Music Article

Songwriters' Secrets

EW explores the secret past of your favorite bands -- We delve into the pre-fame days of the Killers, the Bravery, Interpol, and more

The coolest rock stars aren't made, they're born — sprung fully formed from the forehead of Lou Reed, with guitar picks in their teeth and sexy menace in their eyes. And if you believe that, kids, we've got some oceanfront property to sell you in Dubuque. The truth, of course, is that these larger-than-life figures still put their (very, very tight) pants on one leg at a time, just like the rest of us.

Tell that to the Killers' frontman, Brandon Flowers, who recently kick-started a turf war when he called out Island Records labelmates the Bravery for lead singer Sam Endicott's stint as a bass player in Vassar College ska band Skabba the Hut. Glass houses, Brandon? After all, his drummer, Ronnie Vannucci, did his own time in Las Vegas ska outfit Attaboy Skip, and he's not ashamed of it. ''I'm just going to tell it like it is,'' says Vannucci. ''Ska is the new wave of the future! The next Killers album has seven ska songs on it. We're working on eight.''

The cred hounds, bloggers, and their schadenfreude soldiers might want to take a cue from Vannucci and lighten up. A member of twee-pop idols Belle and Sebastian played in Glasgow ska outfit the Amphetimeanies, and Vice Records' new-romantics faves the Stills had their own, the Undercovers. Several of the Walkmen were in a Two Tone-style band in high school called the Ignobles that was, by all accounts, pretty good. Even Paul Banks admits to strumming Neil Young-esque folk compositions in his pre-interpol days.

''If you love music, you're always looking for something you can put your heart and soul into,'' says Endicott. ''And in the meantime, you're going to goof around with your friends — that's how you get better. So any serious musician is going to have a couple dubious-ass bands lying around in their past.''

Or, as Jason Hill, leader of post-punk outfit Louis XIV and formerly the singer for an alt-country band called Convoy, puts it, ''Everyone evolves and tries new things, or you get sick of yourself. It's like, you can't wear the same T-shirt every day for the rest of your life, you know? Well, some people try, but you really shouldn't.''

Originally posted Apr 18, 2005 Published in issue #816 Apr 22, 2005 Order article reprints
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