The Killers have just released their sixth studio album Imploding The Mirage, and the band has been afforded the type of legacy young musicians dream of when they pick up an instrument in as a child. As the band's drummer Ronnie Vannucci Jr reveals, the band has tried to never take it for granted.
"We know that we got a break. And we still have this break, or this opportunity, and it kind of seems stupid not to respect that, and follow it up," the 44-year-old explains. The drummer reflects on the success of the band, fronted by Brandon Flowers. The Killers have sold a staggering 28 million albums worldwide and despite nearly 20 years in the game show no sign of slowing down.
But being one of the world's most adored bands could arguably have its tough moments - some rockstars are all but known for their drug addictions, member feuds, and scandals. It is not so much the case for The Killers though, Ronnie says.
"Like, nobody has a drug addiction. Nobody's f****ing somebody's wife or girlfriend you know? All of that that comes along with being in a band is superficial. It's not interesting, it's the same old story," Vannucci tells the Herald over the phone. The band members have all come from working class Las Vegas backgrounds and have channelled a work ethic that appears to have paid off.
"It's like being in a family: you fight, there are issues, the issues get fixed, they go away, they resurface."
Imploding The Mirage has received a steady stream of favourable reviews. NME called it another "dazzling statement" from the band. Pitchfork called it one of their "biggest and best" albums. Fans will find a lot to like about it, it's unmistakably a Killers' record. The band have mastered stadium-ready rock hits songs like When We Were Young and Mr. Brightside, and there's certainly that familiar vibe peppered throughout the 12 songs.
The album saw the band go back to their roots and mostly Vannucci and Flowers worked on it. The result was a "bravery" the pair were able to tap into. "We just made a record that made us feel good, and that was uncomfortable and different enough, in the delightful way of doing a high dive for the first time or something a little scary," Vannucci says. Lindsey Buckingham (Fleetwood Mac), Weyes Blood, and kd lang are among the musicians who contributed to the album.
"We just sort of had to face the reality of a singer and a drummer trying to make a record by The Killers - and go okay we'll just own this," Vannucci says. Mark Stoermer dipped for the recording process when they could, with Stoermer credited on seven tracks.
Keunig is on hiatus from the band. There's no bad blood: Just life and conflicting schedules that got in the way. In May the band announced Keunig was on the hiatus from the band, and Stoermer is taking a step back after suffering hearing damage during a past show. However, they are both still considered welcome band members to contribute and tour when they wish.
A big part of the band's popularity is their live shows - although not on the cards at the moment thanks to a global pandemic. Vannucci has previously said he "gets emotional all the time playing the drums".
"We don't really play ballads, so we don't really have the chance to rush into some Celine Dion type power ballad. I think once I get up there, the adrenaline and the emotion, and just the kind of energy that drives the song comes from another place.
"There is the emotion from the music and that's what propels me."
The impression I'm left with after talking to Vannucci is that The Killers are a well-oiled music machine. When I ask him whether he ever expected this level of success as a young person picking up the drum sticks for the first time, his answer confirms my inkling.
"It all seemed like a strangely natural sort of progression - that being said I don't think I'll die on a toilet on anything," Vannucci jokes.
• The Killers' new album Imploding The Mirage is out now.