Category Archives: Duran Duran

Book Discussion–In the Pleasure Groove (Chapters 52-55)

This week’s book club focuses on chapters 52-55 in John Taylor’s autobiography, In the Pleasure Groove.  These chapters basically focus on the year 1985.  To refresh everyone’s memory about what we know was going on with Duran and with John, in particular, in that year, I will provide the following list.  Duran wrote the James Bond theme song, A View to a Kill, and saw it reach number one in the States.  They also played at one of the biggest concerts of all time with the charity focused, Live Aid, in July of 1985.  As we now know, this was the last show that the Fab Five played together until the reunion of 2003.  Besides that, the band had split into two side projects:  Power Station and Arcadia.  John’s project, Power Station, saw an album and a tour.  On that note, let’s dive in to John’s telling of that year with a bit of discussion.

Chapter 52:  The Wheel World
Were you surprised by the reasons that John said that they chose not to involve the Berrows for the Power Station project?
I really wasn’t.  I definitely wasn’t surprised by John and Andy’s annoyance at the Berrows’ support and encouragement for Simon’s participation in the yacht race.  Clearly, that was a source of annoyance to everyone except Simon and the Berrows from what I have heard.  I also wasn’t shocked that there was some dissatisfaction about the Wild Boys and how much that entire project cost.  I’m sure that they spent a fortune on what really was one song and one video.

Chapter 53:  The Model
What was your reaction to the meeting and first date between John and Renee?
I always sensed that this relationship of John’s was way more serious than any of the other ones I heard about as a kid and this chapter seems to confirm that.  I love the fact that John was in his words “rude” when Renee first approached him before he realized his mistake.  Then, he had to make up for it in a date that most of us would love to have that included a limo, roses, dinner and dancing.  *sigh*

Chapter 54:  Burnout
Did you agree with Andy’s quote in Smash Hits about how Power Station would help make better Duran albums?
I wondered about this a lot after I read this.  Initially, I thought that it must be true but we don’t really know, do we?  The next time the classic line-up worked together was in 2001-2004 with Astronaut.  By that point, everyone had worked with different artists.  Then, I thought about how a couple of chapters before John talked about how different it was to play with Tony over Roger and that he needed Bernard to keep it together.  I think about how our fan community, at least, much prefer anything Duran over any of the side and solo projects that were done.  Arcadia might be the only exception.  Still, logic would tell us that the more experiences, the better players each of them would become, which could lead to better music.  Again, though, I think about how I like the first album over Notorious or Astronaut.  I think instincts matter just as much as experience, sometimes.

How did you feel about how John described the filming of  A View to a Kill?
I felt extremely sad to read things like “enemy territory” and “painful”.  I am not surprised by this since we know that things were never the same again after that summer but still.  I don’t know that I’ll be able to watch that video in the same way again.  I also never really thought about the fact that there is no group shots at all during that video.  They are all shot as individuals.  How fitting since it does seem like that is how it was.


Chapter 55:  Is This the End, My Friend?
What did you think of John’s take on Live Aid?
I couldn’t help but to think of Andy’s take on Live Aid when reading about John’s.  Andy talked about Simon’s bad note.  What did John talk about?  He talked about how he remembered how fun it was to play with Duran, especially in comparison to Power Station.  I had no idea that John wasn’t all that excited by the Power Station tour.  It sounds like John realized that he needed the band to come back together.  Others weren’t there, though, unfortunately.  Roger, obviously, didn’t remember the fun and wasn’t ready to continue.  Andy clearly didn’t.  Thinking about all of this makes me want to watch the Live Aid performance again to see what the performance showed, in terms of who was feeling the band and who wasn’t.

Were you as amazed by how and when John found out about Drum capsizing?
John said it best when he said that it was messed up that he found out about Drum capsizing and Simon almost dying really by reading People magazine.  I can’t believe that no one called him or Andy to tell them about the accident.  I can’t believe that John and Simon weren’t really talking at this time.  I can’t really wrap my head around this.  How can you work so closely with other people and not be told if someone is in an accident?  I would like to believe that if I was in an accident that someone would tell Rhonda and vice versa.  This to me says more than the divide during the A View to a Kill video shoot.

Final Thoughts:
Last week’s book club covering 1984 showed more about how John was struggling with overwhelming fame.  This section, it seems to me, truly shows in many ways and in many examples about how the band was divided, how the gap was wide.  It even feels to me that within the camps of Power Station and Arcadia, there were some separation as well.  For example, John mentioned how Andy was really done with the Berrows after Drum.  This indicated to me that while John might have been upset, he wasn’t in the same spot, emotionally, as Andy.  He also mentioned that Nick was angry about Drum as well, which showed that all wasn’t perfect in the Arcadia camp either.  Based on this, I’m truly shocked that three of them were able to continue on in any fashion after this.  I’m grateful that they were, too.

Next week, we move on to the Notorious and Big Thing eras with Chapters 56-60.  Until then, we hope that everyone celebrating a holiday this week has a fabulous one!

-A

  

Media Representations of Fandom: Sugartown

I continue the series on media representation of fandom with the movie, Sugartown.  Have you seen it?  I should hope that some of you might have.  You know, it stars that guy…he seems kinda familiar…like someone we should know.  Oh yeah, it is John Taylor!  Now, we have discussed some of his acting roles before.  Most recently, we discussed the episode of Samantha Who in which he was the guest star.  This movie, on the other hand, was written with him in mind, from what I have read.  I also have to admit that it is one of my favorites of his, if not, the favorite.  The movie isn’t bad and he does a good job.  Plus, he doesn’t look so bad in it, either!  😉

The premise of the movie, for those who have not seen it, is the story of a group of people trying to make it in show business.  John’s character, Clive, is in a new band along with Michael DesBarres and Martin Kemp.  The three of them had been in really successful 80s bands.  Huh?  That sounds familiar.  Anyway, those three are shopping for a record deal.  John’s wife is an actress who is trying to deal with being offered mother roles.  John’s wife’s best friend is trying to find love while taking a break from being a production designer on movies and is convinced to hire Gwen as a housekeeper who has her own goals of superstardom.  In fact, Gwen is trying to buy songs from a drug addict songwriter who buys his drugs from Martin Kemp’s character.  There are other characters as well who connect to the characters I already mentioned that I won’t go into in order to stick with the storylines that relate most to fans and fandom.  Obviously, fans had to be included at some point because you can’t have stars without fans, right?

The first fans we see are three female fans on John’s doorstep when he goes out to get the paper in the morning.  Of course, these fans are all giddy and smiling as John greets them.  The first girl hands him a picture of some sort that she wants him to have.  The second one hands him a pair of panties, assuming they are hers, and tells him that he should wear them.  The last fan asks for an autograph.  As John goes back inside, the girls hold onto each other for support and start saying, “Oh my God,” a bunch of times.  *sigh*  Okay.  First of all, I seriously hope that there aren’t fans waiting on John’s doorstep.  Second of all, I know that there are fans who give John and the other band members things (heck, I was one of them when I gave him a wristband like the true dork that I am!) but do fans NOW give panties?!  I know that they did in the 1980s.  I admit that I still don’t really get it.  I am not naive.  I’m well aware that fans did that to imply that they would be available for some action but it just seems so…icky.  So much of a stereotype.  Thus, it feels too obvious to me to have the fan do that.  The picture and the autograph seem so much more realistic to me, especially since John’s character isn’t supposed to be at the top of the charts at the moment.

