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Nerves about playing smaller venues, people not knowing the material…’ Late last year, as the Killers approached the end of the Day & Age tour – after pretty much seven years of back-to-back recording, performing and travelling – Flowers decided he wanted to keep going. His band mates told him to hop it, they were going home, to do their laundry, watch television, hang with their friends and family. Flowers took a scant four weeks off then ploughed on regardless, recording Flamingo in Las Vegas and Los Angeles with a dream-team of super-producers: Stuart Price (Madonna), Brendan O’Brien (Springsteen) and Daniel Lanois (U2). He told his wife he was leaving her holding the babies, again. ’ he says with the gurgly, yuck-yuck laugh with which he says most things. Almost every sentence, no matter how dark the subject matter, is delivered with a chuckle, or a peculiar gasp.The same function is performed by his interview posture: ramrod straight in his chair, arms folded tightly across his chest.On tour in Europe last summer, the Killers had two tour buses.The 'party bus’ was dubbed Welcome to the Jungle, after the Guns N’ Roses song.I grew up hearing Johnny Cash and Elvis from my dad. He moved there when he was 16 and worked as a bellhop in one of the hotel/casinos.His enduring love affair with Vegas, its gambling and its vice, is reflected in Flamingo’s opening song, Welcome To Fabulous Las Vegas ('cocaine and lady luck give us your dreams your heartaches and your sin’). It’s the month before the release of the Killers’ second album, Sam’s Town; two hours before a homecoming gig at the Empire Ballroom.The album will go on to shift a hefty chunk of the band’s career-total 15 million sales and win the four-piece two Brit Awards (Best International Group and International Album).
The baby of the family – he’s the youngest of six – and raised by his God-fearing mother with a strict moral code, he’s too nice not to.
'For the most part it’s like going backwards,’ he admits.
'It’s weird getting these nerves that I haven’t had for five or six years. But,’ he adds hastily, 'I want to wrap this [solo tour] up by Christmas.’ For this slight but charismatic, drop-dead-handsome 29 year-old who can command a stadium or festival crowd with compelling ease, the laugh is a self-defence mechanism.
Flowers’ bus was called James Taylor, after the earnest, none-more-gentle Seventies folky. And it’s been a breath of fresh air.’ This impulse, he acknowledges, has been of a piece with this vision for his solo album.
There are, he reports, no such affectations on this year’s more stripped-back solo tour. The first Killers album, 2004’s Hot Fuss, betrayed teenage Anglophile and mascara-wearer Flowers’ love of the Cure, the Smiths and Pet Shop Boys.
'But I’ve grown tired of downtown America,’ he says in a way that manages to be both understated and bombastic, 'and that’s where you tend to go on days off. Sam’s Town saw them evoking the widescreen Americana of Springsteen, Joshua Tree-era U2 and their home state.