Brandon Flowers has spoken to NME about what’s next for The Killers, as well as teasing a ‘Hot Fuss’ anniversary tour and exclusively revealing work on a new solo album. Check out our full interview below.
The frontman was speaking to NME just as news broke that the Las Vegas indie veterans’ new ‘best of’ collection ‘Rebel Diamonds‘ had hit Number One in the UK – marking their eighth chart-topping LP and a feat that Flowers described as “pretty amazing”.
“It’s hard to fathom,” he explained. “I’ve been caught up in this whirlwind for 20 years; in this cycle of touring, writing, touring and writing. The most time we had to reflect was during COVID, and it was quite an awakening process to get time to look through all that we’d done. I’m really proud of the band and the work.”
As well as looking back on their work so far, Flowers opened to NME about settling past feuds, the band’s “rock n’ roll” future, an anniversary tour for their seminal debut ‘Hot Fuss‘, and work on the follow-up to his two solo albums ‘Flamingo’ and ‘The Desired Effect’.
NME: Hello Brandon. When you first emerged with ‘Mr Brightside’ in 2003, did you imagine that you’d be here 20 years later celebrating your second greatest hits record?
Flowers: “We were always little different from the other Vegas bands back then because I noticed that there was this competition and rivalry between local bands. I wasn’t thinking about them – I was thinking about The White Stripes, The Strokes, and Oasis. I didn’t allow myself to get to U2 just yet, but I asked myself, ‘What is it that these bands are doing and why are they not still in their hometown?’ That’s what set us apart quite early on.
“We were different, and we were ambitious. Ambition can be seen as an ugly thing to some people but it has served us well. We were able to persevere and it’s kind of unbelievable.”
You would famously kick off feuds with the likes of The Bravery and Green Day back then. Do you feel regret over your past outspoken ways?
“I’m over it now! But it nagged at me quite early on. Some of the things that I would say weren’t really representing my true self. I was a little green, not ready to be interviewed, and socially awkward, so I just resorted to name-calling! I’m a little bit embarrassed by it now, but I’ll live. I’ve apologised since.”
‘Rebel Diamonds’ is now out in the world. Do you learn anything about your legacy when you lay out your past like this?
“Personally, I’m my own harshest critic. I’m still doing that thing I did 20 years ago where I’m looking at our best of and then looking at Tom Petty’s best of and seeing where I’m falling short! But at the same time, I’m looking at it and thinking, ‘You can really see this band striving, maturing, growing and representing ourselves as honestly as possible while still making great music that I’m really proud of.”
New tracks on a best of are usually a band’s way of saying, ‘This is where we’re going next’ – but these four on here are actually you saying, ‘This is where we’re from, now wait and see’, right?
“Yeah. It’s nice to wrap it all up. If you look at a song like ‘Boy’, it’s definitely got these nods to the early influences and has a little bit of that nostalgia, but I feel like that we still have places that we’re going to go. I’m still excited about the future.”
When we spoke just before you debuted ‘Boy’, you made it sound like it was the genesis of a new record. But we’re past that point, now right? You’re headed in a new direction?
“Yes, I realised that the vehicle that I want to ride in had less synthesisers and less laser beams! I’m trying to figure that out. It’s not uncommon; we’ve made records like ‘Sam’s Town’ , ‘Battle Born’  and definitely ‘Pressure Machine’  where there’s less presence of that kind of sound. I’m not disparaging that sound – a lot of that music has shaped who I am – but as I get older I want to be authentic to who I am and how I’m feeling. I have to follow that, and I just feel like that’s leading more towards guitar music, rock n’ roll and Americana music.”
The Killers’ last two albums marked your most personal writing. Will the next album follow suit?
“You know how people say, ‘Oh, I don’t know what I’m doing’? Bands are always self-deprecating but I’m going to be honest – I’m starting to know what I’m doing! Once you get to that point, it’s tough to lie and make music that your heart isn’t really behind. I discovered something while making ‘Imploding The Mirage’  and ‘Pressure Machine’; two highly conceptual records that had this continuity, drive and conviction to them. Once you make a record like that, it’s hard to do it any other way. It’s not easy, but it’s something I’ve signed up for.”
What’s lyrically inspiring you at the moment?
“Right now, I’ve been gravitating towards relationships and singing about what it takes for people to really make it, while still having empathy for the things that people go through that break them and trying to work through that. Every time I go into this kind of territory, it makes me stronger in my own relationships through realising what I need to do to make them work and what I need to put into them. It’s a really important process for me because it makes me a better person.”
You told NME that your hope for the next album would be to have all four members on board to make it together. Is that looking likely?
“I’m making a solo record right now! I almost had it wrapped up. The goal has always been to get all four original members to take ownership and be proud of what we’re doing, but it’s so difficult with all four of us living in different cities. It’s not impossible. It’s weird to be talking to you about it, but I’d definitely like to do that.”
Hold up, a new solo record?
“Yes, I’m writing a third solo record.”
Wow, will that be heading in that same rock ‘n’ roll dreamland direction?
“It’s different. I feel like it embodies a little bit of my first two solo records, but obviously there’s so much more living that I’ve done in the seven years since my last effort. I’ve got a lot more insight and things that I’ve absorbed. I’m really loving how it’s turning out.”
When do you think we can hear it?
“The ‘Rebel Diamonds’ tour put a little bit of a wrench of things! We’re also going to announce some kind of ‘Hot Fuss’ anniversary shows, so I probably won’t be able to release it until 2025. I’ll have to sit on it for a while.”
Will those ‘Hot Fuss’ shows be more of a sweaty and intimate affair like back in the day?
“I guess I’m not at liberty to tell yet, but people can put two and two together. I think we’re going to announce it shortly after the new year. The arena shows are for ‘Rebel Diamonds’, but this will be specifically a ‘Hot Fuss’ extravaganza.”
Maybe you could pop up at Glastonbury again?
Here’s hoping. Merry Christmas, Brandon.
‘Rebel Diamonds’ by The Killers is out now. A lengthy UK and Ireland arena tour kicks off in June. Visit here for tickets and more information.