Then, John’s wife has a conversation with her best friend in which she tries to convince her friend to give this girl, Gwen, a shot as housekeeper.  Apparently, John’s wife met her when she used to sleep on their porch as she was a big fan of John’s character, Clive.  Now, before the movie goes any further, I have to wonder.  Do fans like that really get to know their idols?  I know that there are cases where fans do meet their idols and a rapport of some sort is established.  What I am asking is does that happen with fans who go to that extreme?!  The conversation continues and we find out that Gwen, the fan, stole John’s wife diaphragm because it was something that Clive had gotten close to, if you catch my drift.  Oh boy.  Now, this fan has crossed over from just sleeping on the porch to stealing VERY personal items.  Wow.  The friend thinks this is gross but John’s wife explains this as normal fan behavior and that she might have done that for David Bowie.  Okay.  On one hand, I appreciate that the fan is deemed normal by the wife but that behavior doesn’t seem very normal to me!?!  I have met and talked to a lot of fans and I can’t imagine anyone doing that!?!  Again, I realize that the behavior might be described as so extreme in order to make the story more exciting but still.  Wow.

Gwen later does become the friend’s housekeeper but we quickly learn that she is only worried about herself.  She gives bad dating advice to the friend and tries to woo her date away who happens to be the producer for John’s character’s new band.  She also steals things from her as well.  She also gets a drug addict to write her songs that will be hits and when he does, she leaves him, literally dying on the floor.  Clearly, this character fits a lot of the stereotypes of the groupie in that there isn’t any real love for the idol(s).  It is more about using the idol(s) to get further with either social status or in one’s own career.

Meanwhile, back at Clive’s house, a woman stops by with a boy and claims that the child is Clive’s.  She claims it was from an encounter years ago at a show.  Again, this woman represents a fan who went to one of his concerts.  She also claims that they got matching tattoos.  Clive doesn’t buy it and says that his tattoo was featured in a Japanese fanzine.  His wife, on the other hand, believes that this could be his son as he was “still drinking” at the time.  Still, Clive denies it and says that during that tour, he was only having oral sex so it wasn’t possible.  Is this a stereotype about fans or a stereotype about rock stars or both?  It seems to me that it could be a stereotype about both.  The assumption here is that rock stars have sex with fans and that fans welcome that.  Is that an assumption, a stereotype based on some truth?  I’m sure.  So, how do Clive’s fans react to the news of his son?  They worship the boy.  Hm…would fans care about the children of their idols?  Our fandom would say that they would.

Obviously, there is a lot more that happens in the movie than the parts that I discussed.  I focused solely on the parts that connected to fans or fandom.  So, how does the movie represent fans?  This is never any easy call.  I think some of the fan like behaviors are based in truth.  There are fans who would stay on the porch of their idol.  John mentioned something similar in his book, for example.  I’m sure that there were fans who were/are quite willing to engage in sexual activities with their idols.  I also have no doubt that there are fans who are just using the idol to get ahead.  That said, I just wish that there was a bit of a balance.  While those fans all probably exist, much to my dismay, I know that there are a ton of fans who would never do any of those things.  Why couldn’t some of those be mentioned or shown?  Of course, there were a couple of normal people shown in a scene with Michael DesBarres in that they approached him and asked for his autograph.  Of course, the woman was asking for an autograph for her mother.  She wasn’t really a fan, herself.  I just think a little bit of balance would and could go a long way for most of us fans.  Instead, the non-knowing, not-understanding public thinks that all fans are like the ones shown in the movie.

-A

Year End Katy Kafes

What does a Duranie do when moving off the couch seems like a lot of work due to being ill?  This one listens to the year end Katy Kafes on DuranDuranMusic.com.  Katy Kafes are one of the true privileges of being a member of DDM, I suppose.  Although, highlights from each of them were posted on dd.com as each of the members wished Katy and the fan community a happy holiday season.  This blog will attempt to summarize the important or not-so-important points of each of them and give a brief review because that is what we do here, people! 

Simon:
I listened in order of how they were listed on the page.  I might assume that they were recorded in that same order, but I really have no idea.  In fact, the only one a definite date is known for is John’s, which was after his last book signing, but I’m getting ahead of myself.  In the beginning of the Kafe, Simon needed a refresher on what actually took place during 2012.  At first, I was critical of that until I realized that I had to think about what Duran did this year, too!  I could blame the bad head cold for my lack of memory, but it is probably just old age setting in.  Then, Simon discussed touring and some of the dates that were highlights for him.  Some of the shows he mentioned were the Switzerland date in January, Dubai, Latin America, Greece, Exit Festival in Serbia, Italy, France, the Olympics, and the US.  The part of that discussion that I really enjoyed hearing were the stories he told.  For example, he talked about skiing with Yasmin and Amber in Switzerland or how he hurt his knee in Latin America.  That is a lot more interesting to me than a list of fabulous dates.  When it came to the US dates, he talked about disappointing it was to Nick and the fans that the last of the dates had to be canceled.  He talked about he went ahead to Atlantic City and mingled with the fans.  Some of those fans were angry, which he felt was “inappropriate”.  I assume here that they were angry with Nick and/or the band rather than angry at the situation.  If that is true, I have to agree with him.  It wasn’t like Nick could control his health.  Sickness happens.  I know.  Outside of touring, he talked about Nick’s 50th birthday surprise with artwork from guests and other invited people.  He also discussed how he is enjoying his time off and being able to spend time sailing, being with the family, and being able to travel to India.  He also hopes a new Simon’s Reader will be coming soon.

Nick:
Like Simon’s Kafe, Nick began by discussing the tour and specific shows or places that were real highlights.  Some of Nick’s were South America, Exit Festival in Serbia, the Olympics, and the US.  He moved on to some of his traveling highlights, which included a few days in San Francisco where he enjoyed numerous art shows, including people like Cindy Sherman and Man Ray.  As someone who enjoys arts and art museums, I loved hearing about these shows.  I, too, would love to see the Cindy Sherman show, in particular.  Nick recommended looking online for some of these shows even if one is unable to travel to attend in person.  Good advice.  He also took the time to talk about Second Life and how those who are left have created and maintain a creative community.  I will have to take his word for it because it isn’t any place I go and spend time in.  He did say that he hoped to pop in before the end of the year, which is rapidly approaching.  Heads up, then, to all of you who do participate in Second Life!  A Kafe with Nick wouldn’t be normal if there was no discussion of movies.  He mentioned how he wants to see Lincoln (he totally should as I cannot recommend it enough) and Hitchcock but he did enjoy the latest Bond and the latest Tim Burton films.  Travel was part of his Kafe as well since he took a holiday to Bali, which doesn’t scream Nick Rhodes to me but cool.  He, apparently, wore shorts.  Other highlights for him for 2012 included visiting the Rio boat and his 50th Birthday Bash. 

