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Music News: Brandon Flowers...Mr. Right-Side?

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GuestbloggerRobbie Daw presents a weekly pop music update here on Towleroad! Robbie runs his own site called Chart Rigger.

Thekillers_2Given that Andy's in Denver covering the Democratic National Convention, this seemed like the right week to take a bit of a political turn with the music column. But don't worry—I ain't about to start preaching.

Instead, I wanted to focus on part of an interview British rock journal NME ran last week with Killers' frontman Brandon Flowers. It's an article that likely won't get much press on this side of the pond. But it's one that's bound to raise an eyebrow or two.

First off, I like The Killers. Over the past year, I've mentioned them numerous times in my Towleroad music column, most recently talking about their upcoming third album—due out in November—which features Madonna collaborator Stuart Price on knob-twiddling duties.

It was four-and-a-half years ago when I first caught the Las Vegas-based band open for Morrissey here in L.A. at the Wiltern. It was just before Hot Fuss came out, and that being the year of the tenth anniversary of Kurt Cobain's death, on some small level I felt like I was hopping on an up-and-coming band's wave before it crested and crashed, the way I never got to with Nirvana.

Between L.A., Long Beach, Cleveland and Austin, I caught The Killers live half a dozen times in the years following that first show. When I started Chart Rigger in 2005, a large number of that first year's posts were  devoted to a bit of fanboy crushing on Brandon Flowers.

Killersspreadl190808That said, my music blogger pal Paul in the U.K. mailed me the latest copy of NME, on which Flowers adorns the cover, last week. When it arrived, I tore open the package, laid back on my bed and began reading.

When I finished, I couldn't help wondering about what we truly expect of our idols and our icons. We read magazines, watch their movies, listen to their music, buy their books—all in an effort to get some inside glimpse into what they're really like, how they really feel and think.

But are we pleased when we hear Madonna comparing John McCain to Hitler? Did we really need to read Chris Ciccone reminiscing about toweling off his sister's naked body? Should the Dixie Chicks just  shut up and sing?

And does it really matter that eyeliner-happy, mischeviously ambigious devout Mormon Brandon Flowers might lean a little to "the middle"? Who knows—maybe more of us lean toward the middle than we care to admit.

Anyway, after the jump is an excerpt from James McMahon's interview with Flowers in the August 23, 2008 issue of NME.

NME: Can I ask you some personal questions?
BRANDON FLOWERS: (Pause) OK...

NME: It's an election year in the U.S., so it seems appropriate to ask you about the time you said you were "sympathetic to George Bush."
BF: Yeah. I said that, but I don't think that now. I'm in the middle with my beliefs, like everyone else.

NME: I think it's quite rare to meet someone in a rock 'n' roll band who says their politics are "in the middle."
BF: Well, I acknowledge that I'm different to people in most bands. In what way? I don't want to talk about it. I think that's enough of a statement in itself.

NME: I leave that alone then...
BF: (Brandon is oblivious to NME's statement) I think a lot of people in bands do it because they're artists and they're supposed to be on the left.

NME: I think the argument is that rock 'n' roll is supposed to be counter-culture and so it's rare for people within it to have conservative views.
BF: Yeah, I understand it all, but I am who I am and I've spent a lot of time trying to work out who I am and I always come back to the middle. I know as a singer in a band I should veer towards the left, but I don't.

NME: So which way will you vote in the election?
BF: I don't know. It could go both ways.

NME: Really?
BF: Yes.

NME: How do you feel about Obama?
BF: (Pause) I don't think people want to hear The Killers talk about this stuff...

NME: I do. In an election year and with you being American, I think this stuff is unavoidable.
BF: I'm excited about him...I don't know. I think too many people jump on the train and I don't want to be one of those people. I like his ideas. I like the idea of what he represents. In a lot of ways.

NME: How do you feel about McCain?
BF: (Long pause) Everyone has good and bad points about them.

*****

"Do you think it's weird that I'm down the middle?" asks Brandon loudly in the direction of his PR. She looks dumbstruck. I'm baffled by his sudden outburst. Brandon repeats the question. "In my politics? Do you think it's weird that I'm down the middle?"

Minutes later, in the kitchen, The Killers' manager is wagging his finger at Brandon Flowers and forcibly reminding him—and anyone else within earshot—that "you don't ever talk about politics."

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Comments

  1. This is frustrating as he spoke solely in vague generalities. "Left," "Right," and "Middle" don't mean a hell of a lot unless you define your scale a little more.

