Following their difficult headline show at Glastonbury in 2007, The Killers redeemed themselves with the all-out celebration of their secret set in 2017. Now, they're set to up their game once again when they return to the Pyramid Stage this summer. Frontman Brandon Flowers talks to Andrew Trendell about Glasto's legacy, progress on their new album, the fall-out of Woodstock, and just who exactly is in the band at the moment.
So we hear that The Killers have been hard at work in the studio?
“Yeah, we’ve been at it for a few months. The idea is to try and get something that we’re excited about – maybe about one song a week. So far, we’ve hit that target and the list is growing. We’ll take inventory here soon and see what we’ve got.”
Ronnie [Vannucci Jr, drummer ] told us last summer that he wanted to try and experiment with some weird and synthy sounds. Are things headed in that direction?
“Yeah, we’ve been in Utah doing it. That’s where I fell in love with music for the first time; so it’s interesting to be there again and hear some of that music with the geography matching the sensation. Some of that stuff is starting to resurface and a lot of that had to do with synthesiser music. It’s always been part of our DNA but it’s definitely creeping up.”
Lyrically, is the new material as politically-charged as ‘Land Of The Free’ or are things a little more personal?
“No, that was a very specific thing that I wanted to get across. I’m really happy with how it turned out. It was a really obvious statement that I was making. It’s very rare that you have something that you feel that strongly about and get across in a few minutes. You’re allowed to be more vague when it comes to a regular pop song or whatever it is that you’re trying to tackle. I definitely wasn’t trying to leave much to the imagination with that song.”
Was the reaction as divisive as you’d expected?
“It was divisive, and it wasn’t what I expected. People who you might not have expected to just come out of the woodwork. We’ve got a lot of support and I think people agree with it for the most part. I’m just surprise that nobody else wrote it before I did. As soon as Trump was elected, everyone was talking about all of the art that was going to start happening and how exciting it was going to be. I just didn’t really see that. Partly out of frustration, I just felt that it was my duty to reflect what’s happening. I’m getting older and you just start to care more about that stuff. I’m having kids and they’re coming of age and I just felt the need to do it.”
There was some doubt if Dave [Keuning, guitarist] and Mark [Stoermer, bassist] would be involved in the new stuff. Have they been working with you?
“Mark’s been to Utah and we’re in contact, but Dave’s been pretty busy with his solo record as far as I know.”
Will new material be out by Glastonbury?
“No, I don’t think so. We just finished touring in September, so you know – give me a minute!”
Do you feel as if you have unfinished business with Glastonbury after the fallout of last time you headlined?
“I’d forgotten about it! We were the secret band a couple of years ago and that was a fantastic experience, but I had forgotten about the previous headline slot that we’d done in 2007. There were some sound restrictions which have since gone away, and we had the PA cut out a couple of times. I think we can do better. We’ve played about 700 shows since then so we’re a better band with more songs now. We appreciate the tradition and what it means to headline Glastonbury. It’s huge. I used to buy NME Magazine while growing up in Vegas and I remember cutting out an aerial picture of Glastonbury and putting it on my wall.”
So with Glastonbury and your big shows in Cardiff and Belfast, what do you have in mind to really set them apart from last summer’s stadium and festival gigs?
“We’re basically going to be coming off a pretty long break, so these shows are preparatory. They’re getting us ready for Glastonbury, but they’re in places where we’ve had a great time before. We’re so lucky and spoiled over there. It’s just fun. Who knows what we’ll do? I don’t know what’s gonna happen.”
Do you think there will be some more intimate surprise gigs in the UK this summer?
“We love doing that stuff, so it’s a possibility. We’ve talked about doing a couple of things like that.”
The Woodstock 50th anniversary line-up ruffled a few feathers. What does it mean to you to be playing, and how would you measure the line-up alongside you?
“I know The Raconteurs are playing before us, then there’s also Jay Z and Dead And Co. They’ve kind of got all the bases covered.”
Do you feel like the legacy of peace and love can be revived in 2019?
“I think that’s always a good message, it makes sense. Is that what people are trying to get across at this 50th anniversary? I don’t know. When they asked us to play, it wasn’t like ‘Oh, are we going to keep the tradition alive?’ I didn’t have to sign a waiver to deliver that message. They offered us a certain amount of money and we said yes. I don’t know what you want. It’s not 1969 any more, but we’re gonna do our best.”
The Killers’ upcoming UK and Ireland tour dates are below
Tuesday June 25, 2019 – BELFAST Ormeau Park
Friday June 28, 2019 – CARDIFF Cardiff Castle
Saturday June 29, 2019 – GLASTONBURY Festival