Given that I’m seeing The Killers on Thursday and I’m a fan for ten years this summer I’ve been reflecting a lot these past two weeks on the band that kick started my music obsession.
I can remember discovering them like it was yesterday. It was summer 2004, I was ten years of age and I was sitting with my brother flicking through music channels. We stopped at one – I think it may have been Q – and a song began that immediately jumped out at me. The intro was awash with synthesizers. It was glitzy and glamorous, even sexy. The song was ‘Somebody Told Me’ and the band was The Killers.
As I listened to it, the infectious (if lyrically perplexing) chorus in particular really left a mark on me. Also on a more superficial level I was convinced that lead singer Brandon Flowers and his guy-liner constituted the most beautiful man I had ever seen. The band as a whole just looked incredibly cool and stylish. I was transfixed by these guys and it soon transpired that my brother had purchased Hot Fuss, their first album, as soon as it was released in the UK. He quickly lent me his copy of the CD….. and he didn’t see it again for five years. Crazy.
Instantaneously the album was the soundtrack to my life. I was hooked. I remember one particular trip me and my parents took to Bangor and we listened to it as our road trip soundtrack.The lyrics to ‘Midnight Show’ used to actually scare me a little bit and whenever I developed an unorthodox crush, you can be sure I listened to ‘Andy You’re A Star’ plenty. Ten years on and I still consider it one of the best debut records of recent times. Of course I had merchandise also: I had posters, books, even a mouse mat. I was utterly besotted with my first real music obsession.
My love affair with the band didn’t just stop with them though. I adored their sound so much that I wanted to know what bands sounded like them, or influenced them, so I could discover bands with similar sounds. In doing so, it instilled within me a keen love of 80s music and electronic music that still heavily dominates my music listening to this day. To be honest, every band I listen to can be traced back to The Killers in some way even if they’re from the other end of the musical spectrum. For example I discovered The Clash because reading an Ian Curtis biography made me interested in checking out the punk movement properly. Ian Curtis was of course the lead singer of Joy Division and following his death they became New Order. New Order are one of the biggest influences on The Killers – in fact they’re named after a fictional band in the video for ‘Crystal’ by New Order. I could cite more examples but you get the idea.
No other band has shaped my musical taste as much as The Killers. I’m twenty years old now and this summer marks ten years since I became a fan. That’s half my life. And just as I’ve grown in every way since I became a fan, I’ve witnessed them grow too. I’ve simply adored the experience of watching them become one of the biggest bands in the world. Last year, when they played Wembley Stadium I had such a sense of pride. It makes me so happy to see that as the years go by they’re still gaining new fans. Two weeks ago I was listening to Direct Hits and it actually took me aback how many memories I have associated with their music, especially the Hot Fuss era stuff. I hadn’t heard some of those songs in a while and I still knew every word. These are songs that will always be a part of me, no matter how time shapes me.
Of course, their subsequent albums have turned into release-day pilgrimages to pick them up. I remember when I first heard ‘When You Were Young’ and I was devastated. The new sound and style just didn’t sit well with me at twelve years of age. I think I even had tears in my eyes (thank goodness I grew up). I grew to really like it and I’ll concede that objectively I think Sam’s Town is superior to Hot Fuss for the growth in songwriting alone. Battle Born I consider to be their weakest effort, but I still like it. It’s just a bit patchier in comparison to their previous three records. Irregardless I’ll always get their albums on release day – they’ve had such an indelible impact on me that I’ll always be a fan.
So I’m going to see them performing one of their shows in support of Direct Hits, as last year marked ten years since their first show in London (and thus the start of their rise to stardom). On a more personal note this summer obviously marks ten years since I became a fan and next week it’ll be seven years since I saw them for the first time,(at the same festival as the upcoming gig). Added to all this, the concert takes place on the birthday of one of my other most important musical figures, the late Joe Strummer. In short – it’s a day with a lot of emotional significance. I simply cannot wait for it. I’ve always said that going to see The Killers always feels that bit more special and I think it’s perhaps truer than ever for the upcoming gig. Bring it on.