Category Archives: interviews

Kennedy Space Center PRomotion

I am not heading to Florida this week. There is a part of me that really wishes that I would be. I recognize, though, that I cannot do everything and be everywhere. Yet, I do have Vegas coming up and a family vacation in a few weeks. That said, I am completely excited for those who are going and feeling nothing but pride for the band to be given the honor to play at the Kennedy Space Center for Apollo’s 50th Anniversary. On top of all of that, I love all the publicity that Duran has been getting. Let’s share some of what I have seen and heard, shall we? (I’m not sharing the CNN interview because Rhonda had a blog about that one last week.)

I think what I have been most excited to see are the videos about the individual band member’s memories about the moon landing. As someone who was not on the planet then, I love hearing other people share stories about historical events that they witnessed. My parents, for example, told me that they were at my uncle and aunt’s house that day to play cards but that they all stopped when the news came through. So, what did Roger, Nick, John and Simon share? Let’s see!

I love that Roger mentions about how he already knew that he was going to be a musician but the idea of an astronaut couldn’t help but come into his consciousness then. I bet that a lot of kids started to think about this as a career choice after seeing this footage and the hero’s welcome the astronauts received.

It is interesting to me that John mentioned how school felt like it was in slow motion that day. I can remember later space flights in which my teachers in elementary school put on the radio for us to listen to the lift-off. Of course, I also can distinctly recall sitting in my classroom in 1986 when the Challenger exploded with what probably was the exact opposite feeling to the one in 1969.

Nick’s story about keeping the Sunday Times Magazine about this historical event reminds me of a quote that I have in my classroom. It says something about how you never know that you are living in history while it is happening. On that day of the moon landing, I’m pretty certain that the whole world knew that history was happening. Nick clearly did.

I love the fact that Roger’s parents woke him up to see the moon landing. Those are parents that I can appreciate!

Leave it to Simon to get philosophical at the end. I agree with him, though, it must be hard to have one’s life to be defined by one event. It could be magical but also limiting.

Besides these video clips, the band has been busy promoting the event through talking to various media. Tomorrow, for example, Simon will be on Sirius XM Volume in the morning to talk about it. He was also on iHeart radio with Martha Quinn this weekend, which you can hear here! While Martha tried to get setlist intel out of him, he instead focused on the drones that will be up in the air during their set.

Did I miss any other press? If so, let me know and I would be happy to edit this post to include it. Excited to cheer Duran from a distance this week while I listen to all the space related songs of theirs.

-A

John on Jonesy’s JukeBox

Did you know that John Taylor was recently on Jonesy’s Jukebox? This, of course, is the radio show hosted by former Sex Pistols’ guitarist, Steve Jones. If you know your Duran history, you also are familiar with the fact that Steve and John played in Neurotic Outsiders together in the 1990s, one of John’s side projects. Every time I listen or watch the two of them interact, their friendship and affection for each other is obvious. This most recent video is a good example.

Of course, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t comment on a few parts of the video. First, I love how excited John clearly is to go to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame ceremony in order to induct Roxy Music with Simon at the end of the month. The love he has for that band is obvious and I so appreciate the fact that John, even with all of his fame and legions of fans, is still a fan himself.

Then, I love that Steve Jones is trying to raise money for St. Jude’s for children with cancer. As John stated, it is a “no brainer” and a great cause. My mother is a breast cancer survivor so this is a cause that definitely speaks to me.

If all this wasn’t enough, John did give a brief update on the studio work the band has been doing. He spoke about Mark Ronson. The idea of Mark being in the studio with the band is one that excites quite a few Duranies. John did not specify his exact role and how much he will be doing with the band. I, for one, am happy that he is there and I will take however much he actually does. I refuse to get my hopes up too much as I am well-aware that Mark is highly in demand and that lots can change between now and a finished product. That said, the idea still makes me smile.

On that note, what did the rest of you think? Did you enjoy John’s appearance? What caught your attention?

-A

South Africa Interview from 1982

Life sure has a way to swing from one extreme to the next, doesn’t it? Last week at this time, I was finishing up my second winter break of sorts as I had four snow days in a row. Those days were pretty chill. While I checked off some items on my to do list, it was done with minimal stress. Since returning to school/work, I have been running around like a chicken with my head cut off with campaign work taking up just as much time as my teaching job. This means that by Thursday night, I’m beat. I was even supposed to go to a meeting last night but opted not to due to slick roads and exhaustion. The results for this blog means that I cannot be super creative or even probably decently articulate. I’m settling with a “good enough” attitude. I apologize in advance. I hope to be on my game more tomorrow.

