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30 August 2021, 14:00 | Updated: 30 August 2021, 14:14
How the Killers frontman began the battle of the Noughties indie bands... and eventually regretted it.
Brandon Flowers has confessed that his admiration for Oasis prompted his younger self into "trash talking" other artists at the beginning of his career.
Speaking to musician Phoebe Bridgers for Interview Magazine, in July 2020, the Killers frontman explained how he was in the habit of reaching out to new musicians that he liked. This was, he claims, a reaction to his preference for bad-mouthing rival bands in the early days of his own group.
He explained: "I used to be — what would the word be — I was just kind of a sh*t.
"When we first started, I used to trash talk a lot of people."
He went on: "I grew up idolising Oasis, and they wrote great songs, but they were also just big sh*t-talkers. For some reason, I thought to gain respect that was part of the territory. And that’s not who I am at all, but there were a few people I ended up calling and apologising to later on."
One recipient of Brandon's trash-talk was the New York band The Bravery. Their debut single, An Honest Mistake, is a surefire indie banger, but on its arrival in February 2005, Mr Flowers was less than complimentary.
The single had come out just over a year after The Killers had their own breakthrough, and with The Bravery signed to major label Polydor, the star thought that the New Yorkers were copying the Las Vegas outfit's act.
Speaking to MTV in March 2005, Flowers took aim at the music industry: “Look at a band like The Bravery. They’re signed because we’re a band."
The Bravery - An Honest Mistake (Official Video)
The Killers singer also insinuated that The Bravery had tweaked their sound to bring it more in line with hits like Mr Brightside and Somebody Told Me.
“I’ve heard rumours about that band being in a different kind of band, and how do you defend that? If you say, ‘My heart really belongs to what I’m doing now,’ but you used to be in a ska band."
Flowers' parting shot was: "I can see The Strokes play or The Bravery play and it’s real, and I haven’t gotten that from The Bravery. I think people will see through them.”
But The Bravery could give as good as they got. Speaking to the US radio station Live 105 a month after Brandon's sh*t-talking, Bravery singer Sam Endicott retorted: "The poor little guy, he’s very scared. I mean I feel bad talking bad about him because it’s like hitting a girl.
"It’s like picking on a kid in a wheelchair because he has no personality and no sense of humour at all. So what can you say to that?”
It was left to guitarist Michael Zakarin to put the boot in. “If you’ve seen them live," he said, "They’re incredibly boring. They look like wax figures.”
Flowers wasn't going to take this lying down. In Q magazine that July, the Killers frontman kept the feud going, insisting: "I've never actually said anything bad about anyone who didn't deserve it, but, occasionally, it is brought on by jealousy."
He went on: "When I hear a good song, it really does piss me off. But as far as the Bravery goes... Look, I'm not supposed to be doing this any more but, well, you're poking me and so I'll say this: to me, The Bravery just aren't real. I've heard that the keyboard parts are all pre-programmed, and that singer can't reach the high notes on An Honest Mistake. I can reach those high notes."
When the journalist alluded to an unconfirmed rumour that The Bravery had been "kicked off" certain UK tours because Flowers had used his influence and felt threatened by the New York band, the singer just laughed: "That's funny, really funny."
The Killers on their Caution single
Still, the world kept turning. But the ongoing success of The Killers made Brandon Flowers stop and think, and a year later he was repentant. In July 2006, Flowers gave AOL music a more conciliatory point of view, saying: "These people are just doing what they want to do, just like I am. I’m actually a nice person and I love people. I just am opinionated, and sometimes jealous. It’s not something I’m proud of."
Brandon Flowers on The Killers' Pressure Machine
The all-new, repentant Brandon Flowers managed to surprise at least one person: Sam Endicott of The Bravery.
Endicott told NME in October 2006 that he'd received an apology from the Killers singer: "He called me out of the blue and apologised. I was in an airport and I didn’t believe that it was him for like, ten minutes.
"He said ‘I’m really sorry, I’m a jealous person, and I was jerk. I’m sorry.’ And I respect him for it you know, It’s a hard thing to do, to apologise like that.”
The Bravery - Unconditional
From Brandon Flowers, there are a few more apologies due. He told Phoebe Bridgers: "There are still people that I said things about, and I still carry it with me. I still need to apologise to them.
"The world doesn’t need more negativity."