My kids say that to me constantly these days. At first I suppose it was funny, but when they started referencing the fact that I was born prior to the internet being “born”….well, let’s just say they ran from me as they were laughing. The sad (or not so sad) fact is that it’s true, I have seen many a technological dream become a reality in my lifetime. The same could be said for most of Duran Duran’s fans, and most certainly those who have been around since the very beginning. At one point (that doesn’t seem nearly that long ago!), fan communities were called “Fan Clubs”, and they communicated with fans through good old snail mail with a stamp and envelope. Bands communicated with their fans through doing TV, radio & magazine interviews, through the rare newsletter sent to their fan clubs, and of course through their music. There was always some sort of barrier, whether inferred or actual, between the fan and the band. Of course, this was also back in the day when we actually bought record albums, or CD’s – Tower Music or Wherehouse Records were not only places we would spend precious hours pouring over each aisle of record bins, but also where we would stand in line for hours waiting for tickets to go on sale, or for our favorite musicians to make an appearance to sign record albums. I can remember standing in line for hours waiting for tickets for a concert to go on sale, only to see a few people go in, buy tickets and have a clerk come out to tell us they’ve sold out. (this was before the dreaded randomly numbered wristbands were handed out, and before Ticketmaster took to the internet!)
No, I’m not referring to the band, for once. I’m referring to fans. It seems to me that since the album and single release dates are getting closer, more and more fans are coming back to the fandom. Of course, one can argue that they never really left the fandom. While, for some, this is technically true, there were many fans who weren’t checking the message boards and weren’t posting, even if they were. These fans weren’t talking about Duran in emails or on social networking sites. Yet, lately, I have begun to see a flurry of activity across the online community.
Last night, my own particular facebook page and the Daily Duranie’s twitter were alive with Duran comments! Many of these people were either watching and commenting about the Behind the Music airing or were talking about their excitement over the album! I see enthusiasm returning to many of my Duranie friends, something that I haven’t seen since Astronaut days. I also see the message boards getting more and more popular as it is taking longer and longer to read them as so many more people are posting per day. Obviously, not all of these posts or posters are positive about the album or the snippets of songs they have heard. For some of these people, a new album still provides a large discussion topic and they go to the boards to read and discuss. I get that. I, too, like to discuss the band and their current status. Heck, I am a co-author of this blog in order to do just that. Yet, some of the people talking and thinking about Duran now aren’t necessarily those who want to discuss everything but those who are positive about the album.
I definitely was concerned after RCM about the state of the fandom. Obviously, some fans came back only for the reunion and to relive some aspect of their childhood. Once they had seen the Fab Five in person, they had no more need to think about Duran. Yet, many people actually left because they did not like what they heard and saw. That worried me. I was concerned that these people would never return, no matter what the band did, musically or otherwise. Now, some of those fans are returning. Yes, some are coming back because they are too curious to stay away and they may not stay but some are back because they LIKE what they hear. They like the feel of the current Duran as it feels like true Duran Duran to them. This makes me happy.
Why should it matter to me if the fans come back or not? Well, personally, I believe that participating in a fandom is WAY more fun with more people! Yes, I could assume to have a greater chance to meet the band or to have really good seats if there are less fans. That is true. I don’t think I would have as much fun, though. There is nothing better than sharing one’s excitement over a new snippet or interview with one’s fellow fans. Their level of enthusiasm only works to enhance mine! I have been to shows with non-Duranies and can appreciate the performances of the band but those shows won’t stick out to me as the best shows (even if they were really great, musically). To me, the best shows are ones with a great performance with the band, attending it with a Duranie similar to yourself (in my case, that always means my partner-in-crime), and hanging out with other Duranies both before and after a show. I feel like the future tour (dates can be released any time now…) will be really fun again! I have high hopes for really good times with my fellow Duranies currently that I didn’t have even a month or two ago.
I love that this new album is bringing the Duranies back. Now, I hope that the album is good enough that they all stay!
I’ve tried very hard not to comment on the snippets of music I’ve heard so far, mainly because it’s really hard to tell how something is going to sound from 30 seconds of music. I will say that some of the songs have really intrigued me, others have kind of just sounded good (as if that’s a bad thing, right?), and still others have me very excited.
So then why do I feel an impending sense of dread? Isn’t every other album out there the same? I mean – not every song on an album is going to bowl me over, and there are some I might add, that I don’t even end up liking. That’s normal, and I know that.
