The wankfest that is the “indie rock shit fight” has long been localised to the white, the male, the middle class and the middle-aged. So perhaps it was unsurprising the other day when Brandon Richard Flowers, the 36-year-old, astonishingly privileged lead singer of barely tolerable pop farts The Killers, “unleashed” upon the current state of indie rock, pontificating that bands had only themselves – not the changing shape of the music industry – to blame for not breaking through.
“It could happen,” Flowers remarked when asked if he could see any band breaking through in the same way The Killers did back when Hot Fuss was released in 2004, “but there hasn’t been anybody good enough.
“If there was a band like the Strokes, or Interpol, people would talk. If there were some kids out there [in Brooklyn] right now playing ‘Obstacle 1’ tonight, I would hear about it, you would hear about it,” said the man who hasn’t released a good song for 13 years. “But there isn’t.”
“People are very quick to blame a changing of the times for a lot of things,” drummer Ronnie Vanucci Jr. chimed in, “when it’s really that they’re just not good enough yet.”
If there was a band like the Strokes, or Interpol, people would talk… But there isn’t
No, Flowers & Co. turning heel in an effort to promote their over-the-hill, glorified Smiths cover band’s new collection of dull tropes and even duller lyrics should have surprised no-one.
After all, such trash talking is symptomatic of the widespread attitude of those commercial and cultural vampires who hit it big in the early two thousands; the trumped-up rich kids who sucked a music industry experiencing an unprecedented boom bone dry, and then blamed the resulting drought on those who had the misfortune of coming after them.
Soon after The Killers’ limp performance of ‘The Man’, Dave Keuning announced he would stop touring
See, The Killers and the limp bands like them fell into the spotlight at the most ubiquitous time in the history of the American middle class. 2003, the year The Killers’ just about listenable Hot Fuss dropped was a pre-recession era; a world of expendable incomes, its cultural brow largely unfurrowed.
The Iraq War had just begun, sure, but the real crash of the global financial crisis was four long years away. Houses were more affordable than they have ever been since. Good jobs, although not plentiful, were not locked up in the hands of the rich and the entitled. And, perhaps most importantly of all, the then-whimper of internet piracy was yet to lay waste to the business model of the entire music industry, forcing a once all-powerful empire to think on its feet – something all-powerful empires are infamously bad at doing.
the middle class that Flowers and his band of poseurs so precisely appealed to was experiencing a unique period of luxury and expendable wealth
Simply put, the middle class that Flowers and his band of poseurs so precisely appealed to was experiencing a unique period of luxury and expendable wealth. Young Killers fans had money to buy records. They had money to flock across the country to shows. And their parents had the money, if necessary, to drive them; to support them; to give them the pocket money necessary to bag a new CD by Flowers and his mob, or The Postal Service, or The Coral, or Belle And Sebastian, or any of the other lightweight pop peddlers that would have sunk like a stone if they had the misfortune to rear their ugly heads at almost any other time in history.
Is The Killers’ output really that much better than today’s bands who are “just not good enough”?
So yeah, when Flowers had his little self-important tantrum about the state of a genre that has never been stronger, he was wrong, of course. Like, flat-out wrong; blind to the raft of bands that are currently doing more in single songs than The Killers did over the course of their entire career – bands like Palehound, and Speedy Ortiz, and Beach House, and Best Coast, and Car Seat Headrest, and Ricky Eat Acid, and on, and on, and on it goes. (Bands, that, it is worth noting, are significantly more diverse than the rice crackers that Flowers sought to champion in his bout of piss-hurling.)
But Flowers was more than just wrong. He was also hypocritical; hypocritical in a way customary to those who overvalue their talents and underestimate their luck.
Not that it matters. Give it a couple of years and Flowers’ shit talking won’t even generate a single thinkpiece, while the kids that he spits on will continue to get down to the business of quietly, insistently eclipsing every one of his mostly redundant achievements. That, as they say, is the way that it goes.
Brandon Flowers says we’re still waiting for a new band as good as The Strokes.Write a Letter to the Editor