Saturday, 10 November 2012

The Killers

As Elbow entertain the masses at Stradbally, The Killers’ bassist Mark Stoermer sits back
stage waiting for his band’s headline set at the Electric Picnic. The group have played a
handful of dates since returning from their 2010 hiatus. If he’s nervous it doesn’t show.

As strains of ‘Build A Rocket Boys’ resound around the arena, Stoermer sits coolly, as
though this is advice that he’s already taken. When the Killers bid a temporary farewell after
2008’s Day & Age, they left as one of the world’s biggest bands. Four years after that album,
in a vastly different musical landscape, the pressure is on ahead of the release of their latest
effort, Battle Born.

Look out Secretariat!
“I think every album has its own pressures. You always have to prove something. If our first
album wasn’t good then we wouldn’t even have a career. You could also say the same thing
for the second. Although not everyone got it at first, I think once we toured Sam’s Town live,
it made sense and it allowed us to continue to do what we do. It made us a better live band
too. I think Day And Age continued along those paths too. So I think, break or not, it feels the
same. There is a pressure, but it doesn’t feel any different”.

At a time when guitar bands are finding it increasingly difficult to get noticed, one wonders if
the band’s draw remains strong enough to restore them to their former heavyweight position.
But this is an older, more mature Killers, where egotism may not count for so much.

“For me personally I just hope that we continue to make records that we can honestly
say ‘this is the best record that we can make’, and we’re not at that point where we’re just
phoning it in or smacking a Killers label on it just to get out there and play a best-of set.
Hopefully when the records out, this new material is fresh and people are interested. As long
as that’s happening that’s what’s important to me, not necessarily being the biggest band in
the world”.

The band has commented that Battle Born has been one of the toughest albums of their
career to create. Scheduling conflicts meant that five different producers were used during
the recording process. It’s an impressive list, alongside regular collaborator Stuart Price it
features U2’s Steve Lilywhite and Bob Dylan/Neil Young man Daniel Lanois. Remarkably,
considering the amount of different input the band no doubt received, there’s an incredible
flow to Battle Born.

“I think it was up to us at the end of the day to tie it all up. We were kind of the executive
producers; there was no one lead producer with a vision for this record. We were all a little
nervous by the end, thinking ‘Is this going to make sense?’ I think by the time the album was
mixed and we signed off on the final track listing it did make sense and it seems to have a
flow. That’s because each producer may have brought something to the table, but at the end
of the day, we’re going to be us, we still write the songs”.

As a record Battle Born stands up among their best efforts and is perhaps their most
consistent since Hot Fuss. Drawing on elements from each of the first three records the album
is the sound of a band maturing in their own skin. With noticeable nods to Springsteen, Tom
Petty and The Who, it’s a record that’s stadium ready, and one expects those stadiums to be

full when the album is toured.

While Stoermer is clearly pleased with his band’s results on the new album, he’s wary of
following a similar recording path on future records.

“I would hope that on the next record, we do trim it down and there is more of a clear vision.
I think this record was a tough process. Though in the end I think it’s a great record and we
figured it out as we went along. Before on the previous two records, we’d gone with thirty
songs or so, recorded twenty of them and then taken 12 songs or so and that would be the
record. This time we’d have three or four songs, go record with a producer, go back and write
ten songs, go record another two or three with someone else, bring in someone else”.

“So there was never a starting point where we thought ‘we’re making a record now’ or
we had a vision. This album developed as it went along, which in a lot of ways makes it
something special but at the same time it was a very tiring process, more than any other
record that we’ve done”.

Stoermer, along with Brandon Flowers and drummer Ronnie Vanucci each enjoyed success
with solo albums during the band’s hiatus. There were fears that this would result in a longer
absence from the band, but Stoermer reveals that for them, nothing quite compares to The

“I think the way we work together is kind of like a puzzle that happens to fit well. Although
we might mix it up now and then, what every person brings to the band is something that
makes the whole what it is. The whole, for whatever reason, is that thing when lightning
strikes. There are millions of bands in the world and we happen to be one of the ones who
got to do it for a career and be headlining festivals like this. I think that’s a product of the
unknown thing that happens when the four of us get together”.

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