The word on the boards with regard to the album seems to be fairly mixed at this point. Some are excited, some are thrilled, some think it’s not good…etc. etc. Each of us have our own opinions, and none of them are wrong. I get that. It’s hard not to feel the urge to knock fellow fans alongside the head when they openly pronounce the album as dead before it even drops though. First question I ask is if they’ve actually HEARD the whole album, and the second question I ask is – if so, where can I grab a copy? 🙂
What really pains me though, more than any other comment, is when some gentle soul will hope that the album goes really big, and then some other genius will announce that there’s not a chance of that happening at all. The album will never get played on radio, and therefore it’ll never chart, and it’ll fall flat like a pancake.
Really? Is that what constitutes an album being big? Is that what “success” really is all about?
My thoughts on that are simply that maybe it’s time that we fans get a better understanding of what success really is. Personally, I think success has far more to do with how we ourselves feel about something in the end, rather than what recognition we receive. My goodness, I’m a fantastic mom – I know this because, well, I have three children whom I’m raising to be amazing little people. I don’t win awards for that, and I sure as heck don’t get a paycheck. That doesn’t mean I’m not successful, that’s for sure. Success for me is giving and getting love from them, and seeing them grow into the most fabulous humans. That’s real success. I kind of think the band is way over the idea of hitting the top of the charts. (here’s a tip for all of you fans out there – try listening to the lyrics of the few snippets we’ve had. Really listen, because it’s not hard to hear, but you have to WANT to hear what they’re trying to say.) I truly think they are in this for the love and joy of making music. They want to play, they want to tour, and I would even say that they want to see all of our faces screaming for more. Perhaps that’s success for them, these days.
After all – they said right in their press release that they’ve got nothing left to prove and everything to play for. If that doesn’t give us an idea of what they’re after as far as success is concerned – maybe it’s really time we look at why we’re still fans after all these years. Are we really thinking that we’re hear to see 1985 happen again? It’s time to redefine success, and stop setting ourselves and the band up for failure before the album even drops.
Oh, and if you’ve heard that whole album and have deemed it failure…you know where to find me. I’ll take that copy off your hands. Ha! 😉
Just when I think the day is going to be quiet – a little subtle change appears on the horizon that brings on a small rain shower.
If anyone has been watching, the space under Label has remained fairly blank for while on the band’s myspace and facebook pages, then very quietly it was filled – I’m not sure if it happened this morning or last night, but it now has a name listed. “Tapemodern”. I’m going to be up front and honest, this blog isn’t really going to be about the label “announcement” – I’ll leave that to other perfectly capable folks to mull over. What I am more curious about is the reaction AFTER noticing that space being filled with a name.
One of The Daily Duranie’s fellow bloggers took to her blog this morning, announcing the small change. You can read it here . Even more fascinating than the label itself (which really isn’t huge news if you’ve been paying any kind of attention for the last year or so) are the comments AFTER the blog. Immediately folks jumped on Nathan Stack, who is the handler of the bands myspace and facebook pages. They wanted to know where he got his information, and Nathan – ever so carefully, I might add, sidestepped the real question. (clearly he’s been learning – good on him!) That’s when another person commented, as anonymous as the first, that Nathan was being coy and evasive and that he should just tell us where he got his information – or if he was just following the bosses orders and wasn’t told why.
Upon reading the comments – I had this clear vision: Nathan tied to a chair in a small dark room with a single light bulb hanging down from the ceiling. Someone from the Gestapo standing in front of him, whip in hand, demanding answers. “Tell us vat you know!”
Really people? This is our fandom??? One tiny bit of news that isn’t really THAT huge and we’re going to be like the Gestapo to get answers? One person even commented that if Nathan really changed the label name – that he should know the answers and at least be able to verify whether it’s true or not. It almost infers that #1 – Nathan might not have been the one to change the label name, and #2 – that if he did change it and doesn’t know why, than maybe it’s just rumor. I suppose it’s possible that someone else went onto the accounts – whether that was because they had authority to do so or because the account was hacked as a joke and changed the label – but I kind of doubt that. Why bother?? So I’ll go out on a limb and say that if it’s on their myspace and facebook, it’s highly likely that it’s their label. That said, I don’t believe Nathan or anyone else on Duran’s staff is responsible or required to explain themselves to the fan community. I just can’t quite get over that we’ve gotten to the point where we’re going to question EVERYTHING – even their own facebook and myspace pages – simply because we all know that a fellow fan runs those pages, as if that makes them fair game for bullying. It doesn’t.
