EXCLUSIVE Q&A with Ronnie Vannucci of THE KILLERS + His Side Project BIG TALK!
Posted On 02 Oct 2015
Tag: Bad, Battle Born World Tour, Beach Boys, Bohemian Rhapsody, Brandon Flowers, C&C Music Factory, Copenhagen, Diane Sawyer, Father John Misty, Hot For Teacher, Huey Lewis, I Want A New Drug, In My Room, Joey Esposito, Karate Kid Soundtrack, Keanu Reeves, Las Vegas, Life Is Beautiful, Long Beach, MC Hammer, Meat Is Murder, Mew, Michael Jackson, Queen, Sherman Oaks, State Of Shock, Straight In No Kissin, Straight In No Kissing, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Beach Boys, The Desired Effect, The Killers, Valley Village, Van Halen, Vanilla Ice, Vegas, Witchita Lineman
Looking for an outlet for his own songs, the Killers‘ drummer, Ronnie Vannucci Jr. formed Big Talk after his main gig went on hiatus in 2010. Featuring former Expert on October bandmate Taylor Milne on guitar, the band further explores the post-punk that influenced Vannucci with a thumping, dramatic sound that conveys emotion while driving listeners to the dancefloor. Working with The Strokes and Minus the Bear producer Joe Chicarelli, the duo recorded and released the self-titled Big Talk in the summer of 2011 and their new album STRAIGHT IN NO KISSIN’ will be released on July 24th.
The band’s live lineup consists of Ronnie Vannucci on vocals and guitar; Taylor Milne on guitar; Alex Stopa on drums; Tyson Henrie on bass; and John Spiker on keyboards, guitar and background vocals. As of May, 2015, live shows in support of the new album consist of John Konesky on guitar and keyboards; and Brooks Wackerman on drums.
All Access Music writer, Nicole DeRosa got to chat with the band. Read on in their interview below as they talk about the one that got away, Diane Sawyer, music and more.
For those that are not as familiar with you guys. Where is everybody from?
Tyson: Long Beach, Valley Village, Sherman Oaks, CA, Las Vegas…
What made you guys want to live this crazy life of musical gypsies traveling around playing music? Who or what was the catalyst for you?
Ronnie: I think we can all safely say that we couldn’t do anything else. Literally, nothing else in the world. (laughs) We didn’t want to do anything else. Fuck sitting at a desk!
You guys will be releasing your second album, Straight In No Kissin’ on July 24th. What did you learn from your previous album, working in the studio and playing live that you felt you wanted to infuse into the new album? And, can you tell me how you can up with the album name? That’s some title!
Ronnie: As far as the title, well, that’s simply us and the music has that kinda vibe to it on the album. We wanted to build songs that were no nonsense with not a lot of intro…we trimmed a lot of the fat. I remember hearing this phrase in Ireland and liking it for the name of the album. I just thought it was hilarious. And it’s congruent with all our current internal complexities. (The rest of the band, respond in unison with a “Whoahhhh” Keanu Reeves voice to Ronnie’s last statement and laughter ensues)
What was the inspiration for your latest single, “What Happened To Delisa?” What happened to her?
Ronnie: Well, it is quite rhetorical, but I can give the listeners a jumping off point. The lyrics are pretty simple. It’s a funny thing about music and songs…once you create them, in my mind, they are no longer ours.
It’s a verbal missing persons poster. (laughs) We’re really asking…What happened to her, because we really don’t know.
Tyson: She ended up with a cushy job in television though, right? So she’s alright…we don’t have to worry about her. (laughs)
Ronnie: It’s roughly about the girl that got away, but you still see here everywhere and it still stings. She’s like our Diane Sawyer if you will. (laughs)
John Konesky: That’s it. It’s really about Diane Sawyer. Diane knows. She knows what’s up.
So besides falling in love with Diane Sawyer, do you remember the first song you fell in love with?
Ronnie: “In My Room” – The Beach Boys on vinyl. But when I was around 6, I identified with Huey Lewis’ “I Want A New Drug”. (everyone laughs)
Brooks: “Hot For Teacher” – Van Halen.
John Konesky: “Witchita Lineman”
John Spiker: “Bad” – Michael Jackson
Tyson: “Bohemian Rhapsody” – Queen
Do you remember the first album you bought for yourself?
Ronnie: I remember buying this Michael Jackson b-side called, “State of Shock.” (…starts singing, “Put me in a state…a state of shock..” (laughs) It was so cool! For whatever reason, I just really, really liked that song. I remember saving up money for that. And also, Head on the Door and later on Meat Is Murder.
John Spiker: That’s so much cooler than mine. I genuinely think mine was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. (everyone laughs) I think like C&C Music Factory was on there…MC Hammer…Vanilla Ice. I think it’s outta print now. Oh and the Karate Kid Soundtrack…Joey Esposito!
Brooks: I used to ride around on the back of my Dad’s motorcycle and we would be bumping some Alabama.
Ronnie, what’s your writing process like? I understand you penned the ideas, lyrics and riffs for Straight In No Kissin’ while on the road for The Killers 2013 Battle Born World Tour, is that right?
Ronnie: I had the songs pretty fleshed out but I basically bring out an embryonic version of a song and they make it better.
I enjoy writing on tour and prefer commotion to quiet. I much rather be voyueristic with what I see when I write, so I like to be around people.
Who is in your current playlist?
Ronnie: The new Mew record from those lovely guys from Copenhagen…the new Blur..my man, Brandon’s record, The Desired Effect is quiet good and Father John Misty. There’s a lot of great stuff out there right now. There is such an influx out there too of equal parts goodness and total horse shit out there. I think if you find the right well to drink from, you can be pretty satisfied.
What’s on tap next for you guys?
Ronnie: Just getting the album out on July 24th and little by little…world domination. We want to get a few more songs out there to the people into their eyes, ears and mind. Check us out on Twitter and preorder STRAIGHT IN NO KISSIN’ here !