Rather than attempt a topic that is super thought-provoking or funny that would not go so well in my current state, I figured it might be better to check out an interview. By interview, I mean a Duran Duran interview. Yes, it will be random because that will be fun. I’ll share the interview in a second and then share my thoughts about it. I’m sure those conclusions will be amazingly uninterestingly but what the heck. If I haven’t alienated you yet, maybe you will put up with just a little bit more.

Somehow, I managed to find an interview that I haven’t seen and I don’t think I have shared on here before. According to the video description, this is from South Africa in 1982. Fascinating.

Ignoring the very quiet audio, I’m not surprised that the first real question had to do with video. Simon’s statement about how they had to do something new to get attention and how they are going to be the first video band made me think. While I totally get why he said that as they were getting lots of attention because of their videos, I wonder how long it was until he wished that he had answered differently. I remember countless interviews where they talk about how much longer it takes to make a song vs. a video and that they wished that people focused on their music more. Sometimes, saying something that seems good at one time ends up coming back to bite you in the butt.

Interestingly enough, the next time Simon speaks he gives an answer that does not sound dated in that they are trying to broaden their audience. Heck, he could say the very same thing today. After all, I’m sure that there are a lot of women in the front these days with lots of guys further back.

The last part that caught my attention was the discussion about America’s musical tastes. Simon talked about how America just seems bored of the “rubbish” music that is out. (In 1982, I don’t know that I would disagree with him especially when it comes to mainstream, Top 40 radio.) The funny part is that Simon said something along the line of how once the U.S. hears the new music coming out of the UK, that it will catch on quickly. He really wasn’t wrong. I wonder how he knew that. How could he tell?

This was not my favorite video (mostly due to the poor volume) but I enjoyed it, nonetheless. I thought it was cool to see Roger looking about as relaxed in an interview from that time period that I have ever seen. It is fascinating about how many of these questions might be asked today and how they might respond exactly as they did then for some questions but not for others. What did the rest of you think?

-A

Duran Duran Interview 1981 Thoughts and Reactions

A couple of weeks ago, the question of the day focus shifted from interviews to comparing b-sides and bonus tracks. We moved away from interviews because there were not many people who were voting. When I questioned why, the overwhelming response I got was that people enjoyed the interviews but simply did not have time to watch them and vote within the day. I could appreciate that myself as time is not always something I have. That said, I wanted to honor those people who mentioned how they were often seeing interviews for the very first time and enjoying them. How do I keep that part alive while engaging more of the fanbase? The simple answer is that I moved on in terms of questions of the day but figured that I could occasionally focus on a blog post on an interview. Today’s blog does just that. In this case, let’s watch an interview from 1981. Then, I’ll dive into what I thought about it!

Now, I have seen a lot of Duran Duran interviews in my life but that one was *new* to me. How many of you had seen that before? Some of the topics that the interviewer focused on included studio use, the New Romantic label, fashion and more. Studio use was the first topic but one that we missed the beginning of the discussion for. It sounded like the band was asked about which studio they would use for the next album. I love that Nick just declared they were looking at some place in France. Do people even ask that question of them anymore? Would they even answer? Does that matter much? I’m sure that it would be important to them but to the average listener or viewer? It doesn’t to me unless I had a chance to be anywhere near it. I just thought it was an odd question.

The second big topic was the New Romantic label. This, of course, interested me a lot more. It also shows that this interview was indeed from the early 1980s as now people mention that label but it doesn’t mean anything. I’m sure in 1981 people thought this label might be around for a long, long time. In hindsight, we know that it doesn’t. Other labels, like New Wave, Post-Punk, etc. from the time lasted much longer and mattered a lot more to the general public as well as the music industry, I think. The band’s response was exactly what I expected. They clearly wanted to shake off the label. Perhaps, they thought the New Romantic label would stifle them or limit their potential audience. I could get that. I also saw their point about it being about how they looked as opposed to music. Maybe, if they didn’t have a line in Planet Earth about new romantics, they wouldn’t have been asked that as much (even though I like that lyric). Now, almost forty years later, the term just makes me smile. I wonder how present day Duran would respond now.

The rest of the interview was far less interesting to me. While I understand people’s interest in fashion, it isn’t something I know very much about. It is a world that I have never had any connection to. This, of course, is even more removed from current day fashion as they were talking about places and designers of the early 1980s in the UK. Nonetheless, it does provide a little time capsule of that period.

