On March 20 of 2005, I flew home from Chicago’s O’Hare airport after a fun-filled weekend that surpassed my wildest expectations.
I can hardly believe that was fourteen years ago. In some ways, it feels like last year, and in others – wow. That was even pre-Daily Duranie!
A lot has changed since then. For one, I have actually been in the front row. The one thing I kind of thought I’d never experience, and I can say I’ve been there multiple times now. I also run this blog, I’ve set two kids out on their own, moved my entire house, and the list goes on. Things don’t stay the same forever, I guess.
Staying up with the moon
The night before I flew home, I went to the Milwaukee show at the Riverside theater. I can barely remember any of the venue names I’ve been to – but I remember that one. I think Amanda, our friend Lisa, and I were back in the 9th row or so, and we were wearing these light-up horns a friend had sent us all the way from New Zealand. (ah, our dear friend Froggy.) We even got a wave from Roger at one point because Dave had pointed us out to him. I nearly died.
I have to chuckle a bit because I didn’t even know who Dom was at that point. He was just some substitute guitar player standing in the shadows, doing his job!
We waited outside of the theater door that night after the show, kind of on the driveway, hoping that the band’s cars would go past as they left so we could wave. Luckily, they did. Again, I nearly died as they waved to us in passing. Then we did the unthinkable. We ran to Amanda’s car, hopped in and tried to follow the caravan of Ford Econoline vans back to Chicago.
I got a lot to lose
We had a suspicion of where they were staying. Banking on that, we casually walked into the hotel, asked where the bar might be, and headed there. It was quiet and there weren’t a lot of fans sitting on the floral couches dotting the spacious, bright room, but there were some.
We did what we tend to always do: sit on the outskirts and watch. We saw Simon and Nick, but we didn’t ever approach either of them. Far too risky for us at the time. (and I laugh because I’m not entirely sure we’d do any differently today!) I don’t really know what we were doing in that lobby bar area that night – I guess we just wanted to see what might happen? It wasn’t wild or crazy or much of anything. There were just some people talking. It was a far cry from some of the scenes I’ve been in since that night, I’ll say that much.
For me though, sitting there that night, observing the situation – was one night of many where I kind of think I just desperately wanted to see how “real” that band really was. I mean, prior to then I’d only ever seen them on a stage or on TV. They weren’t real to me in the same sense that a friend might be. As naive or as immature as it might sound, I think seeing them off-stage, away from the lights and fans, gave me a glimpse of something or someone I wanted to know really existed. I had absolutely zero intentions of actually speaking to them or drawing attention to myself. I just wanted to convince myself that yes, they really were human. For so long before that, they were just posters on my wall, or people on my television.
There is nothing better than being with you
In many ways, they are still those same people for me. The mystery hasn’t really disappeared. Going to Birmingham and seeing where they started helped raise the curtain a bit. Being around and involved in the community for so many years has done it’s bit too. Even so, when they come out on stage and start playing, the feelings of excitement and wonder are still there for me. I might not wear the light-up horns these days, or follow the band’s vehicles across state lines, but there’s still a fair amount of naivety and wonder left in me. How about you?
Hi everyone! Happy Tuesday! Just before going to bed last night, I went through the Daily Duranie inbox. It isn’t often that we get extremely pointed reminders from anonymous people, but last night, we did. To be fair, I was happy to have the reminder! I FORGOT THE KAFE! Oops!
Yesterday was crazy, involving now 4-week old chickens figuring out how to fly up and over their 3.5-foot high fencing. Essentially, they were then having free reign of the room where they are currently located. They’re not old enough to be outside of their brooder (think baby crib for chickens!) just yet. I’ll bet none of you can imagine my reaction when opening the door to find a REAL Late Bar party going on amongst the chickies.
My life. I have to laugh. Why would I expect anything less than “baby” chicks escaping??
Anyway, I’m back on my game, the chicks are safely in their appropriate brooder, and I’ve listened to the Kafe! Below are the just the highlights! If you want to listen to the entire Kafe (and you should!) we at Daily Duranie highly recommend getting your own DuranDuranMusic.com membership!
Simon is sick with a cold right now – mentioning that he is bringing a Virus to the Kafe. As am I (Bringing Virus, that is.)
