One thing I will mention right off the bat is that this month, I noticed a slight difference in the Kafé – typically I have to click on the exclusive section of DDM, then click on the Kafé, and then click again on the link to the current Kafé, which takes me to a page where I have control to not only play the file, but I can also pause and even rewind if necessary – which for me is sometimes nice However yesterday I clicked on the link to listen straight from the Kafé page and there was no way to rewind or control the playback. Not a huge issue, but I did see others who couldn’t listen on their mobile devices either, so I really don’t know what was going on. On with the highlights!
John was ready to have a sit down chat with Katy, that is for sure…and for that reason, the Kafé was really very good this month. There were a few basic topics that John delved into with enthusiasm, and I’ve tried to group the highlights accordingly.
Unstaged screening at MoMA:
John mentioned that when the discussion of working with David Lynch first came up, the band saw this as an opportunity to possibly get the finished film into festivals. But, when time went by and there didn’t seem to be any action or even a release of a DVD, the idea was sort of pushed aside. Nick apparently has contacts at MoMA, and he went to them with the idea of screening the film there – and this opportunity sort of came out of the blue from there. The band approached American Express to underwrite the event, and the band – or at least John – was excited about evening because it provided a little bit of a break for them. Now, when John says the word “break”, it was meant as a break from being in the studio, as they have been in there on and off since March. He felt that the event was almost better than a gig, simply because there was no need for sound check or dealing with equipment and so forth, but it gave them a chance to see fans and feel a little love.
John went on to mention that the band was surprised by how well received the event really was – they bounced between the screening rooms due to timing (there was one screening at 7:30 and another at 8:00), and they could see the overall atmosphere and how it turned into almost a party. He commented that they need to do that every year, but quickly said that you can never tell with them…it’s how they think. I would respond by simply saying that this can be done, and screenings are well-worth the effort! We had a screening of Diamond in the Mind at our Durandemonium convention, and it was probably a highlight of the entire weekend. There’s something special about seeing the band onstage, even if only on the big screen, and for me personally, it was the one time during the weekend where I didn’t feel as though I was working, but rather just being a fan. That “being a fan” feeling was echoed throughout those in attendance, and it’s one very simple way to keep the “fan-fires burning” while an album is being recorded.
As for that extra-special meet and greet…I was almost surprised that more wasn’t said. I am not at all sure that John really understood the importance (to fans, as well as the band) of that time during the cocktail party, or why exactly it was so much better than a 30-second rushed “hello”, handshake and photo in a backstage, grungy hallway of a concert venue. He did say that it was a good feeling, and that there was a lot of love in that room, but he was very pointed in saying that it is very hard to keep up that enthusiasm night after night while on tour. I have no doubt, which is why if I were in charge of such events, the band wouldn’t continue to do meet and greets at shows in the way they’ve been done previously. To begin with, it almost always puts the band in poor light. It’s clear that the band feels just a little put-out by having to be the dog and pony show before the show, and there have been many times when a band member simply, for one reason or another, just decides not to show. In fairness to the band, I can’t blame them. It’s poor positioning on the part of their management. (Yes, I did say that.) On the other hand, it is reasonable for a fan to be disappointed with such an arrangement, and I still believe with every fiber of my being that fans should have the opportunity to meet the band because these types of events do so much to foster that fan loyalty and enthusiasm that everyone needs. The funny thing is that later on, John mentioned that the band needs that once in a while – that shameless devotion and worship. Well Mr. Taylor – so do we. The fans need that very same thing. There’s no way to maintain that same level of interest night after night on tour – and it absolutely DOES lose it’s charm, so other events should be devised that maybe have nothing to do with the rigors of touring, and they should be spaced out so that the band isn’t exhausted. After all, we’re an overwhelming group, and it would be ridiculous for me to say otherwise. How can we accomplish this in a way that is best for everyone? Amanda and I have been brainstorming, actually…and someday soon, I might share some initial ideas. Watch this space!
Every Kafé, Katy tries to get a scoop. Is it me, or does the band just seem pretty closed-mouthed this time around? I don’t even hear much about Mark Ronson these days, which leads me to wonder if he’s really involved in the project, and if not – who is? For that matter, where is Dom? I haven’t heard his name, seen his tweets or posts, or much of anything in quite a while….and if he’s not still working with the band, someone should probably have me sit down and break the news to me gently. Expect to see me rocking back and forth in a corner as a result. Just saying.