While I cannot say that I learned a ton from this interview, I enjoyed it nonetheless. I liked seeing how they held themselves then, how they interacted with each other and what they had to say. What did the rest of you think? On another note, when I do these interview focused blogs, would you all like to rate the interviews like we were doing for the question of the day? Do you have any interview that you think I should watch and discuss on here?

-A

Front Row Podcast and Friendship

Do you listen to a lot of podcasts?  I don’t but I have many friends who love them.  That said, I’m always open to listening to one if it features members of Duran Duran.  Last week, the BBC Podcast called, Front Row, included a ten minute (or so) segment with John and Roger Taylor.  Of course, the purpose was to advertise the two TV specials, Something You Should Know and Boys on Film, that aired on Friday.  Whenever something airs outside of the U.S., I always worry that I won’t be able to see/hear it.  Luckily, though, a friend ensured that Rhonda and I could!

The Front Row podcast began by sharing the fact that the famous author, Neil Gaiman, first published work was, indeed, a biography of Duran Duran.  (That book costs a lot of money to buy, BTW.  Right now, you could buy a copy on Amazon for a cheap $157.)  Anyway, the podcast continued by discussing some of the highlights and lowlights of Duran’s career to introduce Roger and John.  The conversation, much like the documentary, runs in chronological order of the band’s career, obviously starting in the 1970s.  Interestingly enough, in describing punk, John talked about how the youth of that time were rebelling against their parents, the war generation.  That sort of made me sad as the World War II generation accomplished a lot like defeating fascism.  Nonetheless, I understood what he was saying.  Roger followed up talking about how all the family in his family held manual labor jobs.  In looking at his life, he acknowledged that just a couple of changes in his life or the band’s and he, too, could have been a manual laborer.  He’s really right.  Little moments and choices add to one’s life and any changes could make a big difference.

From there, they go on to discuss other topics, including the influence of glam and technology, the affects of having female teen fans, creating the James Bond theme song for A View to a Kill, the split in the mid-1980s, and advice for the young.  Which topic do you think caught most of my attention?  Yep.  I was most interested in what they would have to say about having female teen fans.  The interviewer directly asked if having female teen fans hurt the band when it came to the critics?  Roger acknowledged that it did.  He commented that it put them in a box with critics which resulted in having the music overlooked.  I don’t disagree with him at all.  That said, I wanted more.  Maybe I felt compelled to go deeper so I yelled  out in my living room the following (like Roger could hear me):  “Why is that Roger?  Why does having female teen fans mean that the music would be overlooked?  What would critics assume?”  So, what did  I mean about all of that?  Simple.  If a band has a lot of female teen fans, the assumption was that the band could not really play.  The only reason that female teens would like a band is because they were cute, not that they were talented musicians.  The implication, of course, was that female teens couldn’t judge music.  They weren’t smart enough, according to (probably) male critics.  Obviously, I think those assumptions are a bunch of bull.  I’m not sorry that I was a part of that group of fans, but I am sorry that sexism towards their female following hurt the band with the critics.

Overall, I enjoyed the podcast even though I wished it was longer and that I might have chosen a few different questions.  For example, I don’t think I would have asked about A View to a Kill because I have heard/read a lot about that.  I appreciate the discussion of the band’s origins but I would love to hear them analyze the reunion, for example, or the music industry.  All of that said, I completely appreciate our friend, Debbie, sending the podcast to us.  It means the world to us to know that there are people who know/understand how much we love Duran and want to be able to enjoy all media about the band.  It reminds me of what is really great about fandom when fans look out for each other.  Thanks again, Debbie, for both the podcast as well as the reminder.

I loved having new Duran stuff to write and talk about this weekend. Definitely added some joy when it was most needed.

-A

I’m Making a Break

Today is one of those days.  It is a day in which I just find myself sitting in my living room, unable to write anything on a blog post.  This does not happen to me much.  I always have something to write about, right?  In fact, I have a list of blog topics that I keep around.  I have been doing a lot of reading surrounding female fandom lately, which is bringing up a ton of topics to write about.  Yet, none of the topics on my list are motivating me right now.  I’m just not in a mood to think that much.  Call me exhausted and needing a break, I guess.

What am I going to do with blog then?  I’m not sure.  I thought I might do a little YouTube cruising and see if any Duran clips catch my attention.  Perhaps, I find some ones that I haven’t seen before that I can share with all of you.

