Las Vegas, Nevada

Sam's Town by The Killers

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I've got this energy beneath my feet
Like something underground's
Gonna come up and carry me Read full Lyrics
The Killers have grown into what is arguably the greatest American rock band of the past decade. Drawing their influence and inspiration from such legends as Bruce Springsteen, The Smiths, The Beatles, and Tom Petty, the Las Vegas quartet took the world by storm in 2004, and since that time they've released album after album of hit after hit. However, they began as a simple act from a not-so-simple, not-so-classic American town.

Las Vegas, Nevada, was established at the turn of the 20th Century, but really began to expand in the post-World War II boom of the late '40s and '50s. Presently, it is a major resort destination and an internationally renowned city that bills itself as the Entertainment Capital of the World. Originally known for a plethora of casinos due to legalized gambling in Nevada (thanks to the massive funding on the part of organized crime bosses), the city has since added shopping, fine dining, nightlife, amusement parks, and brothels (yes, for the few of you who might live in a cupboard under the stairs, prostitution isn't only legal in Vegas, it's very prevalent).

Home to the Strip (the famous flashing-lights laden 4-mile stretch of casinos and hotels), Las Vegas is a sprawling desert oasis that can be seen from miles away as one drives down the twisting and turning highways that snake around mountains and boulders. Ironically, though, the Strip isn't located within the city limits – a true testament to the rapid growth of this Southwestern metropolis. If New York is the city that never sleeps, then Las Vegas is the city that never turns off. And it was here – amid the "catalogs of concubines" - that Killers front-man Brandon Flowers grew up and found his calling.

The road leading into Las Vegas
Photo: Alex Grichenko, Dreamstime

In 2001 guitarist Dave Keuning posted an ad in a local newspaper searching for musicians with whom to form a band. Flowers answered, and they began exchanging ideas via recorded demos and handwritten lyrics. It was in those first few months that "Mr. Brightside" and "Under the Gun" came into being. Keuning and Flowers went through a few bassist and drummer combos before finding and settling on the quartet that headed out into the Vegas nightclub circuit to forge their music career. However, it wasn't the desert which brought them fame; it was a much more damp city located thousands of miles away… across "the Pond."

Hot Fuss, the Killers debut album, landed in stores (and online) in June of 2004 and reached #1 in the United Kingdom long before any radio stations in the United States had ever heard of the band. They traveled across the UK and Ireland playing festivals and gigs, the whole while adding to their rapidly expanding fan base. In July 2005 they joined Live 8 in London and performed alongside such acts as Robbie Williams, Coldplay, and U2. Mere weeks after their arrival back home in the Nevada desert, Flowers and Keuning were at it again, heading back into the studio to begin writing and recording their sophomore effort.

Sam's Town has consistently been dubbed one of the most underrated rock albums of all time. Flowers said the album would keep rock and roll alive and the release of their first single, "When You Were Young," proved him correct, as it skyrocketed to the top of the charts in both the UK and the US in 2006. The album sold almost one million copies in its first week alone and has since gone 5-times platinum. Thematically, the album speaks to the common man, whether he's common in Europe, America, or elsewhere.

Named not after American cartoon personality Uncle Sam – though parallels can be drawn – but after an old, rundown casino miles from the glitzy Strip, the song "Sam's Town" is about the city hidden behind the sparkle and corporate version of Vegas. It's Main Street USA, but the Main Street Flowers knows and loves. He wants to introduce you to his hopes and dreams, his life and times. The entire album Sam's Town is a concept inspired by the real city of Las Vegas. However, one could substitute Peoria, Springfield, Red Bank, or Pittsgrove quite easily.

Justin Novelli
January 29, 2016
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Comments: 1

  • Alexis M Lewis from Detroit MiWow I am so glad to hear the wonderful opinions of the killers
    Thank you for such detailed writing its very helpful for my curiosity and conversation
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