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More than 17 years have passed since Iowa transplant Dave Keuning placed an ad in the local Las Vegas Weekly looking to form a band, mentioning Oasis as one of his faves. An eager 20- year-old named Brandon Flowers, who shared Keuning’s love of groups like New Order and the Cure, answered it, only to have Dave promptly hand him a TASCAM-recorded four-track demo of “Mr. Brightside.” The result was the formation of The Killers, who have released five consecutive chart-topping albums and toured the world thanks to a songwriting partnership which molded such hits as “Somebody Told Me,” “When You Were Young,” “Read My Mind,” “A Dustland Fairy Tale,” “The World We Live In” and “Spaceman,” among others.
“Brandon was definitely the best one to respond,” laughs Keuning, who, while still officially a member of The Killers, hasn’t been a part of the touring band since performing with them at Lollapalooza in Chicago last August, choosing not to follow the group for the Wonderful, Wonderful World Tour which ended this past September. “That decision was one of the hardest I’ve had to make in my whole life,” admits Dave. “On the other hand, I knew I just couldn’t do that amount of touring, nor ask them to cut down on the dates.”
Up until that Lollapalooza show Dave was the only other Killers member other than Brandon to have played at every Killers show since its first gig in early 2002. Burnt out from touring and wanting to spend more time with his 13-year-old son, Keuning is now the name for the music created by Dave in his San Diego home studio, taking hundreds of voice memos he’s stockpiled while on tour and starting to turn them into songs.
Prismism is the result, a collection of 14 tracks – with all the instruments, save some drum parts, played by Keuning himself – which, like the title says, sees things from all sides, focusing on details without missing the big picture, a Picasso’s-eye view of life’s Faustian bargains, Sophie’s choices and existential conundrums. It’s no wonder Dave includes shots of books by noted philosophers like Sartre and Foucault in his video for the harrowing title track, reliving a jealous temper tantrum in reverse, as the wanton destruction – shattered LPs, broken wine bottles and ripped-up pillows spewing feathers – miraculously fixes itself. If only humans could heal as easily.
Combining both acoustic and electric guitars, as well as a longtime fascination with keyboards and electronic music – which he wasn’t able to explore as much as he would’ve liked in The Killers – Keuning has created a psychic diary that allows us to connect the dots and learn what brought him to a career crossroads.
Prismism: it’s all how you look at it and listen to it, but one thing’s certain: Keuning’s here to stay.