It may be best known for showgirls, neon signs and the sight of men openly sobbing at roulette tables, but Las Vegas is also the hometown of The Killers frontman Brandon Flowers. It’s just one of the unusual factors that makes Flowers — a devout Mormon who also happens to be a pink jacket-wearing rock star — such a compelling bundle of contradictions. ShortList spends half an hour trying to unravel them.
The Killers found success in the UK before the US. Do you see Britain as your spiritual home?
We’ve definitely been embraced here and the fact that we got our start in Britain means it’s definitely a special place for us. The UK’s attention to music, and even the quality of the TV shows, is amazing.
Really? Any particular favourites?
I loved Jonathan Ross. We have David Letterman and Jay Leno and I love Jimmy Kimmel, but I think that Jonathan Ross was the king. I don’t know much about him leaving the BBC, but I do know that the world’s a better place with him doing his thing.
Should we be worried you’ve gone solo? The Killers are definitely coming back, right?
Yeah, there are no plans yet but we all know that we’re coming back. Right now we’re all rebooting our systems. All I want to do next is make the best Killers album ever. We haven’t hit it out of the park. Yet.
What’s the biggest misconception about life in Las Vegas?
I’ve been asked what hotel I live in a few times. A lot of people don’t realise that there are homes in Nevada away from the strip. In fact I think there are nearly two million people that live in Las Vegas now.
What were the strangest sights you saw when you worked as a waiter in Caesars Palace?
There are a lot of very Las Vegas stories I have, especially from working with people who had problems with gambling. They’d earn a lot of money in tips then just move from the front of the restaurant to the casino floor, lose every cent and do it again the next day. That was something that we all kind of knew was going on. The most I’ve won is a couple of grand. I’m not a huge gambler personally but the adrenalin of it can draw anybody in so you’ve got to be careful. I’m still drawn to those neon lights.
Surely your Mormon faith doesn’t sit well with either the gambling or being a rock star?
The two don’t fit and they never will. I don’t know, it’s just something that I have to deal with.
You’ve always said Oasis were an important band to you growing up. Are you hoping they’ll reform?
They’ve already left their mark, so I think it’s cool. They’ve made some good music so that’s enough for me. I’ve met (Noel and Liam) and they’ve been kind to me. I’m one of the lucky ones.
You’ve had your own run-ins with other bands, such as The Bravery, in the past. Are you trying to stay out of trouble now?
It’s something I’ve grown out of, I think. I watch myself now and don’t say anything. There are obviously groups that I don’t like but what good does it do for me to tell anyone? It’s better to try to be positive.
But was there any truth in your comments about wanting to “knock Nirvana off their perch”?
(Laughs) Wow, you’re just going for it aren’t you? I’d actually like to clear that up — I’ve never said anything bad about Nirvana. It was actually a combination of things that I said about Led Zeppelin and Nirvana. It wasn’t even taken out of context because if you read it and actually use your brain I’m not saying anything bad at all. They’re both fantastic bands but I was referring to how high we put them on a pedestal — when you’re a young band it’s very difficult to push yourself into the mentality that you’re taking over from these guys who have played for so long. It’s partly because of the press but also just the human psyche, so I was just talking about how hard it is now for young bands to break through, let alone be allowed to reach for the stars.
Finally, your moustache caused a stir a few years back. Do you regret it?
(Laughs) No, it’s silly that it was such a big deal. It really wasn’t something that I thought was going to cause any kind of commotion.
Flamingo is out now; brandonflowersmusic.com
Picture: Williams Hirakawa