Category Archives: John Taylor

Speaking of John Taylor, Do You Remember Sugartown?

Funny thing about that John Taylor…he continues to be the topic of my blogs this week!

I wrote about Strange Frequency earlier in the week, and in one of the comments, someone mentioned something about Sugartown.

Well, on this date in 1999, Sugartown premiered at the Sundance Festival in Utah.  If you haven’t seen this one, you might just want to give it a shot. Out of all of John’s acting work that I’ve seen (not sure if I missed anything along the way), this is the one I enjoy most.

The setting is Hollywood, and the storyline is about the industry: music, entertainment…and the people within, focusing on the stereotypical headlines we see in the papers. Rock star with love child he didn’t know about, aging actresses trying to get decent roles, a manager that wants the rock stars to sleep with her before she helps them out, etc. etc. While the storylines are a bit cliché, it wasn’t a bad movie. (and that’s probably the end of my career as a film reviewer…)

So, do you remember Sugar Town?

John Taylor left DD (NOT NOW…back in 1997!) Do you remember?

I knew the title would freak people out, which is why I did a bit of last-minute editing.

Do you remember 1997? On this date in 1997, John Taylor broke the hearts of Duran fans worldwide by announcing that he was leaving Duran Duran.

Where did this happen?  Interestingly enough, it happened at DuranCon, which took place in Santa Monica, California. That’s right, he announced his departure directly to fans at a fan convention. Gotta admit – I appreciate that the news didn’t come through filtered management after many months of gossip and guesswork. (although chances are, all of that gossip was probably happening – but without the internet, I didn’t notice.) Say what you will about the rest of John’s absence from the band, I respect that he thought enough of the fans to tell them.

I wasn’t there for DuranCon, even though it happened here in California. At the time (naturally), I was living in Illinois, waiting very impatiently for my oldest to finally decide it was time to make her entrance into this world. (and yes, she was late. Nine days late, actually!) So, if you were there, feel free to share your personal experience.

In the meantime, I’ll just be thankful that John is back with the band – I only saw Duran Duran one time without him, and I have to say, it wasn’t the same for me. I’m going out on a limb and saying that I’m pretty sure Amanda would agree with me on that.  😉

Happy Weekend – stay safe!

-R

 

My Medazzaland Story

Last weekend, I shared some facts and statistics regarding Medazzaland, an album released in 1997, which you can read here.  Then, I asked people to share their stories about the album and many people did.  I enjoyed reading each and every one.  Thinking about these albums as I have and reading others’ stories have got me thinking about what makes an album special to fans.  Before I dive too much of that large topic, let me share my own Medazzaland story.

1997 was a year of significant transition for me.  The year began with me having just finished student teaching, which didn’t go especially well.  Part of me thought about switching my chosen career while the other part dug in, determined one day to be a successful teacher.  With that in mind, I graduated from college and spent a great deal of time sending applications to school districts across many Midwestern states with no luck.  Apparently, school districts aren’t terribly desperate for Social Studies teachers, at least they weren’t then.  With that, I moved back in with my parents who had moved to Bowling Green, Ohio, a town where I knew no one.  I did what many recent college graduates did and found whatever job I could in a local gift shop doing retail.  I hated every minute of it and my pathetic income didn’t help.

By the end of summer, I desperately tried to find a solution to my misery as I mourned the loss of college and dreaded never finding a teaching job.  Finally, my brother suggested moving to a education friendly town and getting my foot in the door through substitute teaching.  I visited Madison and fell in love.  The city fit me perfectly, in terms of size, personality, politically, etc.  So, I did the most insane thing I have ever done.  I moved from Ohio to Madison, Wisconsin without a job, a friend or family member anywhere near by.  I took a massive risk.  Despite Madison being a good match, life posed many challenges beyond that year.  To say that I was lonely would be an understatement.

How does Duran Duran fit into this?  They didn’t much.  Did I know what they were up to?  To be honest, I didn’t know much.  I paid attention during the Wedding Album and tried to through Thank You, but found it challenging with college.  In 1997, I did find out that  the band had released new music.  I distinctly remember seeing them on the Rosie O’Donnell show, which, if I recall correctly, was when I discovered that John left the band.  In thinking back to that interview and performance, I remember thinking that the song Electric Barbarella felt like Duran, sounded like Duran, which was good.  See for yourself here:

Yet, the loss of John hit home in a way that surprised me.  I didn’t mourn the loss like I would have in 1985 or 1987.  No, if he had left then, I would have been crushed.  Devastated.  In 1997, though, it stopped me from embracing the new material the way that I could have or should have.  I thought to myself, “Yeah, new Duran.  I should look for it.”  Then, the next thought that popped up was a reminder that John wasn’t a part of it anymore.  I could dismiss it then as not worth my time.  Did I buy the album then?  Absolutely not.  I bought it when I cheered on the reunion in the 2000s.