I started out by checking out the videos “recommended” to me!  Sure enough, right away, I saw this clip, one I had never seen before:

This clip made me laugh!  As you see here, Simon and John certainly were laughing during this interview.  John tells a story about his dad pointing out that he is “thinking a lot more now” and Simon addresses the sexual nature of the song, “Big Thing.”  The interviewer says that parents must be super concerned about this “rougher” Duran Duran.  My reaction.  Huh?  The album, Big Thing, was rough?  Bad boy like?  Really?  Of course, the interviewer’s concern about parents says to me that she is making a big assumption that the band’s fans are all kids.  Now, I was a kid still in 1988 but a lot of Duranies were grown people.  Annoying.

Then, I found this gem:

First of all, they are babies.  Babies.  So young.  What is interesting to me is the focus, still, on their looks over the music.  People, even then, seemed to think that all they (and/or their fans) cared about were the band’s looks.  Beyond that, I was entertained by the kids and all of the various things they were doing behind John and Simon’s backs.  I wonder what those kids thought of themselves years later.  Funny watch!

Here is another 1981 clip:

Here’s what I really want to know.  Perhaps, someone from the UK can explain all of the shows with little kids present with rock stars or famous people in the early 1980s.  It is so weird to see the band so young.

Then, I found this clip:

I almost turned this off until I saw the dancing.  Oh, for the dancing.  Seriously, watch until at least 1:45.  Simon has some moves.

While I feel like I see most interviews/clips that come out these days, I love when I find that I missed one.  Here is a clip of the band winning a lifetime achievement award in 2015.

Simon’s speech is touching but I really related to Mark Ronson talking about being a kid and hearing the Reflex.  “And that’s what I want to listen to for the rest of my life.”  That’s my life.  Exactly.

Clearly, I could go on and on and on and on.  Yet, I think that awards clip is the perfect place to end my search, my viewing, this blog post.  Watching these clips was exactly what I needed today.

-A

Duran Duran – “The Brand” and More!

Did anyone see/read any good Duran Duran interviews lately?  I was surprised to see a new interview catch my attention as I figured that time for Duran interviews had past since the album had been released over a month ago.  Yet, this interview, entitled The Pressure’s Off, popped up this week.  If you haven’t seen or read it, I suggest that you do so!  It has both a video and a written article and is written by author of Careless Memories of Strange Behavior:  My Life as a Notorious Duran Duran Fan, Lyndsey Parker.  Somehow, I always feel better knowing that an article is written by a fan.  I guess I figure that the band will get more respect that way.  Well, this article/interview/video did not disappoint!  In fact, it gave me much to think about!

The Duran Duran Brand:

John started the interview off with talking about the Duran Duran Brand, or the classic Duran Duran sound that we all know and love.  He doesn’t define it, specifically, but I think that every fan (or almost every fan) knows it when s/he hears it.  John describes it as the classic Duran sound.  He goes on to explain that All You Need Is Now captured the Rio sound and mood, which is probably why it was so easy for all of us to digest.  It was THE classic Duran Duran sound or BRAND.  It didn’t challenge any of us.  It felt normal.  Comfortable.  Familiar–like an old friend.  He compares that to Red Carpet Massacre which he described as “electro” and containing really none of the classic Duran sound.  A little light bulb went off in my head when I heard that!  It makes total sense to me and also why for many of us, Red Carpet Massacre felt so foreign, so unlike Duran.  In fact, I want to memorize the link to this interview to play whenever the discussion of RCM comes up.  I just want to post it and go:  THIS!!!  Anyway, he finishes that discussion with the idea that Paper Gods is a mixture.  This also rings completely true to me.  It is contemporary but it also has the classic Duran sound in it.  Now, I understand why the album takes awhile to know and love.  For longtime fans hoping to hear ONLY the classic Duran brand, the album will seem weird.  Yet, if you listen close, you can hear the known Duran WITH the new.  I think it is impressive that they were able to merge both with this album as I have to figure that it would be far easier to go in one direction or the other, but to keep what makes you YOU while also embracing change is something to admire.

The Fans:

It is always music to my ears when any member says something about how important the FANS are.  John commented about how important it was to them for the fans to love this album.  Sometimes, I think the fans feel overlooked as Duran, at times, seems only focused on finding new fans.  While I think most of us understand why new fans are important, it is still so nice to know that we MATTER to them.  I thought Simon’s point about the fans was really interesting.  He commented about how it gives fans’ validity when other people start liking what you have been into.  I never really think about that.  I’m so used to people (read:  non-fans) mocking my love of Duran, either subtly or overtly, that I wouldn’t know what to do if “regular” people started liking them!  It would probably freak me out!  That said, I wonder if the mocking would cease, at least to some extent.  Would I have to explain myself less?  No matter, I do thank Simon for acknowledging the dedicated fan base who have been there through “good times and bad”.  Here’s the thing, Simon.  We always will be here.  You are stuck with us!

