Category Archives: Duran Duran

Mustache Wax and Pringles…what could they possibly have in common?!?

Oh…..you all know what I’m going to blog about today. Most women are going to love it, and some men out there are going to hate it. They’ll say we’re only in it for the looks, we don’t know anything about the music, and then they’ll say our blog is “fun”, but not to be taken seriously. So I’m going to cut those men loose right now. Today is probably not the blog for you, unless you’re into a little light-hearted fun, in which case – please read on.

Let’s cut to the chase. I have a very simple question. How did we get from here:

To here:

Holy Mustache, Simon!!!

Once more, for effect in case you weren’t paying attention. We went from this:

To this…

I won’t lie, I have this urge to reach out and twist the ends of that thing…then shave it, drop to my knees, clasp my hands as if in prayer and then lift them to the sky screaming “It was for the good of the people, Simon!”

…….and yet somehow, that sounds so much worse when I read it in print.  (Just assume I’m wincing here. I am. Trust me.)

Since the very moment these were first released yesterday, my entire Twitterfeed and Facebook has been taken up with images such as the Pringle Man:

To Professor Hinkle from Frosty the Snowman:
And lest us not forget the Monopoly guy:

It would seem that EVERY Duranie in the world has come across those photos, and has voiced their concern. Should we buy Simon a razor? Does he need someone to just say “Shave”? Should we take poor Yasmin aside and tell her that we too have husbands that sometimes think wearing flannel and crocs is OK? (Mine thinks mixing kelly green with forest green is cool. They’re both green, right?? *sigh*)

Naturally, those of us who have been around a while – and by last count I think that is pretty much all of us, know that Simon couldn’t possibly care any less what we think. I myself thought more than once about starting a Twitter campaign where we all change our profile picture to one of the Pringles guy, but I daresay it would just keep that handlebar mustache going. And growing, as one of my dear friends said yesterday.

Let’s be honest, the whole idea about “caring what the fans think” probably went out the window long before he ever showed up in Birmingham wearing pink leopard print pants, don’t you think? I mean, this is probably not the first misstep I’ve seen in my years as a fan, and I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last….and somehow I still find myself thankful that the band doesn’t tweet about how WE look a lot of the time.

Bottom line? We’re talking, aren’t we? He is about to enter back into the DuranZone in March…and we’re already talking. Not a single note has been recorded, a word written, and yet that band is still being chatted about. Pictures are circulating, blogs are being written….and the mustache is a growin’.

I can’t wait for a tour!!!

-R

‘Cuz it makes you feel so nice…

I’ve got my own “question of the day” for you Duran fans out there. Are there songs that you love, but only when the band plays them live? I think you all know what I mean, but in case you’re sitting there scratching your head…are there songs that you’ll make the effort to skip when listening to a CD or your mp3 player in the car (or even on your computer), but when the band plays them live, you stand there screaming your lungs out, wondering all the while why they didn’t just record it that way to begin with?

I do. In fact, there are quite a bit of those for me. Sometimes I even wonder if I should be embarrassed about that, until the next time I see the band live – then I’m suddenly OK with it all again. So I’ll tell you what, I’ll share a few of mine, and if you feel like it – you can share a few of yours.

White Lines – I was never a fan of this remake. In fact, I will openly tell anyone who asks, and even those of you who aren’t, that when I first heard Thank You, I wondered why someone didn’t explain to Simon that he is not, nor should he ever pretend to be Grandmaster Flash. Back in high school, I adored the original, so even I was taken back when Duran Duran decided to do this cover and felt it would be an extremely tall order. I wasn’t impressed with the song on the album, and even to this day, I skip the album version at nearly every opportunity. It is just too homogenized for my taste, to be honest. The guitar isn’t nearly gritty enough, and while good old Grandmaster Flash himself helps out, it still doesn’t work for me. However, in 2003 the band did something that made me stop and reconsider this song.  They had Andy play the guitar. A simple thing really, and I found myself rocking out in the best way imaginable. Then I heard it again, and again, and then noticed I was hoping they’d put it on the set list! Of course, we all know that it is now Dom Brown playing the guitar, and my ears still love what I hear. I love that raw, gritty guitar and it has become one of my most favorite songs. Live.

Sunrise -The funny thing about this particular song though is that I heard the live version first…well before I heard any remixes or the version on Astronaut, and that live version – I loved. Unlike my friend C.K, I actually liked the “Tra la la la” beginning that was done in 2003. I just felt it added some fantastic texture to the song. Sort of like adding silk to burlap…or vice-versa if you prefer. (Ok, so maybe not quite that drastic but you get my point.)  I think that when I first heard the version that is included on the Queer Eye soundtrack, I liked it. I wouldn’t say it was a favorite by any means, but I didn’t run to skip it the way I do some others. I did always feel (and still do) that the song, in any of the recorded versions I’ve heard, is way overproduced and hurts the quality of the song. They took a technicolor song and made it plain vanilla, in my opinion. Of course, the live version has evolved over time into this sort of hybrid between the remix and the album version, with much more of a raw feel – that yes, I love. The song is uplifting, fun and it rocks live.

Wild Boys – And here is where I start feeling insecure…  Did you know that when Wild Boys first came out, I didn’t really like it? It’s true. I’m not even sure that I can put my finger on why that was, but it was not a favorite. I would genuinely SKIP the song, and back in those days, it required more labor than just clicking an arrow!  Keeping in mind that I didn’t actually hear Wild Boys live until MUCH later in my life – I’d grown steadily more irritated with that song over the years until the reunion. The fact is, they just do more with this song live than they could ever record on an album. For one thing, there’s this energy that permeates from the band when they are really feeling it – and yes, I’ve seen some rather lackluster performances of Wild Boys in my time; but more often than not, the band brings it, and I soak it up. I just don’t know if there’s a way to ignore the power of this song live, at least not for me. Do I still skip the album version when I hear it? Yep.

One more for the road…then it’s your turn.

Tiger Tiger – It’s not always the guitar that does it for me, and this song is proof. I’ll admit it, when I was what – 13 years old, I would skip this song on SATRT. I did it, and I accept whatever punishment comes my way. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the tune or that there was something horribly wrong, it’s that I was a kid, Simon wasn’t singing, and I saw no point.  (Wow, that feels even worse to admit when it’s in print and I’m reading it….) Sure, sure, I got goosebumps during the opening scenes of Sing Blue Silver. What I’m not saying though is that I didn’t really get those goosebumps until about 2004 when I would watch the DVD.  Before that, the song really didn’t have much meaning for me. I didn’t GO to any shows during that tour, and while I would watch SBS with this melancholy, bittersweet sort of feeling about the whole thing, the song didn’t really connect well. Along came 2004 when I got very involved in the fan community, planned a convention, watched the DVD’s with a sort of reverence that I can’t quite describe…and hoped against hope that they would play Tiger Tiger live when they toured for Astronaut. My hopes were not dashed, and in Chicago of 2005, I heard the song live and cried like a baby. The song has obviously come to mean a bit more for me now than in 1984, and I adore hearing it live…although I will say that I much prefer the way it was played in 2005 than I did this last tour. I can’t quite put my finger on the difference but I think Andy Hamilton has quite a bit to do with the success.

I’m sure that for me, part of the energy that I feel from these songs that seems to be lacking on their respective albums is due to being right there in front of them, watching them perform.  I’d be crazy not to admit that, but the truth is that it’s not just being there. For that matter, there are plenty of songs that they play live that I honestly think sounded better on the album! (Another blog, another day) There are even other songs that no matter how they play them, live…on the album…standing on their heads in my living room…they’re not going to move me. I can’t imagine I’m completely alone here. So what about you?  Any songs you’ve never loved off the album(s) but really get into live? Don’t leave me hanging – share away!