Looking back, I’m surprised, on one hand, that I didn’t embrace the band then.  I really could have used the comforts of an old friend.  On the other hand, I always knew that I was a big John fan and finding out that he wasn’t in the band stopped Duran from being the comfort that they once were and would be again.  Perhaps, part of the problem was the lack of contact with other Duranies.  I knew very few people in my new town and did not have a computer then.  Before that, I was too focused on passing comprehensive exams and looking for a teaching job to even look into anything related to fandom.

How do I feel about the album now?  I have to admit that I have never embraced it like many others have.  There are songs that I really like on the album.  Yet, as a whole, it feels unlike the Duran I know and love.  Is it the John factor?  Maybe.  Is it because it came out in a pretty challenging period of my life?  Possibly.  That said, despite how I might feel about it now, I recognize and hope that one day I love it as much as I do other albums.  You never know.

-A

No Rewind: Download the Song from Road Recovery!

Have you downloaded John and Roger’s new song yet?

Recently John and Roger donated time, effort and talent to Road Recovery – a foundation dedicated to helping young people battle addiction with help from mental-health experts along with “influence from entertainment industry professionals who have confronted similar crises”.   They recorded a song with Road Recovery’s youth titled “No Rewind” which is now available for download.

As someone who is usually thirsty for any new music, I couldn’t wait to have a spare minute to download the new song. I clicked on the link, and found that rather than just paying for the song – the entire project is more about donating to Road Recovery, and a benefit of having done so is to get a download of “No Rewind”. (as opposed to just paying for the song – it’s a subtle, “feel good” difference, in my opinion.)  Along with the donation comes an opportunity to be entered in a sort of raffle for a single prize package that includes the following:

Signed set list from Molson Canadian Amphitheater (from Toronto 7/13/16)
Signed 8×10 band promo photo
Duran Duran Paper Gods Photo unused pass (from Mansfield 17/7/16)
Duran Duran Paper Gods guitar pick
Duran Duran unused ‘commemorative’ Concert Ticket (from Apollo Theater 7/19/2016)
“A Diamond in The Mind” live concert DVD
Signed Paper Gods CD

If that isn’t enough for your taste, you can always donate $5,000 for a Meet & Greet with Duran Duran on the concert date of your choice during a future tour (no travel/accommodations provided). Only 1 available – so you’d better hurry to beat your fellow Duranie to that one!

There are also several other incentives, such as signed drum heads, signed albums, etc…for every budget in between. I liked the idea of donating to Road Recovery. I think most everyone has someone in their family or knows someone who has been affected by addiction in one way or another, and I am all for any organization that helps kids turn their lives around. The smallest things can sometimes make a difference—that’s something I’m seeing more and more of every single time I step into my office at work. So yes, I’m happy to have been able to do something, relatively small as it is, to help.

But let’s get down to it – how’s the song sound?

I have to say, the first notes are unmistakably John and Roger, influenced, whether by style of the music, or by the fact that they’re playing. Funny how I (and probably any of you reading) can tell them anywhere. It’s like coming home – you just know.  Musically, the song is definitely rock. The voice, of course, is not Simon’s – which is sort of strange because I half expect it to be (old habits die hard).  That said, the vocals are more spoken word, or rap. The song is modern, but recognizable, and I find myself liking it simply because it felt good to donate to a worthy cause that John and Roger clearly feel very strongly about.

Ultimately, any day that I can listen to music with John and Roger is not a bad one. This rhythm section doesn’t suck!

-R

 

 

September Katy Kafe with John Taylor

I apologize for the lateness of the blog today.  I promised myself that I would get some of that pesky school work done before I completed the more fun task of listening to September’s Katy Kafe and blogging about it.  As always with I’m only going to be sharing what I think the highlights were and my thoughts about them.  If you want the complete deal, I suggest getting that membership to DuranDuranMusic and listening for yourself.  This is one Kafe that is worth it!

End of the Tour:

John commented about how they are on the verge of finishing this tour, which really began for them last year.  He said that the end allows them to look back at the accomplishment while looking forward to the break and the next steps.  I have to admit that I have always wondered what the end of the tour must be for them.  I know what it is like for me.  It is usually one of mixed emotions.  While I’m glad to return home and get some sleep, I’m also terribly sad in that I don’t know when I will see the next Duran show or the next time that I will see my friends, especially Rhonda.  It also usually motivates me to do more work about the blog, our writing or fan events.  I guess it is safe to say that tours usually inspire me.