John begins by saying that the band seems to have a general routine. They jam for a while, then they settle into the “slow cooking” period – when and where they decide “what the album is”. He explains that there is often a lot of push and pull as they hammer it out, and it can be frustrating. They spend a lot of time getting on the same page (I am hoping they’ve found the right page…), and as always – there is a bit of reinvention of themselves on every album. The difference this time being that they are not in a rush.
That last sentence is kind of key because I believe it sets the tone and the expectations for fans. They’re not in a huge hurry to get out on the road with us. John mentioned that he feels that in comparison to such bands as Arcade Fire and U2 – they’ve done more touring since the reunion, which infers that perhaps they don’t feel like they need to do more. Perhaps. I would also say though that this band, Duran Duran, is not U2. (some of us are thankful for that) I’d like to believe that the band feels a closer connection to their fans than U2 does, but perhaps this is not the case, which is unfortunate. I think that as a fan, when I hear a comment like that – it makes me cringe to some extent, and not just because I want the band to be touring.
John followed up with saying that they really want a quality album this time. They apparently talk about how many albums they really have left in themselves, and while not at all openly quantifying that – he states that they want a better album than All You Need is Now or The Wedding Album. I was happy he stopped right there, because one thing Duran has always done that really makes me crazy as a fan is the downplaying they do from one album to the next. Whatever they are currently working on is the best thing since sliced bread, and whatever they did before was really kind of crappy now that they stop to think about it. I realize that to some limited extent this is natural, because you want whatever you’re working on at the current time to be better than what had been done previously – but I think it’s an incredibly lazy and almost self-indulgent way to talk up an album, and it’s been a very bad habit of the band since the days of Seven and the Ragged Tiger to do just that. The fact is, just a year ago we were all still saying how special All You Need Is Now really is/was, and I’d hate to have that feeling lessened purely because the band decided that after everything WE have been through together – fans, band and all – the album really wasn’t great, even though they said it was just a few months back. Get my point? Thankfully, John weeble-wobbled along that line pretty carefully yesterday, and I appreciate that.
Katy asked John about the band’s creativity and staying power. John mentioned that as a band, you challenge one another. They have pride in their “brand”, and they want to keep growing and stay relevant…and in order to do that…they really have to want it. (I’m assuming that it’s safe to say that yes, the band really wants it!) There is press from time to time about the post-punk movement and how DD was a sell-out in that era, going for commercial success rather than the grit. John mentioned that on iTunes, there are upwards of 150 different versions of the song Girls on Film – and that he knows exactly where the band stands in that evolution. So do we. He then said something that I am going to quote here directly because I think it’s absolutely perfect, “What keeps us alive and excited is not what we did in the past, but what we can do tomorrow.” When I heard that, how could I not be happy that they’re taking the time they need with this album? That’s the kind of feeling I want to support – not that they don’t think they need to tour because they’ve already done as much as U2 or Arcade Fire (because frankly – I don’t care at all about those bands when I’m thinking about Duran!) – I want to support the excitement for tomorrow.
I like the fan questions, and I like the idea that people have a chance to ask their burning questions. I don’t write down the names of those asking, so I apologize.
Will In the Pleasure Groove be released in a Spanish version? John isn’t aware of plans for that.
Sexiest DD song? He couldn’t decide on the sexiest one. (Rhonda says it’s because that’s clearly in the ear of the listener….isn’t it?!?)
What does he want for a holiday gift? His family together.
Did he enjoy the cocktail party as much as those in attendance? He did enjoy it – and expanded on his feelings about that above.
Sunrises or sunsets? Really not sure what his final answer was – guess he likes both with a slight edge to sunsets maybe?!?
Why don’t female rock bands last? John felt this was due to sheer numbers, there aren’t as many female groups so the odds of one lasting is also less. Then he mentioned the fact that women have children, families, and the road becomes less appealing. He spoke about how there are very few female producers out there – and that even successful female artists such as Madonna don’t typically go into producing, and said that was really a better question.