-R

Book Discussion–In the Pleasure Groove (Overall)

It is hard to believe that this series of discussions surrounding John Taylor’s autobiography is coming to an end.  When we started discussing the book back in October, I had no idea about how long it would take, what parts we would discuss and more.  I just knew that I couldn’t wait to hear what people had to say and to really focus on Mr. Taylor and his life.  Let me just say that I haven’t been disappointed by what came out of the book or our discussions.  I wished that more people would have jumped in to discuss but I’m thrilled by those comments and the people who made them.  I figured it might be good to do one more post to wrap up the book completely with some big discussion questions and to give our overall rating.

Many fans wanted to compare John’s book to Andy’s.  Thoughts about that?
A – I think it is inevitable for fans to compare the two books.  After all, they are both autobiographies from members of Duran Duran.  Yet, to me, they are two very different books.  First of all, the timing of them couldn’t be more different.  Andy wrote his pretty soon after he left the band whereas John wrote his in the middle of a Duran project.  This fact of timing, I’m sure, played a role in what was written and how it was written.  For example, John seemed very careful to be respectful of all people in his book and only shared what was pertinent to his story.  Andy, on the other hand, seemed, at times, to take some jabs at people when it wasn’t necessary or added information that didn’t fit.  Second, the book titles show the differences in perspectives.  Andy’s book is Wild Boy:  My Life in Duran Duran.  John’s is In the Pleasure Groove:  Love, Death and Duran Duran.  Andy’s book is mostly about his time in Duran, his experiences in the band.  On the other hand, Duran is just a PART of John’s story.  Duran isn’t the focus.  I’m sure that this may disappoint some readers.  I, on the other hand, appreciated it.  John is more than just the bass player for Duran Duran.  Likewise, I would have been happy if Andy’s had a broader scope as well.  After all, he, too, is more than the former guitarist. 
R – I don’t really know that I could have fairly compared the books other than what you’ve done right here, Amanda. I’ve seen people call Andy’s book anything and everything from “complete negativity and lies” to “the honest truth no current member of Duran Duran would ever admit”…so there you have it.  I’m not going to be a party to picking out the truths, half-truths or subtle innuendos that may or may not exist in either book, because each is THEIR story. Who am I to decide what is right or fair?  I’m glad both were written and I’m sure that for each of them – it is their truth.  One thing I will say: you can definitely hear the voices and personalities of each man in their books, which I think is something for which they should be commended.  So many autobiographies sound robot generated and unemotional at times, and that’s not something I would dare say about either book. I enjoyed both for completely different reasons, and I would expect that to be the case in any book by any band member. 

What themes could you pick out from John’s book?
A – It seems to me that there are a few themes in this book.  First, and I think John makes this very clear, if you were in his shoes, you might have made the same decisions that he did.  John faced some pretty unique life circumstances and made some good choices and some not good decisions.  The same can be said for ALL of us.  Yet, most of us did not experience the fame that he did.  Under those circumstances, our decisions might have been exactly like his.  Thus, we cannot and shouldn’t judge him.  Period.  A second theme is connected to the first one.  John clearly learned to accept himself and others.  Life is short.  No one is perfect and that really is okay.  Lastly, there is theme connected to the “pleasure groove”.  For some time, the pleasure groove might have meant sex and drugs.  Now, as it was back in the early years of his life, John’s pleasure groove definitely has to do with music.  He truly does love music and his entire life has been surrounded with it.
R –  Themes that I see played out throughout the book is that of love for his parents, learning to be Nigel, learning to deal with John, and learning to love – whether that is learning to love his band, himself, or his family.  While I did take note of the theme you mentioned, Amanda – the notion that had we been in his shoes we might have done the same – I don’t know that it was all that powerful for me personally. I think it’s part of the literary experience to read and feel emotion, and those emotions go into judgment making. I just think it feels far too preachy to say one shouldn’t judge him for the very actions he writes about. John makes a clear point of presenting many situations that might be viewed as negative and he lays them out for all to see – I think he expects a certain amount of judgment at times, which is why his book reads so honestly.  

How did John do in terms of pacing and what he included/did not include?
A – It seemed to me that John took a long time with his childhood and early Duran Duran.  The more recent years were not as well-covered.  Personally, I think that is how it should be.  Maybe this is the historian coming out in me but there is not as much perspective with recent events and can’t be, for anyone.  The full meaning of them and what is important and wasn’t isn’t is not well-known.  Yet, there is much more understanding about events and times decades ago.  Plus, those were the years and experiences that formed him as a person and as a rock star.  In order to understand his life, those years were the ones we needed to know.  Plus, from my stand point, the part that I loved the most was all of those chapters about John’s early life.  I had no real idea about so much of what he wrote about there.  Yet, a lot of the Duran stuff I felt like I knew and the recent stuff included a lot of what I have been a witness to, at least as a far removed fan.  I know that there are some people who are frustrated that John didn’t include much about his solo days or about his acting career.  Yet, I think it is fair for John to choose which events are important and which aren’t.  I’m sure that there were some choices that he had to make.  After all, the book was pretty long as is!
R – I learned the most about John’s childhood and about himself after rehab.  The mid-section of the book was interesting from a fan perspective but I really learned about who John Taylor really IS from the beginning and the end of the book.  I know most fans liked reading about his life in Duran and I’m not surprised.

What do you think of the book overall?
A – I knew that I needed to ask this question but I dreaded it, too.  How can I summarize my thoughts about the book in just a paragraph or a few sentences?  After all, there is so much that has been said and could be said.  I think I’ll keep it short and simple.  I loved the book.  LOVED it.  I loved gaining insight into John and his life.  I particularly loved the first part that covered life before Duran.  My respect for John increased from reading it.  After all, he is a great writer and, obviously, took such care in writing it.  Also, I think we can all respect what John has dealt with to become the person he is today.  He was open and honest, even when it clearly wasn’t easy for him.  I learned a lot about him but I felt like I learned some general life lessons about acceptance, about empathy, about being open.  I thank him for that gift.  My rating would definitely be a 5!
R – I enjoyed the book very much. I l learned a lot about John as a person – he’s so much more than the guy I’ve seen on page or in pictures.  I also learned a lot about the band in general – there is a lot more going on behind the scenes, so many more gears in the machine that make it run, than I ever really considered as a fan.  I have to thank John for being so incredibly open – I can’t imagine it was an easy book to write in that aspect, and he was brave to do so.  I have great respect for John, even when I call the band (or him) out on the carpet here on the blog from time to time.  I do feel that there are many more unspoken stories and tales he could have chosen to include, but I don’t believe the book is lacking for having not done so, if that makes sense.  I know he’s mentioned writing again – I really hope that when the time is write, he’ll consider the opportunity, and not because I think we need to know about Duran Duran, but because I think that John has more to tell of his own journey – but only if/when the time is right and the opportunity is presented. 


On that note, we close the book on John Taylor’s autobiography.  

-A 

Media Representation of Fandom: Bull Durham

It has been awhile since I wrote a post about media representation of fans so I figured it was time.  Plus, in my usual rebellious fashion, I figured it would be good to watch, write and talk about a movie on baseball on Superbowl Sunday.  You can guess that I won’t be tuned in to that tonight.  Football isn’t high on my list and it is even lower if the team I root for isn’t in it.  Back to the topic at hand, Bull Durham is a movie starring Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins.  The title comes from a minor league baseball team, the Durham Bulls, located in Durham, North Carolina.  The movie follows 2 minor league baseball players.  One player is at the beginning of his career with enough talent to be able to make it to the major leagues.  The other player is at the end of his career but can offer wisdom to the upcoming player.  Of course, these two also have to contend with Annie, a very knowledgeable woman and baseball fan, who chooses one player per season to hook up with.  Now, of course, you might all wonder how in the world this connects to fandom.  While it seems obvious to me that Annie represents the “groupie” as does another character, “Millie” whom Annie seems to be training/mentoring.  Annie loves the sport (she is a fan) and will go after one star player as does Millie.  They, generally, match the typical assumptions about groupies.