Next Steps:

This Kafe brought the good stuff right away with Katy asking about next steps.  While there wasn’t a major scoop, there was a few details that I focused in on.  First, the return to the States (probably that East Coast show that DDHQ has hinted about) will be around New Year’s.  (I don’t mind that.  I do have a winter vacation then.  Just for the record.)  Second, 2017 will hopefully include some “special shows”.  That has me wondering what that means!  Of course, he did also mention the idea of continuing the tour to Australia, Asia and South America.  Interesting to note there was no mention of the Broadway musical or ballet that he and Nick have been working on.

Chic:

When Katy brought up the topic of Chic, I have to admit that I wondered what else could be said since most critics, fans, etc. have all talked about how having Chic on tour with Duran was awesome because they fit together well.  Well, JT talked about how Simon was more “emotional” and “open” on this tour, which showed when he talked about the band’s love for Nile each night.  He also mentioned the hope to get Chic to join them for an Australia tour.

Festivals:

The topic of festivals came up in relation to the question of whether or not the band would return to North America.  John was open by saying that it wasn’t his decision but that he thinks the best way to keep trying to get the album heard is by playing live dates and that festivals mean that people who wouldn’t have heard Paper Gods get to hear it.  Katy then wondered if they might come back to the States next summer for some festivals.  John said that many people would agree with that thinking.  Of course, while understanding this thinking, festivals make me cringe.  I’m too old to enjoy them with all  the discomforts that they bring.

Stevie Wonder:

John talked about how amazing it was to be at the festival in Aspen with Stevie Wonder.  (I, too, thought it was amazing when I got to see Stevie Wonder play at the 2013 Inaugural Ball!)  I smiled throughout his description of watching Stevie perform then meeting him and getting a picture taken with him.  He sounded like many of us do when describing meeting him!

iPhone7:

Yes, they talked about the new iPhone design that is coming out that features the cordless headphones.  Apparently, the phone will also be waterproof, which could be important to people who have had incidents with their phone and water.  (coughRhondacough)

Neurotic Outsiders:

This year marks the 20th anniversary of John’s side project, Neurotic Outsiders.  John shared the story about how the project came together, which is interesting story about they started playing one gig together for a fundraiser before being offered a residency at the Viper Room in LA.  More interesting than that, John discussed where his head was at the time, since the side project began right before he left the band.  He talked about how his ideas with Duran had run out and that he was interested in sticking to LA more.  As someone who is self-described as old school, he also liked (and still does) the idea of a residency.  He described this project as the opposite of Duran.  While Duran is complex, this band was simple.  While they made an album of new material, John felt that the album should  have been them live.

Overall, this Kafe was a joy to listen to.  John sounded very upbeat and positive.  His openness and positivity showed with each topic that came up.  As someone wondering what will be next for Duran Duran, the Kafe provided me with a sense that whatever it will be will be good.

-A

Duran Duran in Vegas: Show Commentary!

It is time for another v-log from yours truly and my partner-in-crime about yesterday’s Duran Duran show in Las Vegas.  We figured that it would go faster to do a video blog on than a written one.  It may even be more entertaining!

This v-log ended up being two videos due to unforeseen technical difficulties or really because Rhonda’s computer went into sleep mode.  During these two little (don’t know why I said little…they are lengthy), we discuss Dom Brown’s stage presence, John Taylor’s fashion choices (go figure!), the good and bad with the Mandalay Bay  Events Center as a venue, the awesomeness of our meet-up, why Duran Duran should never be done and more!

You might note that these two videos were completed last night or early this morning depending on how you look at it.  We apologize for the sucky quality.  On that note, we are off to back to California to hit the Irvine show!  It’s a show day!  (That said, I really wish I had a few more hours of sleep!)

-A

Happy Birthday John!

June is a very busy birthday month!  Today I get to wish The Bass God (that’s John Taylor, in case you lost track) a very happy birthday!!

I have only met John once, during an album signing for Astronaut. (I own the disjointed voice he may or may not have heard from somewhere in the crowd say, “It’s a beautiful album, John!)  My partner-in-crime has been in vicinity to him a few more times than I  Once even close enough for him to sign our In the Pleasure Groove books (mine has a lovely doodle of an American flag in it, too. :D).   She even has a picture with him, which still thrills me!  However, today is my day to blog, so there’s not really any exciting stories to tell.  Maybe next year! 😉

So, we’ll celebrate with some special John Taylor videos instead.

Let’s see…

Gotta go with the JT cameo to begin with, because his grin cracks me up.

In fair play, I must also choose a Power Station video…which led me to Get it On.

