Since the 2004 release of their worldwide smash debut Hot Fuss, The Killers have sold 22 million albums, picked up seven Grammy nominations and toured the globe five times over. Founding member and lead guitarist Dave Keuning has been there for it all. Well, almost.
Last summer, Keuning chose to take a hiatus from the band ahead of their fifth studio album, Wonderful Wonderful, and the thought of another 18 months on the road.
“It’s complicated,” he said recently from his San Diego home. “I would’ve liked to play some of those shows. But it was an all-or-nothing type of situation. I just wish they didn’t tour so intensely. Even if it was five months or something, that’s longer than I’d wanted to be away, but it’s manageable. A year and a half is just a really long period of time.”
Instead, the North County-based multi-instrumentalist and father did something he’d wanted to do for a long time — indulge his own creative impulses without compromise.
The result, his debut solo album, Prisimism, is set for release on Jan. 25 with Keuning playing nearly every sound on the upcoming 14-song collection.
Although he enlisted a couple of friends to play most of the drum parts, Keuning handled all of the guitar, bass and keys on the album. Almost all of the tracking for Prisimism was done Keuning’s home studio and the newly found solo performer ended up tackling lead vocal duties for the first time.
While the longtime guitarist wasn’t initially sure about crossing into the role of a singer, it was what ultimately cemented the project for him. It’s all of the other little things that have kept him on his toes.
“I’m a lot busier than I thought,” said Keuning. “But it’s been a really good learning experience. The Killers had a lot of other people doing things for me. And this time around I do not. But now I can control my schedule and my creativity. Now that I have that freedom, I know this will not be a one-time thing.”
Despite that kind of resolution and wild speculation among online Killers fans, this is not necessarily the death of his relationship with the band. Keuning still plans on sending creative ideas and song demos to his former group for inclusion on their next album.
Even playing with them again sometime isn’t out of the question. As far as Keuning is concerned, the future is wide open. But for now, the songwriter and family man is putting all of his creative ideas that didn’t fit into the Killers box into a new one of his own.
“I have a ton of ideas,” he said. “I just got tired of them not being made or not doing anything with them. But I’m just making music. And it’s incredibly fun for me to see these ideas come to life. They’ll just have to be parallel to the Killers because I’m going to try to write for them as well.”
It’s too early to tell if Keuning will be able to navigate his new life as both a solo artist and a part-time member of The Killers. But he is literally bringing things full-circle when he plays his first-ever show as Keuning at the Casbah on Tuesday.
“It’s perfect,” he said. “On the Killers first trip here, I had never been to San Diego before. And our first show was at the Casbah. I met people that night that I still know to this day. I learned to love this town and ended up moving here. And that’s where it all got started for me.”
Now it’s time to see where it goes.
Keuning with The Nervous Wreckords
When: 8:30 p.m. Nov. 6
Where: The Casbah, 2501 Kettner Blvd., Middletown