We have talked about groupies before on this blog.  Typically, groupies get defined as fans who offer sexual favors to their idols.  We have also talked about how it is often assumed that any female fan who follows her idol(s) is a groupie or wants to be groupie going after the ultimate autograph.  On top of these stereotypes, there are stereotypes about groupies, themselves.  Some of these stereotypes or assumptions include that these women (and they are almost always assumed to be women) are only there to have sex with the famous men and aren’t there because of the fandom.  They, in fact, don’t know or care about the fandom or anything really related to the fandom.  They aren’t there because they are fans.  Then, of course, is the assumption about what the ultimate goal is for groupies.  Some think groupies want to marry one of the subjects of their affection.  Others think that they just want the status of having sex with a long list of celebrities, as in the more celebrities, the better and the more famous the celebrities, the even better.  So, how does this movie show the fans/groupies in the movie?  Do they match the typical definition of groupies?  If so, then, how do they compare to the assumptions about groupies?

Do the female characters in the movie, Bull Durham, match the assumed definition of groupies?  They sure do.  Annie is very honest that she chooses one ball player a season to “hook up with”.  She points out that her role is to make them “feel confident”.  She is attracted to both the rising star and the experienced veteran.  The choice is made in the beginning of the season after she watches the players both on the field and off the field at a local restaurant/bar.  During this movie, she brings both the rising star, Nuke, and the veteran, Crash, back to her house to do an interview of sorts.  In this case, Crash leaves and says that he has been around too long to audition.  Thus, Annie chooses Nuke.  Meanwhile, Millie, the younger “groupie”, seems to be interviewing candidates as well.  In some cases, she tries them out like she did with Nuke before he got with Annie.  In other cases, she talks to the baseball players while they are sitting on the bench.  Eventually, she, too, settles on a religious ballplayer by the name of Jimmy.  These women do seem like groupies as they are focused on hooking up with a player or more.  Their worlds seem to be focused on this goal as we know nothing more about them. 

While these characters definitely seem to fit the idea of groupies, do they match the other assumptions about groupies?  In some ways, they do and, in other ways, they do not.  The first assumption about groupies is that they really don’t care about their fandom.  They know nothing and don’t need to know anything.  They only focus on getting the guys into bed.  Annie and Millie do not match this assumption at all.  First of all, Annie is definitely a fan.  We know this right away when she starts talking about how the only church she goes to is the church of baseball.  She mentions that baseball feeds her soul.  Later in the movie, Nuke decides to refrain from having sex to keep his winning streak.  Annie’s reaction to this is mixed as she loves that the team is playing well but the other part of her misses having a man in her bed.  The second assumption is that “groupies” don’t know anything about whatever their fandom is.  Thus, if they are music groupies, they know nothing about music.  In this case, the groupies wouldn’t know anything baseball.  This is definitely not the case as Annie often gives lessons to the players about what they need to do or what they need to do differently and when the players listen to the advice, they do better.  Both Millie and Annie watch the games, intensely, and even take down statistics while there. 

What is the goal for these female characters?  It doesn’t seem obvious.  Annie, in particular, seems very content to live her life as she always has.  The only reason that might change is because this particular season does not go according to plan as the one player she chose resists her half way through the season and the other player still interests her.  Millie, on the other hand, does seem happy to follow in Annie’s footsteps but is pretty happy to marry one of the players.  This assumption that groupies are after a commitment from the idol matches as Millie marries her hookup. 

The movie, Bull Durham, definitely shows baseball “groupies”.  On one hand, it is nice to see fandom, of sorts, shown in sports.  On the other hand, the focus is on “groupies”.  These fans are focused on having sex with the subjects of their fandom.  While they are true fans of baseball and know a lot about it, their focus isn’t on cheering the team.  These female fans couldn’t be just fans of the game.  Nope, they had to be groupies.  Now, of course, I realize that there is supposed to be a sort of love story within the movie, but that love story could have taken place without having Annie be a “groupie”.  She could have just been a knowledgeable, dedicated fan.  Obviously, some may argue that Annie’s character is one of a strong woman who goes after what/who she wants and that she isn’t following society’s expectations of womanhood.  I won’t argue against that.  I will also point out that the assumptions about “groupies” absolutely are tied to women’s rights and society’s expectations of women.  Yet, my goal here isn’t to focus on the larger issue of sexism but to examine how the fans are shown.  In this case, the fans probably had to be groupies in order to make the storyline work.  I get that, but I do wish that they could have just been fans.  Annie could have been a strong woman and baseball fans without being a “groupie”.

-A

Try to Explain It…

On Monday, we wrap up our discussion on John’s book.  I enjoyed writing about his book and reading what other people thought.  Even more than that, though, I liked being able to read carefully and think about what was written.  When I first got the book, I read it very, very quickly in something like 12 hours with a few breaks within those hours.  I couldn’t put it down.  The book discussion allowed me to take the time to savor every word, every page.  Now, I realize that I’m not all that typical in that I enjoy diving deep into a topic, that I like to analyze.  I can blame my family for that and my college education.  That said, I have been surprised to read that there are many fans, including many John Taylor fans, who haven’t read it.  In many cases, they own the book, but haven’t read it.  In some cases, they even went to signings and still haven’t read it.  I am not sure why they haven’t.  I could make some guesses but I’m hoping that people will explain it to me. 

Do I own books that I have not read?  Of course.  I have a long list of books I want to get through.  Why don’t I?  Well, like many of you, time isn’t always available to read.  For me, I often have to stop reading things I want to read and read for work.  That said, when I squeeze in time after reading things that I have to read, I read things I want to read first.  Logical, huh?  Obviously, when John’s book came out, everything else got pushed behind.  His book was most important.  Not only was it important because Rhonda and I planned to discuss it but because I wanted to read about his life.  I wanted a better sense of who he is and what he thinks and feels.  To me, that is my fan side coming out.  I long to know as much as I can.  I was never satisfied with just looking at the pictures in magazines–not even as a kid.  I wanted to know who John Taylor was as a person, not a pin-up.  As I have grown older, getting a glimpse into John’s personality has been even more of the focus.  When I buy a magazine with him in it, it isn’t for the pictures anymore.  It is for the article.  If I get excited for new interview, you can imagine that I could barely contain myself when the book was released.  Heck, Rhonda and I were so impatient that we downloaded copies from Amazon UK as it was released earlier in the UK than it was here.  All of this said, I definitely realize that not everyone expressing their fandom in the same way.  Maybe there are people who don’t want to know as much about John as a person or worried about reading the book.

John’s life, as we all know, wasn’t always pretty.  He, like the rest of us, made some mistakes.  Unlike the rest of us, he experienced tremendous fame and fortune, which allowed different kinds of mistakes than what some of us might make in our lives.  Perhaps, some fans didn’t want to read about his less than positive choices.  We all know that John had to deal with addiction.  Maybe drug use bothers some fans.  Likewise, he didn’t exactly stick to one woman in the 1980s.  He had a lot of attention from a lot of people.  Maybe, that part would bother people.  In fairness, though, I have to say that John dealt with both topics of sex and drugs, tastefully.  He was honest and forthcoming but didn’t overdo it or go into unnecessary detail.  He said enough for us to understand.  Nonetheless, while those topics do not bother me, I understand that they do others.  Maybe, some fans were worried that reading the book would show John in a way in which they would lose respect for him or think less of him.  Everyone wants to keep their idol as their idol.  I get that.  Again, though, I have to reassure people who haven’t read it yet.  Everyone I know who has read it feels MORE respect and admiration for John, not less. 