Roger:
Roger’s Kafe began with a discussion on weather, snow, and children’s first snowfall as both Katy and Roger have young children.  This made me giggle since we have had so much snow here.  I have to admit that I still feel like a kid with the first season’s snowfall and this year was no exception.  Roger did not talk about many specific shows on tour when he began discussing his highlights for the year.  He did mention the Olympics and how big it was, especially since his whole family was there, watching.  The other show he said was Rome.  Now that the tour is over, he is glad to be home and spending time with his family.  He does look forward to going back into the studio with Mark Ronson in March and figures that he might be itching to get out on the road by summer.  Hmm…Outside of Duran, he has been DJing some, including with his son, James, which is good because James brings a different kind of taste in music.  He hopes to get to South America to DJ in maybe January.  There was a visit to Peru to visit family as well as a trip to Miami for vacation.  The other highlight that Roger mentioned was John’s book, which I thought was very nice and thoughtful of him.  He said that he thought the book was lovely and that John was lovely.  He is pleased that it did so well and that he is very happy for him.  🙂

John:
John’s Kafe was a little different from the rest as he had not only the band stuff to talk about but the book stuff as well.  He said that he thought it was a good year for the band.  Some highlights were the Olympics and the Exit Festival.  It wasn’t always easy, though, as he did feel overworked with both touring and writing the book.  Once the book was written, though, it was fun to put it together, pick out pictures and get ready to promote it.  This surprised the publishers who really only wanted him to go to London and New York.  John said that the Duran team had to fight for every city.  As for expectations, he tried not to have any as he had no idea how it would sell or how the fans would react.  Obviously, the results have been very satisfying and the in-person readings and signings have been great.  He is excited that it is getting translated into other languages.  That said, he is ready for a break.  In fact, he would find himself grumbling that the rest of the band had been on a break and that he needed his, too.  I can completely relate to this as I often find myself diving from one project to another without any real break.  He plans to spend his holiday in England and has a trip coming up, but didn’t say where.  He looks forward to getting back in the studio with Mark Ronson and thinks that they can build on what they did with All You Need Is Now, which sounds wonderful to my ears!!!  He hopes it will be out in early 2014.  At the end, he stated how this felt like a very successful year as many connections were made, which I have to agree.

Overall:
I always enjoy listening to these.  I feel like you can always gain an insight into the band members by what they say and I often feel like they can give subtle hints about what is happening behind the scenes.  This time, though, I didn’t sense any of that, which is a bummer. I am also bummed that they don’t give Dom a chance to do a Katy Kafe about his year.  I am looking forward to March when they get back into the studio.  Will Roger be right that they will be ready to hit the road by summer?  Will John’s prediction of early 2014 be off by 6 months?  A year?  Three?  I kid.  I only tease because I love.  I would obviously love the album by then and I would love dates by summer.  Who wouldn’t?!  To summarize, 2012 was a year of touring for the band.  They also traveled both on tour and on their own.  They spent time with their families and paid attention to art shows, books, and movies.  That wouldn’t be a bad year for any of us!  Now, I’m looking forward to 2013 and it sounds like they are, too!

-A

Is Anyone Out There?

I stole Rhonda’s facebook status.  I admit it.  It is totally dorky and about the only thing I can handle today.  Obviously, today was the day in which the world was supposed to end, according to the Mayan calendar.  It appears that the world, including us, is still here.  We hope that you are, too.  After all, we need all the readers we can get!  LOL!  That said, I am starting to get a little stir crazy where I am.  You see that I live in Madison, Wisconsin, which experienced about 20 inches of snow over the last couple of days along with blizzard conditions.  I include a picture out my window from yesterday just so that you can get an idea of what it looks like.  Clearly, you can see that everything is very, very white out.  In fact, it was so bad that I didn’t have to go into work yesterday or today!  As a teacher, there is nothing better than snow days!!!!  This has, in fact, extended my winter break!  Woohoo!  This is probably super good for me as I have been battling a horrible cold.  In fact, I woke up this morning with a fever of 101.  Not good.  Not fun.  Suddenly, my snow days feel a lot more like sick days.  Alas, still happy to have the days off!

So, what happens when Amanda gets some time to extra time to think and to sleep?  She comes with some random ideas!  Sometimes, those ideas end up on the blog!  Lucky you!!!  One of those ideas relates to our recent give-away here!  As you all know, we did a raffle for everyone who follows the blog.  We put all of the names in a martini glass and picked one to receive a signed cd that we received as part of a VIP package.  Well, we identified the person and was able to send the cd to the lucky winner, Christine!  She has received her prize and sent us a picture of herself with it!  As you can see, she is pretty excited about it!  She wrote the following to us:  “Thank you, Daily Duranie, for making me a WINNER! I’m putting this under my Christmas tree, because it is an amazing gift. (like the shirt? a Duranie friend made it for a group of us for the show at the Pacific Amphithatre in Costa Mesa (OCFair, August 11, 2012). We’ve worn them since, to Duran cover band shows!)”  We thank Christine and everyone else for reading and following the blog!  We hope to do other raffles in the future.

Another thing we did recently was to send out wristbands to people who have ordered one through our paypal account.  Some people have started to receive theirs and the rest are on their way.  Much like Christine showing off her cd, we would love to have people send us pictures of themselves wearing the wristband that we can show.  After all, this blog is all about fans.  Why not show other fans besides ourselves?!  Thus, if you have a wristband from us, either from a meetup or from ordering one, could you send us a picture of yourself to showcase you???  You can send the picture to our email:  dailyduranie@gmail.com.  Thanks!!!

My last idea related to the blog came the other day when I was going through my Duran catalog to write all of the b-sides and other released tracks for the daily question.  As I was looking at all of the songs, I realized that there were many songs with clear meanings behind them.  For example, we might all know what a song like Anyone Out There is about being lonely, but has there really been a consensus around what a song like Union of the Snake is about?   Thus, wouldn’t it be fun to dive into some of those songs that the meaning isn’t obvious?  Maybe, this is just the dork in me but I think that sounds like fun!  Assuming that others might like this idea, I would ask people to list songs that we should tackle first.  What Duran songs have you always wondered about, in terms of their meaning?  If you all don’t tell me, I’ll make the list myself, which won’t be nearly as fun for me or for you. 

On that note, I am thinking about another nap.  Maybe then, I will have other brainstorms come to me!!

-A

An Interview with Dom Brown, Part 3

We’re almost sad to begin this post. Interviewing Dom was a lot of fun, and once again we need to say thank you for his time, efforts and extreme patience with our questions!

As most fans realize, every band member has a life beyond the stage. In today’s blog we spend a little time getting to know a little bit more about Dom – after the DoJo (as opposed to JoSi, you see…), after the screaming fans (like us) go home.

Daily Duranie: Aside from your family, what is the one thing you miss most from home while you are on tour?

Dom Brown:  PG Tips tea bags…I never take enough with me on the road! Oh, and it’s hard to find a good curry!


Daily D: OK, so you’re at home after a long tour. What have you been up to since we last saw you?

Dom: Well, the first thing I did was spend a few, much longed for, days relaxing with the family at home. I have just moved into a new recoding studio that I am very excited about. That took a few weeks to set up and settle into and now I’m into writing and recording for various projects.


Daily D: If you weren’t a musician, what do you think you would have done for a career? 


Dom: I would love to have been involved in making films.


Daily D: We’ve read that you got your first guitar at 13 – are you completely self-taught or did you take lessons? 


Dom: Yes, I was 13 and I had about 5 lessons initially with a teacher called Ray Major. Other than that I am totally self-taught, though I did have some jazz lessons as part of my music diploma.


Daily D: So about that diploma… what kind of music did you study?  


Dom: Yes, I studied popular music with recording and opted for the 2 year diploma.


Daily D: Do you have a “go-to” guitar? You know, the first one you grab whenever you’re sitting down and that sort of thing? 


Dom: Yes, my 1963 Fender Strat is a beauty!