Before we go into a lengthy explanation of our own theories on the subject, the comments are open to discussion. I’m hoping a few readers will send in comments on this subject for a future blog.
Lastly…will we get to hear any of it before it’s released? John said that hopefully once they have firm ideas on release dates and so forth, we’ll hear something. Until then…let the wait continue…
Wait. That might have sounded just a tad wrong. I’ll try again.
I can’t speak for everyone, but I like a little scoop once in a while. Amanda even blogged about it, and Roger certainly did not disappoint. We know who to come to for some real album insight, don’t we?? As always, I took the hit for the whole team (I do this for you, only for you, my dear readers) and listened to the September edition of the Katy Kafe, and I will go over some of the best highlights here. I wouldn’t be a very good fan if I didn’t encourage everyone to go and listen if you’re able, and I have to say – it’s a good one!
The Seasons: Roger loves Autumn….in fact, Roger loves all of the seasons, which is one reason why he could never live in my glorious state of California. Fair enough. I have trouble living here myself and I’ve been here for nearly my entire life. I’m ready to move away from the constant and experience real weather again (I lived outside of Chicago for two years – now there you’ll find some real weather!), so I won’t hold Roger’s toes over an open fire for not wanting to live here, I guess. Not surprisingly he loves the East Coast of America for the very defined seasonality there, and also spoke very highly of Washington DC.
Back to the Studio: Most people have been preparing for their kids to go back to school…and the band is going back to the studio. I don’t know why the thought makes me chuckle, but it does. Interestingly enough, Roger says that he’s not really sure how many songs they’ve got, but none of them are really done at all yet (I seem to recall Simon saying something a little different – but I don’t know how they qualify what stage a song is really in and so forth, so who knows??!) They aren’t to the point of really figuring out how they’re going to release it yet (meaning formats). As someone who knows absolutely nothing about what goes on in any studio, much less *the* studio, if they have no songs really anywhere near done yet…I’m kind of wondering if there’s any sort of chance they’ll have a release for us in the next six months or so. Katy touched on this with Roger in a moment that I almost want to print out and put in a frame for future chuckles and enjoyment, when she reminded him that he was the one that said he’d put money on this record being finished and released in early 2014.(and in fact he said he thought it would be done by the end of the year…not the mixing, but the recording…) Roger said he didn’t think he said that. Oh Mr. Taylor. I beg to differ. In fact, as soon as I’m done with the first draft of this blog, I’m gonna go back and find the exact blog in which I quoted you, and I will link it right here (read the last paragraph and weep, Roger!) for all to enjoy. I warned ya, your words would come back to bite! Like I said, we’re Daily Duranie. We blog about this stuff!
Double album??: In a fit of what I believe is most assuredly insanity (and it’s OK because I have it on good authority that insanity seems to be contagious in the Duraniverse…), Nick commented to Roger that they had so much material that is on one hand dark and moody and on the other dance and club-like that perhaps they should have a two-part album. One part featuring the dance music and the other being darker. Roger responded asking if he meant like a double album, and Nick, holding true to form, said “Oh no, not a double album.” Roger said that he thinks what Nick is suggesting roughly translates to a double album, but was quick to add that he doesn’t know what place a double album really has in this current world. I would agree, and so I caution my fellow fans – a double album seems pretty unlikely, although I’m really hoping for dark and moody that I have to chew through and think about for ages with a side order of some easier to digest and enjoy dance!
Nick for President: After the double album discussion, Roger commented that Nick should have been a politician. I really wonder how many times I’ve said that myself over the years, and I still say – if the whole music thing doesn’t work out, he’s got a future in PR to say the least! That brought a short Roger and Katy-fueled vision of the World According to Nick Rhodes (I would SWEAR we had message board topics with similar titles at one time…): There would be no traveling in tunnels or over bridges, no public transportation at all, women would wear dark colors with bright lipstick (I am an epic fail here), the world would be in Manhattan and nothing south of the river in London. So there ya have it.
Twerking?: Katy asked if Roger caught the VMA’s. As luck would have it, Roger saw Miley…and even better, he didn’t know what that “dance” was called. (Quite honestly Rog, I’m not sure that really was dancing, no matter what the media calls it.) He said he turned the channel after about five minutes. (Oh how I wish I’d done that too..) Katy mentioned the reunion with N*Sync, and that they were on stage for about 30 seconds. Yep…and I completely agree with her assessments that he was up there for like 20 minutes and they should have at least done a full song. It could have been the shining moment from the show and instead it was just weird and awkward. Yep.