Obviously, though, the people going to one of John’s book talks and signings had to know that they couldn’t avoid some of those tougher topics.  They knew that he might read about them or might be asked questions about them.  For those fans, then, it couldn’t be that they didn’t want to know the darker side to John or his life.  Maybe it was that they were willing to listen to them in order to do what…meet him, be in the same room with him?  I don’t know.  Help me out here.  Maybe they didn’t want to read the book until after hearing the book talk.  Maybe they didn’t want to be spoiled?  Yet, from what I have seen, a number of people who went to signings still haven’t read it. 

My point in this post isn’t to judge.  I honestly want to understand why some people have chosen not to read it.  After all, my big focus is fandom and understanding it.  In particular, I want to understand our fandom.  Some of us read the book immediately and have read it a few times now.  Others haven’t.  I know why I read it immediately and I’m just guessing as to why others haven’t.  At the same time, I also want to encourage those who haven’t read it to do so.  If you are a John Taylor fan, the book will make you more of a fan.  Trust me. 

-A

Buried in the Sand

Fandom is fun.  Fandom is an escape.  Fandom is supposed to include inside jokes among fellow fans and excitement over a new product.  Right?  Right.  It is.  A lot of times, that is exactly what is like in Duranland.  Sometimes, it isn’t, though.  Sometimes, it feels not fun.  It doesn’t feel like an escape.  It feels…tough.  There are a variety of reasons why some days, some weeks are challenging and anything but fun in this fandom.  One reason might be concern over the health and well-being of a band member.  I know we all felt that in recent years when shows were canceled due to ill health.  Another reason might be when fans go after each other in either very subtle ways or very overt ways.  The less fun days might happen when people are disappointed in a new song, video, or other product.  Then, some days, are a combination of two or more of these reasons.  This past week, it seemed to me that Duranland was less than fun as a new Katy Kafe came out with John Taylor.  As we all know this particular Kafe caused quite a few reactions within our little universe.  Then, fans reacted to other people’s reactions.  Heck, we even saw some of this on our blog here.  My reaction?  It was simple.  I avoided.

I’ll be honest here.  I haven’t listened to it yet.  I could give a ton of excuses, including that grades were due, 2 papers and a presentation needed to be done for the last of my graduate class and parent-teacher conferences (Yay for having those all done!).  Those are all true.  They are good excuses.  Yet, as we all know, if you really want something, you do it.  You find a way, if there is any way possible.  How long is a typical Kafe?  20 minutes?  30 minutes?  I could certainly find 30 minutes in my schedule to listen to it and if I couldn’t, then I am sure that I could find 5 minutes at a time to listen to it.  Thus, my excuses are just that…excuses.  So, why haven’t I listened to it?

It is simple.  I wanted to bury my head in the sand.  I wanted fandom to be fun and an escape.  Clearly, this Kafe was anything but.  I am willing to bet that everyone thought that even those who didn’t think John sounded “off” or agreed with his thinking.  After all, it led a number of fans, including my partner-in-crime to have a critical reaction to, at least, some parts of it.  Thus, even those fans who liked the Kafe and agreed with John’s perspective had to see/hear/deal with people that didn’t.  Right then and there, the fun is gone.  Now, before I go any further, I have to be clear.  I don’t want Duranland to be filled with a bunch of people who just always agree.  I don’t want it to be a place where everyone just thinks that everything is great.  No way.  That would be boring.  I am just pointing out that…sometimes…a little more fun and a little more escape would be good.  For me.

Of course, there is another possible reason that I wanted to buy my head in the sand.  This reason is also rather simple.  I didn’t/don’t want to be disappointed.  After all, I’m a pretty big John Taylor fan, which I think is pretty clear by many/most of blog posts.  Lately, he seemed to be doing everything “right” meaning that I didn’t hear too many, if any, criticisms about him.  Yeah, yeah, I know that there is always some muttering on Twitter if he hasn’t tweeted in like 5 hours or something (yes, I’m exaggerating!).  Yet, those critical tweets can be easily dismissed by me.  The book, the book signings, and even the summer shows increased my positive thoughts about the guy, if that was possible.  I also saw others’ respect and admiration for him grow.  I couldn’t help but to think to myself, “Wow.  People are starting to get it.  They are seeing the John Taylor I have always seen,” (from my I really don’t know the guy but think I kinda do goofy fan perspective).  That John Taylor wasn’t based on his looks but based on the kind of person he appeared to be.  Thus, I didn’t want people’s opinion of him be diminished and I didn’t want mine either.  Yet, in the long run, this is probably a good reminder that he, like everyone, is human and is not perfect. 

Fandom is a funny deal.  I always compare fandom to a love affair.  In the beginning, there is only roses, only beauty, only joy.  Nothing imperfect can be seen.  Then, as the relationship settles in, it becomes clear that there are imperfections.  The person you have fallen for might have bad habits or might not handle certain situations in the best way possible.  At times, you try to ignore those not-so-good aspects or moments.  At other times, you confront them.  Yet, if the relationship is to endure, acceptance of the other person needs to happen.  Acceptance of all the great qualities and acceptance of the not-so-great ones.  We, as fans, need to do the same.  We need to remember that the members of Duran Duran are just like us.  They are going to do or say things we love a lot of the time.  They might do or say things that we don’t.  They are human and so are we.  Our reactions, actions or statements might not always be what they should be either.  That said, while we accept them, we can and should be critical.  We are fans.  We are not unthinking robots who just blindly accept all statements and behaviors.  While we have emotions regarding our fandom, we still are rational, thinking people.  

It feels to me that I’m ready to go ahead and listen to it.  Will I be disappointed in him?  Maybe.  Will I say so?  Sure.  I’ll be honest.  Will I decide to go ahead and accept him as a human who isn’t always perfect?  Almost 3 decades of fandom says that I probably will.  This is the reality of life in Duranland.  It isn’t always perfect.  Some days that are great are so great that they leave you on such a life that can last hours, days, weeks and even months.  Other days are hard to get through, but we do in order to have those great days, right?