 

That got me thinking about John’s solo career, and one of my very favorites is Hey Day.  I wonder why?  🙂

And while I was thinking about Hey Day, I remembered riding the train from Birmingham to Edinburgh so that I could go to the Glasgow show.  A little known fact is that one of my very favorite songs to watch John play is Careless Memories.   That bass line just doesn’t stop.  He’s brilliant.

Naturally, as one does….while I was thinking about watching John, I remembered how much, er…enthusiasm….he brings to Danceophobia.  Because really, if you’re gonna play that song, you’d better sell it, right?  And John does.  So this is from the Berkeley show I went to in the fall of 2015. I am not sure if this shows John (YouTube was misbehaving for me today so I couldn’t preview it first), but if you ever have the chance to see the band and they play Danceophobia….he dances with more enthusiasm in his pinky finger than I do in my entire body. 🙂

Lastly, I couldn’t help but give my John-girls what they really want.

He’s strapped to a car.   You’re welcome.

The happiest of birthdays to you, Mr. Taylor…with many years of health, happiness and music to come, I hope. Cheers!!

-R

 

 

 

 

 

John Taylor in the Kafe!

Wow, I haven’t blogged in forever!  Months, even!  I planned to write a little blog post reflecting my thoughts, feelings and reflections regarding being gone from the blog, writing (or in our case, re-writing) the book, etc.  Fortunately for all of you, John Taylor pushed that blog aside by doing a little video Kafe (or 3!) in the members only section of DuranDuranMusic.  I suffered through (ha!) the videos and will share my thoughts about a few of the highlights here.  As always, I’m sure you all want to watch all of the videos yourself so make sure you are a member and head on over to DDM to see them. I should also point out that most of this Kafe consists of John answering questions sent via Twitter.

Personal Questions:

Book and CD for Summer:  John recommended the book, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, which he describes as a “techno adventure story” with a “history of video games” and a bit of 80s culture.  Simon is now reading it as well.  Personally, this book has popped up a lot for me on recommended lists.  Maybe now is the time to check it out.  As for CD, he recommends d angelo.

Inspiration:  John broke this question down into musical inspiration and personal inspiration.  For musical inspiration, he looks to other musicians like Miles Davis.  Personal inspiration, he turns to his family, especially his parents to remind him to “do the right thing” and “be kind”.

Birthday Memory:  For John, he remembers understanding what a birthday is around 4 or 5 when people came over for a party in their backyard (or back garden in the UK).  He got a yellow truck and had cake!  Aww….

10 People at a Dinner Party:  He hates questions like this and calls it loaded, which I can understand why.  What if he doesn’t include someone?  What if he includes someone people don’t like?  He went with his family, the band and their significant others.  Katy forced him to remove the band, since he sees them all the time.  He said he would like to have his grandparents as he only knew one.  I can relate to that as I only really knew one grandparent (my mother’s mother) and have only vague memories of my grandpa (my mother’s father).  Yet, I never knew my dad’s parents at all and really wish I did being that they were immigrants from Poland and would have fascinating stories to share.

Go back in time to change something:  In general, he really wouldn’t as everything in his life led him to today as he is now very happy.  That said, he wished that he played more sports as a kid and didn’t skip school so much.  He doesn’t understand why he hated being in the classroom so much since he loves learning now.  As a teacher, I wished that he knew and could it explain it to me!  Maybe then I could figure out how to hook my kids who don’t want to come to class.

Now, before I move on to the band related questions, I wanted to just comment on how much I enjoyed his responses on these questions.  I smiled a lot and found myself agreeing quite a bit.  I didn’t as much when it came to the second type of questions.  (Hint:  This is a little foreshadowing.)

Band Related Questions:

Working with Nile and Bernard:  John reiterated statements about working with the two guys from Chic.  He called Nile “enthusiastic” and “supportive”.  Bernard was more “reserved” but “put him at ease”.

The Chauffeur (album version) or The Chauffeur (acoustic demo):  He likes the bass on the acoustic but the album version is a “masterpiece”.

Fondest video memory:  John talked about filming in the videos in Sri Lanka, stating that they had an amazing time.  He mentioned a “beautifully lit” scene at night as they rode an elephant through a city street.  Now, tell me that I’m not the only one seriously wishing that there was a DVD with deleted scenes from their videos?!

After the tour:  He plans for the Paper Gods Tour to last until next year as he hopes to take the tour to South America, Asia and the rest of Europe.  I, of course, am glad to hear that as there are many fans who haven’t had a chance to see them yet and would really like to!  He also said that he hoped the musical that he is working on with Nick gets to the next level.  Exciting!!!!

