The Killers’ Brandon Flowers: “Slavery has been over for a long time, but systematic racism has been in place ever since”

The frontman speaks to NME about racism, George Floyd, Donald Trump and conservatism in the US.

The KillersBrandon Flowers has spoken about America’s “need to make changes” to stamp out “systematic racism”.

Speaking in this week’s NME Big Read cover story, the frontman opened up about allowing politics to enter through the band’s music – after launching the anti-Trump single ‘Land of The Free‘ last year, before recently changing the lyrics to reflect the killing of George Floyd, whose death sparked a wave of worldwide Black Lives Matter protests.

Speaking to NME about the initial reaction to the track when they released it in 2019, Flowers said: “There were a few brave radio stations in America that played it. I just kept waiting for someone to write it… Kanye West, somebody, write this song! Everyone talked about this artistic revolution that was going to happen when Trump was elected and all the great art that was going to happen, then there was silence. I just don’t hear it. I don’t hear a lot of reflection on it or an answer to it. I finally just recorded it.”

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He continued: “Maybe there are some ultra-conservative fans who didn’t want to hear it or don’t think that politics should make its way into music, but not enough that it’s going to hurt the shows or hurt the band.”

Back in June, the band updated the lyrics of ‘Land Of The Free’ to pay tribute to the late George Floyd to include: “How many killings must one man watch in his home? Eight measured minutes and 46 seconds, another boy in the bag / Another stain on the flag”.

“It just felt like the right thing to do,” Flowers told NME about the altered lyrics. “Musicians who have been courageous and done things like that in their career have helped me to learn about things. It was a responsibility that I had to do the same thing. It always made sense that music is a place for people to express their feelings. It can just be entertainment and an escape, but I don’t think that we should shy away from confrontation all the time.”

The Killers Big Read 2020

Describing the footage of Floyd’s killing as “evil”, Flowers continued: “If you have a heart then this has to be changing people. It has to be making people more empathetic. We need the understanding of what is still happening in America. Yes, slavery has been over for a long time, but systematic racism has been in place ever since. We need to make changes.”

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Asked how he felt about the upcoming US election in November, Flowers replied: “I’m an optimist. I’ve got my fingers crossed for Joe Biden, but I’m also frustrated. I continue to see that Trump has quite a loyal group of supporters. As unfathomable as that is, it’s true. That’s lurking beneath my optimism.

“It’s so ugly over here right now. We’re so polarised and it’s getting embarrassing and frustrating.”

As well as discussing the influence of Vampire Weekend and revealing that The Killers have been working on another new album that they plan to release “in about 10 months“, the band also spoke to NME about their recent investigation which found “no corroboration” of an alleged sexual assault said to have been committed by their road crew against a woman on their 2009 tour – as well as his thoughts on a culture of misogyny in rock music.

Read the full Big Read cover feature here, where the band also open about finding themselves again and adding a female voice to their new album ‘Imploding The Mirage‘, the current line-up and racism in the US.

Meanwhile, The Killers are currently on course for their sixth consecutive UK Number One album – and are currently outselling the rest of the top 20 combined.

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