-A

The Wonderful World of B-Sides

By C.K Shortell
When asked which Duran Duran songs were his favorite, Simon famously compared them to his children, claiming that he simply could not choose one over the others.  While this is both understandable and a little disappointing (You’re sick of Hungry Like the Wolf! Admit it, Simon!), it’s also slightly deceiving. The band does, in fact, pick favorites when it comes to their songs. They choose which songs to include on the album and which to leave for b-sides.  That is the focus of today’s topic: that body of work that falls under the nebulous heading of “non-album” tracks.
I use the term “non-album” to refer to b-sides, demos, leaked songs, and yes, even tracks that appear on special editions of albums. Basically, any song that’s “out there” and not on the physical copy of the basic, non-special edition of the CD is fair game for this analysis. However, I’m going to exclude remixes and live versions – just looking for separate, unique songs that the band decided, for whatever reason, to not include on the CD. To make this more interesting, let’s not only choose a b-side that should have made the final album, but also justify which song it would replace. Rather than go in chronological order, I’ll get us started with some of the most egregious examples of songs that ended up on the cutting room floor.
Beautiful Colours (2004, Astronaut): They say never make assumptions – but I have to assume anyone reading this blog has heard this song. It was leaked with some other demos in 2003, and the band played it live on the 2003-2004 tours. It was the subject of an “Ask Katy” in which Simon testily (if that’s possible to convey via the written word) claimed the song “was unfinished”. In fact, Beautiful Colors has been the subject of several Ask Katy Q&A’s:  http://www.duranduran.com/wordpress/index.php?s=Beautiful+Colours&cat=12
At odds with the band’s insistence that the song is “unfinished” is the announcement that they allowed the song to be used as part of a special video clip at The FIFA 100 Charity Auction & Tribute Ceremony on March 4, 2004:  http://www.duranduran.com/wordpress/page/2/?s=Beautiful+Colours&cat=6
So, in summary: Stop asking Duran about “Beautiful Colours” because it’s not finished, it’s not going to be on the album, but FIFA can use it, and the band will promote the fact that FIFA is using it.  But it’s unfinished.
I’m not trying to pick on the band. Well, maybe a little. I think the song does need some work – the lyrics on the studio version I have and a bootleg from one of the UK shows are different, and the bridge feels like it could use a better guitar solo. But with whatever warts it has, Beautiful Colours is a great piece of music. It’s the perfect marriage of Andy’s guitar and Nick’s synths. The bass and drums powerfully drive the song to that lush chorus. As I always qualify, I’m not a musician so forgive these amateur descriptions.  But if there was a 21st century example of the “powerful dance music” that Duran Duran set out to create in 1981, Beautiful Colours is it.
Most importantly, for the purposes of this discussion, it quite simply is better (in my humble opinion) than most of the songs that made the cut on Astronaut. I would have put it as the opening, or at worst, 2nd track after Sunrise, and bumped everything else down by one, and probably sent Point of No Return into the b-side netherworld.
Salt in the Rainbow (2004, Astronaut): This isn’t a “let’s pick on Astronaut” day at the blog (maybe it should be?) but “Salt in the Rainbow” is a ballad in the classic tradition of Duran’s slower songs that dates back to Save a Prayer and The Seventh Stranger.  As with Beautiful Colours, it too feels unfinished in places. I’m not a fan of that echo effect just before the third verse, and Simon’s voice sounds slightly off during the chorus (nothing that can’t be fixed during production!).  But this is a beautiful song that should have seen the light of day.  to stick to the rules I laid out at the beginning of this blog, I would have included this on Astronaut and dumped….Bedroom Toys. (And thus saved the lives of countless rubber chickens in 2004-05)
Fallen Angel (1993, The Wedding Album): I really liked The Wedding Album (and still do!). And I also enjoyed the concept of a b-side, with the possibility that I could pick up a cassette or CD single and the band would put a really good non-album track on it to make it worth my while. That being said, I need to invoke the most over-used comeback of 2012: Really? (Again, for effect!) Really guys?  You hide this on one of 2 CD singles for “Come Undone”? Fallen Angel is easily better than half of the songs on TWA (specifically: Drowning Man, Shotgun, Sin of the City, To Whom it May Concern, Femme Fatale, UMF, and on certain days, Breath after Breath). I love it on so many levels; it tells a story, it’s very raw – you can actually hear and distinguish every instrument; it has that classic Simon on Simon harmony (“dangle in the blue”).  I almost wonder if it would have been a better 3rd single than Too Much Information?  Regardless, it should have been on The Wedding Album.
 
Secret Oktober (1983, Seven and the Ragged Tiger): I think this is probably one of the most famous Duran Duran b-sides for a number of reasons: It was released on the height of their popularity during the “classic” ’81-’85 era; it’s markedly different from the album it supports (at least superficially – more on that in a minute), and it’s got a cool name. The story behind this song was that the record label needed a b-side for Union of the Snake. Since SATRT only had 4 songs on it, (I kid, I kid – they actually hadn’t finished writing the album yet), Simon and Nick, along with producer Alex Sadkin, had to come up with something new. Secret Oktober was recorded over a 24 hour period, just barely meeting the deadline. (One would have hoped that Mr. Rhodes saw that great music can actually be made when written and recorded quickly….but apparently that wasn’t the case). For a summary of the various Ask Katy’s on Secret Oktober, see the following link:
As noted above, the song’s slower, haunting tempo, driving by Nick’s synths, is in contrast to the largely bubble-gum pop that would occupy much of SATRT. But as Amanda and Rhonda have discussed recently, many of the lyrics on that album are about loneliness, wanting to “get off the ride”, and the band dealing with the pressure of their fame. Simon talks of smiling
“as the butterfly escapes the killing jar”, which is an allusion to both the pressure and public scrutiny facing the band. In this regard then, Secret Oktober is very much in step with the songs on SATRT. (It’s also a precursor to the moody Arcadia project). Rules are meant to be broken, so I’m going to break mine and not swap Secret Oktober with any song on SATRT. Besides, it just feels wrong messing with the early albums. I tend to agree with the band when they say that maybe the song is all the more special because it “escaped” being on the album (see link above for that reference).  Ultimately, if I were to include it on SATRT, I would put it after Crime and Passion, as either the closing song to the A side or the leading song of side B.  (Those pesky cassettes and their running times!)
I Believe/All I Need to Know (1988, Big Thing): Is it me, or do some albums/eras produce a ton of non-album tracks, while others produce very little? This falls into the latter category as the lone b-side from the Big Thing era (the Krush Brothers LSD edit notwithstanding!). One thing I miss about the pre-CD era is the distinctive nature that different sides of albums had (the topic for another blog, come to think of it!).  Nowhere is this more pronounced in the Duran catalogue than on Big Thing, which involved two different producers and, basically, a “fast”, up-tempo dance side and a slower second side. I Believe bridges the gap between these disparate portions of the album – I think it could fit on either side and not feel out of place. Ultimately, though, I know exactly how I would include this: I would eliminate the song Big Thing, bump every other song up one place and put I Believe after Drug. (And thus create 25 years of people trying to figure out why the heck the album was called Big Thing.)
Cry Baby Cry (2007, Red Carpet Massacre): I realize this was not hidden on some CD single, but available to anyone who bought the iTunes version of the album. That being said, my feelings on this song are best expressed via the type of analogy you would find on the SATs: Cry Baby Cry is to Red Carpet Massacre what Fallen Angel is to The Wedding Album.  Or simply put, WTF people?!?!?!? How is this not the 3rd or 4th song on the first side? Or even a single? This one has John written all over it – as if he dragged Roger and Dom and the others into another room and surreptitiously recorded this while Timbaland was trying to figure out the bridge to Nite Runner. Let me give you the songs I think are better than Cry Baby Cry: Falling Down, The Valley (live version only)….Box Full of Honey (only on certain days)…(silence). Maybe She’s Too Much every now and then. (more silence). Did I miss any? This is a great song that I would kill to hear the band play live; I picture John with that rapturous “it’s all about the music” look on his face playing this.
 
My Family (1990, Liberty):  Liberty didn’t have to be the misfire that almost ended the band’s career.  The Liberty Demos bootleg, aptly titled “Didn’t anybody tell you” (after the chorus of “My Family”) reveals an energetic and fun album in the making.  Several tracks failed to make the cut and “My Family” is by far the highlight.  A fun dance song with a catchy chorus, it easily would have been the 3rd or 4th best track on the album.  I’m not saying that it would have completely salvaged “Liberty” but at the very least, “My Family” would be in the same category as “Serious” and “My Antarctica” as great songs on an otherwise disappointing album.
 
This list merely scratched the surface.  What songs do you think the band should have included on various albums?  And what should have been dropped?
C.K. Shortell is a lifelong Duran Duran fan who lives in the northeast with his wife and two sons, one of whom loves watching concert footage of the band.  When he’s not struggling to explain to a two year old why the guitarist always looks different or just what exactly Nick is doing, C.K. is constantly reminding co-workers and friends that the band never broke up.    


She’s an Author, She’s a Duranie…She’s Karen Booth!

