “80s pop band”.
The song ‘Believe Me, Natalie’ was interpreted by many fans to be about a woman with AIDS, as she comes to terms with her illness, telling herself “this is your last chance to find/A go-go dance to disco now”.
One of Flowers’ guiding inspirations on ‘Hot Fuss’ was Morrissey, who he says shaped his fascination with death and murder.
The video to ‘Somebody Told Me’ was a homage to one of the Killers’ favourite bands, New Order. New Order’s video for ‘Crystal’ featured a fictional band called The Killers playing in front of a large video screen flashing random colors and images. Flowers’ band took their name from that video, so this was a neat reversal.
‘Mr Brightside’ is about an ex-girlfriend of Brandon’s who cheated on him. “All the emotions in the song are real,” he told NME after its release. “When I was writing the lyrics, my wounds from it were still fresh. I am Mr. Brightside! But I think that’s the reason the song has persisted – because it’s real.”