The Hot Seat: Brandon Flowers
This Mormon Killer likes his gambling and cigarettes.
Thu Jan 22 2009
Illustration: Rob Kelly
When you're a 27-year-old dad, husband, rock star and offbeat semanticist (documented in the "Are we human or are we dancer?" linguistic controversy), your schedule doesn't allow for much wiggle room. Citing weekday "rehearsals," Killers frontman Brandon Flowers called us up on a Sunday to chat about his latest album, Day & Age, villainous facial hair and his contrarian stance concerning the new-wave canon.
RECOMMENDED: Full list of Hot Seat interviews
Time Out New York: So are you guys really rehearsing or just playing Rock Band?
Brandon Flowers: I still haven't gotten into the phenomenon of Rock Band. I'm not much of a guitar player.
TONY: But you're from outside of Vegas, so I know you have a favorite casino game.
Brandon Flowers: I'm a blackjack man. I also worked at the Gold Coast as a bellman and at Caesars Palace as a busboy.
TONY: During your breaks, were you allowed to go onto the floor and play the slots?
Brandon Flowers: No, the breaks were never long enough. I never smoked until I was a busboy, because that was the only way you could get a break. Bad decision.
TONY: But it makes you look so cool! Are you still smoking?
Brandon Flowers: I'm trying my best to stop.
TONY: Aren't Mormons not supposed to drink or smoke?
Brandon Flowers: Nope. [Laughs] I haven't drank in a while, actually. It's not a strange idea—most religions can be like that.
TONY: So you're not a fundamentalist, but do you have the special underpants?
Brandon Flowers: I don't. What's frustrating about that is you hear people say magic or secret, but it's more that they're sacred. People look too much into it. It's not as weird as Bill Maher would like you to think.
TONY: Another sartorial inquiry: What's up with the eyeliner?
Brandon Flowers: I hadn't put it on in a long time, and I put it on the other day—we made the "Spaceman" video, our second single—and it felt good. The first time I wore it, I was 13 and I was going to see the Cure on the Wild Mood Swings tour. My sister's friend was really into the Cure and I went with her and my brother; she took me into her bathroom and laid it on me. I was a very uncool 13-year-old, and when I went to that concert I felt like I belonged. It was a good moment. It's nothing that I do every day, but later on, David Bowie became a part of my life, so I guess that didn't hurt.
TONY: You're a big Joy Division/New Order fan, too.
Brandon Flowers: I'm a bigger New Order fan than Joy Division fan; I also prefer Morrissey to the Smiths, which I guess is also sacrilegious. I have a good New Order story: I was driving with Bernard Sumner in Manchester—which was totally surreal—when my wife called me and told me that we were having our baby. So that'll be a cool story for my son when he's older.
TONY: You guys were on The O.C. Do you have plans to continue with the teenage-girl theme and perform on Gossip Girl?
Brandon Flowers: I don't know what Gossip Girl is.
TONY: It's some hit show that girls watch. I don't really know either. Really.
Brandon Flowers: I think we scared all the girls off with the facial hair from Sam's Town.
TONY: I was disappointed to see you shaved that mustache. You rivaled Hall of Fame pitcher Rollie Fingers!
Brandon Flowers: Oh, I'm sorry. There haven't been any great young mustache men, have there? My wife preferred it, and I did too. But we wrote these songs and I just thought that the person who sings "Human" doesn't wear a mustache, and that's when I decided to let it go.
TONY: You got nailed in the press for saying Sam's Town was one of the best records of the past 20 years. I just wanted to give you some space for another outrageous statement. Shoot for the moon, Flowers.
Brandon Flowers: We are skydiving wizards, and the difference between wizards and magicians is that the magic is real. That's what I believe about the Killers, and eventually we're gonna hammer away at people's heads until it's just undeniable. I promise.
The Killers play Madison Square Garden Sun 25.