Criticism and Female Fans:

In the beginning of the segment of the interview, John and Simon talk about how they were hit hard by the critics but that they have learned to ignore.  (That is a hard skill to learn.  We struggle on the blog–not with disagreement or constructive criticism but disrespectful statements.  While I wish that people would stop and ask themselves if what they say might be hurtful before posting, I know that we have to toughen up because people won’t do that.)  What I found more interesting on this part was Simon’s discussion of having female fans.  This is a subject that we have talked a lot about on the blog over the years (YEARS?!  EEK!).  There definitely is sexist stereotype out there that females don’t really know or understand music or have good taste, which means that any band that has a female following must be unworthy, musically.  Obviously, Duran Duran is finally showing people how wrong that belief is.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame:

The interview ends with a brief discussion of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame.  It is clear that for both John and Simon, there are more important things to them that being inducted.  Simon mentions, once again, that the fans are more important and the only thing he needs to feel validated.  John said that he is happy in the seat he is sitting in right now.  I definitely admire their attitudes.  I think we would all like to be so settled in what we do.

Obviously, I didn’t discuss each statement made in this interview.  I just picked out the highlights or the highlights as I saw them right now.  If I watched this interview again tomorrow, I would probably pick out different things to discuss.  That’s how good it is!  I think you all should watch/read the interview and let me know what hit you as interesting and why!

-A

 

Damn It, Le Bon!!!

(Amanda kind of dared me to use this as the title, and maybe you’ll see why in a bit.)

I have spent my day re-writing. A wise person once told me that writing is really re-writing. I really wish I’d listened more carefully because they weren’t kidding. My brain is now fried, so let’s all hope for the best and expect the worst for this particular post!

I haven’t been to a single show yet (well, recently is probably more accurate), and so my excitement has been confined to being thrilled for other fans, and reading the inevitable reviews following a show day.

As I mentioned in my first paragraph, I’m struggling with the basic thought process, so I’m probably going to be more honest and blunt than usual. With that in mind, I’m just going to say it: I always look for Dom’s name in the reviews. Is that wrong? I say no. Most of the rest of the band gets mentioned in each review; but it’s not always that way for Dom, so to see him be mentioned certainly isn’t a bad thing. Likewise when the band is interviewed – typically they are being asked about themselves and their career. It’s really rare to see them asked about their guitarist, so when they are and someone brings up Dom’s talent – I notice.

Imagine my delight when Simon is asked about working with guitar players in today’s edition of The Morning Call.  John Moser conducts the interview with Simon by phone (By the way Mr. Moser, it’s Nile. Nile Rodgers) and asks about how they got together with John Frusciante for the album. Simon explains how they were contacted by John, and Moser follows up by asking Simon if he’s worried about replicating the sound live.

“Well [laughs] we’ve got an amazing guitarist, which is Dom Brown [he’s been the band’s touring guitarist since 2006*.] Dom in very versatile; he’s been a session player for years and years and years before he became part of the Duran Duran setup. And if anybody can do it live, Dom Brown can.” – Simon Le Bon

Exactly.

I know that as a writer, I should be taking “myself” out of this blog – but the fact is, I could have cried in that moment I read that line.  I tweeted my one-word comment and the link out to Dom, because you know what?  He so deserves the kudos. Damn Simon, making me feel all sappy…

But then I kept reading (Yes, I really did stop reading in order to send the tweet to Dom.  I have a very soft spot in my hard-as-nails heart for the guy. If he ever left Duran Duran, I would still be a fan.) I’m glad I went back to the article. Simon was asked a great question about how to walk the balance between pushing the envelope and keeping the “older” (I will try not to take offense at that term) fans happy with newer music.

“Well I think you’ve got to think about all your fans. And the first ones you’ve got to look after are the ones who’ve been with you for years and years and years. You know, those are the people, by the way, who gave [Duran Duran’s 2007 album] ‘Red Carpet Massacre’ the thumbs down, and that’s because it didn’t have that critical mass of following supporting it. It didn’t really make it onto the radio and it wasn’t really a hit because of that.

