The Killers have made their comeback at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Singer Brandon Flowers and drummer Ronnie Vannucci reveal all about their new album, playing live and festive collaborations with Elton John.
The Killers recorded their new album with Madonna producer Stuart Price
Was there any concern before you went into to record Day & Age that you should take some time off?
Ronnie: We were thinking about taking more time off but the songs were there. We were ready and we just felt it was a good time to keep going.
With this album you seemed to have embraced technology more. Is that true?
Ronnie: Yeah we were less afraid this time to take the song where it needed to go sonically. One thing followed the next. We'd joke around and we'd put little sax solos in there and it just made sense.
How important is it when you're making a Killers record to make it different from last time?
Ronnie: None of it is a contrived idea. We don't sit down and put a muzzle or any type of restrictions on a song or even on a record. One thing follows the next.
On Sam's Town, it wasn't really a decided thing. We didn't have a round table meeting and one of us go, 'Ronnie you grow a f*****g moustache. It's best for the song, it's good for the look.'
We just all have our ears open. It's not like we try to follow a congruent vein or style. We just wanted to do what we do but do it better each time
How did the process of working with (Madonna producer) Stuart Price turn out in the end?
Ronnie: Basically we traded ideas with Stuart and he'd take these ideas and re-arrange them or just polish them up a bit. By June, we basically had 50 or 60 ideas on a dry race board.
We took a few ideas and constructed songs out of them. Then we'd narrow them down and send those back and forth to Stuart. About six songs on the record were just from the demos.
Brandon: It was scary sometimes but it wasn't as heavy as anything we've done before. Maybe it's because we didn't jam as much but I think we moved into new territory in a way we wouldn't have done if we hadn't recorded it the way we did.
Did it turn out to be the collaboration you hoped it would be?
Ronnie: Yeah. It was fairly easy going and he likes to move quick. We were able to take criticism from each other and that was great.
Was it as fun to make as it sounds?
Brandon: Yes it was. We're all obviously fans of David Bowie and the sax he uses on Young Americans and Let's Dance. It's strange where it's gone but we're happy to bring the saxophone back.
Would you say this one of the most complete records you've made?
Ronnie: In a lot of ways yeah because I think we had a lot of time to spend on the songs. We spent six months on creating ideas and whittling these ideas down to actual songs.
I also think it helped that Stuart was there. He was a lot of fun to work with and there was never a bum moment or any type of frustration.
In past records we've been guilty of really throwing the kitchen sink in there and not letting it breathe. We bounced all kinds of ideas off Stuart and it was really refreshing to work with another musician.
Brandon Flowers said he still loves playing Mr Brightside
Why is Human so important to you and your fans?
Brandon: It's just a monster. I always expected it to go away but it never did even though it's one of the oldest songs.
But it was the song that really made us go forward with Stuart.
The lyric 'Are we human or are we dancing?' is a mild social statement. I took it from a quote from Hunter S Thompson. He was saying that he was worried that America was raising a generation of dancers.
Were any songs more difficult than others?
Ronnie: The most difficult came by arrangement and that was A Dustyland Fairytale.
That is one of my favourite songs on the record. It was this giant sounding song and we had to whittle it away.
Joyride also took on a couple of different choruses. We went through about three choruses just to make it more pop.
There's a rumour that you're going to do this Christmas single with Elton John. Is that true?
Ronnie: That's true. The song is called Joseph Better You Than Me. I have a sneaky suspicion Elton is just going to want to get us in a room and just do a straight recording.
How does it feel playing the old songs, especially Mr Brightside?
Brandon: It's funny you'd think that I'd get it sick of it. We've probably played it seven or eight hundred times but I really enjoy playing it. I love the chorus and it's still an exciting song for me.
Do you do vocal exercises before a gig?
Brandon: I've recently started taking a couple of vocal lessons. So I'm learning some good techniques to warm up.
In the past I would scream because I couldn't hit a note but I'm learning to hit those notes now.
But I wouldn't change how I sang in the past. It was very natural. It was just me going from singing in bars right to the record. But now it's time to get better.
What do you do as a band towards the build up of a gig?
Brandon: Usually we stay away from each other as much as possible until it's time to play.
We get in a circle and we talk about everything from messing up the previous night to doing things better.
And if we didn't play hard enough last night let's play harder tonight.
We also remind ourselves how important it is what we're doing. People appreciate it and they pay money for it and it's our job. So let's have fun and do the best we can.
The Killers were talking to Zane Lowe ahead of their Royal Albert Hall performance in London.