At some point, he starts singing some crazy little tune I don’t think I’ve heard before. That’s only after going after his cat – who is trying to get into a room that is off limits.
Sounds like my house on any given day! First it was dogs and cats, now it’s poultry. I don’t know people…maybe I should start singing crazy obscurities too. Moving on.
Studio time with Mark
Thrilled that Katy asked about the band being in the studio with Mark back at the end of February! After the Vegas shows, and just after Mark won an Oscar, they met in a Los Angeles studio. They did some writing with not only Mark Ronson, but also Lykke Li and Graham Coxon.
It was the first meeting of Graham and Mark, as the band introduced them that day. According to Simon, they did a lot of work – and now it is about seeing how much of it they will actually use. It did not sound as though Mark is acting as the only producer, or even as a producer at all, but rather more of a collaborative writer. although Simon did not go into a ton of detail. As Simon explained, while it sounded great, it is very difficult to discuss the songs because so much changes over the process of writing, recording, etc.
It would be a good reminder here that thousands of hours can go into recording for an album, and only a small percentage may get used. Having your heart set on Mark, or anyone for that matter, being the producer or working with the band on what ends up as the finished product is setting yourself up for certain disappointment. Keeping an open mind is prudent!
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
So, anyone hear that Simon and John have the distinct honor of inducting Roxy Music into the Hall of Fame? The ceremony, which is to take place March 29th at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, should be interesting this year. Roxy Music, Janet Jackson, The Cure, and even Def Leppard (not to play favorites but those are the few I remember off the top of my head) are being inducted this year. I’m looking forward to watching the ceremony at some point.
Simon says he is flattered and very honored to be inducting Roxy Music, as they are crucial to Duran Duran. He feels as though it is a huge responsibility to make sure they are given the credit that is due. He and John will deliver a speech (usually these are incredibly impassioned, and honestly – they are what make the ceremony special, in my opinion). Simon says that John is mostly working on it because he is a massive fan. He has never been to an induction ceremony before, so I’m curious to hear what he thinks of it all after he’s gone.
February Mini Tour
Loved hearing Simon talk about the mini-tour. He commented that the show in Miami was just “okay”. They hadn’t played a 90-minute show in about 18 months (since Japan). I know we had discussions about the length of their set several times during the mini-tour. There were critics who mentioned it as well – to which I responded in a blog right here. Listen, I’m a fan – I would love a four hour long set complete with an intermission! However, this band is made up of humans, not machines. I don’t know how people like Elton John or Paul McCartney do a 3 hour show every night. Maybe they rehearsed for months beforehand, conditioning themselves?
I just know that when Simon feels like he’s got to comment on a Kafe that it has been forever since they played a 90-minute show that maybe, just MAYBE, we need to cut them a little slack. He said that Miami wasn’t that great – I believe he used the word, “okay”, but that they got tighter in Cayman and by the time they hit NOLA they were feeling good and the show felt smooth.
I can understand that, too. Duran Duran doesn’t rehearse a ton. Now, we can certainly have a discussion about whether or not that should be happening more regularly; however, the bottom line is that this isn’t a band that rehearses for months or weeks on end before a tour begins. As they perform shows, they play tighter, and smoother. That’s the way this band rolls!
As we know, they added in a few extras to the set this time around. Seventh Stranger, New Religion, Tempted, and even Friends of Mine. For long-time fans such as myself – this was a dream come true. Simon commented that they like to change things up. “We have quite a huge catalog to choose from, and it would be a real waste to stick to the same 18-20 songs.”
Yes, yes it would.
What I found particularly interesting here though was that Simon said they tried to make Seventh Stranger sound more modern. This was after saying that if they’d written that song today, they would have done it very differently. I don’t know if he felt the song was incredibly dated as is written – but let’s be fair to ourselves a bit here. It was released in 1983, and one can assume it was written at least several months (if not a year or more) prior. Simon followed up by saying they performed it by using the musical technology available today as opposed to the way it was in 1980-something.