Anyone who understands the most basic reasons behind the existence of Daily Duranie should recognize that Amanda and I love being fans. Yes, we love being fans of the band. That should be obvious by now. More importantly…and no offense intended to the band…we have thoroughly enjoyed meeting fellow fans along the way, and in turn that has enhanced our fan experience. One personal goal of mine in the past several months has been to try to somehow spotlight fans in the community that have taken the enthusiasm and interest that they’ve had as fans and somehow transformed that into a career. One of the people I’ve met along the way also happens to be a published author, which for me, equates to being heroic! Not only is Karen Booth an author, but she is also a Duranie and…I’m proud to say she is my friend. Karen agreed to be my second guinea pig for an interview, and after doing some chatting…after all, we are friends…we got down to business. 
January 20th saw the release of a new book written by Karen. Bring Me Back is a novel about a single 40-something journalist named Claire who just happens to have a favorite band in her past. Claire has a daughter she has raised alone, she has a career, and now she’s facing the opportunity of a lifetime to interview the bass player of her dreams. Simply put, the book asks the question “What would happen if someone you idolized in your adolescence poked his/her head up out of the sand 20 years later into your own life? What would you do? How would that relationship look?”

As Karen puts it, “I do think there are a lot of different things that women in their 30s and 40s can relate to, whether it’s related to motherhood or career or love. I did like the idea that Christopher had lived in her head that whole time—even the years when she didn’t give him a thought, he was still there. So how does this person you were once obsessed with suddenly pop back into your head?”

I can probably speak for all of us with wide-eyed innocence, “Gosh, I have no idea!” The curious thing is that one might assume the reunion – Duran Duran’s reunion of the “Fab Five” that is – spurned the writing of this book.

“Totally accidental”, Karen replies. “In fact, I didn’t start revisiting the band until the first draft was done. It wasn’t like I was listening to Duran the whole time I was writing it, not at all.”

Karen finally gave into the urge to put the story on paper after overseeing her family’s home rebuilt after a fire in the summer of 2008.

“After we were back in our house, kids settled, everything was furnished, I was sort of like ‘Now what?’ So I decided that I would do something for myself and TRY to write this book. I didn’t tell anybody, I just sat down and started writing. I fully expected I would get stuck after a dozen pages or so, but the exact opposite happened. It was like discovering this whole new part of me that I didn’t even know existed. Awakening a sleeping giant, if you will.”

Yeah…I wouldn’t know anything about that at all, right?

Perhaps this sounds a lot like fan fiction. So many fans have written of similar fantasies – one of those “chance meetings” after many years. Bring Me Back isn’t fan fiction though, as Karen puts me straight, “it is it’s own story, far outside the band. The (Duran Duran) reunion was a happy surprise for me.”

I agree. While there might be elements of, say, certain band members we might all recognize, and perhaps tidbits that a fan may find familiar, Christopher Penman is his own man…although we can all certainly wish to see a bit of ourselves in Claire.

Karen expands on this, “I think it’s a case of being able to make it whatever you want it to be. I want the reader to feel the thrill that Claire gets from the experience, but it still belongs to Claire.  She is the one who Christopher falls for.” 

In many cases, fan fiction is different in that respect.  Often (but not always) it is written in such an way that any fan could find herself (or himself) in the role of female role (or male role, should that be the case).  Even as I read this book, although I might have chuckled in delight or smiled at the excitement that Claire felt, I never felt as though I was supposed to “be” Claire. The story belongs to Claire. Even so, I felt as though I needed to ask if Karen was a fan fiction aficionado.

 “I’ve read one or two Twilight fan fiction pieces, but they were written by people who are both fan and writer. Actually, my daughter has written fan fiction about some of the Japanese boy bands that she likes, I’ve read those.”

The bottom line is that while the premise of the book is loosely based on a similar thread as the fandom that many of us have experienced for Duran Duran, only the most detail-oriented of fans will catch some of the morsels of fandom that is sewn with love into fabric of the story. One of the things I enjoyed most in the book was recognizing those small little “Easter Eggs”.

On a personal note, I read the book in one sitting. I couldn’t put the book down, to be honest. Karen perks up whenever she hears that (and I happen to know she’s gotten a lot of very nice reviews and comments on Amazon!),

“That’s been so much fun this week, getting tweets and emails from people as they spot the little Duranie moments in the book. This is the first time I’ve had a book instantly resonate with readers. The fact that people bought it the day it came out and were reading it in a single sitting just blows me away. It makes me really happy, but I never expected that. The thing is, I wrote a book I wanted to read, and I think that’s part of the reason that it resonates with people, that people have a hard time putting it down. I wrote for myself, which makes me a part of my audience – it’s all very natural.” 

Let’s just be honest, shall we? Who would NOT want to be the female main character in this book? Most fans – of any kind (Look away, members of Duran Duran, look away!!) – have moments of fantasy like this at some point. 

Exactly!” Karen continues, “That was it – make this dream scenario, make it as real as possible, hopefully put the reader as close as possible to the woman who gets to live it.”  So how did the idea for the book come about?  Well, as some of the best books happen…it came in a dream. “The premise did come from a dream that I had about JT, a dream that I had as an adult and as a fan who was definitely removed from the band at that point. I had an 18-month old. I’d been out of music for a while.”

When Karen says she’d been “out of music for a while”…she speaks the truth. This is no ordinary Duranie. Oh no. This woman had a career in the music industry at one point. She knows what goes on backstage, and sadly from what I’ve been told, it’s not nearly as glamorous as I’d hoped! Alas…   Karen was gainfully employed after college at Twin/Tone Records in Minnesota as an intern. Eventually met her husband, who was also working in the industry, and moved on to Mammoth Records in North Carolina. 

Karen says, “I did everything there – marketing, website development, merchandising, but the job I held the longest was Film and Television licensing.” 

As a result, Karen has seen the underbelly of the industry, something that normal fans probably don’t have the opportunity to witness.  Motherhood brought a major career change for Karen, along with what most moms know to be an identity crisis.

“…none of our friends had kids and my girlfriends still had their jobs or careers and I was staying home with our daughter.” I can relate to this 100%. “No one tells you how boring it can be, and that sounds awful, but there are only so many hours a grown woman can play Barbies.”  

AMEN.

This was the first book Karen’s that she completed, although it is the fourth published. What continues to fascinate me about Karen is that she is also a writer of “Romantica”, a cross between Romance and Erotica – get it? Karen seems so normal, and yet there’s this whole side of her that has no trouble spending hours perfecting the description of a hand job or even a shower scene. I feel as though I should high-five her for such triumphs, but that might be creepy and/or weird, and I really like Karen…so I stick to the basics. I asked if she hopes to write more in this genre and less Romantica.

“I would prefer to write books like Bring Me Back because I like the idea of borrowing from different genres. I enjoy writing the steamier books as well, but writing sex scenes is incredibly taxing on the brain.”

Oh, I’ll just bet. I would imagine it’s akin to breaking each movement down into tiny processes. Takes the organic nature right out of it, and we just can’t have that, can we?

“It’s so much harder than people realize and there are a lot of guidelines you have to follow. Interesting that sometimes people view writing more of a sexual nature to be a ‘lesser art form’, but it’s incredibly difficult.”

I’m still stuck on the whole “guidelines” comment – I mean, who knew that there were actually rules and guidelines to writing about sex, but I shake myself out of my own head in time to ask if that makes Romantica more difficult than the genre of Bring Me Back…which really doesn’t fit into any one specific genre. 

“Romantica stories are shorter, so in some ways that’s easier. I guess the thing that is rewarding for me about writing a book like Bring Me Back is adding the layers to the story, the small threads that run throughout the book. I always enjoy that when I’m reading, and that’s why I like to do it when I write.”

The most exciting part of this interview, well, for me anyway, was hearing that she’s writing a SEQUEL.

“I have outlined the sequel and contracted it. It will come out in February of 2014.”  

