FIELDS OF INFLUENCE; Exclusive the BIG Razz Interview for Their Second Record, the Killers Turned to Classic Beatles

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Byline: By John DIngwall

THE latest album by The Killers isn't just another rock record. It's the Vegas group's attempt to make their own Strawberry Fields, according to frontman Brandon Flowers.

The hottest band on the planet are in Scotland for one of the most eagerly anticipated shows in years when they play Glasgow's Carling Academy on Tuesday.

And, while it will be the first chance for many fans to hear the band's latest batch of songs in a live setting, singer Brandon has revealed he had one eye on The Beatles when he chose the title for the album.

He explained: "Coming back to the US after touring the world was like seeing our home country with fresh eyes," he says of The Killers' decision to depart from the new-wave scenery that was a hallmark of their four-million selling 2003 debut, Hot Fuss.

"I guess before we went, we hadn't realised how American we were. None of us had been outside of the country before. When we got home from the tour, I think we had a new appreciation of that, and it started to influence the music.

That's why we called the new album Sam's Town. It's a casino in Las Vegas. I used to live across the street from it.

We wanted to immortalise Vegas in song the same way that The Beatles did with Strawberry Fields."

It is obvious Brandon and the boys have a real affinity with their infamous home town.

He adds: "Showbiz is in the town's blood. Everywhere you go, there are pictures of Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. As a kid, Imoved to Utah and I identified with Sinatra.

"Living where we did, he represented the big city to me. When I was 16, my folks let me go back to the city, to Vegas. My Way stood for the things that drew me there, that sense of glamour."

Under pressure to come up with a great follow-up to Hot Fuss was never going to be easy, and Brandon knew he had to come up with songs which would stand alongside All These Things That I've Done, their startling single from the debut.

"That song was the breakthrough," he says. "It led us into the new record. By the time we wrote it, we were getting more ambitious as a band.

"Plus, since then, we've toured so hard that we've developed as musicians. Our sound is so much bigger and heavier now.

"It's really moved on. Initially, the plan was to take a break. Then we realised how long it had been since the last album, so we got straight into it."

Newly-grown facial shrubbery aside, Brandon has become one of the coolest frontmen in the business, but he admits the beard he grew for the release of Sam's Town has received a mixed reaction from the fans. It's strange, all the fuss about the beard," he muses, sounding slightly wounded. "The thing is, I've never been able to grow a beard before."

Brandon, just 25, even provoked the wrath of his pal, Neil Tennant, of the Pet Shop Boys, who claimed the beard signified Brandon turning his back on the grand pop music of the first album, with one eye on turning The Killers into amore credible rock act. "I don't think Neil has anything to worry about," Flowers insists. "Rock music is pop music. If you have a hook in a rock song, it's a pop song. The Beatles are pop. The Stones are pop. I think the words rock and pop can go together just fine."

The chart-topping Sam's Town goes a long way to establishing The Killers on the road to stadium rock.

Flamboyant Brandon, whose fashion sense has been inspired by the lounge singers who perform at the casinos in Las Vegas, is the most famous mormon singer since Donny Osmond. But he says he has no intention of forsaking his faith for rock 'n' roll.

Instead of selling his soul for fame, he believes there is no reason why his religion should stand in the way of the band's ultimate success and credibility.

Drawn back to the faith by his wife, Tana Munblowsky, whom he wed in Hawaii last year, Brandon explains: "Yeah, it's difficult to hold true to the values you believe in. …