Most challenging new song:  Most of them he has got down by now, but he probably makes a few wrong notes a night on Last Night in the City since he is playing a synth and Paper Gods and Pressure Off are both “tricky”.  That said, he described What Are the Chances as a “deeply fucking felt emotional song” that he loves playing and loves to hear Simon sing.  Aww…Then, he states that they would love to add more but they are actually cutting the setlist some as the shows will be 90 minutes for this next leg since they will be playing with Chic and Tokimonsta.  Okay.  Here is where I wished he said more and explained it so that I could understand.  Why is there a time limit exactly?  If the venue requires a cut off time, why not move up the start time to play more?  Will they play longer at shows that Tokimonsta isn’t playing at?  Why have three artists on the bill?  Speaking only for myself, I am going to shows to hear Duran Duran play.  I want them to play as long as possible and I don’t think I’m alone in that.  As a customer, I want to feel like I’m getting my money’s worth.  I know that is already a lot of grumbling within the fan community about the shorter sets, lack of variety and the expensive tickets.  This statement doesn’t help.

Would you let the fans decide the setlist:  One of the things about the job that he really loves is building a show and trying to figure out what song works where, next to what, etc. and that he wouldn’t want to let that go.  I can understand that.  I wouldn’t want to let go of a lot of the things we do here, if readers asked to take over.  I get control freaks.  😀  Then, he goes on to say that it would be a lot of work to get songs ready to be played for a fan made list.  Speaking again for myself, while I get that, I also think the pay off would be great!  People would come out in droves for fan created set lists!  Heck, maybe, they don’t want to do an entire set that way, but would about having fans pick out five or six songs that can be rotated in?  I just think it would build committed fans’ enthusiasm, make for better shows and probably sell more tickets.

As someone who has tickets to a lot of shows and who was using the summer tour to reward hard work we did on writing our book, I want to be excited for the shows.  Yet, it is hard to after hearing about the shorter setlist or the lack of variety in songs.  The thing is that I know myself.  I know that if I go into a show being a little less excited, it affects how much fun I have and how good the show is.  Past experience has taught me that.  I want to go in being as excited as possible.  It will help me but it will help those around me be excited, too.  The optimist in me hopes that they rethink these decisions between now and the start of the US date.

 

-A

2015 Year End Katy Kafe with John Taylor

Tuesday brings a  2015 year-end Katy Kafe with John Taylor – this time in video! Let me properly set the stage: John is sitting at his computer in a cozy sort of room with white paneling. There is an upright piano (complete with obligatory metronome) sitting against the wall to the back right of him, and above the paneling around the room, there are figurines of some sort. (To be honest it reminds me very much of a room at my grandmothers old house, and this shelf is exactly where she would display her salt and pepper shakers. I’m pretty sure John isn’t the type to collect salt and pepper shakers [???], and my eyesight isn’t THAT great so I couldn’t tell what they were. As I continue typing, I’m starting to think that perhaps it’s a little weird for me to even notice…but whatever. Fan blog. Need I say more??)  As I further considered the setting, I was thinking “seems like a den”, and at that same time, John mentions that Katy has caught him in his den.  And for you John girls out there – he’s wearing a fedora-type hat (although the brim doesn’t seem wide enough to be called a fedora, but it’s along those lines.) So there you have it!

UK Tour

He recalls Simon saying that this tour was the best ever to the audience on the last night of the UK tour. He said that he meant to ask him later on if he really meant it because he was feeling similar. “Every show was great. No throw-aways. No one lost their voice.” He continues by mentioning the audiences, “The crowds this year have been on another level.”  John says that this past year, he’s felt very loved, unconditionally, which has been encouraging.

2015

In retrospect, he feels very good about 2015, saying that the band still seeks success in a number of avenues, and that touring does help to achieve part of that. “Every night, getting positive feed back. [It is] A validation of what we do.”  John speaks of the press, partially in answer to the subject of whether or not he is surprised that in 2015, Duran Duran is still touring and creating albums. He surmises that perhaps, had the band not shot straight to the stratosphere, but instead had a much more steady rise and build up, the press may have seen them and the band’s future differently.

The album comes up naturally in conversation several times over the course of the Kafe, as John refers to the two years the band spent in the studio writing and recording, “Pulling hair, but still having the inkling that the team still has something to give.” Conversely, touring isn’t all “the band”. The audience has something to add to that conversation. He explains that he isn’t like Nick – he likes the studio, but loves being onstage, “I want to perform.” For John, the albums are produced so that they have material to keep the performances fresh. He talks about how on the UK tour they integrated video into the show and that they’re all “still learning and putting it all together and it has been fun. It hasn’t always been that way. We are enjoying who we are.”  He uses a very interesting sort of analogy to drive his point home, talking about how you can look over the course of the band’s (or anyone’s) career or life in photos and see the various “detours” (as he put it) and you can say “Oh yeah…there’s an apparent midlife crisis happening there.”  But right now, they know exactly who they are.