    Posted by: Distingué Traces | Aug 27, 2008 3:08:16 PM


  2. it seems like the states would be in a helluva better position if more people were down the middle. "picking sides" is what causes division. what's the opposite of non-sequitur? oh yeahhh, that's right - super fucking obvious. pardon my french, i'm from montreal.

    Posted by: brad | Aug 27, 2008 3:11:12 PM


  3. Um... The Killers are a terrible band. End of story. Who cares which way you lean when your music is f'n' obnoxious anyway?

    Posted by: RP | Aug 27, 2008 3:32:27 PM


  4. He's a fucking devout mormon, what do you expect??????

    Posted by: Will | Aug 27, 2008 3:33:15 PM


  5. He's not really that devout to the Mormon church. He smokes and drinks and wears makeup. And he's said in interviews that he's pro gay rights.

    But yeh, their last album was a big disappointment. I hope the next one is more like Hot Fuss.

    Posted by: crispy | Aug 27, 2008 3:42:44 PM


  6. First of all, Brandon Flowers is not a devout Mormon. He was raised Mormon, but he's no longer involved in the church.

    Second, I love that Madonna compared McCain to Hitler.

    And the Dixie Chicks should express themselves all they want.

    Posted by: Stenar | Aug 27, 2008 4:57:06 PM


  7. Brandon sure sounds like he'd get along fine with McCain; his "Do you think it's weird that I'm down the middle?" query is strikingly similar to Big John's "Where do I stand on condoms?" questions to his advisors.

    Our good friend BRAD from Montreal would do well to note that the modern Dems incorporate the centre - it's the new GOP crew that likes to polarize things into L/R.

    Posted by: SexyBack | Aug 27, 2008 5:19:53 PM


  8. I agree with Stenar. There is no middle when the right doesn't even want you to exist. I have no problem with anyone wanting to be passionately Christian or superright-wing in their beliefs about security, guns, the economy, whatever. But because virulent homophobia is codified within the Republican platform, there is no good reason for me to acknowledge them or acquiesce to them if I can help it. To win an election? Sure. But never just because.

    Posted by: Matthew Rettenmund | Aug 27, 2008 5:25:57 PM


  9. He's pretty awesome. He's right: Everyone expects rock stars to be "Lefties". It's not his place to push his politics on anyone. (He certainly can if he wants, but he'd have to live with the consequences.)

    I respect that he doesn't want to dive so far into his politics. I often think that most rock stars these days push their "rebel" political stance out there just to promote themselves anyhow. It's usually very insincere. You hear that, Madonna? I'm calling you a Fake!

    Posted by: damien | Aug 27, 2008 6:58:36 PM


  10. Ever seen him live? He's horrible and a fraud.

    Posted by: jon.luddite | Aug 27, 2008 9:04:40 PM


  11. No really about the interview, but... Robbie, why do you keep referring the album out in November as the third album? Isn't it their fourth? Hot Fuss, Sam's Town and Sawdust...

    Posted by: Rolo | Aug 27, 2008 11:03:45 PM


  12. This is problem with Towleroad and blogs in general...they write like they're journalists with credible facts.

    Flowers is not even close to devout.
    The Killers already have three albums released. (yeah, you're some 'fan')

    Andy come back.

    Posted by: ping | Aug 28, 2008 3:55:18 AM


  13. This just makes him sound like a raging new-rebel where being very left is tired and the new rebellion is against being a stereotype of an artist (left). And, like Damien wrote, that's really just another way of promoting yourself: "I'm way cooler than the leftist establishment in rock. I'm, like down the middle." If I were a devout left-leaning middle schooler, I might get upset by this interview. But, instead, I'm more interested in his pretty face.

    Posted by: thomas | Aug 28, 2008 6:06:53 AM


  14. Pink and Rolo, great points, and I should've clarified and included the following: this will be their third STUDIO album, since 'Sawdust' was a collectioin of b-sides and unlreleased tracks with two new singles.

    Also, this part of the article should have been included, as there is the benefit of reading in print what has not been posted online for others to see:

    "...as a practising Mormon, Brandon is part of a large community of people drawn together by the religion in Las Vegas. He tells me he finds time to pray every day, that he tries to go to church every Sunday and believes God is 'loving.' He laughs, 'I don't believe he smites people down with a mallet or anything.' The only time he finds his religion getting in the way of being in a band, he says, 'is struggling with what I'm supposed to do and what I'm supposed to be.'"

