Idle hands, they say, are the devil’s workshop. So when drummer Ronnie Vannucci Jr. found himself twiddling his thumbs when his Las Vegas band The Killers went on hiatus in 2010, he called his guitarist buddy Taylor Milne and got busy finishing songs he’d been composing, which they wound up recording on an eponymous 2011 debut as Big Talk. “Then we wanted to play some shows, so we had to form a tour band, using friends and recommendations,” says the percussionist, who became its frontman. “And we all liked it so much, I asked them if they wanted to form a real band.” They did, and Big Talk’s Replacements-careening sophomore disc, “Straight In No Kissin’,” just hit the streets.
Pre-Killers, you were a wedding-chapel photographer in Vegas? Yeah. That was my last paying job. It was the average thing — quickie weddings, with a jealous boyfriend in the back of the room. It was actually kind of crazy. The place I worked at was all about trying to make this quickie experience into the nicest, classiest experience they could, and they tried to make sure that no one was inebriated. They really took it seriously.
But things still got crazy? There were themed weddings, people who wrote their own vows. We had lawyers who made their marriage ceremony like a trial, and their vows were like sentencing. Another couple walked down the aisle to AC/DC’s “Hells Bells,” which was pretty kick-ass. One that got a little weird was a Latino wedding, so it was large. And there was a guy in the back, visibly upset, who basically wanted to kill the groom. He was crying, and he started a huge brawl at the end of the ceremony. And we got it all on camera.
You invested your Killers money into a home studio. It came from my need to remain in Northern California — I live in Sonoma County. The Killers, we have our own studio in Vegas. But having a home studio is quite convenient. Although it gets in the way of everyday life, because I just want to make records. And my wife is like, “What? C’mon! Let’s go do normal things!” We have a lot of winemaker friends, a lot of culinary and farmer friends. It’s all just wine and food up there.
How cool is it to front your own combo? It’s very cool. In some ways, it’s a pressure valve. And in other ways, I’d like to be doing Killers stuff. But I realize that people need a break once in a while. And I have the energy, so I’m going to keep on making music!
IF YOU GO
Where: DNA Lounge, 375 11th St., SF
When: 8:30 p.m. Thursday, July 23
Contact: (415) 626-1409; www.dnalounge.com