This is great news for me, as I’ve sat up during certain times in the middle of the night when I should be sleeping and thought, “Gosh, I wonder what Christopher Penman is up to? Will Banks Forest ever come out with another album? Has he married Claire?” Now you all know when I come up with some of my more stranger blog ideas…. I can’t wait to read the sequel, and part of me wonders (the really sick and twisted part) if Karen’s new book will come out before Duran Duran’s next album.  Hmm.

I think you all know where I’d bet my money.
-R

January Katy Kafe Time!

I love it when I’m surprised by something that answers the question “What will I blog about today?” That happened this morning when I was greeted with the news that January’s edition of the Katy Kafe was up on DDM for our listening pleasure. So I did what anyone only this half of Daily Duranie would do – I set my youngest up with cartoons, grabbed my earbuds and spent 20 minutes listening and making notes!

I’m going to be straight-up here. John sounded very relaxed, if not almost bored and just a touch annoyed that he was in the Kafe. Maybe he was. Maybe the Kafe is an annoying thing to him when he’s supposed to be taking his part of a long holiday away from Duran Duran. I don’t know…I can only comment on what I heard. That said, we all have moods, and I have no idea what is going on in his life. I think about the crazy things that go on in this house while I’m trying to blog on any given day – and it’s a miracle I don’t have a camera or recorder following me around. No one needs to see or hear that!

Katy begins the Kafe by asking about a movie that John hasn’t seen, so she quickly has to move on to talk about In the Pleasure Groove. It is being released in Holland, Denmark and Brazil in the coming months, and so Katy asked if he was going to be doing signings and things in those places. John was fairly blunt and said he really wasn’t up for that. Now, I suppose you can take that as a dejected comment, but I did not. I think that John explained it very well by saying that he feels as though the project is finished – I can understand that.  When it’s done, it’s done. I think the past year had John putting himself “out there” in ways he never has before (and in fact he mentions that in the Kafe), and I think the project did exactly what he needed it to do, and he very clearly feels a sense of closure. From what I understand, the same thing happens when a band tours an album. Sure, fans could want bands to tour forever, but I think there must come a time when a band crosses that line from wanting to do it to being told they have to do it – and that’s when complaints start coming about how a band seems more machine-like than human-like. There is a balance to be met and maintained. Katy asks John if he’d ever write again, and I thought his response was very interesting because John says that towards the end of last year he was really thinking about doing a volume 2 (of sorts) to the book, but he’s since shelved that idea….at least for this year. He followed that up with explaining that he wants to keep his energy for the new music.  I can understand that, and maybe in a couple of years he’ll be ready for that next book. I think putting a few years between yourself and those books will help as well, and maybe more of a story will unfold. The one thing I’ve learned as I continue writing is that the best blogs and chapters happen when you simply LET them happen. I’ve found that at least for me, I can’t force the words – nothing good happens if I’m forcing them. John talks about how you have to truly commit yourself to that hard work, and he’s right. Just ask Amanda and I about that – we don’t have the capacity to ONLY write or ONLY blog, and as a result, we have a tough time getting started – the book writing in particular seems to come in spurts, which we both recognize is detrimental, but we do what we can. It sounds as though John recognizes that he can’t commit to everything, and as much as I would love to see him write again, his reasons for not doing it right now make perfect sense.

John spoke a little bit about the work he did for Koshii & Hush. I always smile when John talks about his singing because one of the first things he typically does is qualify that he is not a lead singer. Personally, I think he has improved so much on his vocals and he doesn’t give himself enough credit – but John has this sort of self-depricating way about him at times that is charming and humble enough to make me grin. Apparently I’ve been missing out on listening to some great remixes. Admittedly – I have such a difficult time with remixes. There are way too many of them, and a lot of the time they tend to be so repetitive that I find them boring. So I usually ignore them. John has a tough time with remixes too, but for a completely different reason. “Normally the first thing to go is the bass….” I had to laugh. He’s so right, and I’ve never thought of it that way. In this case though, he’s the lead vocalist, and he mentioned that now he sees why Simon might like them, because you can’t really “get rid” of the singer, can you? So each remix brings a completely different light into the song. I’m going to have to check some of them out – apparently there are four out there to find!

I know what all of you are most curious about…it’s one of two things…and fear not, John talks about both touring AND the new album. As all of us are aware, the good stuff starts in March when they head back into the studio with Mark Ronson. John was funny because he was saying that you can’t really go into the studio with an agenda of what type of album you want to record because you would be fighting everyone else to get that agenda through and it’s more difficult. I would imagine it really stops the entire process from being organic and sustaining in it’s own way. Then he began to say that he had no idea where they would be going with this album, and then stopped himself and chuckled, “I say I have no idea but I have a pretty good idea. I mean, this album isn’t going to be jazz!” I have to say that throughout the entire Kafe, this was the point where John started to brighten a bit, and I wouldn’t be one-half of Daily Duranie if I didn’t wonder why. I must admit, I’m glad he sounded at least halfway interested in the studio, otherwise I probably would have come away from the Kafe being much more concerned. I keep reminding myself that we’re all moody though…

One quote I loved from John here that I must share, “Friendships really express themselves well when we make music.” That’s beautiful.

I daresay that none of us should be packing our bags getting ready for a road trip any time soon. In almost a complete 180 degree turn from what he said in the Fall, John announces that he’s not in a rush to get back on the road again. (I hear ALL of you sighing dejectedly out there. I know.)  He spoke a bit on how in order to build up a media demand, they need to back off. I have to say that from my point of view – this sounds like a load of crap. Just as we’ve always done here, we’re honest and when I feel like I need to call someone on the carpet, I will. Band member or not…I’m a fan, not a lackey, and I refuse to just sprinkle sunshine and roses when I’m feeling like a hailstorm is brewing. To begin with, this band is not the Rolling Stones. I’m sorry, but they’re not (and I’m happy about that!)…waiting a few years to go on tour isn’t going to suddenly make Duran Duran into the Rolling Stones, either.  Yet that is exactly who John cites when he talks about needing to create a media demand. OK, I understand that part of the reason for touring is to get the good word out there, but the media isn’t who buys your albums. The one thing that John said that does make sense though is that they want it to be a case where they want to tour, not one where they have to tour.  He is correct when he says that he knows for some people – we want them to be on the road all the time, but it’s just not reality. I suppose that’s true, but I have to admit that I hope John gets a bit of an attitude adjustment in the next several weeks heading into March, because he sure doesn’t sound much like the fired-up and fan-sensitive John Taylor that I liked last year.

I had heard that EMI was divesting itself a few months back and wondered what might happen to the band’s early catalog. Apparently, I’m not the only one left wondering. John mentioned that they are waiting to hear where their back catalog that EMI owned ends up, and then intimated that the band would be interested in signing back with a label again – preferably the one with that catalog. Now, keeping in mind that I have no experience with label contracts or the business-end (not much, anyway)…I just have to wonder what exactly is to be gained from signing with yet another label. Have they really had much luck with that since EMI?? Remind me again?? Call me a loudmouthed skeptic (it’s true), but I’ve seen very, very few artists do well under a label. Sure, you can name some. So can I. Duran isn’t one of them, and hasn’t been in decades. That’s right, I said it…decades. This has absolutely NOTHING to do with the band and everything to do with labels themselves. It’s a numbers game that the industry itself can’t even support these days. I’ll go one further and say I don’t think there’s any way to actually fix the industry. It’s imploded from within and no one, least of all me, has real answers on how to make it work again. Why on earth the band would want to be under the constraints of another label contract is beyond me, if for no other reason than because I would think they would enjoy being free to create what they wish to create.  Although if it is as John says, where the label is really into it…well…time will really tell, won’t it?

Lastly, they talk a bit about John’s upcoming award from Writers in Treatment. This happens on February 15, and aside from John downplaying the award by saying it’s a bit like being rewarded for fucking up (His words, not mine!), I think it’s a wonderful honor. Not all that many people are able to recover and then tell about it, and I happen to know that he has reached out to more than one person who needed help getting started with their own recovery. Yes John Taylor, you deserve an award. Suck it up and take it like a man. We’re proud of you.

