''I had a good feeling about it," Killers frontman Brandon Flowers says about "Runaways," the anthemic new single from the Las Vegas rock group. The soaring number, which heralds "Battle Born," the band's first new album in four years set for release Sept. 18 through Island Records, has been quickly embraced since its radio debut on July 10.
Opening with strong, yet simple piano chords and teenage talk of "blonde hair blowing in the summer wind," "Runaways" quickly moves ahead with steady percussive work and a classic Springsteen-esque sensibility that keeps the fist- pounding emotion racing through the night. "When I heard that march that catapults the song forward, I knew there was something special about it," Flowers says.
Originally set for release July 17 when the track became available in the iTunes store, "Runaways" was rushed out a week early due to overwhelming excitement from radio stations. The track not only represents the upcoming album, but also a return for the critically acclaimed band, which went on temporary hiatus two years after its 2008 disc, "Day & Age" (774,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan).
"The Killers have been gone for a little bit, so we all collectively decided that this song had that very powerful ability to open the record," Island Def Jam Music Group president/COO Steve Bartels says. "[We wanted] to say to the world, with excitement and some fanfare, that they were coming with a new album. Deciding on a single, we felt this song best captured that."
The track premiered simultaneously on July 10 on Kevin & Bean's KROQ Los Angeles morning show and Zane Lowe's BBC Radio 1 program, and was presented digitally to fans with an accompanying video of the song's lyrics on the Killers' website. During its first week, "Runaways" jumped to No. 22 on Billboard's Rock Songs chart and No. 17 on Alternative, while the lyric video garnered more than 1.2 million views. For radio programmers, the track has also been a near-instant hit, though Bartels notes that the band "gets the benefit of the doubt on new material."
WRFF Philadelphia PD/morning host John Allers agrees. "All the music we play goes through some level of vetting process," he says. "The Killers are definitely a high-passion band for our audience, so we definitely want to share their new music as soon as it becomes available - how much and how often is determined by our perceived response to the initial airplay."
Bartels calls "Runaways" merely the first step in promoting "Battle Born," an album that took the band more than a year to create with five different producers. (The single is credited to Steve Lillywhite and Brendan O'Brien.) Leading up to the album's release, the group will unveil a Warren Fu-directed video for "Runaways" on July 26 through Vevo and MTV as well as perform on "Late Show With David Letterman," "The Colbert Report" and "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" The label and band have yet to select a second single, but Flowers feels "Runaways" offers a solid entry for the album, which embraces all of the group's various musical leanings.
The new single "definitely has a couple of 'brothers' on the record," Flowers says. "It's a great starting point, but there are more styles as well . . . We've never hid our influences, and we've always been loud and proud. This album is going down a few different roads, and you really get a taste of what we like as a band and what we think our strengths are."