A word or two for Simon
Nick tried to get Simon to lip-sync to the video on the screen, and I got the feeling that Simon wasn’t sure if that worked out right. Let me clear that air for him by speaking to Simon directly here. IT WAS FANTASTIC. I can imagine performing it that way, and trying to stay conscious of what was happening on screen might have felt weird, but the full effect of seeing you at 20-something on the larger screen and then right in front of me singing in person blew me away. I’m not a very emotional person (I cry in private thankyouverymuch), but that performance took everything out of me. It was an incredible five minutes that I will never forget. I am not the only one, either. The audience was filled with people sobbing just like me.
That doesn’t happen without a lot of magic, my friend. And that’s what that song and performance(s) were like. Magical. Don’t downplay it, and take my word for it. I can be incredibly hard on this band, but those performances contained some of the moments my heart was craving most. I feel lucky to have been there.
And if that weren’t enough….they announced they’d be playing at Tinderbox in Denmark this year, and Katy says “there may be more this summer”. Stay tuned….
Record Store Day 2019
It is exciting to hear that As the Lights Go Down will be available on pink and blue vinyl as Duran Duran’s RSD offering this year. Humorously though, Simon says he doesn’t remember even recording it. Not a single thing.
I’m sure there’s a joke in here about drugs in the 80s and 90s, or age….but I’m gonna just let it slide for now. (after all, I can remember the words to every Duran Duran song, but can’t remember where I put the TV remote. It was in the cupboard this morning. So….)
He does say though that when he gets his copy, he’ll “give it a go”.
Well, alright then. Just maybe then I will, too.
Simon will be back during the summer, and I can hardly wait to hear what obscurity he’ll sing.
As for me, I’m off to check on some very loud squawking I hear. I can only imagine what I’ll find this time.
Every once in a while, it is good to gain new perspective. I used to do this pretty frequently when I lived in Orange County by going to see other bands – essentially cheating on Duran Duran when they weren’t looking – right?? Since moving up to the central coast, it is a bit more challenging, particularly in my small town. While I have definitely gone to see live music, they are typically unknown bands, and more often than not – the style they play is a little less rock and a little more folksy in nature. Not my favorite, but…when you’re desperate…
However, on Saturday night, I saw Rick Springfield. I think I might still be a little giddy from the evening! He played at Rava Winery in Paso Robles, which is a gorgeous setting. If you’re ever in Paso, it is worth the drive to go and taste there just for the peace and beauty alone. Known for their sparkling wines, Rava also hosts quite a few bands and artists each year, Rick being one of them. He was doing his “Stripped” show. (get your minds out of the gutter – he was fully clothed, told stories, and played without a backing band)
I bought these tickets not long after moving into the house, and couldn’t wait to see him once I realized just how small of a setting it would be (think ballroom rather than theater). On Saturday, our seats were about in the middle, and in fact – I’ve been much farther back with VIP seats for Duran Duran than I was that night with our regular “no frills” tickets. The venue is just that small, really.
I have no real experience seeing Rick Springfield, but I had an angel on my shoulder that night. My dear friend Laurie, who was killed in a car accident several years ago, was a huge fan. She was easily as much of a Rick fan as I any of us are of Duran Duran. In fact, she was such a pillar in his fan community, that Rick sent a huge spray of flowers for her funeral. I have no doubt that Laurie was there with me that night, as I stood up with other (far more intense) Rick fans around me and sang the words to his music with him.
Speaking of those Rick fans – prior to the show, there were food trucks and tables to buy glasses and bottles of wine outside in their patio and garden before the show. As I walked around, I did some people watching. I overheard people talking about traveling from show to show on the tour, the VIP packages, and basically all of the same things we tend to chat about with one another before the DD shows. I saw fans greeting one another exclaiming how surprised they were to see each other, “I didn’t know you were coming to THIS show. How did you get here so fast?!?” I couldn’t help but smile, knowing that the basic “fan” stuff is pretty universal.
After we took our seats, two women sat down next to me on my left. They immediately apologized (in advance) for screaming or standing up and dancing. I replied that they didn’t need to say sorry, that I’d be doing it right along with them. We talked a little bit about being fans, and then I mentioned that I’m a huge Duran Duran fan and even write a blog about them. The woman next to me poked her friend and said “That’s her favorite band!”