Daily D: How would you describe yourself musically?  I know the blues were a big influence, but what else?  How would you describe your playing style? 


Dom: I consider myself to be versatile and eclectic. Rock was my first real live while at school, followed by an obsession with blues, funk and jazz at college. I tend to go through phases where I put a lot of heart and energy into a particular artist and do become quite obsessed with them for an intense period. Some examples are: initially Pink Floyd, Led Zep and AC/DC, followed by Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, James Brown, then Bowie Prince and the Beatles, then Jeff Buckley, who was probably the last artist that truly blew me away.



Daily D: We heard you were living in the states for a while, how long ago and why?  

Dom: I did love my time living in LA in the mid 90’s as a young striving musician. I played most of the LA clubs but really loved the atmosphere at the Troubadour.  

Daily D: Do you think that you have a favorite band or musician in the same way that the Duran fans love the band? (For example, you would drop everything to go and see them play. Maybe even fly across an ocean…)

Dom: Not really now, but in the past most definitely.  Some of the artists I mentioned above.

Daily D: The Social Media question. Twitter and Facebook – do you love them or hate them?

Dom: I think they are great social medias, and I wish I could get more involved and spend more time but for some reason I just can’t make it a major habit.

Daily D: Most fans have probably noticed the tattoo of your daughter’s name on your arm.  Do you have others?  

Dom: I have Floyd, my son’s name, on my right shoulder…that’s all. 

Daily D: What do you like to do when you’re not working – which we see isn’t very often!  

Dom: Reading, watching box sets, movies and eating great food.  Also going for family walks and of course going on family holidays.

Daily D: One last question before we leave you in peace…what do you have planned for over the winter holidays?  

Dom: Not really much other than staying warm, eating and drinking to excess, trying to have as much fun as possible and spoiling the kids.

That sounds a lot like the holidays most fans probably have planned!! Thank you very, very much Dom and we hope you and your family have wonderful holidays – we look forward to hearing more from you in 2013!!

We also need to send out a special thank you to Katy Krassner, who helped coordinate the timing for this blog and was also very patient with our constant “Can we post the interview yet?”  love notes. It takes a lot of coordinating to make the news funnel from Duran Duran to the rest of the world – their fans and the various media outlets – work properly and smoothly, so we really do thank Katy for everything she does.

As we said, this was our first interview. Never once did either of us ever consider the possibility of actually interviewing someone in the band when we began this blog, and we won’t lie – it was very exciting to have this opportunity. We found that we really are not journalists, and we know we missed asking about a thousand things that other people might have asked. As I (Rhonda) read and edit this final interview segment, I find myself saying “Why didn’t I ask ______?  How stupid of me!!” So, if you’re saying that too, we’re sorry. Live, learn and apply the knowledge for the next one if we should ever be so lucky, right?  

We’ve been bursting at the seams for literally months now, in anticipation of publishing this interview, and we hope that all of you enjoyed our little gift to you for 2012. We have huge hopes for 2013, beginning with a much more peaceful planet. We believe that we can all agree on that.  

Oh, and we’ll catch you on the other side of this whole “End of the world on 12-21-12″….

-A & R

Once again, all photography is copyright Daily Duranie (Rhonda Rivera). That curse we mentioned?  Seriously.  

An Interview with Dom Brown, Part 2

Day two of our interview with Dom Brown brings a discussion of his career outside of Duran Duran. There’s much to learn from Dom.  He is a multi-faceted guitarist with a wide-breadth of musical experience. We would suggest that before anyone decides that Dom is only a session musician take a good listen to his solo work, available from his website.

Quoting from the biography on his website, www.dombrown.com

Dom Brown has made music his life. After college he set up a band, with his father, Rob Brown of Gets/z Loose, stepping in as lead vocalist. Dom’s dynamic stage persona developed alongside the extraordinary and bizarre performance style of the older Brown. Together they trawled the London funk and blues circuit, while Dom immersed himself in the raw intensity of the great blues and R&B artists. 

Singing was the obvious next step and soon became a passion. Fronting a new band, he toured round Britain and found great success in France, where he played several major festivals, concerts in Paris, and got regular radio airplay. Then he took his songs to the US, got some local musicians on board, and made a name for himself playing at top LA clubs (the Whiskey, Roxy, Troubadour etc). His songs, performance, and guitar style had a twist and an edge that always separated him from other artists in the blues/rock genre.


Back in London, Dom was very much in demand as a session player, and worked with several major label artists. 


Dom’s main love is songwriting, and he has never stopped. He fuses singer-songwriter intimacy with electrifying guitar intensity. Though his music still retains a blusey sensibility, Dom has moved on from the traditional blues/rock genre, becoming more experimental and developing a unique and original style.”  


Upon first glance, Dom’s background would seem light years away from what fans have come to know as Duran’s style. It isn’t until one spends time and inclination to listen with a fine-tuned ear to Dom’s solo work that it becomes easy to distinguish what Dom brings to the Duran Duran turntable. 

It is fair to say that most Duran Duran fans are not necessarily blues enthusiasts. Many may not understand a 12-bar blues progression; and still more may not recognize that rock and roll, and most certainly rhythm and blues (R&B) really draws from those blues beginnings.  (Hence the “BLUES” in R&B!) This is no reason to overlook or underestimate Dom’s talent.  Take his most recent album from his band Blue to Brown – you can hear the same signature slide guitar that is found at the beginning of Girl Panic, and it is easy to differentiate many of the stylistic guitar riffs that one might hear playing a modified tug-of-war with Nick’s synthesizers on the album. These styles and sounds should not be unfamiliar to Duran fans. 

One of the reasons we jumped at the opportunity to present this interview to fellow fans was because we knew that much could be shared and learned about Dom Brown. It is true, he is not an original member of the band. We cannot rewrite history, and we wouldn’t even want to try. It is also true, he follows some extremely talented and well-loved guitar players and had ginormous shoes to fill. However, after eight years, it is time to get to know Dom for who he really is, rather than judging him on who he is not. He is not Andy Taylor. He is not Warren Cuccurullo. Get to know Dom Brown. Embrace him. (Well, maybe not literally!)

Dom Brown on his Career:

Daily Duranie: What is your most favorite song to play live? Not a Duran Duran song, but from your own work.  

Dom Brown: Possibly ‘Queen of Spades’ – that is originally a Robert Johnson song, but in my band Blue to Brown we have done a unique version. I start playing the intro to Red House, by Hendrix, and then my dad comes in with the lyric to QOS… it’s a blues progression but we always take it somewhere vastly different every night.

Daily D: We see that you are planning to re-release Blue To Brown in Februrary of 2013, with the plan being to capitalize on more PR now that you have some more time to devote to promotion. What are the plans between now and March when you go back into the studio with Duran Duran? 

Dom: Unfortunately Dec 8th has been cancelled (A Blue to Brown gig) but we will have shows early in the new year… just waiting (for) confirmation.

Daily D: How did you become a session musician, and was that something that you envisioned yourself doing forever? There must be positives and negatives to session work as opposed to being in a band.

Dom: I originally wanted to be part of an amazing and very well known, popular band but having come close to that with several projects and not getting the lucky break, I really kind of fell into session work. It originally began as a way of earning a living and a means of survival. I did accept this and began enjoying it for what it is.

Daily D: When you are songwriting – what is your approach? Do you go into the studio and jam until you find something that sticks or do you only write when you have an inspiration? Do you know how to write/read music? 

