Over 17 years ago Iowa transplant David Keuning posted an ad in the Las Vegas Weekly in the hopes of forming a band. An enthusiastic 20-year-old, Brandon Flowers, responded to the ad sharing a similar musical taste to Keuning and from there The Killers were born. The band have released major chart-topping hits such as “Somebody Told Me”, “When You Were Young”, and “Mr. Brightside” to name a few.
Eventually Keuning made the difficult choice not to follow the group on tour. “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.” Though he hasn’t performed with the band since Lollapalooza in Chicago last August, he’s still officially a member.
A family man drained from long periods of touring, Keuning was ready to fulfill his dream of creating his own music. Now he has finished his 14-track album entitled Prismism, which examines relationships and interactions with family, friends and co-workers and how easy it is to feel trapped in your surroundings. I had the pleasure of interviewing Keuning, discussing everything from his musical influences to album inspirations and more.
The title of your collection is Prismism because it’s about viewing things from all sides, focusing on the details, but still having a grasp of the bigger picture, could you explain this idea further?
I stumbled upon the word Prismism not commonly found and I thought it’d be a cool name for one song and I thought that one song could represent the album. The lyrics are kind of all over the place. It’s a lot of random thoughts throughout the last 10 years I’ve had. There’s a lot of different ways to look at the lyrics.
Prismism is in a way like a journal detailing how you got to the spot where you are now, what was your process like creating this 14 track collection and have you found it to be therapeutic?
I guess it’s therapeutic, but I just had a lot of fun on this album more than therapy. I think a therapist would be more insightful then I am about my own lyrics. I’m really not that good at writing lyrics, this just came pouring out of me. I wrote all the lyrics last and the music first. I had a hard time writing stories out of thin air. Some of my songs will go from being about one subject to a couple lines later being about another one, but to the listener they probably think it’s all about one subject. Sometimes I just need one more line to get the song done. Something that rhymes and I could go to sleep and call it a day and some of those stuck. Some of those are really good lyrics and to be honest some of those I wish I could change, but it’s done and recorded now. This whole thing was mostly about doing whatever I want. Having freedom and calling all the shots. I don’t see it as in everything has to be my way, just in the fact that I got to try a bunch of different stuff. I’m going to play keyboards and try all the different sounds and whatever sounds good to me is what I’ll keep.
What was your inspiration behind 'Restless Legs' and what sparked the idea to feature paper dolls in the video’s visuals?
With 'Restless Legs' I guess I was just in a pop music mood that week. I may have listened to certain Prince songs. That was one of the last songs recorded or the second to last one and it was kind of an experiment that day because I was messing around with keyboard sounds. I was digging around for another song and decided as an experiment to make a pop song. Everyone wants it to be the first song released even though my songs are all over the place style wise which made it very hard to decide what to release first. So that became the pop jam. There’s a lot less lyrics on it because I tried to make it simpler. I was influenced by older stuff such as Hank Williams and The Beatles so there is a lot of repetition in the lines. A lot of the pop songs I hear in the car have like two lines in them and I’m thinking why am I working so hard. I’m trying to write five different verses in other songs. As far as the paper dolls in the video there is no special meaning. That was the director’s idea and he spent a month of his life cutting out paper dolls. He really put a lot of blood and sweat into this video and I love the way it turned out. I love videos with various kinds of animation and I’d like to do more of that. It’s very time consuming, but it was really cool when he finally finished it and showed it to me.
What have you found the differences to be from being a part of the The Killers to working on your own project and how has your musical style evolved?
It happened without me doing any thinking. I didn’t tour on this last record and I’d been wanting to do an album for 10 years and since I wasn’t touring I thought okay I have time, I’m going to get an engineer and we are going to do this. I started with one song and it was a lot of fun and it reminded me how fun music can be and I just wanted to keep making more. I just kept pumping out songs and I’ve been working on music ever since. I think just doing it myself I take on a bit of a freedom approach and kind of messing around at times. I’m fishing for songs on keyboards and fishing for songs on guitars. I do it all from my home studio so it’s real relaxed. I found my love for making songs again.
I understand some of your biggest idols are Keith Richards and Michael Jackson, but do you have any current artists that influence you musically?
I really like The Struts. I’m just so happy that a band like that is around and successful. I wish there were 10 more bands like them and listen to them in the car. I also like this band called St. Lucia, they are another fun band and I really love their songs. I love songs that are fun to play in the car. I also like Arcade Fire’s last album - I really enjoy that one a lot.
What would you say is your favorite track from the collection and why?
I think 'Boat Accident' is my favorite. It was just a pro tools title that was kind of a joke and I never got around to changing it. I just made a title for pro tools and that one for me is just always fun so that’s probably my favorite. I try to not burn myself out on my music. I’ll listen to it after not hearing it for weeks. It’s always fun.