This weekend marks the release of the latest album by the Killers. As many of you know, both Rhonda and myself are fans of that band. They aren’t Duran to us, as no other band could ever be. Yet, we like them and we do pay some attention to what they are up to when we can. As both a fan of the Killers and a student of music fandom, I have spent a little time in between grading to see how the hardcore Killers fans are responding to the new album as well as changes within the band. The more I looked at social media, the more I found myself smiling. Why? It all felt so familiar as looking at that fan base was like looking at a mirror of Duran’s.
So how are the Killers fans reacting to the new album? Some absolutely love it. I have read adjectives like “brilliant,” “genius,” and “amazing.” Others are complaining. Some claim that it is not the rock music they come to expect with the band and that the guitars are straight up “missing”. Still other fans try to be a little less harsh with their disappointment by calling it a “letdown.” Of course, much of the discussion focuses on the comparison between this new album and the previous ones. It doesn’t sound like the “classics” say some while others believe that fans shouldn’t compare but evaluate the album by itself.
If I didn’t know that those comments were on a Killers thread, I could have assumed that it was a Duran related thread from any of their album release weekends. Goodness knows that the most recent albums of Duran have been met with both praise and criticism from fans. As I read, I understood the passion that those fans are feeling. The music matters to them. They all want to love the new album and some do and some don’t. Maybe, in some cases, the fans who love it are not being critical enough. In other cases, perhaps, the fans who don’t like it aren’t open-minded enough. Part of me wanted to respond as someone who feels like I have been through this a bunch. I wanted to remind everyone that they are all passionate for a reason–because they fell for the Killers at some point. More than that, I had the urge to point out that this is just one album. The band has been around for awhile now and things can change. One disappointment is simply that–one.
Then, of course, the discussion surrounding the band itself comes up as some fans point out that both Mark, the band’s bassist, and Dave, the band’s guitarist, have walked away, at least as far as touring goes. There is concern that the band won’t be the same without them, which is valid. Other fans feel like they should support those guys’ decision to walk away, if that is what is best for them. Again, I feel like Duran fans have been through this. We know what it is like to have band members walk away as we have been through it a lot. Does it change the feel of the band? Sure. Does it mean that the overall feel of the band changes? Maybe. Maybe not. I feel like in the case of Duran, the band is larger than the individual members. The feel of Duran is stronger than any particular member, which is why the band and its fans were able to survive through the loss of all the Taylors as well as Warren and Andy for a second time.
If I could give any advice to these fans, I would remind them that times change, bands change. What feels like a huge deal right now might not be a big deal later–it will simply be one chapter in a long history. I would recommend holding on, even if they are not fans of what is going on with the personnel or the album itself. I know a lot of Duran fans who walked away when Andy and Roger left in 1985 or left with albums like Big Thing or Liberty and regret it. I know that I wish that I remained more of an active fan throughout the entire history of the band. I am also glad that I stayed with the band through a rough Red Carpet Massacre period in which I wasn’t a huge fan of the album and even less of a fan of the division within the fan community. Lastly, I would urge them to try to find something positive or something to be excited about. It can make all the difference in both enjoying one’s fandom but also in getting through a rough patch.
I will be watching how things go both for the Killers and their fans from here on out. Perhaps, watching them can provide a mirror to our fan community that I could learn from as well.