Dom: It depends on whether I am writing alone or collaborating. For example with Duran, we begin by jamming until we find something that gels and sounds fresh and exciting, then the song is developed from there. I have written songs with the lyric first or sometimes just a rough melody. Most often though it begins with a riff or motif or a set of chords that I have found interesting to play around with. I do read music very slowly as it’s something I never need to do. I studied a bit whilst at college but I learnt to play the guitar before learning to read music. 

Daily D: The lyrics on Touch the Flames seem to be incredibly personal. Do you tend to draw your lyrical inspiration from your personal life and events that have happened along the way?  

Dom: Yes, that particular album does reflect what I was going through personally around that time. That was also around the Buckley phase and I must have been influenced by his style of writing that is very personal.




Daily D: How long did it take to write and record Touch the Flames and Between the Lines?  The writing and producing are incredibly different on each album. Touch the Flames listens more like a love story…and Between the Lines seems just a touch more raw, maybe even a bit more mature actually. 

Dom: Well TTF took probably over a year to write and record as it was the first time that I’d engineered and produced my own record, so there was a learning curve there. I guess there is a theme of love and relationships in there… well spotted! BTL was recorded much faster as I’d learnt and developed a lot of the techniques by then and I think it comes across more raw sounding due to that reason and that a lot of the songs were recorded with everyone playing together at the same time.

Daily D: What is your new studio like? 

Dom: The studio is fantastic and I’m mainly using (it) to record material that I am co-writing for my publishers, Perfect Songs. I am also getting a few paid bookings where I’m hired to record and produce. I am juggling so many different projects down there at the moment and have a lot of unfinished tracks that I’m looking forward to finishing. I feel very lucky as I have found a really great space with two separate rooms all to myself… everyone who has visited so far has said how much they love the relaxed atmosphere and environment there.

Daily D: If you could collaborate on any of your own work with any musician, who would you choose and why? 

Dom: This changes a lot but right now David Bowie, Prince or Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age.

Daily D: Do you prefer playing live or writing/recording? 

Dom: They are totally different experiences with very different rewards. I love the feeling of playing live when everything is gelling and the band and audience are as one. It’s also amazing when a new song or idea that I feel is special comes to fruition.

Daily D: I’ve read that you got your first guitar at 13 – are you completely self-taught or did you take lessons? 

Dom: Yes I was 13 and I had about 5 lessons initially with a teacher named Ray Major. Other than that I am totally self taught, though I did have some jazz lessons as part of my music diploma.

We encourage our readers to get to know Dom – Blue to Brown is currently available, as are Dom’s solo albums, Touch the Flames and Between the Lines, from Dom’s website.  We believe your ears will thank us!!

Stay with us, tomorrow we will bring our interview with Dom to a close…and hey, if the Mayans were right, we’re happy to end the blog on a great note!  Our timing is pretty brilliant!

-A & R

The top photograph is copyright Daily Duranie(Rhonda Rivera). The curse still stands. Please don’t use our photos without permission. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!

Interview with Dom Brown, Part 1

For quite some time now, we have been keeping quite a secret from the rest of you. (Trust us, it was not easy!) We have been working on a super-special/super-secret interview with Dom Brown, done over a few weeks this fall. This is Daily Duranie’s first interview, ever…and we’re very proud to be able to share this as our holiday gift to all of you. Dom was extremely kind and patient to grant us this kind of time, and we send him huge thanks, we really cannot thank him enough for trusting us with such a task.  Yes, we write a blog, but we’re fans like all of you.  
Before we jump into the interview, let’s talk a little bit about Mr. Dominic Brown. He first began playing guitar for Duran Duran during the Astronaut tour in December of 2004, by our math, he’s been with the band for eight years now. Time flies! Prior to Duran Duran, Dom was a session musician, working with artists such as Liam Gallagher, Lionel Ritchie, Go West, Take That, Andrea Bocelli and Reba McEntire among many others.  Even with such an illustrious resume, when Dom first took to the stage with Duran Duran, it is doubtful that many fans knew who he was, only that he was (at the time) standing in for an ailing Andy. We would venture to guess that for at least the beginning of his Duran Duran tenure, most fans didn’t notice he was there – only that Andy was not. 
For ourselves (Amanda and Rhonda), it was a moment at the Sears Center show in 2006 that made us realize Dom was the right guitarist for this band. Just days prior, it was announced by the band that Andy would not be returning. After having mini-breakdowns at home, by the time we arrived at the show that evening, we were curious as to how the show would go. Would there be mention of his absence? Probably not. Would Dom take on a larger role – would he simply assume the part of guitarist was his? We didn’t know for sure, but felt certain this show would speak volumes. (Our over-thinking began WAY before this blog ever came along!) That night, we watched the movements of the band, waiting for some sort of sign of what was to come. The sign wasn’t one of an overconfident guitar player ready to step into someone else’s shoes with vigor, but rather someone who knew and understood the finer intricacies of the situation at hand. He had a job to do, but he also must have realized he had to sell himself very slowly to the fan base. He tread very lightly, staying in the shadows when appropriate, and stepping into the spotlight only when coaxed by other band members. It was as though Dom recognized just how difficult the night was for not only the band, but the fans as well.
Later that same weekend, we had a surprise for Dom as he stepped out on stage in New Orleans for the Voodoo Festival. Along with signs for the rest of the band, we had made one especially for him. Given the fact that we’d nearly been crushed to death several times during the sets for other bands, it’s a miracle any of the signs we’d created actually made it! We tried to wave the sign several times during the show, but to no avail – Dom was so used to standing in the background, playing his part and exiting the stage that he didn’t see the sign. It was John and Simon that saw our sign at the end of the night and excitedly tried to get Dom’s attention. We still scream for Dom!  (Perhaps one of us slightly more than the other…)

Dom has been egoless when it comes to his role in the band, taking care to remain out of the spotlight before Andy’s departure was made official, and allowing his presence to grow naturally on the fan base. His efforts did not go unnoticed. Fans have been able to watch his gradual transformation from a stand-in guitarist to band member, and during the latest tour we heard many a squealing fan (besides ourselves) during the numerous “DoJo” moments on stage.

Yes, yes we really did give those moments a name, and we know we weren’t the only ones screaming when they happened. Admit it!  So with no further adieu, we give you our interview with Dom Brown. Today we’ll begin by talking about his tenure with the band, followed by some discussion tomorrow of his career outside of the band, and finally, a little bit of a peek into his personal life. Enjoy!!

Dom Brown on DURAN DURAN  

Daily Duranie: How long did it take you to learn Duran Duran’s music and be comfortable enough so that if they decided to play Secret Oktober, New Religion or something else one night it was not a problem? How long did it take you to feel comfortable enough playing that you felt like you could make the songs your own instead of just playing them exactly as written? 

Dom Brown: Initially I had to learn 20 songs in 2 days for my first ever Duran show. That’s not a lot of time, so I pretty much had to learn as closely to the originals as possible. Over time I became more comfortable and could integrate and interpret with my own style and I hope that comes across. I am a strong believer in keeping to the original spirit of the song as much as possible. The guys will often drop in a new song or something that’s not been played for awhile without much notice… keeps me on my toes!

Daily D: Do you have any particular way you prepare to go on stage? Practice or warm-up beforehand? We have heard that you, John and Roger have jam sessions – is that before every show? Do you find time to practice at home when you’re not touring?

