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.
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.
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.
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.