Killers stay in comfort zone

By John Benson

In talking to The Killers drummer Ronnie Vannucci about the path he took to musical stardom, it seems that though percussion is where he has made his mark, looking back, it’s the piano he regrets not pursuing.

“That’s the one thing that was pushed on me,” said Vannucci, calling from Seattle. “My drum teacher lined me up with this piano teacher, and I said, ‘Piano? That’s wussy.’ And I’m kicking myself now for not going further on that. Piano makes everything easier.”

Just think, you could have been another Brandon Flowers?

“Exactly,” laughed Vannucci, whose father grew up in Middleburg Heights, near Cleveland. “Instead, I had to settle for Ronnie Vannucci-type, a slacker.”

Naturally, lead singer Flowers and Vannucci aren’t complaining considering The Killers’ three studio efforts — 2004’s “Hot Fuss,” 2006’s “Sam’s Town” and 2008’s “Day & Age” — have sold well over 10 million copies. The outfit was pegged early on as a neo new-wave-sounding band, combining ’80s synths with infectious melodies, and it really hasn’t ventured too far from its comfort zone.

From early hits such as “Somebody Told Me” and “Mr. Brightside” to later radio tunes “Bones,” “Read My Mind,” “Human” and “Spaceman” there has been one constant for Vannucci that makes a true Killers song.

“I think on every record there are a couple of brave moments or sore thumbs, but I think they’re fairly consistent,” Vannucci said. “And the consistent factor being they all have a song in them. You can take any one of our songs and put it to an acoustic guitar around a campfire, and it will still be a great song. The fun part is being able to get creative with how the song is propelled.”

Since The Killers arrived on the national music scene, it feels as though the band members have found themselves under heavy scrutiny from the media. Early on it was the Las Vegas-based outfit’s public squabble with The Bravery, while later singer Brandon Flowers compared the band’s “Sam’s Town” album to Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.”

Vannucci explained in detail his experiences so far with fame and music journalists as it relates to The Killers’ career.

“It’s really weird because you don’t think about that stuff when you’re entering into that world,” Vannucci said. “You don’t think about a lot of things. All you kind of think about is rocking it and writing good songs. You don’t really think about the bigger picture, but now that it’s upon you, you end up dealing with other elements.

“And it’s strange. It hasn’t stopped me from being a fan of music. It’s weird when the arrows are pointed at you, but I think we’ve had kind of good luck with that kind of thing. I don’t think we’ve had too much negativity in that respect compared to other bands you read about. It’s been pretty much a smooth ride.”

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