The next album, 2011’s ‘All You Need Is Now,’ definitely connected with  out fans. They felt it was our and Mark Ronson’s attempt for Duran Duran to reclaim the ‘80s. And that worked really well with our fans – they loved that one.

With this album, we take it as – we realize we couldn’t really do the same thing with ‘All You Need is Now,’ but this band had to develop the idea. And do something – well,  guess that the fans would be proud of. You always want your fans  to be proud of you as a band, because really you belong to them.” – Simon Le Bon

I don’t need to talk about Red Carpet Massacre. That album is the past, and it is every bit as worthy as Rio in their narrative, because both albums brought them to this point. And this point is pretty damn good, I must say.  Instead, I’m thinking about my pride at being a fan. I certainly didn’t know when I was eleven years old that I would still be a fan at forty-five, and yet here I am.  Proud? Without a  single doubt.

This band really isn’t “mine” in the sense that I own them….but on the same token, I feel as though their history IS a part of my own. This fandom is so complicated and messy at times, but it’s home.  For those that don’t know, I’m Italian. We Italians are a funny sort, and family, or, “famiglia”, is very important. Never mind that you may get supremely angry at your family for something as small as calling during dinner and choose not speak to them for the next six months…famiglia is important. This band, as well as the fan community, is my family.  It is home.

 

It touches my heart whenever the band mentions the fans, because although I try to pretend otherwise, I’m really not made entirely of stone. The love is there, and to feel it being returned on occasion sure doesn’t suck.

Then there’s this beautiful interview I read this afternoon on rolling stone.com . Yes, it mentions Lindsay Lohan…again….but I can ignore that purely because Rob Sheffield is saying something that I wish I could scream from the rooftops.

“If Paper Gods were a debut from some upstart band, the buzz would be insane — yet this is the latest from a group that’s been reinventing itself for more than 30 years.” – Rob Sheffield, Rolling Stone

I don’t necessarily always agree with Sheffield, but he nailed it here. If this were any other band, the buzz would be huge. I think most fans believe in this album and know it SHOULD be huge. The question, the struggle, is how to get it there.

All I really know how to do is love the music, love the band, and keep writing.  Amanda and I have always kind of poked fun at Simon here on the blog…and of course there’s that whole “do not spit on us during White Lines” thing. We love him, and we love to tease him.  Endlessly. Mercilessly.  We figure that he’s got most women willing to eat out of his hands, so he can take a couple of Americans giving him a rough time once in a while.

So, when in a single day I read not one but two heartwarming and kind quotes from Simon…it throws me. No, the Rolling Stone interview quote wasn’t from him but I don’t care. I’ve got no Le Bon jokes today. Damn it!!

-R

*Dom has been touring with Duran Duran since 2004, but he wasn’t actually made a permanent member of the touring band until 2006.

Billboard Cover Boys!

This weekend, my timeline and news feed has been filled with pictures, articles and videos from Billboard.com!  What was the big occasion?  Duran Duran, not only appeared in the latest edition, but they were on the cover!!!  Obviously, fans were excited by this as they love seeing Duran Duran get the attention they deserve.  Of course, many fans expressed the idea that Duran Duran should ALWAYS be featured in the musically focused press!  We definitely agree!  So, how was this coverage?  What specifically was shared and what were the reactions to it?

Before I dive into the meat of what billboard.com shared, let me make a couple of comments.  First, I am concerned that I missed some things because there were so many different clips and links that it was hard (for me!) to follow.  Second, after I saw that they were featured in the latest edition, I did what I normally do.  I went to go find it in the store so that I could buy a real, hard copy for my collection.  No luck.  The places I thought I would find it didn’t actually stock Billboard Magazine.  Apparently, you can buy it online here, though!

Behind-the-Scenes with the Team

One of the links, which you can see here, that was posted by Billboard was a video clip focusing on the team who worked on the song, Pressure Off.  Now, I admit that I adore video clips.  I really do.  I generally wish that they were a lot, lot, lot longer and this one is no exception.  This one, in particular focused on Nile Rodgers and Mark Ronson and how they worked together for the first time here with Duran.  By watching the video clip included in the link above, I am reminded of two things very, very quickly.  Mark Ronson truly is a Duran Duran fan.  He is a Duranie and every time I hear him talk about Duran or working with Duran, I am reminded of that and it always makes me feel confident in what kind of music will come to be as a result.  Likewise, Nile’s positive spirit and great joy over making music, especially music with Duran comes through so very clearly in this clip.  His enthusiasm is impossible to miss and I love how Nick phrased it when he said there was “electricity” in the room when everyone got together.  I could totally see it and really makes me wish I was a fly on the wall.  I truly hope that there is more video footage of this time in the studio.  I’m sure that every Duranie would love it!  If that wasn’t enough, I found myself loving Pressure Off even more from watching that!