Try to explain it
I laughed because we (Duranies) are EVERYWHERE. My husband, who had been watching this scene unfold, nearly rolled his eyeballs right out of his head. I could almost hear the “Good lord, I cannot take you anywhere without Duran Duran coming up in the conversation…”
He’s right. He can’t.
At that point, Rick took the stage. I have to admit that as excited as I was to see him, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I know some of his music, but most of it is earlier – not the more recent stuff – and although I’ve read his autobiography, I just didn’t know what he’d be like on stage telling stories.
My fears were completely unfounded. He is fantastic live. Not only did I enjoy the entire set he played – the stories were what made the show. The reality is, Rick was my crush just before Duran Duran. I started watching General Hospital because he was on it. So seeing him live and in person in front of me was kind of like traveling back to my tween years. Awkward, kind of goofy, and pretty damn giddy. The only thing really missing was my friend Laurie. Just prior to the accident, we’d met for lunch with our other friends, and we’d agreed that the next time Rick toured – I’d go with her.
Nothing really gets them that high
This was not the first time he’d been in my area since that last lunch together, but it was really the first time I felt like I could be there and enjoy it without her. And…I did. That doesn’t mean I didn’t think about her as I sang “Jessie’s Girl” or stood and cheered during “Human Touch”, or my very favorite, “I’ve Done Everything for You”. It was hard not to, but rather than sadness, there was joy. Total joy, the way I know she would have wanted.
One of the things Laurie and I spoke about often before she died was that we were going to stop feeling bad about buying the concert tickets. Laurie wasn’t married and didn’t have children, but she still felt some of the same misgivings I did about being so thick in fandom at our age (which at the time, was right around 40). She was one of my very few friends outside of the DD community who really “got” it, and I remember that last lunch, she looked at me and said “You know, we have no idea how long we’ve got. You’ve got to just LIVE. Buy the tickets. We have to stop worrying about what other (assholes – Laurie had quite the mouth, even worse than my own!) think. Have fun, because who knows when our last time will really be.”
It was a matter of days before Laurie was gone. She wasn’t wrong that day and I’ve never forgotten what we talked about over margaritas that afternoon.
Emotion’s a game
It is hard for me to live up to her words at times. I do spend less time apologizing for being a fan, and more time rejoicing that I am a small part of this wonderful community of people. Although, I still let a lot of other things play on my mind, and guilt me out of taking risks that might make me happier in the long run. I’d say I was trying to find balance, but the reality is that I’m always worried about upsetting something or someone.
In 16 days, the voters of Madison and Wisconsin go to the polls to vote for races like Wisconsin Supreme Court, mayor, alder, school board and more. On April 2nd, my campaign work is done and I will find out if we were successful. With a little over two weeks to go, I struggle to explain how I’m feeling. Then, it hit me. A campaign is like creating an album. You are probably thinking that my sleep deprivation and cold is wrecking havoc on my brain. While you might be right, I think I can explain this.
Work with a team on a common goal
In order for band’s like Duran Duran to make an album, they need a team behind them. They not only need themselves but producers, engineers, other musicians (if necessary) and so much more. They also need people to create the art and packaging along with the promotion team to get the word out. Campaigns are not much different. There is usually a core group of people working on it. I’m super lucky in that the team I’m working with are great. Of course, we bring in others as necessary with various elements, including media and promotion. I know that over time I have grown close to the members of the team. After all, we are spending a lot of time together and experience all of the joys and frustrations that can happen. I’m willing to bet that making albums are similar. I’m sure that there are days when the music just falls into place or the best lyrics are created. Of course, there are probably other days that nothing is working or that someone criticizes what has been done. It isn’t always smooth sailing as people on the team might disagree with a decision or direction. That happens on campaigns, too. By the end of the experience, it is not uncommon to view the people on the team as family.
Both album making and campaigning have goals. In the case of a campaign, the object is to win, to get more votes than one’s opponent. An album needs to sell a lot of copies like votes. It needs to be thought of as better than the rest to win awards and more.