    In the end it's up to your interpretation of the term 'devout.'

    Posted by: RD | Aug 28, 2008 8:56:40 AM


  15. FYI Brandon and the boys are very pro-gay, before they hit it big, they frequently played at a gay bar here in Las Vegas.

    Posted by: RD in LV | Aug 28, 2008 11:06:31 AM


  16. The Killers are a good band, but Brandon was obviously hired for his looks. The guy can barely carry a tune.

    Posted by: Keith | Aug 28, 2008 11:09:33 AM


  17. It's obvious that he's uncomfortable talking about his polical views. How refreshing, a celebrity that isn't so deluded as to think that the world gives a rats ass about who he's voting for.

    Posted by: Rachel | Aug 28, 2008 4:29:25 PM


  18. I absolutely love what he said. I am tired of celebrities pushing their views down our throats. The journalist sounds like a moron who was baiting him. BF is a musician, not a politician. Who cares what his views are on the election.

    Posted by: TJ | Aug 28, 2008 6:22:19 PM


  19. I've seen The Killers live once, and I was absolutely disappointed. They simply did not care about giving their all for the public, their set was short and they did not come back for an encore. Their energy was totally lackluster. Reading about him makes me understand why. He seems to be disappointing to his fans most of the time.

    And Brad, don't you think our politicians are divisive too? Look at Mario Dumont, he's using similar techniques of fear and alienation of immigrants to divide the people in our province.

    Posted by: Jude | Aug 28, 2008 6:45:17 PM


  20. Who? These guys are still around? And someone cares? What?

    Posted by: M. G. | Aug 28, 2008 7:39:17 PM


  21. Why do people forget about our freaking Constitution? When people don't speak their minds then they're cowards. I don't care what position you have in this world but live up to the values this nation was founded on before it disappears. We continue to silence our views which leads to this mish mash of non-political will. It's no wonder we get the like of Bush running our country. We get what we deserve. We need to get back to personal accountability for political beliefs and some basic courage. Speak it, debate it, argue it and put it out there for everyone. There are not enough expletives to finish that sentence.

    Posted by: Patriot | Aug 31, 2008 8:33:09 AM


  22. I don't know if Brandon Flowers is still Mormon, but Mormon people are pretty much always right winged. Well their album couldn't come any sooner, I'm in a music slump.

    Posted by: Grand Caveman | Sep 9, 2008 12:26:04 PM


  23. You know, I'm 47, my brother is 57 and my mother is 78. We've love appreciate good music from Strauss to Gershwin to Jolson to Civil War music to Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Elvis, AC/DC, The Train, Pink, you name it. We all agree The Killers are among the greatest rock bands of all time. The combined talent is awesome and impressive. Those who think otherwise are either jealous of Flowers GQ cover or are just plain DEAF. I know this is an old article, but I hope and pray we DO have a rock band, whomever they may be, that is far right Conservative. Middle of the road is like Middle of the Fence, it castrates you. I personally believe Flowers leans left, and it's too bad. Libs have destroyed this country, and it's GOOD to say you're not one, whoever you are.

    Posted by: Susan | Jul 3, 2012 2:12:22 PM


  24. oh, didn't realize you guys are the gay people who follow Brandon. Never mind.

    Try Jesus.

    Posted by: Susan | Jul 3, 2012 2:16:40 PM


  25. Susan, I don't believe those inane remarks. How absolutely UN-godly of you. It's remarks such as yours that would even make the MOST religious absolutely nauseous. Moving on, Brandon Flowers is very good at times, sucks at others. He openly admitted todat that the bassline for "All These Things That I Have Done" is 'borrowed directlt' from David Bowie's "Slow Burn". I think Mr. Flowers openly adores Mr. Bowie, whether he cares to admit it or not. "Spaceman" tunes, etc., all nods to Bowie. Mr. Flowers likes the gloss and glam of genius Bowie but lacks the talent and conviction of Mr. Bowie. The Killers are a good band, but Brandon and company need to realize even David Bowie, and other rock gods, need to re-invent and sound fresh. That's why we love them. Frankly, I liked The Killers better in make-up than scruff, but the music of The Killers got more Springsteen wannabe than Bowie-esque. Too bad.

    Posted by: Phil O'Malley | Nov 10, 2013 1:33:17 AM


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