Dom: When touring, I try and find time in the day to run over new songs, but I also write when I can in my hotel room. John, Roger and I jam before every show and it’s a great way to get in the mood.  We have been recording those jams and hopefully some of the ideas will make it to the new album. Home is the same though I tend to spend more time writing and learning about recording techniques these days.

Daily D: Now that you’ve toured quite a bit, do you have a favorite type of venue that you like to play, and why?

Dom: That’s a tough one to answer…and I think the answer is no, as there are pros and cons to playing all different types. I love performing at large open-air events like the Hyde Park show we played at this summer to 80,000 people, for the sheer magnitude. I love the O2 Arena type venues. Then smaller venues like for example Chicago Theatre, that is a beautiful, old, ornate room steeped in so much history.  I do also love playing in intimate venues that only hold a couple of hundred people…but there are so many factors that make up a perfect night on stage.


Daily D: What do you think has surprised you the most out of touring with Duran Duran?

Dom: I am surprised that considering the amount of time we all spend together, I have never really seen any obvious tension between the guys and this makes the whole process so much easier. We all travel on the same private jets and pretty much stay at the same hotels.

Daily D: What do you like most about being on the road?

Dom: Visiting totally new places and tasting the different cultures. With Duran we do get to visit some exotic and beautiful places. 


Daily D: One question we have always wanted to ask the band is about being a fan. Do you think that now you’ve been on the other side of fandom – being the object of fandom rather than a fan yourself – that you could go back to being just a fan?  Can you still be start struck in the presence of one of your influences or idols, or do you think that whole thing changes once you’ve been famous yourself?

Dom: No, I still get a bit jittery around certain stars.

Daily D: We have to ask since we’re currently reading his book as part of our book club discussion – do you own a copy of John’s book, and have you read it yet?

Dom: I have a signed copy yes, and I have literally just finished reading it.  I was proud and touched to have such kind words spoken about me!  It’s a very interesting book and I did learn a few new things about John. 

Be sure to check in tomorrow for the second part to our interview with Dom as we talk a little about his career outside of Duran Duran!

-A & R

All photography is copyright of Daily Duranie (Rhonda Rivera).  Please do not use these photos without our permission. They’re cursed.

No really, they are. 

Book Discussion: In the Pleasure Groove (Chapters 46-51)

Today’s book discussion focuses on the year 1984, which John covers in his autobiography in chapters 46-51.  I was curious about how this year was going to be talked about because this is the year I became a Duranie and when it seemed to me that Duran Duran was EVERYWHERE!  I wanted to know what it was like to be them.  More specifically, I wanted to know what it was like to be John who was often the focus as the “best-looking” or whatever he was labeled as back then.  So, let’s go back to 1984 as we discuss these chapters.  

Chapter 46:  Exploitation Time
Were you surprised that John talked about how much they wanted to perform well on the Sing Blue Silver tour of 1984?
A – While I know that Duran is a fabulous live band today, I didn’t really know if they were in 1984.  I, obviously, had heard the album, Arena, but that didn’t show me.  The documentary, Sing Blue Silver, didn’t show it either as both were able to be done in such a way to only show positive performances.  Part of me wouldn’t have blamed them if they didn’t care about their performances since there was so much pressure on them.  Yet, when I read John’s point about how this was their way of pushing back on the teeny-pop fanbase criticism, I completely understood.  After all, you would think that the critics could see and hear that they were a great live band, but they didn’t.  How frustrating.
R – I think most of their shows during this period were overshadowed…or accompanied…or even ruined (depending upon your opinion) by the screams of teenage girls. To be honest, I was surprised that the band even cared what they sounded like, because I really don’t know that many of their audience would have noticed.  On the other hand, I guess in some way I’m a little surprised because at this point John was using, and sadly I would have thought he wouldn’t have thought much about it.  That was an underestimation on my part, most definitely.


John described the US part of that 1984 tour as both “awesome and awful”.  Does that fit?
A – I think this is probably a good way to describe both that leg of the tour and probably everything in 1984.  On one hand, I’m sure it was beyond awesome to be part of the biggest band in the world.  On the other, I know that I couldn’t deal with the constant demands from managers, agents, corporation consultants and more that John mentioned.  Heck, I couldn’t handle the demands from the fans.  He commented that it was awful and scary because the fans kept pushing forward at the shows and they were worried that someone was going to be crushed and die.  Here is what I never understood:  Why in the world did they play general admission shows?  Wouldn’t that just set up this situation?!
R – I remember 1984 well.  I couldn’t turn on the TV or go to the grocery store or bookstore without seeing Duran Duran. In my teenage head, I thought this was outstanding.  Of course now, I look at things a little differently – it is no small wonder that all five band members are still with us today (if not in the band).  The pressure crushing them from all sides – I think it’s one of those things where you’ve got to be careful what you wish for!!  As to your question regarding the types of shows they did Amanda, I have to think that this is something the promoter should be asked.  I think that especially back during this period, the band probably didn’t have anything to do with those types of decisions – they were too busy just trying to ride the wave and stay afloat.  You’re right to ask though. I really know nothing about concert promotion (other than it’s a tricky, sneaky business at times), but I get the distinct feeling from various things I’ve read over the years that promoters don’t always have the best intentions of the band(s) at heart.  Go figure.  


Chapter 47:  The Remix
What did you learn from this chapter?
A – I felt like I knew much of this chapter including the battle they had with their record label over the Reflex remix, the Reflex video, the frustration of not being at the Grammy Awards, and the story behind doing both the song and video for Wild Boys.  This led me to wonder why this was the case.  Was this because this part of Duran history has been told so much that I didn’t learn much new?  I wonder.
R – I’m still annoyed at those Grammy awards.  *sigh* It’s funny though because by this point in John’s book, I have to agree that I knew most of what was being written.  I mean, maybe not the tiny details (obviously), but the general storyline – yes.  I am sure we’re not alone in that regard.  I can’t speak for everyone, but I think that in my case it’s because I’ve done a lot of research about the band now, and it’s gotten to the point where I’ve read the same stories over and over.  I do admit wondering how much wasn’t being written – then I realized it doesn’t matter. It’s really none of my business, I slapped myself for being so nosy, and went back to listening. 😀 


Reaction to the idea that the best producers understood that all the band members needed to be heard?
A – I have to admit that I noticed this statement.  I have to agree with this statement.  After all, I think the best Duran songs and the best Duran albums fit this criteria.  They are not a band in which there is just one main member and a bunch of back up members.  Duran is a band of equals.  Of course, I also noted that John mentioned the following producers:  Colin Thurston (1st album and Rio), Alex Sadkin (Seven and the Ragged Tiger), Nile Rodgers (Notorious) and Mark Ronson (All You Need Is Now).  Hmm…no mention of Timbaland or Nate Hills from Red Carpet Massacre?!
R – I am going to completely ignore that last sentence of yours, Amanda. Anyone who has read this blog over the years knows exactly how I feel about that album as a whole, but you hit the nail on the head there.  I completely agree with John’s comment about the producers though.  Anyone who has had true success with producing this band understands that everyone needs to be heard.  This is one reason why I adore the first album so much – Colin Thurston simply understood and worked to see that equal sums made up the whole.  I think he succeeded and then some.  The same cannot be said of other producers, but to be fair to those producers – they wouldn’t know what to do with a real instrument if it smacked them over the head. 