Both have deadlines
Typically, once an album gets close to being completed there is a date assigned as the release date. On that date, the artist gets to find out if their hard work pays off. A campaign has a definite date, too. Then, we get to wait and watch for results. Election nights can be great or they can be devastating. Many times they can be agonizing as the votes slowly roll in, creating much nervousness. Yet, once the polls close and once the album is released, that’s it. There is nothing you can do to but trust that you did the best you could and that your choices will lead you to success.
It is not always a healthy way to live
I’m willing to bet that Duran Duran is not always the healthiest during their album making process especially during their early days. They probably didn’t get a decent amount of sleep or eat well. There might have been too many substances consumed. Campaigns aren’t that different. I haven’t gotten no where near the right amount of sleep for months now. There are many days, especially lately, in which my eating habits are beyond bad. Sometimes, I don’t eat dinner as I’m too busy running from one event to the other. Other times, I eat a lot of junk food. My “drug” of choice is caffeine. I have had a lot of coffee. I do get out and walk some to knock on voters’ doors but this year that has been tough as the winter was beyond grueling. At one point, my mom fell and hit her head which caused an ER visit. (Thankfully, she is fine!) Another team member cut her finger on ice. I generally don’t get sick (teachers have immune systems of steel) but I’m on my second cold. Needless to say, there has been blood, sweat and tears on this campaign.
At the end, you have mixed emotions
As I count down the days, I find myself having many mixed emotions. On one hand, I’m so excited to not have work so much. I look forward to a lot more sleep and a lot less stress. I have no doubt that the band might feel the same way at the end of making an album. It is the little things that I might be excited for like eating properly or not having to answer hundreds of various messages a day. Yet, at the same time, I’m going to miss the people I have worked so closely with. We have created inside jokes and have shared something powerful in terms of working together towards a common goal. It reminds me of the end of Sing Blue Silver when at the end of the tour the band is so emotional. As they hug and wonder what they will do next year, I’m sure there is a big part of them that is happy to be done, happy to not have the insane schedule anymore while knowing that they will miss it at the same time.
You learn a lot
Despite or maybe because of the process, you learn a lot. Not only do you learn a bunch about how to create the best campaign or album, you find out more about yourself and what you are capable of. You get to know new people and get to know others better. It also makes you feel good knowing that you gave it your all, no matter the level of success.
I can tell you this much. Now that I have realized how similar campaigns are to making an album, I’m going to look at finished albums in new light. While I still might have opinions about the quality of the music, I think I’ll be far kinder and far more understanding and appreciative of the work that went into it.
The inexplicable decision to record Thank You in the wake of a commercial resurgence continues to perplex me whenever I revisit it. Duran Duran have a few solid covers to their name but few of them made it onto Thank You. If they had either released a covers album on par with David Bowie’s Pin Ups (a tall order for any artist) or put out a new studio album with a few hit singles to maintain their momentum, the 1990s might have gone much differently for the band. What should have Thank You sounded like? That is a question I plan to address in part two of this essay. For now, I am more excited about the idea of younger bands wearing their Duranie influence on their sleeves.
The recent cover of “Hungry Like the Wolf” by Muse is far more significant than has been noted. The 2014 tribute album Making Patterns Rhyme was a beautiful collection of ethereal covers but apart from Warpaint (and veteran Moby), the artist list was more underground and obscure. Muse are playing sold-out arenas right now. They are one of the few rock-n-roll bands who can do that in today’s industry. And they covered “Hungry Like the Wolf” without a hint of hipster irony. If you haven’t heard this slice of sonic gold, check it out here:
Muse joins The Deftones, and Eagles of Death Metal, as contemporary bands willing to fly the Duran Duran flag with sharp covers. The influence of the band can be traced through almost every sub-genre of popular music today and popular culture’s retro fetish has again made Duran Duran fashionable. It gets me excited for what happens tomorrow. Here is my list of twelve dream covers of Duran Duran songs.
1. Peaches – “Girls On Film”
The current live version of the song by Duran is what I’m imagining with a Peaches cover. Her ability to deconstruct gender roles makes this a lyrical feast for her to dine on. Check out how she balances guitars and electronics on “Boys Wanna Be Her” and you hear some of Duran’s DNA percolating beneath its surface.