At this point, Katy asked some questions that she received from some wonderful tweeters around the world. I say “wonderful” because I’m one of them…I won’t lie. 🙂
Nathan (and this is the Nathan who helps with their social media – and you all thought Katy was the only one. Pshaw!) asked if Roger was using any new equipment on this album. He answered saying that he was using a Roland TD-30 drum kit – they feel like acoustics but sound electronic. I looked them up online because I wasn’t sure of the model name – so if I got it wrong, I apologize.
DDBrazil asked a great question. If Roger had to choose one song (by another artist) to include on a DJ compilation, what would it be? He took a while to respond, but said Can’t Get Enough by Soul Searcher. Then he said he also likes early Daft Punk, which led to his commenting that Nile Rodgers really seems to be having a resurgence and that it’s great.
Mirella asked if he would ever consider doing a world tour as a DJ. Roger said that if he were offered one and had six months time away from Duran Duran that, sure, he’d do one. Katy said that her next plan for Roger was to find him a vocalist to record with. I have to wonder how many Duran fans would like and support something like that. Speaking for myself, I’m not one for a lot of the DJ/vocalist music that’s out there – but some of it I do like – so I’d give it a try. Never know!
*I* sent in a question asking if they were planning to have any other producers on the album – it’s very hard to ask a question in 140 characters on Twitter, but my point was that Simon and even John have mentioned that Mark is probably not going to be producing the entire album, and so I am wondering who IS going to be doing that. The band? Dom? Roger just said that he didn’t think there was anyone else going to be producing and that they were just sticking with what they’ve got. So whether that’s just Mark or themselves or no one, I’m not sure. Maybe if someone from DDHQ sees this, they can clarify if possible? (Never know if you don’t ask, right?)
I don’t remember who asked, and it may very well have been Katy if Duran was willing to put out any short little snippets of what they’ve been working on for DD14. She qualified that Simon had said when they release a full song it sets people up with preconceived notions of what the album is going to be like, and I think that’s a really fair statement, but we’re talking about a 30-second max cut of a song here. I don’t know about anyone else, but when they sent out small bursts of music from the AYNIN album, I never came away with a clear vision of what they were really doing. It really only served to verify that yes, they really WERE recording album #13, and that the portions they sent us sounded nothing like anything I’d heard previously. Anyway, Roger reacted very positively, saying that when he gets back to the studio, he is going to suggest it. We can only hope the rest will agree to whet our appetites a bit!
The final question Katy asked was about new music. Personally, I need to thank John and Roger, because if it weren’t for them, I’d probably never listen to anything new. I just don’t have time to search for new music the way I once did, and often times – they mention music I’ve never heard of, never listened to, and yet when I do take the time – I like a lot of it. So these questions are great. Roger’s answer was Bob Sinclair’s – I Feel for You. (Never heard it, which probably means I’ve been living in a hole all summer. It’s true.)
Roger will be back in the Kafe come December and I hope he brings holiday treats in the form of more tasty album information!!
I don’t know how many have noticed, but there is a new Katy Kafe up on DDM. It is a “bonus” Kafe, because typically there are no Kafe’s in August, but Simon apparently took pity on all of us and stopped by as as surprise. Katy asked him how his summer was, but apparently if you’re Simon LeBon – your summer continues until October! (Quite obviously many of us out here are in the wrong line of work.) Simon is participating in a sailing regatta in Sardinia next week, and will participate in another one during the month of October (which is when his summer then ends, according to Simon.) I personally know nothing about sailing or regattas – I only know about power boating, and even then, what I have learned from my own personal boat ownership experience is that BOAT stands for Bring On Another Thousand. It is true. *takes a bow* Simon, on the other hand, will be lifting sails, and he explains that they sail from the early morning until afternoon, and then they stop for the day – for a full week of “day” races. Obviously sailing is a passion of Simon’s in a very different way from being in Duran Duran – and that’s because Duran Duran is of course his job – his career – and sailing is something he does in his own free time. I get that, and he’s lucky he has something like that outside of the celebrity/rockstar craziness.