As a commentary, I found his statement interesting because there are still plenty of people out there that feel Paper Gods was written with the idea of attracting a wider audience (as opposed to just their core fan base) in mind. Katy feels that Paper Gods is emblematic of who they are and their career at this point in time – yet many others disagree, saying that the band is trying to be something they are not.  It’s clear John very much believes that Paper Gods is an accurate representation of who Duran Duran is in 2015.  I tend to feel, after blogging and engaging with the fan base for the past five years, there is a certain faction within who believe unless the band is recreating the sound from the first album, Rio and perhaps even Seven and the Ragged Tiger to a limited extent, they’re not being true to themselves. I suppose to those fans, Paper Gods is a tough sell, which is a shame. I’m sure many would disagree, but that is my take-away after having written and observed the fan base for the better part of a decade, for what it may be worth. 

Favorite album of 2015

Since the Kafe is happening in John’s den, we have the added benefit of John being able to pull the albums directly from his collection. His first “grab” is Julia Holter’s Have You In My Wilderness.  (Is this an appropriate time to mention that I’ve never heard of Julia Holter but I’m going to Spotify right now to find her?? Two songs in and I’m sold, btw – it’s a great album for relaxing, which is EXACTLY what I need right now. Thanks John! This is one reason why I love John Taylor and miss him from social media. He feeds me new music discoveries.) He goes back to the record pile and grabs another – this time coming back with Bjork – I think he held up Biophilia but I’m not positive and forgot to make note. One last grab, this time holding up Beach House’s Depression Cherry.  He seems to like female lead singers, as Katy mentions. Lately, he’s been in to them, he agrees.  He also lists Kendrick Lamar, The Weeknd, and Hot Line Bling as other favorites for the year.

Favorite Movie of 2015

Without skipping a beat, John announces that Mad Max is his favorite movie of the year. Katy questions him a little about the modern Mad Max, wondering if it is at all like the original. After limited discussion it is agreed that it is its own animal. As a runner-up, John mentions The Clouds of Sils Maria (with Juliette Binoche and Kristin Steward).

Favorite Television of 2015

Finally a topic that causes John to take pause. He contemplates, and says he’s watched a lot of TV this year – mentioning that he just finished bingeing on four seasons of Scandal. Katy assumes he’s watching that with Gela, but no…John is watching this by himself. I chuckle, because well…it is also a favorite of mine.

Favorite Book of 2015

John read Jonathan Franzen’s book Purity, which he liked…but that caused him to read his book Freedom, which he LOVED. He mentions that not only is he not a fast reader, he doesn’t finish a lot of the books he starts. I struggle with that myself these days, sadly. Then he grabs a book from his desk by Ian McDonald called Revolution in the Head, which is an incredibly accurate breakdown of Beatles Songs and the minutia of how the band wrote and recorded them, calling it his bible.

2015 in a word

Complexity. “Everything is a grey area”

That pub show we all wish we’d been invited to…

John likened the experience to being in a punk band. He summarizes the feeling that night by calling it confrontational. Keep in mind the pub had about 120 people in it, and the band was quite literally playing in the faces of their guests (again, wishing my invite hadn’t been lost in the mail…) On a typical stage, you don’t have that same confrontational aspect. He talks about how he’s standing there, weapon in hand (that’d be his bass guitar of course), and he mentions the heat in the pub and that everyone is sweaty…and how he really enjoys those experiences every once in a while because it keeps the performance from getting too sanitized (or as I like to call it, “choreographed”, which I can definitely see being a hazard of the large stage show.) “There are no small stages.”

Looking ahead to 2016

I find it fascinating how differently the band sees next year. They all agree that yes, they’re touring – but where Simon and Roger talk about the entire year being a “touring year”, John mentions more than once that it’s really only 3-4 months at this point.  He talks about the two months of touring in the US, saying that it is very ambitious for them, and that he wants to get through it “peacefully”, meaning that no one gets sick or loses their voice or anything like that. He continues, saying that they are in a great position right now and that the show has “just begun”. He doesn’t know what opportunities it will bring, only that it will bring some. Katy does ask him about the possibility of doing other shows around the world, but I have to say – at least from my point of view as a listener/observer – John seemed hesitant to commit to more. I got the feeling that perhaps, at least at the point of this Kafe, nothing had been decided yet. Couple that with what Simon had mentioned about not knowing where the band was or was not going next year – I would venture to guess that beyond the US, the band has not necessarily committed to more dates as of this writing. Perhaps it all comes down to money (funding) and finding the right promoter, and perhaps the band really just does not know what is in the process of being organized. After all, this isn’t a band who gets involved in the day-to-day tour development. They handle their end, and someone else manages the business, which makes sense.