2. Gerard Way (My Chemical Romance) – “First Impression”
OK, we have to get MCR to reunite for this to work but I can see that happening in the not too distant future. Regardless, Gerard Way’s solid solo album would have been a good home for this cover as well. Slathering the lyrics in some teenage angst would give it a stronger narrative punch. I can see the band playing a goth prom with young kids “turning on the animal” and knocking over the lockers as they run out into the night.
3. The Killers – “Planet Earth”
This seems so obvious it may have already happened and I missed it. The vocal line suits Brandon Flowers perfectly and the rhythm track would be a rollicking fun ride with Ronnie Vanucci Jr. pounding the skins. The influence of Duran Duran is all over Hot Fuss and it’s not like The Killers are making interesting music at this point (Wonderful Wonderful? Umm, no and no.).
4. Kacey Musgraves – “Lonely In Your Nightmare”
She would own this! Strip it back to an acoustic ballad with a little steel guitar playing behind her. As a country artist, she has confounded expectations at every turn and a Duran Duran cover would be another unexpected move. She could probably sing any Duran song and make it work but these lyrics seem to best suit her style.
5. Let’s Eat Grandma – “Come Undone”
When Let’s Eat Grandma take the stage at Coachella in April, they will convert even more listeners to their unique alchemy of glitchy synths and soaring pop. Covering this song demands a complete re-invention because it is hard to top the original. Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth were born long after the song was a hit so they could shatter it and re-arrange the shards into a beautiful new prism.
6. Sunflower Bean – “Do You Believe In Shame?”
Julia Cumming’s voice and bass tone are in this song’s sweet spot. Sunflower Bean can shift from Blondie disco-punk to Fleetwood Mac balladry in seconds so they could take this in a few interesting directions. One of Duran Duran’s most beautiful songs, it really deserves to be revived and shared with new listeners.
7. The 1975 – “New Moon On Monday”
I don’t know why but I can see this video already with Matty Healy looking mysterious on crowded London streets. The nonsensical lyrics (A lizard mixture? Help us out, Simon.) are no problem for Healy. He could sing anything and teenagers would go crazy. The 1975 already borrow a lot of their aesthetic from the 1980s so this wouldn’t be a creative leap for them to tackle.
8. Robyn – “Electric Barbarella”
Nobody makes dance music like Robyn and this song would be the perfect companion to her classic “Dancing With Myself”. Sprinkle a little Swedish electro-pop fairy dust on the song to give it a stronger kick drum that shakes the walls and you have a hit song. Hearing Robyn whisper “princess of my dreams” would leave us begging for more.
9. IDLES – “Wild Boys”
Last year’s Joy As An Act of Resistance won IDLES critical acclaim and a legion of positive-minded punk fans who are ready to kick toxic masculinity in the face. Never an easy vocal for Simon LeBon, IDLES could reimagine it as a working-class anthem for young men trying to do right by this world.
10. Garbage – “Pop Trash Movie”
OK, Garbage probably don’t need to cover Duran Duran but their recent version of Bowie’s “Starman” was a sheer delight. The only band on this list to have also done a Bond cover, Shirley Manson would bring this song to life. Manson would sell the narrative, too. She knows exactly what this song is trying to say and she could deliver it with more force than Duran Duran.
11. St. Vincent – “Too Much Information”
Annie Clark’s immense guitar skills and anti-establishment attitude would suit this better than Duran Duran. No soda company will ever sponsor a St. Vincent tour. She would turn it inside out with a less linear version, I believe. Her and Dua Lipa covering this at this year’s Grammy Awards would have been a joy to see.
12. Pale Waves – “Night Boat”
Pale Waves straddle the border between dark pop and dreamy gothic atmosphere which makes “New Religion” the perfect tune for them. They would slow it down to a glacial pace, perhaps, and take it from Birmingham to Manchester where the heavy clouds of Joy Division could strip it of any color. Pale Waves are finding success injecting irresistible pop songs with darker, more artistic tones. Sound familiar?
Jason Lent (Velvet Rebel Music) discovered Duran Duran on MTV in 1983 and a lifelong musical love affair was born. In 2010, he left a job in Hawaii to tour with Cowboy Junkies as a music writer and his work has appeared in various online music outlets. He currently resides in Las Vegas managing a music venue while trying to learn John Taylor’s bass line from Rio.