I have to say, part of me wants to kick John’s skinny little behind just a bit. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something about this Kafe just sounded off. Maybe John was sick. Maybe he was in a bad mood. Maybe he’s like anyone else, he’s enjoying his vacation away from being “John Taylor of Duran Duran” and isn’t quite ready to get back into the swing of it. He doesn’t need my permission, but it would be fair and justified…..and maybe I’m just reading crap into things. Judging from my Twitter feed this morning, I am not the only one thinking all of this. All I can really say is that if someone needs me to head on over to the Hollywood Hills to get a fire lit under him and restore some enthusiasm to the situation, I will take one for the team. *sigh* It’s a rough job, but if it needs to be done…

-R

Book Discussion—In the Pleasure Groove (Chapters 73-74)

Today marks the end of our discussion of the specific chapters in John Taylor’s autobiography, In the Pleasure Groove.  I, for one, am a little sad to be getting to the end of this book discussion as it has good to really read John’s book, think about it and discuss it.  Before the discussion really ends, we finish the book this week and discuss the book, overall, next week.  These chapters focus on the years 2003-2011.  During this time, Duran released three albums, including Astronaut, Red Carpet Massacre and All You Need Is Now.  John, personally, experienced the declining health and death of his father.  On that somber note, please, grab a beverage, read up and join in on the discussion.

Chapter 73:  Learning to Survive
What was your reaction to John’s brief discussion of Andy and Dom?
A – Like everyone else, I wondered if John would discuss Andy and Dom.  Obviously, he acknowledged that things did not work out with Andy due to “differences” but he did not go further.  I am glad that he didn’t say more.  He did not use this book as an opportunity to bash Andy or criticize him.  He wasn’t harsh by acknowledging that there were differences.  Yet, at the same time, this makes it pretty clear that Andy isn’t coming back to the band, in my opinion.  As for Dom, he certainly was very positive, wasn’t he?  He said that Dom was a “player of great depth and versatility”.  John also mentioned how he appreciates their friendship.
R – I was curious what he would say, if anything.  I was pleased to see that he didn’t use the opportunity to say his peace.  To be honest, I’d have lost respect for him, and not because I am loyal to Andy, but because it’s none of our business.  His not saying anything only proves that he is still loyal to his relationships with his band members and friends, which I completely respect and admire given their long history. 


Did you have any connection to the story of John’s dad’s disappearance in 2007?
A – This event, in which John’s dad took a very, very long drive and ended up needing help, took place on November 2, 2007, the first Friday night of Duran’s run on Broadway.  John got the news that his dad was missing before the show.  I was actually at that show and I have to say that I couldn’t tell that anything was wrong.  As I’m sure you all are aware, I tend to focus on John during a show and I tend to be sensitive to heightened emotions.  Yet, I had no idea.  I give all the credit to John as he was such a professional that night even when I’m sure he was out of his mind with worry.
R – Nope. I was at home incubating (and very sick, I might add!).  Horrible story though. I can only imagine what that must have been like…and it’s a story that we all fear as our parents begin to really age.  
  

Were you surprised that John’s dad’s memory seemed stuck on his war experience?
A I wasn’t surprised by that.  In fact, I would expect that his memory would focus on those events as he got older and struggled more and more with memory.  It is so typical of long term memory to get stuck on those most traumatic moments.  I was glad to see that he talked enough for John to be able to get a glimpse of what he went through.  Obviously, he went through so much and saw so much horror during this death march that somehow he survived.  Based on the fact that this is the chapter is titled, “Learning to Survive”, clearly, that is the message John learned both from his parents and from his life.  He learned to survive.
R – I’m not at all surprised by this because it’s what the human mind does. It was a very sad chapter overall. 


Chapter 74:  Coachella, Indio, California, 17 April 2011
Do you agree with John that things were different with AYNIN versus RCM?
A – I absolutely agree that things were different.  He seems to focus on social networking and while I absolutely agree that social networking made a HUGE difference, I think there were other factors that made things different and seemed to keep the band separated from the fans.  For example, to many of us, the band didn’t follow their usual path by bringing in Timbaland.  That created a wall.  Then, Andy’s departure didn’t help.  Again, the distance between the band and the fans grew.  Lastly, the band didn’t know how or didn’t seem to reach out to the fans at all.  For a lot of us, we began to wonder if they even cared.  All of these things seem to feed that theory.
R – I can really only answer this as a fan and in my own experience – and yes, I think the two albums (and how they were made) were completely different. I’ve written more than a few articles on how removed I felt the band had always been from their fans.  One should remember that I grew up in the US. There were no fan letters from band members sent here – I think by the time they were on a majority of our minds in the 80’s they had “people” sending out responses for them, and we all know how crazy things were for the band back then.  For their own safety I really don’t think they could have reached out to fans. Then during the reunion, I recognized while they were standing there in front of us, it still felt very much as though they wanted to keep that mystique going, and by that time – I have to admit, I rolled my eyes at the idea a lot.  I think that for a while, there was a concerted attempt to create more of a demand by making them seem completely unavailable, untouchable, unreachable…even to fans.  That was a serious error in marketing, in my opinion. I think it took the band entirely too long to warm up to the idea that they should actually interact with fans once again, and in some ways I think they’re still paying the price for that.  A lot of fans simply walked away in favor of either supporting bands that actually seemed like they were not only thankful to their fans for being there (and not just saying the words at the end of every show) and wanting to get to know them and interact…or they just got busy with their everyday lives and kind of put concerts into that box labeled “childhood” or “adolescence”.  It happens. Then of course RCM came out, and in my opinion – if they weren’t already acting as if they didn’t want us around (longtime fans), that album certainly nailed that point home.  The album seemed to be created with the idea that they needed to take a huge departure and reach out to a younger fan base. I give them credit for taking that risk, even though I still feel that was a mistake.  I still stand by my assessments, that the album did absolutely nothing to help the band and did everything possible to turn long time fans away.  When they announced All You Need is Now, I was shocked they were really going to complete another album, and when it came out I cried silent tears of joy because they were finally beginning to accept who they are…and then at the same time they started embracing social media, and I give them credit for sticking with it.  I have enjoyed being a fan more in the last three or four years than ever, and I really doubt I’m alone. 

What is your reaction to the following quote?:  “At day’s end, my job is to be the catalyst for connectivity, to help bring people closer together.”
A – He’s absolutely right.  That is what anyone who has fans SHOULD do.  The focus should be about bringing people together.  The music may bring us to Duranland but it is the other fans and the friendships that develop that keep us here.  He knows this.  He gets this.  Clearly. 
R – Gosh, I’d swear I’ve read that somewhere before.

What did you think of the ending?  
I loved how he described in detail what he feels as the show starts and how there is “a million tiny seductions all at once.”  Again, John has a way with words that truly shows exactly what happens.  Likewise, the very last line, “And the music never sounded better,” was perfect.  Perfect.  As a decades old Duranie, he is right.  The music has never been better.
I just have to add that I really hope that they continue in this spirit.  I hope they keep embracing the band they really are and that Mark is able to allow them to expand upon the journey they began with AYNIN rather than having them completely reinvent themselves for the next album.  There is something to be said for not needing to reinvent the wheel, but they can certainly be proud of who and what they are – as they should. The last line is the best line – the music has never been better.  He is right.


Final Thoughts:
John ended the book with probably the saddest moment with his father’s passing and with an incredibly high moment at Coachella.  I think that is very telling.  John made it a point in saying that he learned an important lesson from his dad and that is how to survive.  It seems to me that John learned to survive through it all–good and bad, up and down, sad and happy.

-A