Even more fascinating is the “why”. Why do we as fans feel it’s our “right” to know everything, and I do mean everything, as soon as it happens? I’m just like the rest of you, I sit in very anxious anticipation for the next album. I can’t wait to see them on tour. I have posters hanging in my closet. (wait….I probably didn’t need to mention that…. ;D) Yet I don’t know when it became my right to know exactly what they are doing and why. I think that at the end of the day, I have to trust that the band has a pretty good idea of what they’re doing and how the business works, even if I don’t always agree with their choices. They probably wouldn’t agree with many of mine…so we’re good on that one. In all due time, we’ll find out what made them decide to go with Tapemodern (*coughs* Nick *coughs*), and why there are still listings of UMG distributing a single for them on December 14th.
This whole morning/afternoon has reminded me of the UCLA Internet Symposium that John spoke at this same time last year. During his speech, he spoke of how Twitter, Facebook and other social mediums have brought the fans so much closer – there’s not nearly the same sort of separation as there was when he was young. This is true. He talked about the anticipation he would have over getting specific albums after seeing his favorite bands live, because that was the only way at the time that you could continue to feel that connection after leaving a show. Nowadays, the line between privacy and public life is so blurred that a lot of that anticipation is lost – which is one reason (out of many I am certain) that John chooses not to participate in those social mediums. I would venture to guess that “back in the day”, the band could have (and did) switch labels without noticing so much as a ripple of commotion in the fandom. In present time, we often find out about such things well before the band even intends to announce them, and yet ALL of us (this blogger included) continue to question why the band openly chooses – so it seems – to put up such a brick wall between themselves and their fans, whether that brick wall is perceived, misunderstood, or otherwise.
I think that much of the answer to that question can be found in this blog, on the bands facebook and myspace pages, and on our message boards.
Fandom is a funny thing. It can suck you in very quickly, and one can go from just enjoying a new album to wanting to know every last thing about the lead singer…or keyboardist, bass player and/or drummer in a matter of moments. I know this because it happened to me, a very long time ago!
Over the course of the last few weeks, several tidbits of information regarding the next album has come out – including the title. Mark Ronson has done some interviews, having acted as producer on the album, and naturally – the band has done some as well. One would think that the information would cause near-hysteria on the boards, since many of us have been hungry for ANY information at this point. Oddly though, most of the boards that I have visited have had very little to say on the subject. A thread here or there, but there’s not nearly as much discussion as I would have imagined a few years back.
If that weren’t enough of an anomaly, the threads themselves have quite a difference in them. At one point not that long ago, the majority of Duranies would have responded with enthusiastic glee. A few might have expressed concern over one thing or another, but the enthusiasm would have been infectious. That really isn’t the case today. There are far more people questioning the choices of the band than I’ve ever noticed before. If Mark Ronson does an interview and gushes about the band – the fans can’t stand it and say he’s not being genuine (don’t even get them started on the interview where he says he kind of “forgot” he wasn’t in Duran Duran…). If John says the album is better than the last one, people are virtually rolling their eyes and saying they’ll believe it when they see it. (on a personal note – I don’t see how it could NOT be better, but that’s just me!) If Roger says the album will be out in January, at least one fan will comment somewhere that they won’t hold their breath. It’s as though the majority of fans have completely lost their faith in the band – but they haven’t left the community yet, as though they just can’t help themselves.
I’ve always felt that for the majority, Duranies can be a cynical bunch. Let someone post a rumor somewhere – if only for discussion purposes – there will be responses from several others calling the poster everything from a liar, to other names I won’t even bother to post. You all know what I’m talking about. If someone posts direct information that they themselves have been told by someone “in the know”, someone else will say the infamous words “I won’t believe it until someone in the band or their management comes forward and posts it on the official website.” This temperament is oddly juxtaposed from the band themselves, or at least the way in which they write their songs – in that the band has always been kind of stood for optimism and joy. Optimistic is not a word that I would use to describe the majority of their fan base right now.
