Chapter 12: Shock Treatment
Thoughts about John’s description of that very first show as Shock Treatment?
A – A few things jumped out at me from his description of that very first show at the school dance. First, the line, “Before tonight I was nobody, but now I was in charge,” caught my attention. The second lines I really took note of were, “I wielded enough power and electricity..to shake up everyone’s perception of who they thought I was…some substantial, chemical, hierarchical shift was taking place.” Up until this point, I really thought John’s motivation to forming a band had to do with being in a group and performing music. Now, this added another dimension. John seemed to like the idea that this was going to change what people thought of him. Did he have some burning desire to be thought of as cool? I think back to that story about John in school with the glasses. Was this a way to destroy that embarrassment of being uncool?
R – I don’t know John Taylor, but I think there is something to be said for destroying the perceptions that others have of you when you’re a teenager. I think most kids try to at least blur those boundaries if not knock them completely apart. They might do this in the way that John did with his band; or maybe they will reinvent themselves when they go on to college and so forth. In my opinion, it’s about finding out who you really are, and I think it’s an essential part of growing up.
John talked about residencies for bands. Do they still have those? If so, do they still fulfill their purpose as John mentioned?
A -You know what I have always thought was interesting. I have always enjoyed music and like live music. Yet, I have never been one to go see local bands. The only time I can think of is when I was friends with the band members. I wonder how many people do go to see local bands. I have heard of some local bands getting a decent crowd but enough to say that they are going places? Not really. Yet, what John mentions here makes sense. Bands must learn in order to have a residency and to have it serve a purpose.
R – The most “local” band I ever took time to go see on a regular basis was Clear Static, unless you count my going and seeing my high school boyfriend’s band play – and they didn’t really DO a residency. I’m not sure how many bands actually do this here in the states. I really have no idea. I would imagine that some bands have regular places that they play – like Clear Static and the Key Club on Ruby Tuesdays, for instance, but now I’m curious how many bands actually have “home” clubs that they play. We didn’t really have clubs that bands would play at near me, so this whole concept of “residencies” was/is pretty foreign to me. What John says does make sense in some ways, because having that “home court” also allows for a group to cultivate the beginnings of real support, i.e. fans. That said, I also am a firm believer in not resting on one’s laurels. It’s one thing to work a crowd that is already behind you – they are fans – it’s another to learn how to work a crowd that has never seen you before. In my opinion, that is easily as important if not more so, and it’s where a band earns their chops. They have that solid fan base at home, but can they earn fan support elsewhere? Is this band going to be one that can appeal beyond their friends from high school? It’s where I’ve seen many a band completely lose it. They thought they were hot stuff because their high school buddies would come see them play, but yet they couldn’t draw a crowd to save their lives on tour. Gotta keep playing live, no matter where or to whom.
Chapter 13: Barbarella’s
Does this scene at Barbarella’s seem familiar and does it serve a purpose to John’s story?
A – When I first read this chapter, I could absolutely relate as I used to spend quite a bit of time in a local club. Like the scene John described, it was very red from the light bulbs to the furniture at one time. I, too, used to go on “school night” except in my case, it was the night before I had to teach! The second time I read this chapter, though, I wondered if it really fit. John spent a great deal of time describing the scene but did it further his story along. I don’t know. Yes, I know basically how they got there, what they did there but…I suppose it serves as a transition to the next chapter.
R – the only “regular” club I attended was Fashions on the Redondo Beach Pier when I was in college. It was a dance club though, and it was where I met my husband. (and it too had lots of red furniture, red carpet…red paint on the walls, along with black trim and a black/white checked floor.) I think John used the chapter just as you say Amanda – it was transitional for him, and to be fair, I think that at the time he considered it as a sort of second home.
Chapter 14: Ballroom Blitz with Synthesizers
Reactions to the influences of the Heartbreakers and Human League?
A – It seems to me that Duran is constantly asked about their influences. Typically, they seem to respond with David Bowie, Roxy Music, the Sex Pistols, Chic and a couple more. Yet, I don’t think I ever heard the Heartbreakers mentioned or Human League. Of course, after reading this chapter, I totally get it. Were these bands just an influence to John? Is this a case when the band gives a party answer? Makes me wonder.
R – I didn’t really notice this – it didn’t jump out at me, probably because we have heard about their influences SO many times, even I can give their “party line” answer. I have to say though that this book really is John’s story, so it makes sense that his influences might differ a bit from those that the band gives as a whole. It’s what I really enjoyed most about his book – it’s HIS story. Not that I don’t need to read about Duran Duran, but I really liked reading about John Taylor, as I know you did!
Obviously, as Duran fans, we must be happy that John’s parents allowed him to take a year to focus on music. Would you do the same in that situation?
