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Credit: Drew De F Fawkes

Music

The Killers frontman Brandon Flowers once said Kurt Cobain took the "fun out of rock 'n' roll"

The Killers are a well-respected band. Whilst you may not like them personally, you can’t deny their capability of penning an anthemic tune, and earworms at that. Whatever one might think about their most recent releases, with its cheesy 1980s, stadium-rock edge, The Killers’ first two records are indie-pop classics. 

The Nevada band’s debut album, 2004’s Hot Fuss, features banger after banger. With flecks of post-punk and new-wave, the LP contains greats such as ‘Somebody Told Me’, ‘Smile Like You Mean It’ and ‘Jenny Was a Friend of Mine’. It has stood the test of time, unlike many of the era’s contemporaries’ work. Furthermore, follow-up, 2006’s Sam’s Town, also contains yet more classics. Its first two singles, ‘When You Were Young’ and ‘Bones’, are nostalgic throwbacks to the days where skinny jeans and plimsols reigned supreme. 

One wouldn’t want to be disparaging to The Killers’ artistry as they are clearly talented musicians; it’s just that throughout the 2010s, they carried on their path to superstardom and shed the more niche elements of their work in order to become a stadium-filling act that is distinctly American and embodies a modern successor to Bruce Springsteen. 

Furthermore, off-stage, The Killers have made a name for themselves as well-rounded, nice guys, with frontman Brandon Flowers always cutting a respectable figure. A philanthropist who has pledged his support to numerous causes, he’s an inoffensive rockstar, and that’s a refreshing thing.

However, many moons ago, he broke ranks and did something highly out of character. Owing to the fact that he’s clearly an optimist, given The Killers’ penchant for uplifting anthems, in 2009, almost 15 years to the day since his passing, Flowers blamed Kurt Cobain and Nirvana for making rock music depressing. 

Flowers opined: “I don’t mean it in a bad way but I think Kurt Cobain and grunge took the fun out of rock and roll,” he said. I get the sentiment, but his comments were a little off the pace. Without Nirvana, we wouldn’t have had the whole early ’00s scene that the Killers arrived as a part of. Nirvana put alternative music back on the map. 

However, I agree that all the talk of depression and drug use was emotionally draining, given that many of our favourite grunge artists would tragically pass away, Cobain and Staley to name just two. Also, Flowers was correct in the sense that the heinous post-grunge movement with Creed, Nickleback et al. definitely took the fun out of rock and roll, and, come the turn of the Millenium, audiences were on their death bed waiting for a new artist to come and put them out of their misery. Luckily, The Strokes arrived.

It seems that Flowers had an inexplicable bone to pick with Nirvana, possibly owing to their antithetical sounds and personas, but that is just speculation. Later that year, he bitterly namechecked Nirvana again. This time though, his issue was that Nirvana were a bigger band than The Killers in America. To anyone else, this isn’t a surprise. It is a fact that one would argue is still true. 

He said: “We’ve been embraced in Britain in a way that I’ll never understand, and it’s such a wonderful thing”. However, “over here (in America), people are still so obsessed with Led Zeppelin and Nirvana, those sorts of bands, that nobody else is allowed (to grow).”

He didn’t end there either. He went on to argue that American bands were held back by the spirit of greats such as Nirvana and Led Zeppelin. If you heed the last line, his comments are nothing short of hilarious: “I’m tired of it, you know? I just want to knock them all off! And people don’t like that attitude. It’s almost like they don’t believe that it’s possible that anybody else can be the real deal.”

It must be tiring not being the biggest band in your home country, but unfortunately, that’s the extent of my empathy. Being a relatively massive band is a mean feat that few get to experience, never mind getting to the rare level that Nirvana and Zeppelin were at. This makes his comments come across as misguided and ungrateful.

However, in fairness to Flowers, he may have now changed his opinions, but on the other hand, these comments are incredibly short-sighted. The Killers are a good band but they’re not generation-defining

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