For some years, The Killers have been inviting audience members on stage to play drums on For Reasons Unknown. Usually drummers who are game to play hold up posters requesting to play. Since the poster holders know which The Killers’ track an audience-member drummer will be invited to drum on, they know what song to practice, which mitigates against complete disasters.
Obviously the quality of the playing of the selected drummers varies, but for the most part the drummers hold their own. In the video we see 13-year-old James Briscoe. James’ about page on YouTube simply says “Got to play with The Killers all because of a sign made by my sister”. The gig in question was The Killers show at Mt Duneed Estate, Geelong, on Saturday 10 December 2022. James killed it:
The choice of drummer came down to “two great signs”. The sign made by Briscoe’s sister won out, possibly assisted by Briscoe’s youth. The Geelong Times reports that Briscoe was called up about halfway through The Killers set. It also reports that Biscoe brought along his own drumsticks. As the song gets going – once they know they can trust the audience drummer – you can sense The Killers relaxing and enjoying themselves. Singer Brandon Flowers beams as James nails the drum parts with flare.
Halfway through, Flowers moves the mic and speaks to Biscoe. “So far so good James, how’re you doing, are you feeling alright?” Biscoe nods & holds a drumstick aloft. Flowers says, “You got 20 000 people rooting for you”. At the end, a delighted Flowers beckons to Biscoe and exclaims, “King James everybody!” Biscoe is clearly exhilarated. haroldpinteresque4460 comments on YouTube: “One of the greatest all-time guest drummer performances for The Killers.” Here is younger James honing his skills:
The above video was posted in August 2020, a full two years before James Briscoe played For Reasons Unknown with The Killer. The caption beneath the video reads “I am a boy that has been playing drums for 8 years”. This is a good example of how important practice is to a musician. Well done James Briscoe!
There is a Reddit question: “Why do the killers always let someone else be the drummer for For Reasons Unknown? The consensus seems to be “I think it happened at one or two gigs and then it just snowballed and everyone took their chance.” The first reference to the practice that I can find is in an NME article from July 2018. During their headline slot at the Latitude Festival in Sussex, July 2018, Henry from Cambridge drummed on the song. Then François Ristorcelli played at Lollapalooza, Paris, on 22 July 2018.
All this talk of drummers being pulled from the crowd reminds me of a piece of rock lore. The myth is that before The Who played Cow Palace in Daly City, California on 20 November 1973, Keith Moon was offered a horse tranquiliser. The drummer allegedly replied, “I’m Keith Moon, I’ll take two.” Whatever the reason, Moon’s playing was erratic and he collapsed twice. This led to Pete Townshend asking “Is there anyone out there who can play drums?”
A friend of 19-year-old Scot Halpin shouted “He can play”. This caught the attention of legendary music promoter Bill Graham, who brought Halpin up onto the stage where he helped The Who finish off its set. Needless to mention, The Music Man does not recommend that humans take horse tranquilisers. If you would like to see more from James Briscoe, you can subscribe to his YouTube channel