A -This part really hit me because I constantly feel like I’m battling between wanting to do something I love and being able to pay my bills. For example, if I wanted to write about fandom full-time, I couldn’t live on that. The same could be true if I actually went for a paid job in a campaign. It would be a job, but not enough of one to live the life I’m used to. Besides, I think most people would think like John’s parents did, that both of these other “jobs” of mine are a hobby, at best. Nothing more. While I am really jealous of John’s ability to follow his dreams like that, I know that I can’t. I don’t live with my parents. I have to pay my own way (no pun intended!). Perhaps, I should have done it when I was John’s age, but I didn’t. I was quick to prove myself to be a responsible adult. Of course, I could have had it worse. I was, at least, allowed to pick my own college and study what I wanted to study without too much of a concern about what my chosen career would be. I was allowed to just be a student. A lot of my friends were pressured to go to college to be trained for a specific career.
R – I am going to be completely honest here. There is absolutely no way on this planet that I would have EVER gone to my parents and asked them for such a thing. Had I done that, my dad would have lost it, and I wouldn’t be here today anyway. I knew exactly where the boundaries laid – and taking a year off to “find myself” or try to get a music career started were well outside of what was expected for me. As a parent, I am going to do my best to try and remember this sort of thing. I have a daughter who is at the age where we’re beginning to look at colleges. She is brilliant, and I’m not just saying that – she is one of those kids who is both gifted at the arts as well as in math and science (she is lucky the genes went that way), and she finds herself divided between doing what she wants in her heart (going into musical theater/acting/directing/etc.) and getting a degree that might not be what her heart wants, but she will easily be able to make a good living. I keep telling her the same thing: if she wants to be on Broadway so badly that she is willing to sleep in her car to make it happen – then that is what she really ought to do. Of course I say that, and then I remind her that she doesn’t need a college degree in acting in order to become an actress, and that even though she really wants something – she does still need to be able to take care of herself. I don’t think my husband and I are in the position to have the kids living at home with us into their thirties so they can follow their dream, nor do I think that every child who “wants” to be a rock star will make it. Hardly. So, it’s a very tough balancing act. I just try to be supportive but realistic. Sometimes I succeed, and a lot of times I fall far short. *sigh*
Chapter 15: Everybody Dance
Was Duran Duran Version 2.0 important in Duran’s history?
A -What seems to amaze me in reading John’s account of early Duran is how things shifted until the band finally becomes the band we know and love. It seems like every step was a necessary one to get to where they needed to be. First, John had to form Shock Treatment and have that initial taste of being a performer. Then, he had to meet Stephen Duffy, which lead him to Andy Wickett and to Roger Taylor. Roger, along side of John’s first exposure to Chic, seriously seem pretty significant to me thirty plus years later. This is when, of course, John switches to bass and him and Roger start to form the rhythm section. I did find myself wondering how Nick and Roger would tell the story of this time in the band’s history. Did they get how each step got them closer to where they wanted to be?
R – I think this is one of those things that you probably don’t really *see* until many years later – hindsight is 20/20 and all…
Chapter 16: Plans for Nigel
Did John need to change his name?
A – I found his thought process fascinating here. On one hand, he wanted to reinvent himself, which I could totally understand. I remember that I was Mandy for years. Years. In fact, my family still calls me Mandy as opposed to Amanda. In school, I went by Mandy for years, too. It was when I moved that I switched. I didn’t get why I did that then, but I have an idea now. It was my way of saying to my new town (a small town away from Chicago that I wanted nothing to do with) that they wouldn’t have or get to know the real me. It was a way of hiding, I suppose. Yet, I had a friend in college change her name to reinvent herself and she has stuck with it ever since. I suppose that part of what struck me about John was how he wasn’t that confident to be a Nigel in the music business crowd.
R – I have a friend that completely changed her name from what I knew it to be in high school. First, last, middle…all of it. She moved to the UK, and if she hadn’t found me on Facebook I would have never known what happened to her. I don’t know why she chose to make the changes she did, but apparently she felt strongly enough to make it all happen. As for John, I know plenty of people who changed their names to be in the “business”. In some cases, they changed their names to somehow substantiate a difference between their private and public lives. In others, perhaps they felt like John. It’s interesting to me as a fan though because I only know John as well, John. The book gave me a little taste of Nigel though – and I sort of think the real catharsis here is that John has come to terms with Nigel and vice-versa.
A -I really liked to see how all the steps lead John to form Duran and how each of those steps lead to the Duran we know and love. Of course, in any story, those steps seem obvious and logical. I’m willing to bet that there were many times when John and Nick couldn’t tell if they were on the right path or not.
Next week, we will be ready to discuss Chapters 17-21. 🙂