Shocking as it may seem, Simon LeBon did not watch the VMA’s. I know, I know. I can hear the collective gasps from around the world. He said that he wasn’t even interested (fair enough – I took one for the whole team on this, Simon!), and when Katy announced that he missed the reunion of *NSYNC as well as Justin Timberlake receiving the Video Vanguard Award, Simon was about as appalled as I was when I heard that Timbaland would not be working on the next Duran Duran album. (that’s sarcasm there, folks!) I had to laugh.
There was some discussion over movies and/or television shows that Simon has had the chance to catch up on over the summer. He liked Silver Lining Playbook (I read the book and didn’t really care for it, so I skipped the movie altogether…but now he’s making me reconsider…), and he says that we should see the French (original) version of Untouchable. He also mentioned a few British TV shows, but I’ll let you listen to the Kafe yourself to get that info. I can’t give you EVERY detail here, I’ll have management after me!
I know that you all are waiting on pins and needles for tidbits about the album, and I have to hand it to Katy – she really does try to get a scoop for us, but once again, we were denied. Simon didn’t give us even a CRUMB that we don’t already know. They’ve got 8 songs now that they’re working on, with more to go when these are finished. The album sounds different than All You Need is Now, but if we want to know if it’s dance or pop or something else – we need to talk to Roger, because according to Simon, he “can’t tell the difference.”
Simon, you are the lead singer of Duran Duran. You’ve been “in the business” for nearly 35 years at this point (yes, I am counting). You’re telling us that you can’t tell if the album sounds like something you can dance to, or whether it’s more rock/guitar heavy…or if it’s all ballads? You’d better jump off that sailboat into the ocean because I think your pants might be on fire right now. That’s fine, we’ll wait. Roger will be coming to the Kafe soon. I’m sure HE will tell us! (Makes me miss the days of Mr. Taylorleaks on Twitter though….)
In more breaking news: Katy Krassner does not love ice cream OR donuts. Call me crazy, but I would swear I read somewhere at one point that she was a lover of candy – yet these two sweet things are too sweet. Teach me to be like that, Katy. Teach me.
Oh, lastly for those of you beard-watchers out there: Simon is currently sporting a very Spanish-looking (his description) looking goatee. No, I have not seen photos.
I am really ready for this band to start getting serious about getting this album finished though. I keep flipping back through old tour photos, seeing pictures of friends I’ve met along the way – and it’s really time. I need news. The blog needs news. This has been a great creative writing exercise: trying to create a blog each day out of almost nothing for nearly a year, but I’m over it now. Time to get going, Duran Duran. Thankfully, we’ve got the convention coming, and I’m hopeful that will give me enough writing ammunition to keep me going until December, but I could really use some help!
Until next week…
To begin with, Simon got himself a cappuccino. I have a sneaky suspicion that Simon merely makes the appropriate steamed milk sounds…but it’s all in good spirits, and I had my coffee in front of me, so I’m happy to play along. (On a side note, I’m feeling as though I need a direct IV of coffee today…and a supply of Advil or Ibuprofen to go along with it. If you’re following me – @L8BarMom – on Twitter, you’ll know I just started month two of the Insanity workout program yesterday. I have two thoughts: pain and “Oh my God I have to do that AGAIN today?!?” If you don’t know what Insanity is – search for it on Youtube!) Enough about me and my aching body…
Simon called in directly from the studio on this day, which was kind of interesting to think about. The format for this kafé differs from most because Katy asked for questions from fans, and then asked them to Simon. I’m sorry but I missed some of the names of people who asked questions…so I’ll just address the topics themselves and give a synopsis.
Most all of the questions were, obviously, about #DD14. Who really needs a working title when the entire fan community already has a hashtag for it? I say no…as did Simon at the end of the Kafé. He was asked if they had a secret or working title and Simon came up with some ridiculous name – I’m hoping I got it at least half right: “Little Red Painted Toenails on the Dancing Iguana. Nice try, Simon. Let’s just stick with #DD14, shall we?