The subject naturally turns to the world at hand. “Glad we’re out there publicly at this time.” With the events from Paris and elsewhere, there is a lot of fear out there, being “stoked by the media and who knows who else.” Katy talks about how she doesn’t necessarily want to take her kids into the city or on public transportation (A feeling that as a fellow parent, I completely, yet sadly, share…and I am not that way normally.) “People are scared,” John surmises, “and looking for reassurance. You’re gonna get it from us.” He explains that he never takes any of the freedom with which they are able to play in the UK and “the country that embraced us – the U.S.” for granted. I like it when he describes it as always going out there and playing as though it were their last show, because for their fans, that’s exactly how many feel each night.  “We’re gonna fight to keep those lines of communication open.”

Beautifully, John describes that horrible night in Paris for music lovers as having their bubble popped. It really was like that. The concert hall (or pub, bar, arena, etc.) is the escape for many fans. It is utopia. To have that feeling destroyed – well, it rocks one to the very core, doesn’t it?

Even so, John is really looking forward to getting out there. He talks about one of the greatest moments of his life being in Denver as he looked out onto the stage to see Chic playing, knowing that Duran Duran were to follow.

I have no doubt that Duran Duran fans look forward to 2016 with the same images in mind and excitement in their heart.

-R

(Slightly late!) November 2015 Katy Kafe with John Taylor

Today is December 3rd. I don’t know what happened, but I missed the posting of the November 2015 Katy Kafe. I’m expecting a pink slip at any point from Amanda…but until then….enjoy the highlights!!

(Remember, this isn’t word for word. I’m lucky if I even got quotes right this time because I was lightning fast with my writing. If you want to hear the whole thing, cough up your $35.00 and join the paid fan community at DDM!!)

Paris

Keeping in mind that this Kafe is from November 18th, it is no surprise that Katy opened with the subject of Le Bataclan and Eagles of Death Metal in Paris. Katy describes the gig as sacred space – which is completely accurate, in my mind. That’s exactly how I (and many music fans) feel about the concert experience. Real life, politics, etc should stay on the outside of those walls. John talks about how it “broke a boundary.” I couldn’t agree more. He continues by saying, “We really love those guys. We wouldn’t wish this on anyone.” (I appreciated that John said he didn’t feel especially equipped to really say much about the events in question because, let’s face it, how many of us really DO feel equipped? I’m still trying to process Paris, along with the atrocity that my community is digesting from yesterday. I grew up near San Bernardino, and I currently live about 30 miles from there. To say it is unreal would be an understatement. John’s humanity is genuine, and I think most fans are drawn to that about this band in general.) The subject of “Save a Prayer” is brought up, as it was the last song that Jesse Hughes’ girlfriend put up on Periscope of the show – and John admits that being tied to the horror of what happened that night in such a way feels weird. He expands by saying that the idea of a song being reinvigorated by a newer band is something any band would want, but having it happen in this way, in this sense, is not what they were thinking. He feels it’s important for Eagles of Death Metal to continue and that this is an opportunity for them to be a force of positivity.  I think that’s something we can all agree on. I hope they can find the strength and courage to continue because this tragedy happened TO them in a way it didn’t happen to U2, or Duran Duran, or anyone else for that matter. Their voice is an important call to action for the rest of us who very much love music and feel, rightly so, that a sacred space (to use Katy’s words) was breached that night – and we’re not going to let it consume us. Instead, we are going to let that act give us energy and power to keep going (anytime the Eagles of Death Metal are ready to get started – I’m ready to applaud them right here on this blog).

UK Tour

At the time of the Kafe, the band hadn’t yet began their tour, but Seal had just been announced as one of the opening acts (The Bloom Twins being the other). John explains that they first played a gig with Seal at the KROQ Acoustic Christmas in 1992. He calls Seal “a class act”. He continues on by saying that they first caught on to the idea when Nile toured with him this past October in the US.  The idea that Nile had hit songs wasn’t lost on John, as he described the experience as being an “eye opener.” (Having been at a few of those shows, I have to chime in and say that while I really didn’t give much thought to the idea that Nile had hits – of course he does!! – the fact is, Nile Rodgers is a legend and to see Chic live was a dream come true for me and likely many others. Who didn’t come away from their sets on cloud nine and totally ready for Duran? In the sense that an opening act is supposed to warm up the crowd – I think Chic and Nile did that in spades.)

