Entertainment & Arts

Brandon Flowers 'winds down' solo work

Brandon Flowers
Image caption Flowers scored a top 10 hit with Crossfire earlier this year

Brandon Flowers flew straight to number one last month with his debut solo album, Flamingo.

The record was largely written while he was on tour with The Killers last year, and would have been a regular Killers album had the rest of the group not decided to take a year off.

Last week he played a sell-out gig at the Brixton Academy in London, bringing producer Stuart Price on stage for an encore which included a dance remix of Mr Brightside.

Speaking to BBC 6 Music before the show, Flowers talked about "winding up" his solo tour and overcoming stage fright.

Hello Brandon, how are you feeling now that the album has gone to number one?

I'm really happy with everything. There are people that love it, there are people that hate it. That's what I'm accustomed to in my seven years "in the biz". I just love making music and as I get older I realise I shouldn't worry so much about critics and things.

A lot of critics seemed to review your decision to go solo, rather than the music. What did you think of that?

There's a lot of confusion. People think I'm an egomaniac. They don't realise the band are actually really happy that I did this.

Image caption Killers frontman Flowers is preparing to resume his day job

I can't take two years off... I mean, [it is hard for me] to just walk on stage. It's something that I didn't feel comfortable doing in the beginning, and I'm just starting to feel like I belong there and I don't want to lose that.

You are quite open about your Mormon beliefs - and this record is crammed with lyrics about thundering skies, sin and redemption. Are you something of a tormented soul? Do you question everything that you do?

I'm a believer, so I definitely do. It's not that there's a cloud hanging over me. There's a reminder. I feel like there could be consequences, that I should take responsibility for what I do.

But it's a culmination of many things - growing up in Las Vegas, and that whole Sin City deal. All of these things tie into the lyrics, I guess.

There's an urgency to the lyrics on the album that suggest it was something you just had to get out… Was it a cathartic process?

I'm so close to it that I think it'd be hard for me to tell. But I've always been very honest in my attempt at writing and I do purge, singing these songs every night. Every night there are moments in specific songs when I think of something that pertains to my life. And so I guess there is some sort of healing about it.

At the same time, you seem to be having fun on stage - particularly having two female backing singers for the first time.

It's nice! One good thing is that they fill it out, the sound. It's always something that I've wanted to do, and it seemed fitting to do it now as it didn't seem right with The Killers.

Haven't you contemplated bringing them back for the next Killers tour? You have plenty of singalong choruses…

Yeah, but the crowd does it for us now.

How have you adjusted to playing smaller venues as a solo act?

They're starting to get a little bigger now, but they're still, obviously, quite a lot smaller than The Killers' venues - so it's been a real treat. Especially those first few early gigs, which were five or six hundred people. It was really great to go back and play those.

There's a much closer relationship with the audience in a smaller venue. Do you feed off the energy of the crowd?

Image caption The musician says he is perpetually writing new material

Yes, I appreciate it. It makes me feel like they're with me. It wasn't that long ago that I was playing gigs and people would come to critique it and to decide whether we were worth it - and I guess that kind of stuck with me. I want to get past that. I want to know that people are there to enjoy it, and because they love it. So, once I see them singing along I start to ease into it.

Live music has suffered a downturn this year - has it affected you?

I've been very lucky. We've just had great fans… and I work hard. It's a combination of both of those things.

But I feel sorry for young bands. It's not just live, it's the record industry, the whole business. One observation that I have on the industry is that you see these kids and they act like they're the Rolling Stones but they haven't had a hit yet. That's the biggest problem. You can read all you want about Keith Richards and Mick Jagger, but you aren't them yet. They wrote hits first. I wonder how much talent has been wasted on people partying like they were the Stones before they deserved it.

Your new video - for Only The Young - is full of circus performers. How did that come about?

It was very Las Vegas. It's from the show La Reve at the Wynn [Casino and hotel]. They were kind enough to let us have a free-for-all with their lights and their water and their dancers. Everything. I was standing in a ring of fire at one point. I was very conscious of that.

In The Killers there was "a look" for every album - on Sam's Town you all grew moustaches, and for Day And Age you created a jacket with feathered epaulettes. Why did you ditch the idea for the solo project?

It wasn't intentional. I don't know what I'm doing - I've never had a stylist, but when I look back at some of the pictures I think I should have had a stylist! I'm pretty lost. But I have ideas, and I get people to help me find things.

You'll become a father for the third time in the new year. Will that mark the end of your work on the solo album?

This is winding down. This is not going to be as big of a campaign as The Killers. I'm very glad I did it, though. I've had a lot of fun.

If you came back after the tour and [Killers guitarist] Dave Keuning said, 'while you were away, I recorded a solo album and I'm going to take a year out to promote that', what would you do?

I'd put out another solo album.

Brandon Flowers' album, Flamingo, is out now on Mercury.

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