Category Archives: interviews

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

 

Simon LeBon Interview

Duran Duran tweeted that there would be a Simon LeBon interview on the BBC in the UK yesterday, and while we were thrilled to hear the news, we weren’t able to hear the interview ourselves….enter Debbie Craggs, who graciously agreed to listen to the interview and take notes to share!  Thanks Debbie!

 

By Debbie Craggs

Last night DD.com announced a Simon LeBon interview on the BBC. Our front man would be talking to Mark Lester on BBC local radio stations prior to the main event of the evening in the UK – the Brit Awards 2015.   (Some may have preferred to watch the great British Bake Off for comic relief but that’s another matter altogether.  In our house my One Directioner youngest daughter took control of the TV for the Brits.

So on I went to BBC, ready to listen and possibly hear any scoops for the new album!  As the interview began, the topic of conversation was clearly on the Brits. Simon stated he couldn’t remember how many Brits he has been to as he was drunk for most of them. He also jokingly accused organisers of putting something in the air conditioning to make people “off their faces”.

Simon described Brits as the premier UK music award show. Compared to the US Grammies, the Brits has an air of anti-establishment – everyone wants to have as much fun as possible. He recalled going to the Brits very smashed one year, and pinched someones seat, only to end up getting punched in the nose.

As they continued talking about the award show, Simon said it is difficult as it is such a massive venue (now hosted at the O2).  He described the evening as lots of different factions sitting round tables, record company bosses, etc. and sometimes it gets quite loud with parties around the tables.

Mark Lester asked about 2004 when Duran Duran was awarded the Outstanding Contribution to Music award, presented by Justin Timberlake.  Simon explained that meeting led to the collaboration which we all know as Red Carpet Massacre.  Simon also laughed that   you can stand there on stage looking out over all the columnists that have written horrible things about you in the past, thinking “Yeah, gotcha now!”

The conversation then turned to the War Child gig at Wilton’s music hall. Simon described this gig as spectacular and how one of the reasons for the band still being here after 30 years is because they still get along with each other. They are friends and have a laugh together and enjoy themselves.  Simon also made a comment that the music that they wrote, “…turns out to have been not that bad at all!”

They go on to discuss who would win at the Brits tonight. Simon  mentions Sam Smith, and says he would love Mark Ronson to win something (that prediction came true with Mark and Bruno Mars winning Best Single of the Year). Just as I was about to lose hope of any album news…Simon then says he is going to blow his own trumpet, and briefly talks about the new album and how they have been in the studio.  He explains that the band has done three songs with Mark and Nile Rogers, and that they are working with the “fantastic producer”, (that’s a quote directly from Simon) Mr Hudson.

Simon then gives some insider predictions, or tips, for tonight. He lists the winners as: Mark Ronson, Charli XCX, Sam Smith and Royal Blood.  For those who haven’t heard – Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars won best single, Sam Smith won British Breakthrough act and also the global success award, and Royal Blood won the British Group award.

During the interview, Simon even had time to answer a question posed by a fan. They ask Simon about who should have the Outstanding Contribution to Music who hasn’t already received one.  Simon answers that Steve Strange should have something for the encouragement and involvement he had with the music in the 80s.

The interview ends with “All You Need is Now” being played.

Debbie CraggsDebbie Craggs is a single mum to three teenage girls in Northamptonshire UK where she works as a school nurse. She has been a Duranie since the 80s and in her spare time she plays clarinet at her local chapel.

Duran Duran History: Simon & Hitline

Today’s Duran Duran history takes us back to 1993 when Simon was on the show, Hitline USA.  This particular show was a radio show in which people/fans could call in to the show.  Obviously, Simon then answered questions from fans during his time on the show.  During this time in 1993, the band was deeply involved in promotion for the album, The Wedding Album.

If Simon was on a show like this now, what question would you call in to ask him?

-A

Duran Duran History – Fairlight

Duran Duran history for January 5: On today’s date in 2001, the Fairlight portion of the series The Shape of Things That Hum, including interviews with Nick in 2001 is aired on channel 4 in the UK.

Every once in a while, I will run across a particular point in history for Duran Duran that I have no idea about – and this is one of them. So I did some research and have discovered a few things:

  1. The UK has way better TV than we’ll EVER get here in the US.  An entire show on synthesizers?? Where do I sign up for THAT cable?!?

  2. No matter how long I’ve been a Duran Duran fan, I still have not seen or heard it all.  That makes me smile. Wanna know why I’m still a fan and why I can still write this blog? THAT’S why. There’s always more to learn.

  3. This show is on YouTube. Thank the UNIVERSE for YouTube!!

  4. I love the title of this show. That alone is a keeper.

-R