I THINK WE NEED TO WEAR LEATHER TROUSERS, says The Kaiser Chiefs Nick Hodgson as he leans across the table for a piece of carrot cake. Hes just mentioned how people find the members of The Kaiser Chiefs very approachable. I would like a little more recognition though. Like if you saw Jim Morrison walking down the street, you wouldnt just go up to him and chat. Maybe its his leather trousers. Hes grinning, with his head in his hands, before mentioning Off With Their Heads, The Chiefs third and latest album. With this album it was all up in the air, he says, the only way it became an album was cause we wrote more songs. After a pause he says: This album was like an unplanned pregnancy and we love it very much. He licks the icing from his fingers, We were searching for a title.
People are so very quick to judge you harshly based on your title. Imagine if wed called it Better Luck Next Time, for example. As soon as Ricky said Off With Their Heads we were like, Right! Thats it! It fits the bill. Off With Their Heads was produced by Mark Ronson and Eliot James at RAK & Eastcote Studios in London, and written between rehearsing and playing festivals in early 2008. Mark Ronson contributed in more ways than youd imagine: He brought delicious chicken soup, re-calls Nick, when I ask what Ronson brought to the table. Hes Jewish and he found this deli called Harry Morgan that had chicken soup with matzah balls. Jewish Peni-cillin, thats what they call it. The Sunday Times voted Harry Morgan as having The Best Chicken Soup in Lon-don, that aside, Ronsons talent and popularity lent itself well to the album. The first single from Off With Their Heads, Never Miss a
Beat, features the backing vocals of Lily Allen, and some of the members of New Young Pony Club. We wanted to put a girl group together, says Nick, like Bananarama. The band couldnt think of anyone, so Ronson called in Lily and the other backing vocalists. Mark Ronson at-tracts people like iron filings to a magnet. If you listen very hard you may just hear something that could be fe-male backing vocals: It was fun, but you cant really hear them, Nick warns. We never ever try to be soppy. Sometimes romantic, but only ever in a very English, restricted way, says Nick about the content on Off With Their Heads. I think To-mato in the Rain is a very romantic song. At the end of the day were boys and were afraid of our feelings. Tell your readers that I laughed after I said that. Tomato in
the rain? That particular line came out of nowhere. Nick explains, Its a sad image, this tomato sitting in the rain. He looks at me earnestly, Dont you think thats such a sad image? Another track off the album, Half The Truth, features the vocals of UK rapper Sway. Its a segment of real life, says Nick, before telling me to note down that he said that tongue in cheek. Its very dangerous doing interviews, he sighs, You could just say something flippantly. One time, regales Nick, Lily Allen came in to the studio and there was a lot of paparazzi following her, taking pics outside the studio. The newspaper wrote a story, but they made up this massive lie. The paper suggested that Mark and Lily were lovers who were moving house, and that we were the removal men. It was surprising really. Perhaps leather trousers arent that bad an idea after all.
This album was like an unplanned pregnancy; and we love iT very much.
words natalie eglingmusic
DONT WORRY, THEYRE IN A GOOD MOOD
today, says Mister PR man before pushing me into the hotel room where The Killers bassist, Mark Stoermer, awaits. Confronting The Killers is a daunting experience. Theyre hardened musos with enough of an industry reputation to make me shake in my Converse high tops. It feels more like Im being thrown to the lions than I care to admit. Mark, in his pinstripe suit, stands as I walk over, and offers me a plush, regal-looking chair, before taking the less fanciful chair for himself. Okay, so far so good, although he hardly cracks a smile. The Killers are not your average Las Vegas band, in fact, theyre not your average American band either theyve been labeled The best British band to come out of America and, four albums later, show no sign of laying aside the Synth Brit Pop sound that made for the best of the summer anthems of 2004, with their debut album, Hot Fuss, leading the pack. Coming from, lets face it, one of the weirdest and craziest places in America, lead singer Brandon Flowers plays a suave ringmaster, who has lead his troupe to critical acclaim with songs conveying all manner of cryptic content Somebody told me that you had a boyfriend that looked like a girlfriend that I had in February of last year? Their latest album, Day and Age, is no exception when it comes to obscure lyrics, and even has
band mate Mark slightly puzzled. We have our own interpretations, says Mark, [Brandon] likes being fairly vague. But what does are we human or are we dancers from the albums first single, Human, actually mean? I thought the same thing: What does it mean? he admits, Its a nostalgic song, speaking about being out of touch with whats important. Whats important to The Killers is, The Killers. Mark quickly debunks the rock star imagery of wrecked hotel rooms, drug-fueled nights and long-legged groupies, ala Famous. You have romantic
notions of what it would have been like. You hear the stories of the Keith Moons of the world. You see the pics of The Beatles and The Stones hanging out, but, Mark insists, its a different time. On top of that, were really busy. Day and Age was ...quick and easy to record says Mark, in contrast to second album, Sams Town. With the instrumental parts down, Flowers would sing on top of them, the demos getting thrown back and forth via emails. Wed been living with these songs for a while, he says. Its not long before were discussing covers and
collaborations. Covers are a chance to step out of the box, says Mark, to learn someone elses song and hopefully expand it. Covering Dire Straits Romeo and Juliet, The Killers tried to stay true to the track, while with Joy Divisions Shadow Play, they essentially did it Killers style which is of course the best way they could do it. The track Tranquilize featured on 2007s compilation album, Sawdust. The track, written by Flowers, featured vocals from Lou Reed. Lou Reed!? Mark says: It was an honour. Were genuinely fans of his music. Were proud to have that song in our library and we
were lucky enough that it worked out. Six years after Brandon answered Dave Keunings wanted ad, The Killers have gained a worldwide following, and a world perspective. Before [The Killers] none of us really traveled, like many Americans, says Mark, This has been my growing-up experience, he continues. Weve aged at a faster rate mentally. I never saw the world til I was 25. We were all younger than our age. 25 felt like 18. Now that Im 31, it feels like Im 40. The Killers may have changed the world, but the worlds also changed The Killers.
before [The killers] none of us really Traveled, like many americans
words natalie egling
St. Martins Hotel lies on a dirty street off Charing Cross Road in greater London. Inside, The killers were ready to field questions, talk about unusual lyrics, and share some insights on how their new album, Day and Age, came about.