JoSi Knowledge

Another one of the videos posted by Billboard, which you can see here, focused on how well John and Simon know each other.  I have no doubt that 99% of Duranies responded to the question before hitting play on the video with a resounding, “Very well!”  After all, they have been colleagues and good friends for over 30 years!  That said, I still couldn’t hit the play button fast enough!  The idea behind this video was to see if they could answer questions about each other.  I won’t give it away but I will say it is clear that they have great camaraderie with each other, no matter if they are talking football or past appearances.  I desperately wish that we got to see more of this!

Cover Article & Video

The longest article posted by Billboard also features a video.  You can read the article and watch the video here.  The video covers a few topics, including the album title, collaboration, and length of time to create the album.  I wonder if those truly are the biggest topics surrounding this album.  If so, then, Billboard chose well.  I did like what Nick had to say about the album title and I’m truly looking forward to hearing that song!!!  As for collaborations, one thing that caught my attention is the idea that Simon shared the microphone with many people, including John.  Is he referring to backing vocals or more?  I wonder.  As for the length of time to create this album, John pointed out that it is important to take time to make it right since there aren’t that many albums in their musical lives.  Obviously, this topic (coughDurantimecough) was well-discussed here on the blog.

As for the article itself, it starts off by describing the photo shoot connected to the cover, article, etc.  While I appreciate the acknowledgement that Duran has a long history, I wasn’t necessarily thrilled with lines like, “The singer is still handsome but no longer quite a pinup; natural light can be cruel.”  I have to wonder.  Is that sentence necessary?  Why the focus on their age?  Yes, I realize that this was in context with the photo shoot, but still.  If was to show that they have experience with this, I just think there could have been a nicer way to put this.  To me, it seemed like a subtle (or not so subtle) dig on the band and Simon, in particular.  Thankfully, the article quickly transitions to the album.

The author begins the discussion on Duran Duran’s upcoming album, Paper Gods, by stating that it is a “robust affair” which is interesting considering that Duran could just sit back and enjoy their past success and tour.  Yet, according to Warner Bros. president, Dan McCarroll, the album is fabulous and clear to him that the band wanted a hit.  Sentences like that always make me pause.  I want Duran to have hits, of course.  I want them to do well and I want them to have the recognition they deserve.  Yet, there is always a part of me that worries (perhaps, unnecessarily!) that this desire overshadows the focus on quality Duran Duran music.  After all, we all know that there are songs that are hits that aren’t quality.  Nonetheless, I reassured myself that Duran Duran knows what they are doing and kept on reading.

It is no surprise that the article discusses the contributions on the album as that seems to be a frequently discussed talking point by both the band and the media.  I can understand that as it is interesting that the band used so many artists in creating this album.    What I struggle to understand is why the author spent so much time talking about the band members’ personal lives right after the discussion on collaborations.  Billboard magazine, at least in my head, focuses on the music and charts.  Literally, there are 4 sentences about the contributions and 5 sentences on their current personal lives.  It frustrates me as a fan when the focus isn’t on what they do but on who they are.  I know that has always been the case with Duran but I wish it wasn’t.  I would prefer more discussion on the quality of music that they create.  Am I asking too much?

From there, the article dives into their past, their legacy.  I was excited to read what moments in their lives would be highlighted.  I appreciated the inclusion of the Reflex remix by Nile Rodgers that the record label didn’t want to release.  I didn’t mind the brief discussion on the New Romantic era.  Yet, quickly, the article focuses on the band’s videos and how in the author’s words, they were “not particularly deep” and “advertisements for champagne-soaked decadence”.   Ugh.  In my opinion, there is a lot more to many of their videos than what is seen on the surface.  I’m sorry that the author doesn’t see that and doesn’t see the intelligence Duran used in their videos.  Interestingly enough, there are three full paragraphs about their videos.  Did I go to sleep and wake up in 1984?  Why the focus on the videos?  Again, don’t get me wrong.  I love their videos and I agree with John when he said that they were “jokey”.  Rio was exactly that, not just decadent.