Then there are the folks who are not only completely cynical, but they also insist for the band to explain their every decision and move – or else they don’t believe what they’ve read, and they get very annoyed with those of us who can recall what we’ve read/heard in interviews etc. They will say we’re just regurgitating what has been assumed in other posts…or better yet, that we’re making assumptions. For example, we all know their album Reportage was shelved. The band hasn’t ever really come out and given a full, complete statement as to why that album never saw the light of day. They’ve alluded to reasons in several interviews, and Andy has given his version of the events in his book Wild Boy, but that’s as close as I believe we’ll ever come to knowing what happened. I’m not “assuming” I know what happened when I recall what Andy wrote in his book, or what Simon, John, Nick & Roger have said in their interviews on the subject, but yet that’s not enough. I run into fans all the time that will post and insist that the band come forward and tell us exactly what happened. My response to that is always one of amazement. At what point did we stop being fans, and start feeling as though we own the band, or that we are the bosses? The band is not our possession, regardless of how long we have been fans.
The fact is, they write the music. They perform the songs. Each of us then makes a choice to buy what they have made, and attend the concerts and appearances. That’s pretty much all we are entitled to as fans. It makes no difference to the band HOW long we’ve been fans – we still do not own them, and really – that’s the way it should be.
So I throw it back to you, dear readers. Why so cynical these days? I have my own guesses – but I would love to read what you’re thinking. Is it because of band history? Is it because we’ve grown older ourselves and with that comes cynicism? Is it because of other fans?? Post away and let us know!
I have been following and posting on a thread over on DDM entitled “Antics”. Basically, the original post asked fans to describe some of their craziest behavior in regards to the band. This topic always can be a dangerous one when brought up either publicly or privately. If this type of question is asked in public with non-Duranies, there is a good chance that people will be judging you and determining that you might actually be crazy, that you take this fan thing too far, that you don’t have a life, or something else that is equally negative. Yet, I do not understand how these people can’t relate. After all, it is a Sunday afternoon in the fall and I’m willing to bet that countless Americans have their TV tuned to the football game of their choice. I might think it is weird that they feel these games are so important that they schedule them into their Sunday activities (I don’t actually but I could). So how are Duranies so different from football fans? How are they different than people who religiously watch every episode of a specific television show? Someone explain to me how we are so different than people who go to the first showing of their favorite movie sequel when it comes out? I don’t think we are all that different.
Yes, fans do things that may seem a bit overboard to outsiders but it is generally all in fun. Of course, it seems to me that most Duranies’ antics are usually done with other people. For example, Rhonda and I do most of our fan activities together and yes, some of those things might be deemed a bit extreme to the outside world. For example, in the fall of 2008, we did drive over 800 miles in a weekend to see three shows and we would do it again. I suspect other Duranies would, too. We did not drive all that way or go to those shows as a way of proving how big of fans we were/are but because it was fun! First, we were able to be together. In that way, “touring” is a celebration of our friendship. Second, we were able to experience and enjoy this thing we have in common, which is Duran and their music. Lastly, we spent time in cities and states that we don’t get the chance to and meet people whom we wouldn’t have met otherwise. While some people may say it is extreme, I say it is all in good fun. Of course, I don’t think it is any “crazier” than the Green Bay Packers fans that I see going to games in extreme cold or any “crazier” than those Twilight fans who stand outside in line to get tickets to the latest movie.
Therefore, a thread like this on a private, fan-only message board should be one where the fans can come and embrace the silly but entertaining moments of the past all in the name of being a fan. Unfortunately, that is not always the case as fans will often judge other fans and their behaviors. Some behaviors can be seen as crossing a line even with other fans. I think most people would agree that committing a crime to get to the band would be over the line. Another example might be that it is not okay to physically stalk a band member or his family. Yet, where do you draw the line when it comes to finding out where a member lives? What about going up to them in public places? Is this acceptable? Unacceptable? What about giving and sending gifts to them? Crazy or cool? I don’t actually know. I know what I might think is going too far but others may disagree with me. Nonetheless, posters on this thread have enjoyed a positive atmosphere and pleasant response for now and I hope it continues that way so that we can embrace our fandom together. I wouldn’t be surprised, though, if someone doesn’t come in and call someone a “Durantard” at some point for some action. It seems to me that negative statements and reactions like that is a way for a fan to distance herself/himself from other fans. It is an attempt to say, “I’m a fan but I’m not a CRAZY fan.” In that way, fans can become just like the general public with judgemental thoughts and statements.