Chapter 48:  Megalomania at the Wheel:
Thoughts about the fans constantly outside of John’s house?
A – I have to admit that I was/am absolutely horrified by this!  Horrified!  I can’t imagine trying to live like this!  To have people going through your trash?!  Horrified again.  I’m not even sure what to say or what to think about the idea that when a new fan would show up, the others would bring her to him and ask him to be kind to her.  On one hand, I get it.  I’m clearly a fan, too.  I definitely understand the desire to wanting to meet him.  Sure.  Yet, there is a big gap between that desire and camping out or going through his trash.  Now, I’m sure that 95% or more of these fans meant well and didn’t get think about it from his perspective but…stories like this bother me.  Maybe, what bothers me about it is that this was John’s private residence and the fact that it was ALL the time.  Tell me I’m not the only one bothered by this.
R – I live a sheltered life. I have to admit that there’s a certain amount of curiosity about where the band lives. Of course there is. I’m a little embarrassed by that, but for me – that’s kind of where the story ends. I don’t know how I was a kid – but I never had the chance to even decide to do that sort of thing.  I think that on an individual level, each of these kids probably didn’t think they were doing anything creepy or weird.  I know some of those kids, who are now adults, and none of them meant harm.  They probably didn’t even realize that by going there so often they would be bothering him, and I’ll bet they didn’t even think about the fact that collectively, there were people outside of his house 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week.  They were just kids.  I really don’t know if I would have done the same because I didn’t even have the chance.  So I guess I stop short of being appalled. I think we have to remember that once again – these were kids doing this.  We’re not really talking about adults here.  I hope. 

Chapter 49:  Shelter and Control on West Fifty-Third Street
What struck you in this chapter:  Nick’s wedding?  Working on the Arena album mix?
A – As someone who has been focused on the stigma surrounding Duran Duran, Nick’s wedding jumped at me. John described it as a decadent moment of the 80s.  While I’m sure that is true, I also noted how he said that the press had a “field day” with it.  I, personally, remember reading comments about how Nick wore more makeup than Julie Anne.  My point here is just that I’m sure this kind of event did not help them get creditability.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I am glad that Nick had the kind of wedding he wanted.  Everyone should.  My point, only, is that everything they did was judged, which is so unfortunate.  Obviously, in this case, it was judged harshly and fed negative beliefs about the band.
R – Funny how the eyes of a teenager see things so much differently.  When I read about Nick’s wedding (I think it was in People…and probably other teen mags.) I thought it sounded so cool, and I was once again jealous over how great his makeup looked!  Ha ha!  I never really thought much about how they were judged at the time.  It’s only been in hindsight that I ever really noticed how their image might have hurt them. I don’t know why that was (that I didn’t notice). 

Chaper 50:  Nouveau Nous
Any comments about the making of the song, A View to a Kill?
A – I knew that John Barry and Nick didn’t get along so well, but I never thought about John’s place in the middle.  I am sure that he was grateful and we can all be grateful for Bernard Edwards and his ability to keep everyone together enough to finish it.
R – I don’t think I realized the strife involved with the song.  I’m sort of surprised by it too, because the result turned out so well.  I guess it’s as you say Amanda – thank goodness for Bernard.


Chapter 51:  Guilt Edge
This chapter has quite a scene with John going home for Christmas and getting very upset when his parents gave him his fan mail.  Reaction to  this scene?
A – When I first read this scene, I was terribly upset by it.  I could only imagine that his parents were equally upset and, probably confused, by what they saw.  It seems clear that John was conflicted about being famous.  On one hand, he hated having fans outside his door all day and all night but then wouldn’t take a break when the rest of the band did.  Then, he struggled with this idea that all of these people wanted him, or what they thought of him, while he could barely tolerate himself.  He seemed to be a lost soul.  Then, of course, when he decided to go home despite his misgivings, his parents seemed to fall in the same trap.  They, too, had become fans.  Fame had touched everything.  Everything.  When I think of it that way and that John seemed to have no sanctuary, I totally get it.  I probably would have responded in the exact same way.
R – On one hand, when I read that scene the first I reacted as a parent.  I thought John was a spoiled brat to treat his parents and their excitement that way.  On the other hand, I think it must have been very hard for John to be Nigel.  Do you understand what I mean by that?  I mean, I know his name is John Taylor.  But he was born Nigel, and I suspect it must have been very difficult if not impossible to somehow rectify the two of those identities into one person.  There are times when I am very happy to be Mom.  Then there are a lot of other times when I really just want to be Rhonda.  (or vice-versa!) I mean here he is coming home to the two people who know him (presumably best, but sometimes I would imagine they knew him least…) and once again he still is John Taylor to them.  I just believe this goes back to the fact that John didn’t know how to be John.  Or Nigel.  You’re right though, Amanda – he had no sanctuary.  If you read about how he set up flats or apartments and then spent barely any time in them, it’s very clear that he really didn’t know what to do with himself.  An identity crisis on top of the drugs?  Disaster.  He is lucky to be alive. 

Final Thoughts:
A – I was completely struck by how overwhelming the fans were in 1984.  I knew it, on some level.  While I was a fan in 1984, I was too young to do much with my fandom besides buy some of that merchandise that John talked about (Duran pajamas, anyone?).  I was no where near where the band was ever.  I knew that the fans were overwhelming by watching Sing Blue Silver.  Yet, I don’t think that documentary questioned it or questioned the behavior.  Now, as an adult, I put myself in John’s shoes back in 1984 and feel for him.  My belief is that everyone needs and deserves some space, some privacy and John didn’t have it.
R – I don’t think any of them had privacy in 1985, and I’m not sure that any of them dealt with it very well.  To be fair I’ve never really heard much from Nick or even Simon on the subject.  I do believe that some people are just better able to cope with such things better than others. The writing was on the wall for John since he was very young (not wanting to really be noticed much), and yet here he is – wanting to be that overnight success.  Funny how sometimes we ask for the very thing we need least.  I am as guilty of that as the next person, but I’m glad my life wasn’t lived out in the public eye like John’s.  I don’t know that I could have lasted.  I love writing and being online and being able to interact with people.  I don’t love doing it that much in person though.  I’m happy to sit on the sidelines.  I’m shy and crowds completely freak me out.  I would have medicated myself if I were John Taylor, that is for sure…so I guess that when John says that if I had been in his shoes I’d have done a lot of what he did too, I’d probably agree.  With SOME of it.  😉  

Next week, we will move on to 1985 by discussing Chapters 52-55.  I look forward to reading what the rest of you think!

-A 

Media Representations of Fandom? Juliet Naked (Chapters 10-15)

Today, I will finish discussing the book, Juliet Naked, by Nick Hornby.  Two Sundays ago, I discussed the first three chapters then last Sunday, I looked at chapters 4-9.  To refresh people’s memories or to catch up those who missed the previous blog posts, the book focuses mainly on three characters, Duncan, Annie and Tucker.  Duncan and Annie were a couple for a long time but had separated from each other.  Duncan was a huge fan of a singer-songwriter, Tucker, who had dropped out of public life.  When the couple hears an unreleased album of Tucker’s, both post reviews on a fan message board.  Annie’s review results in Tucker responding to her via email.  Meanwhile, Duncan begins to think that leaving Annie was a big mistake while Annie concludes that she has wasted 15 years of her life.  Tucker, on the other hand, deals with his relationship with his children from various women.