US Tour (October)

In a word, John called them “AMAZING”. He said that they were among their best shows ever with some of the best crowds. He admits that it had been a few years (Entirely too long, I might add!!!) and they weren’t sure what kind of reception they’d get. (I am always surprised when they say this because what did they really think? Did they really think that only 20 of us would show and throw things at them?? Never!) He talks about the “love in the room” – of which yes, there was a lot of that. John also says that he felt a change from the last tour, that it felt different – but it was “all great”, adding that Nile seemed to set the tone and that each show left them satisfied. (The fans though? We’re never satisfied for long, are we??) 

2016

What will 2016 bring? Well, John was quick to make my entire week by saying that they are working on an American tour that looks (keep in mind this was recorded on November 18 and things may have changed in the past two weeks!!) like it will happen in two parts: an indoor section that will be happening in the spring (define spring for me, John.) and an outdoor section in August. (I am sweating just thinking about where they might play….) He continues to make me bounce in my chair by saying the words, “we are keen to get these on sale, so an announcement should come shortly!”  I know that there are many of you out there groaning at the very thought that the band would return to America – so let me assure you he also mentioned Europe and naturally Italy for the summer, they want to go back to Japan, and of course Australia and South America, too. Katy asks specifically about India as it was somewhere Nick had mentioned, but John seemed iffy at best as to whether playing there was a possibility. So, Santa might be bringing all of us a list of tour dates….and pre-sales…this holiday season. Ho ho ho….

Goals for Paper Gods

Katy brings up an interview that John did for press in Liverpool where he mentioned that their first goal with the album was to hit the bullseye with fans. She mentions that it would seem that it’s spreading beyond that bullseye now.  John says that they “set a high bar” with the album, noting that bands don’t spend two years recording to “put something out and just see what happens.”

JT doesn’t want to say what his goals are for the album, but that they all have “big dreams for it.” Round one was to get the fans to really love it. He recalls getting a text from Katy on the day that they released What Are the Chances (I want to clarify that while it wasn’t completely clear in the Kafe – I believe he’s meaning the day that we first heard WATC, prior to the release of the album, and NOT when they announced it would be the next single.). She apparently had told JT that fans were going nuts for the song and that it “hit fans right between the eyes.”  John says that he sat back and just said a triumphant “YES!”

The goal now is to broaden that appeal, which takes time and getting exposure in ways they might not think.  He and the other members of Duran Duran very much want to get this album heard by the people.  “The Pressure Off experiment has run its course, and we’re happy with how it’s done but Round two is seeing where What Are the Chances takes us.” (I wish someone would ask the band about radio. I have NEVER heard Pressure Off or What Are the Chances” on regular old land-based radio…and I struggle with understanding how important, or not important, getting it heard on the radio really is. Things have obviously changed since I was a kid! Should I worry that I never hear it? Fans like myself whisper about this from time to time in emails and I see it brought up on Twitter, but I really never know what to say.  Does it matter, and if it doesn’t – how else does a band go about getting exposure these days? Print and TV media can’t seriously be the end all, can it??) 

John then launches into a story that I think is worth including because, to be fair – is exactly how I felt when I first saw Paper Gods on iTunes. He explains that when the album came out, he was shocked to see it classified as pop, saying that he hadn’t felt like he’d been a pop musician in the past 25 years or so. He took a look at the other artists in that category – none of them were much over the age of 25 or so – and he wondered how they’d ever be able to compete with those kids.  John uses the word “fucked”, which is more than appropriate and I concur!! He specifically mentions Ariana Grande, for instance, saying that he felt they’d made a very progressive record he very much hopes to get heard by the masses – but probably NOT by listeners of Ariana Grande. (It is in this particular moment when I feel both complete dismay AND vindication to some extent. It wasn’t just me who was completely confused by Paper Gods being classified as Pop, and I wasn’t the only one thinking that there was no way they could ever compete with the likes of Justin Bieber…and honestly, would they even WANT to??? I love Duran Duran, obviously…but be honest here…no kid who listens to Justin or Ariana is likely to give Duran Duran a chance, primarily because it is THEIR PARENTS who grew up with the band.) So the question becomes – how will it all pan out?  Katy assures him that it has gotten fantastic reviews and that it’s particularly gratifying to her to see the great reception, and that it’s genuine. He and Katy are both right about one thing: fans love this album. We’ll fight to the death for it. We soldier on. The album, and most certainly this band, is worth all the blood, sweat, and tears (and there have been plenty!) we can muster.

-R