I had hopes that the article would turn back to Duran’s musical history since the cover states that they are the “Last Band Standing” (which is a clever title and would have been more clever during Red Carpet Massacre days).  Unfortunately, the article tries to gives the band’s history and chronology by focusing on the usual topics of shopping, excess, drug and alcohol abuse, side projects, etc.  While clearly, research was completed, I just wish it had focused more on the music.  The article comes close to focusing on the music a couple of times like when there was discussion about how Duran rarely takes the easy way out, musically.  I wanted to know more as I thought that was an interesting angle.  I also enjoyed the discussion about the recording process and their desire to remain vital as they age.  Instead, there was more about how John was still “slender” despite not doing drugs anymore and how Nick has “slightly ghostly features”.  Do those sentences give information or add any knowledge or force readers to think differently?  I don’t think so.

I love that Duran Duran is getting press, getting attention!  I really do!  If I ran the world, they would get attention and press everyday!  (Maybe that’s why I do a daily blog about being a Duran fan?!)  I just wish that the content of the article focused on the MUSIC.  As Simon said in the article, “‘Glamorous’ and ‘shallow’ are never words you use to describe your own life. But, yes, it was fun. It was fun hanging out with Princess Margaret, Prince Charles and Diana and Warhol, too. But that’s all the press ever talked about: the parties, the models, the boats, the booze. But we did work hard.”  It is sad how true that statement of his still is and too much of this article shows this.

-A

 

Mark Ronson: What Fans Want

I was on Twitter this morning and a quote from a recent interview that Mark Ronson did with an Italian website (I think it’s a TV station website??) caught my eye.  They were discussing #DD14 and what the album might have in-store).  Here are the direct quotes and my (very rusty) translations.

Nei mesi scorsi sei tornato a lavorare con i Duran Duran. Dopo “All You Need Is Now” produrrai anche il nuovo album?  (Translation: In recent months, you’ve come back to work with Duran Duran. After “All You Need is Now”, will you be producing this album?)
In realtà ho scritto, prodotto e suonato solo alcuni brani con Nile Rodgers, non l’intero lavoro. A livello di sound credo siano grandiosi, perché sono esattamente quello che ciascun fan vorrebbe dai Duran e Nile Rodgers quando lavorano insieme, quella chimica che si sentiva in “The Reflex” e “Notorious”. (Translation: “Actually I wrote, produced and performed on only a few songs with Nile Rodgers, not the entire album. In terms of sound I think they are great because they are exactly what every fan wants from Duran and Nile Rodgers when they collaborate, that chemistry present in “The Reflex” and “Notorious“.

Overall, I don’t think there is any “news” here. It’s been known for months (years?) now that Mark was not going to be producing the entire album as a whole, and we all have known that Nile and Mark were a part of the “dream team” assembled.  What I found curious though, was Mark’s comment about the sound being everything that fans want from a Nile Rodgers/Duran Duran collaboration like “Notorious” or “The Reflex”.

When I read that line, my mind skipped back to the days just prior to All You Need is Now, when Mark did press and said he was going for a follow-up to Rio. I panned that idea here on the blog, saying that he was practically setting himself up to failure because Rio didn’t need to be replicated. I meant that at the time, and although I thoroughly enjoy All You Need is Now, there are some songs on the album that I know were a huge reach back to embrace what was done on Rio (I’m thinking of Leopard here, for starters).  Even before we’ve heard solid details about this album aside from a virtual glitterati parade of names and a few vague abstractions (everything from a “dance” album to “70’s driving songs”), we’re being brought back to Notorious and The Reflex. Mind you, neither the Notorious album or The Reflex are poor examples of creativity by any means, but is it really effective marketing to compare this effort to those of the past?

At least partially, that answer depends on whether fans really loved Notorious and/or The Reflex. In past surveys we’ve done, Notorious has never scored that high overall….I’m not saying that nobody loves the album, but I am saying that for those who cared to answer, Notorious didn’t typically score that high. Instead, it was an album that fans neither loved (overall) nor hated (overall). It tends to fall smack in the middle when ranked with other Duran Duran albums, whereas the first album or even Rio always ranks near or at the top.  So do fans really want more of Notorious or The Reflex, or is it the happy, friendly, nostalgic chemistry that gives us all the good feels?

Purely on a personal note, I would just like the album finished so that I could hear it for myself. I enjoy conjecture and guesswork as much as the next blogger – but we’ve been doing this for nearly three years now (even before the band committed themselves to hard studio time!), I am ready for the end-product. I’m looking forward to hearing what Duran Duran, Nile, Mark, Mr. Hudson and the full “cast of thousands” have conjured!

-R