As Chapter 10 begins, Annie begins to wonder if she is just interested in Tucker because he is so different from Duncan.  Then, she wonders if Duncan likes Tucker for the same reason.  This, of course, made me wonder.  Why do we fall for the idols we do?  Is it because they are not like us?  I know that one of the things about Duran that appealed to me was that they seemed to represent a lifestyle that was so different than my lower middle class background in the Chicago suburbs.  Is it just about a fantasy?  I don’t know.  It is something to think about.  Anyway, as Annie questions her interest, Tucker plans to travel to the UK to see his daughter, which leads him to think about why he left public life.  While Duncan and fans like him think that there was some profound moment in the bathroom of a Minneapolis club, it has a lot more to do with that last album, Juliet.  The storyline of this album is one of falling in love and breaking up with someone.  In reality, this was a lie.  Tucker had a brief fling with the woman named Juliet, but it wasn’t as dramatic as he made it out to be.  Thus, on that tour, he struggled since people loved this album that was a lie.  He didn’t like himself and didn’t like the fans.  Again, I couldn’t help but to think of our fandom.  Does Duran love everything they do and have done?  I doubt it.  Yet, they can’t really tell us that, can they, especially when what they hate is the current projects?!  Would this lead any of them to hate those of us who do truly love what they hate?  I don’t know.

When Tucker arrives in London, he has a heart attack, which leads Annie to meet him there in the hospital instead of their originally planned meeting location.  Despite her lack of official fan status, she finds herself wanting to ask a bunch of questions.  Then, she wonders if she feels this way because of Duncan.  Speaking of Duncan, at this point in the book, he spends his time making Tucker playlists and discussing lyrics with her new girlfriend, Gina.  Interestingly enough, Gina questions his interpretation of the lyrics, which bothers Duncan since she isn’t a fan.  Yet, he finds himself wondering if he really did have it wrong the whole time.  If that is true, then, he isn’t as much of an expert as he thought.   Would we, Duranies, be as devastated by getting something about Duran wrong?  Maybe?!  This questioning of the lyrics, of course, points out that the album wasn’t as much about a tragic breakup as originally believe.  This is true, as we learned, from Tucker.  Tucker decides to confess this to Annie.  She responds by saying that it is okay and that it is still a brilliant album.  Tucker cannot believe that, but Annie points out that she has listened to it a ton of times and he probably hasn’t, which he confirms.  This reminds me of the section in John’s book where he talks about how he didn’t listen to Arena the whole way through for decades.  The confession leads the pair to discuss if all art is just made up.  Songs like Leopard would say that it could be.

Annie then tells Tucker that he should meet Duncan.  Tucker is concerned that Duncan might die of excitement.  I admit that I laughed out loud at this line.  Isn’t that how all of us feel about meeting any member of Duran?  Annie responds by saying how he connects to Tucker and his music.  Again, isn’t that how we feel?  I think so.  That is fandom in a nutshell.  Before they could formally meet, Duncan runs into Annie and Tucker out.  He doesn’t believe that he is really THE Tucker.  Annie tries to explain to Tucker about how hard this must be for Duncan since he thinks he knows everything about Tucker and proceeds to tell Tucker about their tour to his sites in the US.  This makes Tucker refer to Duncan as a stalker!  At this point, Annie realizes that she wanted Duncan to have the same level of passion for her as he did for Tucker.  Ah, yes, fandom really is about passion.  Sometimes, this passion is greater than real life relationships.  It happens.  Meanwhile, Duncan is trying to deal with what he does not know about Tucker.  Now, he can admit that his review of the unreleased album was messed up and that he only wrote the rave review to have the advantage over other fans.  As he concludes that, he also concludes that he is actually scared to meet Tucker.  Aren’t we all scared to meet our idol(s)?  It seems to me that there is always a little fear, a little anxiety when it comes to meeting one’s idol.  Duncan is afraid that Tucker will reject him because of his stupid review.  Luckily, Annie reminds Tucker that this is the biggest moment of Duncan’s life.

The meeting isn’t as smooth as possible as Duncan asks to do an interview for the website.  (Who would ever do that?!?)  Yet, Duncan makes a good point.  He reminds Tucker that he asked the fans to pay attention and they did.  Tucker agrees and decides that he shouldn’t be afraid of the fans.  It is the internet’s fault for bringing all the fans together in one place, making them seem much scarier.  I couldn’t stop laughing through this conclusion of Tucker’s.  I wonder if that is how Duran feels about us, that we seem scary because we are a large group, ready to pounce.  I do remember an interview with Nick in like 2005 when he said that he was too terrified to look at the message boards.  Maybe they are afraid of us.  It is something to remember.  Now, I won’t finish the story completely here because I do want to encourage those of you who are interested to read the book.  Plus, there is a lot more that happens in the story that I didn’t mention here because it didn’t fit with my focus on fandom.  That said, this book, overall, gave a ton to talk about when it comes to representations of fandom!!

Like I have said in the previous weeks, I think this book does show an accurate representation of fandom.  In this case, it shows that fandom begins with passion.  It also shows how this passion leads to wanting to find out as much as possible about one’s idol(s).  Then, the fans gather online to discuss every little detail.  Of course, social status is alive and well in that fan world.  I like that the book showed how the artist might have felt about the fans at the same time.  That perspective helped to make it more well-rounded.  In summary, I recommend this book both as an accurate representation of fans but also because it is an enjoyable story.  🙂

-A

Hornby, Nick.  Juliet Naked.  New York:  Riverhead Books, 2009.

Why Do We Only Feel the Pain?

Some days, I’m glad that I have this blog and get a chance to write and there are other days that I wish that Rhonda would write instead.  Then, there are days like today in which I feel both at the same time.  As I’m sure you have all heard about the horribly tragic and devastating school shooting that took place in Connecticut yesterday, part of me wants to write to explain how I’m feeling and the other part doesn’t want to write because I can’t offer any words of true comfort.  Like all of you, I cannot truly come to grips with what happened and why.  All of our hearts have broken at the news that small children and adults were killed in an act of horrible violence.  This event truly hit home for both Rhonda and myself.  She is a mom of three with her youngest turning five next year.  While I’m not a parent, I am a teacher and the proud aunt to two wonderful nieces.  We both look for answers and for comfort.  This afternoon, I found myself on the phone with both Rhonda and my sister.  We all sounded the same.  Hurt.  Confused.  Angry.  Scared.

At times like these, fandom seems so silly, so unimportant.  When I think of those families suffering the tremendous grief that comes from losing a loved one, especially an innocent, young loved one, I think about what is really important.  It isn’t that fandom or Duran Duran isn’t important.  It’s just that fandom is a luxury.  It is a luxury that we are able to enjoy because of the fact that we are safe and that our loved ones are safe.  Our minds and hearts are free to think about which Duran song we like best, what the next album should be like or how can we get Simon and/or John to tweet us.  Others right now are not so fortunate.  Yet, while fandom is not the most important thing in the world right now, it can and does offer comfort to many of us.  For example, when I deal with my grief, I find turning to a song like, “Do You Believe in Shame?” since it is a song that Simon wrote to deal with the loss of a dear friend of his, the loss of Alex Sadkin, their former producer, and Andy Warhol.  I include it below in case, you, too, would comfort by hearing and/or seeing the song:

 
Here is where I could offer some words of wisdom.  I could speak in platitudes and offer commonly uttered expressions about how time heals all wounds but I won’t.  Instead, like all of you, I will hug my loved ones who are close by, send my love to those who are not, and hope that we have to face something so horrific like this ever again.  I leave you with another Duran classic that gives me hope when I need it most.

-A