Pressure Machine

Pressure Machine

When The Killers couldn’t tour their 2020 album Imploding the Mirage because of the pandemic, lead singer Brandon Flowers didn’t sit around waiting for a chance to get back on the road. Instead, he came up with an idea during quarantine that would eventually become the band’s seventh studio album, where he also reunited with founding member Dave Keuning on guitar. For Flowers, the introspection that came from lockdown kept leading him to the town of Nephi, Utah, where he grew up. “There was some trepidation at first,” he tells Apple Music. “Because it’s such a small town, and you wonder how that’s going to resonate with people all over the world. And it’s such a specific place in the Southwest. But then I couldn’t escape it. Every time I went to the keyboard, these ideas kept coming out, all based on characters that I grew up observing, or experiences that I had in town, or memories. So I went with it.” Pressure Machine is unlike anything in The Killers’ repertoire. From the use of instruments like harmonica and fiddle to the deeply personal storytelling and interviews with people who still live in the town, the album is a love letter to the places you grew up and the people you left behind—anchored in melancholy and dotted with hope. “Tragedy and religious disenchantment were the launchpads,” Flowers explains. “When you’re a kid, you’re getting new experiences all the time, so when something shocking or tragic happens, it really resonates. Those experiences are the things I was gravitating towards.” Flowers explains more about those experiences and how they influenced each track on Pressure Machine below. “West Hills” “There's a whole subculture in Utah, in my experience, because we associate Utah with Mormonism. Having grown up there, a lot of people [outside of Utah] aren't aware of people that don't adhere to religion. There’s this whole thing of dirt bikes and four-wheelers and beer and finding different ways to find your salvation, other than in a church pew on Sunday. I took some liberties on the song, but it's based on a real story.” “Quiet Town” “I was in eighth grade when two seniors got hit by a train. Their names were Raymond and Tiffany. I was surprised to find 25 years later how much I was still affected by it. I felt like it was the end of an innocence for me and for the town, because afterwards I noticed things started to happen. It was almost like opening this door of darkness. A lot of times we talk about stagnation with snarky terms, and I think it’s one of the things that's associated with towns like Nephi, but it can also be a beautiful thing, because it's these people that are holding on to ideals and traditions. I hope that it never changes in that respect.” “Terrible Thing” “Years after high school, you hear about a kid you went to school with that was gay and nobody knew. It's just such a cowboy, football, hunting country town. I tried to work through this person's experience in town and how hard it must be to be in a culture like that. To not even feel safe to tell anyone who you are. Because when you were a kid or you're in high school, you don't have that courage, and I don't blame them.” “Cody” “‘Cody’ is a culmination of a bunch of my friends' big brothers. I had two friends that had older brothers that seemed particularly dangerous. And so, again, those memories stand out, that you might've been afraid of them, or you hear stories about what they're doing, or getting arrested, or whatever it is. And so I was able to sort of melt them into this one character.” “Sleepwalker” “The first line that I knew was good in that song was ‘It doesn't come from without/It comes from within.’ So I built all the rest of the lyrics around that. I had just recently moved back to Utah and was experiencing seasons again. Because in Vegas, it gets hot and then it gets cold, that’s it. You don't get to go through the beauty and the sometimes stark changes of the weather. I was caught up in that, the anticipation for spring and new life. I was able to use that sort of analogy for a person becoming a new creature and coming back to life.” “Runaway Horses” (feat. Phoebe Bridgers) “Life's going to be hard for whatever choice or whatever road you take. There's going to be obstacles and hurdles. In this case, it's about two people that think that they're going to finish the race together, and then they end up sort of going in different paths. It’s also about coming home. No matter where you go, how far you drift, you’re always trying to get home.” “In the Car Outside” “This song started really quickly, and it was one of those moments that you're always waiting for. One of the reasons why you get in the garage in the first place is just this communal experience that you can share with people. And it was born really fast, and it was really exciting to be a part of it.” “In Another Life” “I think everyone goes through things like wondering what life would've been like if we'd done things differently. Or if not, at least you wonder if your significant other is going through that. And I think this guy's just questioning the choices that he's made and wondering if he's measuring up to what his wife had hoped that he would be. It’s definitely a sad song, seeped in melancholy.” “Desperate Things” “This was a little scandal that took place [in Nephi] that I took some liberties with in the third verse, where I take it off the rails. I like telling stories, and there's people like Nick Cave and Johnny Cash and people that are great storytellers who are really influential to me. You don't get a lot of third verses in pop songs, and it's not something you associate with a typical Killers song, but I needed that third verse to tell the story. This is probably as dark as I've ever gotten.” “Pressure Machine” “I think there's a sadness to how quickly we grow up, and being a parent and watching that. Everybody tells you when you have a kid, ‘Make the most of it. They're going to grow up before you know it.’ And it sort of gets redundant, and then it really is true and it's kind of a heartbreaker.” “The Getting By” “Even though there is struggle, and even though there is strife and toiling, there's still hope. That's what makes these people who they are. They get up and go to work every day. I have a lot of respect for them, and I don't feel that far removed from them. And I thought about people like my uncles and my dad and my nephews and my cousins. And really wanted to capture what I saw in their lives.”

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