By Piya Sinha-Roy
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A decade after The Killers' debut in the UK's indie-rock scene, the U.S. rock band has finally found its way back home to Las Vegas, drawing inspiration in the 'city of sin' for the album "Battle Born".
The release, which topped the UK album chart and debuted at No. 3 on the US Billboard 200 album chart last week, was named after the motto on Nevada's state flag.
By contrast, the band's 2004 British debut album "Hot Fuss", produced by UK label Lizard King Records, was strongly inspired by lead singer Brandon Flowers' love for Manchester, England, home of the music that he admired such as New Order, Oasis, The Smiths and Joy Division.
Flowers, 31, the primary song-writer and stylish frontman known for his clean-cut look, dapper outfits and use of "guyliner" in the band's earlier days, said that while he had "fantasized" about England as a teenager, he quickly found himself an outsider after the band's first UK trip a decade ago.
"It was the first time any of us had left the country, we all had passports and we were excited, and we flew there, and very quickly I realized I don't really identify with these people," Flowers said in an interview.
"Musically, we have a lot of inspiration from (England) but it made (me) really get introspective and try and figure out what I was personally, and that made me identify with my roots."
The singer is a practicing Mormon and appeared with his wife and children in a video promoting his faith, gaining a fan in U.S. Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney who is also a Mormon. Flowers laughed off the political connection, saying "our music is for everybody."
"It doesn't bother us that one particular candidate likes us or if another doesn't. For the most part, from (UK prime minister) David Cameron to Obama to Romney, everybody likes us," Flowers said.
BACK TO LAS VEGAS
Each of the band's follow-up albums - 2006's "Sam's Town" and 2008's "Day And Age" - found more inspiration in the landscapes and people of Las Vegas.
In "Battle Born", Las Vegas became the glittering backdrop for the emotional heartaches and broken dreams that form the core of the band's songs, moving away from the angst-ridden Brit-rock styles seen on their first single "Mr Brightside", and into the realms of country-rock and Americana.
"Battle Born", the band's first album in four years, followed a hiatus in which Flowers released his solo album "Flamingo", and drummer Ronnie Vannucci and bassist Mark Stoermer pursued their own solo projects.
Vannucci, 36, said the break helped the band come back together with fresh energy, which he believed was evident in the sound of the new album.
Title song "Battle Born" is a fighting ode to the resilience of the Vegas native, as Flowers sings "you never live if you never learn, you never shine if you never burn, the rising tide, the undertow ... welcome home."
Lead single "Runaways," a rousing rock anthem in the vein of "When You Were Young," touches on the struggle between responsibilities that come with age and the desire for freedom.
"Miss Atomic Bomb" tells the story of a femme fatale taking advantage of Flowers' naive "boy with the eager eyes," and features a riff by guitarist Dave Keuning reminiscent of the one he strummed for "Mr Brightside".
The band has sold a total of more than 15 million albums globally.
"We played in Krakow, Poland, about a month ago, and we were taken aback by the reception and the physicality and intensity of that gig - whoever expects to go play in Poland and have that kind of warm reception, it's pretty amazing," Flowers said.
(Reporting By Piya Sinha-Roy, editing of Jill Serjeant and Richard Chang)