Wellington musician Taylor Johnston, 22, will never forget the night he got to go on stage and perform with the Killers.
Last night at the band’s Spark Arena show, the audience watched on as Brandon Flowers invited him up on stage after seeing his homemade sign asking if he could play the drums on For Reasons Unknown.
Speaking to the Herald today, Johnston, who plays the drums for Wellington punk-rock band Holloway, reveals he queued outside Spark for hours to get close to the stage.
“When Brandon came over to our side [of the stage] - I’ve got big long arms so I kind of just held up the sign, didn’t really give him a choice,” he says.
Drumming for the Killers was “amazing”, he gushes, but reveals “the part that really felt good to me was before I got up, everyone in the audience around me was getting behind it and rooting for me.
“Once I was up there I was in a different state of mind, it was like I’ve got a job to do. I felt really, really good in that ten seconds when they were talking about whether they were gonna get me up or not.”
Johnston, who has played drums since he was 12, admits he was “nervous” taking over from “absolute beast of a drummer” Vannucci Jr.
“The other thing is there’s so many people here who have paid for the Killers - I don’t want to take away from their experience and they’re big shoes to fill.”
But Johnston says it was “amazing” to hear the applause from the crowd. “I felt very loved afterwards.”
He remembers saying to Flowers and Vannucci Jr on stage, “thank you, thank you for letting me up, thank you for being such a lifeline to so many people with your music”.
“And they were just saying, ‘yeah you did good, kid’.”
It’s not the first time he’s played with the Killers - in fact, he has them to thank for meeting his bandmates at the Killers’ Wellington show in 2018, after he joined Flowers and Vannucci Jr on stage.
“They saw me do that, they reached out to me afterwards, and we’ve been Holloway ever since,” he recalls.
Did he think he’d get to perform with the band a second time in 2022? “I sort of said to myself, ‘nah, that was too good. I don’t think I can top that’”, he says - but he decided to take a sign along just in case.
“I play the Killers’ music so much in my spare time that it’s sort of just muscle memory to me now.”
Is he hoping to play with them a third time? “Oh, no, no. I think that’s me done,” he laughs.
“Someone else can absolutely have a turn next time.”