Wayne Newton and Brandon Flowers Riff on Rolls-Royces and a 'Love-Hate Relationship' With Las Vegas

brandon flowers wayne newton las vegas 2015
Austin Hargrave

Brandon Flowers and Wayne Newton photographed at Case de Shenandoah in Las Vegas on Feb. 24, 2015.

Mr. Las Vegas, 72, and the Killers' hometown-boy-made-good frontman Brandon Flowers, 33, met up at Newton's  legendary estate, Casa de Shenandoah, to talk about life on and off the strip.

BRANDON FLOWERS: Wayne and I met when The Killers asked him to appear in our video for "Battle Born" [in 2012]. We wanted to get in all the quintessential Las Vegas. We had a white tiger and Andre Agassi. Wayne was pretending to direct the band in the control room. The couches in the studio are still ripped up from the tiger.

WAYNE NEWTON: I had a ball. Brandon said, "I want you to take my band, don't be nice to them, give them hell like you would onstage if they'd screwed up your show."

FLOWERS: We always talk about how we bring a little bit of Vegas wherever we go. I grew up with people like Wayne on billboards. You go to the 7-Eleven and there's a line of slot machines with a Rat Pack picture. I didn't realize how much it was ingrained in me. When I was a kid, I listened to Depeche Mode and New Order, but when I went home I would put on Frank Sinatra's Main Event. And I played golf. I secretly had this older persona for myself of, like, driving an El Dorado, smoking cigars and listening to Sinatra.

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NEWTON: The guy who first brought me here to do six shows a night was an agent from L.A., Lucky Levin. I had no idea what you were supposed to wear. And Lucky said, "A tux, of course." I've worn tuxes ever since.

FLOWERS: I like wearing tuxedos. My aunt cleaned Dean Martin's room at the MGM. She snuck around and said he only had tuxedos, pajamas and a lot of pills.

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NEWTON: What mood were you in when you wrote "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" [from 2010's Flamingo, Flowers' first solo album]?

FLOWERS: I have a love-hate relationship with this town. And it came out. Usually I'm the ambassador for this place, but in this song I showed another side. I was sick of people handing out cards for hookers on the Strip, and had the idea to use that iconic sign and slogan and turn it on its head a little bit.

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NEWTON: All of us here -- regardless of what genre you might be recognized in -- push the envelope a little bit to see where it will take us, because if there is one city that would allow that, it's this one. (Strolls among his fleet of vintage Rolls-Royces.) I really love Rolls. That has been my favorite car since I was this high to a grasshopper. This one was Liberace's; this was Johnny Cash's. What are you driving?

FLOWERS: (Gestures out window.) That brown truck -- I've got three boys.

NEWTON: Trust me, I understand.

This story originally appeared in the March 21st issue of Billboard.