The Killers and their addictive message

By Chris Ormond

Speaking from a snowy Cedar City in Utah, The Killers' drummer Ronnie Vanucci says he's been enjoying a rare but short break from relentless touring.

He's headed back to the band's home town of Las Vegas but says he has hardly been there over the past 12 months after recording and releasing the band's second album, Sam's Town.

After forming in 2002 the The Killers launched themselves onto the international music scene with their addictive style of rock and pop, producing instantly recognisable hits such as Mr Brightside and Somebody Told Me.

The Killers are one of the headline acts at The Big Day Out on Friday, January 19.

Vanucci says it was Europe where the music was played heavily on non-commercial radio stations that initially put them on the map and they have remained popular there ever since.

"Europe has always been a sort of slow burn for us," he says. "I think the first time we went to the UK we had songs played on satellite radio ... the first visit over there we did a week of touring and played four or five gigs and after that I think we realised that something was going to happen."

Vanucci says the band didn't even have a record deal then, but it didn't take long for offers to come in from British-based record labels.

The debut album Hot Fuss (2004) sold in its millions and when Sam's Town came out this year it more or less delivered on hopes it would be just as good.

Another clutch of pop/rock gems including the title track and When You Were Young are now cementing The Killers as one of the most popular bands around.

The band, which includes singer Brandon Flowers, guitarist Dave Keuning and bass player Mark Stoermer, had not long finished touring on the back of Hot Fuss when they hit the recording studio again in February and started over again.

"It's been pretty full on. We made the record and just continued with touring," Vanucci says.

The bulk of the shows were in Europe, where fans were pleased to have them back, but there were also plenty of shows in their home country.

Las Vegas is famous around the world for several reasons, but music is not one of them.

It may be the reason The Killers and the casino capital of the world are often mentioned in the same breath, but Vanucci says it's an ever changing city and things are likely to change.

A relatively new Las Vegas band called Panic! at the Disco? have also started making waves.

"Other than that it doesn't have much music history," Vanucci says. "But it's becoming a bigger city ... it's growing, and obviously with more people and more call for entertainment something has to give."

Having never been to New Zealand hasn't stopped The Killers landing one of the main slots at the Big Day Out in Auckland on January 19 and it's a trip they are looking forward to.

It's a tour that's regarded highly by northern hemisphere bands and they generally have plenty of fun in between playing to tens of thousands of people in the often stifling heat of Auckland and Australia's five main centres.

Vanucci says he had a friend who lived in Christchurch as part of a high school exchange and the pictures he had seen were the only indication as to what it was like.

"I'm actually really anxious to get to New Zealand," he says.

The Vegas boys won't get much of a chance to look around though, with just one day in between the next Big Day Out on Australia's Gold Coast.

Vanucci says the schedule is not likely to get much lighter further into the new year.

It means taking the time to lay the foundations for a new album could still be a way off.

"I think there is a lot of touring planned for 2007 and I think 2008 might be a realistic time to get into a third record," Vanucci says.


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