While announcing the arrival of his solo career, Brandon Flowers made it clear that his band, the Killers, isn't breaking up. In fact, the singer says that the point of "Flamingo," due Sept. 14 on Island Records, was to deliver these songs to the public so that his group could eventually return to creating as a cohesive unit.
"Of course, some of ["Flamingo"] could have made for great Killers songs," Flowers says, "but I wanted the next Killers record to be a very strong collaboration. That's when we're at our best."
Instead of a vanity project or a means of separating Flowers from his platinum alt-rock act, "Flamingo" is the sound of the frontman's creative juices flowing while the rest of the Killers-guitarist Dave Keuning, bassist Mark Stoermer and drummer Ronnie Vannucci Jr.-decided to take a break from the studio.
Flowers may slight the solo effort as an intimate experiment between Killers discs, but fans of the band are certainly taking notice of the stopgap. The singer sold out his first solo show at the Hilton's Shimmer Room in his hometown of Las Vegas on Aug. 15, and first single "Crossfire" is No. 16 on Billboard's Rock Songs chart.
"Most ardent Killers fans will know about 'Flamingo,' " Flowers' manager Robert Reynolds says. "I also think that letting these songs spread by word-of-mouth as opposed to hitting people over the head with every marketing gimmick is the right move."
After the Killers finished their third album, 2008's "Day & Age," Flowers started writing new songs intended for the group. Throughout the next 18 months of touring, including headlining slots at Coachella and Lollapalooza in 2009, Flowers says he would "duck into the studio every now and then and record ideas" during brief breaks on the road.
As the Day & Age tour continued, however, seven years of nonstop work had left Flowers' bandmates craving some downtime. The decision for the singer to use the songs for himself after the tour seemed to work for everyone, and Flowers approached Island about a solo album during the summer of 2009.
"The songs were just there, and I decided that I'd be the delivery man," Flowers says, adding that the band had been very supportive of the idea.
Flowers brought the new songs to his Battle Born studios in Las Vegas early this year, with "Day & Age" collaborator Stuart Price signing on to produce along with Daniel Lanois and Brendan O'Brien. All three producers helped make up Flowers' backing band, and Rilo Kiley's Jenny Lewis stopped by for the midtempo pop duet "Hard Enough."
From the haunted stomp of "Only the Young" to the lonely falsetto of "Playing With Fire," "Flamingo" (named after Vegas' Flamingo Road) sounds like a more personal riff on the Killers' sound. Flowers, however, sees the album as an homage to his hometown and its barren surroundings: He says he wanted to "summon the spirits of the desert" on the album.
"That where I'm from and that's what I want to represent," Flowers says, "so I feel like it's my duty to conjure the spirits up with the music, and I do the best that I can."
To raise awareness of "Flamingo" among Killers fans, Flowers announced the album on the band's website last April and first unveiled its details, including the artwork and track list, to the Victims, the band's official fan club. A music video for "Crossfire," featuring sword-wielding ninjas and actress Charlize Theron, was released in July and has garnered more than 2 million hits on the singer's Vevo channel.
However, Island is focusing the brunt of its promotion on Flowers' live show, which will head to "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" and "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" during release week. With backup singers and Flowers sticking strictly to the mic, the singer's five sold-out August shows were more "mellow" than the Killers' recent stadium spectacles, the singer says.
After a European run, Flowers will return stateside in November for a national tour in 2,000-seat theaters, with tickets set to go on sale during the second week of September, according to Island Def Jam Music Group president/COO Steve Bartels.
Of course, when the buzz around "Flamingo" dies down, Flowers will return to his refreshed bandmates and work on album No. 4. "It's inevitable," he says. "2011 is going to be the time that I'm sure it will happen."