A lot of fans wanted to know about Simon’s approach to the album…and what they are really going for on this one. Simon summed up the album in three words: Nude. Duran. and Funk. I get the Duran, I get the Funk…but the nude part…as always…we will see. I can’t even begin to guess. He also talked about moving on from All You Need is Now, saying that since they already went back to their roots and really tried to recapture that spirit, they felt that they’d accomplished that, and so they couldn’t very well do it again on this album. So they are moving on from that point. He was quick to add that they need to maintain that connection with their fans and stay true to the musical values they’ve established during this past thirty years…so they are developing the sound from that point on All You Need is Now. This makes sense. I like that he’s making sure to explain that this new album isn’t about reinventing themselves, it’s just about continuing to develop and grow from there. Mark Ronson is still involved at least partially on this album, but he is not writing – only producing, and he may not be producing the entire album. He’s busy these days. Simon’s own approach on the album, or any album for that matter – begins the same. He goes into the project with an open head, and then as things develop, he adapts as necessary.
They spoke a bit about collaborations with other people…it seems to be one of the favorite topics that fans ask about. Simon didn’t really mention who they were thinking about for #DD14, but he did say that the “dream” collaboration for him would be John Lennon. (I’d give my eye teeth for that to happen…maybe in another life…which is why it’s a dream collaboration!) Simon also said that he gets a lot of lyrics sent to him, which for whatever reason surprised me. I didn’t realize people actually sent him things for him to consider using! He said that writing is personal, and that he does not like sentimental writing. I totally and completely agree. He likes it as hard as nails, which is one reason I like Simon’s writing so much. Once in a while I can get gushy here, but more often than not, I don’t do sentiment like that. It’s even tough to use when it’s a guest blogger sending it to us, because while I know it’s the writing of someone else – their innermost feelings – I think that’s why it makes me so uncomfortable. Simon likes humor, so keep that in mind if you’re going to send him lyrics. I’ll just stick to blogging thanks, and leave the lyric writing to you experts out there. Others asked him about where he gets his ideas from. After thirty years, isn’t it tough to still come up with new things to write about?? Simon said that he keeps himself open to new things. Things he hears…”noise that humanity makes”. Sometimes phrases pop into his head from nowhere. Again, I can identify with what he’s saying here because we write this blog every single day and there are some mornings when I get up that I’ve just got nothing. I can’t even think about Duran Duran. Then there are other days when I know exactly what to write – the creativity ebbs and flows, and you’ve got to write when you get a chance. Simon also mentioned that when he is writing, he can’t really be reading or doing other things – that the writing happens when he’s bored. Personally I find that when I’ve got a lot of things going on in my head, nothing really worthwhile comes back out through the fingers onto the keyboard. That’s why I have to do the reading and research first, and then somehow I let it stew…and eventually it flows back out. The more I’ve got going on personally, the less writing that gets done around here. It’s good to know I’m not particularly unusual in that regard.
Speaking of collaborations, someone asked about whether the band would want to work with Nile Rodgers again. Simon said that he would love to work with Nile, going on to say how fantastic of a guitar player Nile is, and that he’s a lovely person as well. I think the fans would love to hear of the band working with Nile again – I can’t imagine anyone not welcoming that, and to be honest – if they want funk – I’d love to see this happen. One of the more wonderful things to come out of Twitter is being able to read how Nile is doing these days. He has taken the time to tweet with DD fans, and seems like such a genuine person, it’s fantastic to see Nile doing so well. (and yeah, even *I* like that Daft Punk song!)
Simon spoke a bit about the preferred atmosphere in the studio. For Simon, he says it comes down to the music, but he also mentioned that they have a lot less big equipment than they once did – but that they write more IN the studio these days as opposed to before. Nick likes the studio to be as dark as possible (I have to wonder how he sees his keyboard…and I’m finding that I have to oppress this desire to mention the whole lack of daylight thing plays right into the tongue-in-cheek comments some have made of Nick being a vampire…), but others like it brighter, so they’re finding a balance there. Katy said it sounds like a nightclub. I can see that.
For those who are curious about instrumentation – it sounds like Nick is using his analog keyboards (Jupiter 8 among them) for this album. Now, Simon did qualify that by saying it all comes down to the mix – you can record anything you want, many many layers, but the mix is what decides what really ends up on the album. So, we’ll wait and see. Nick does like the analog because there’s more artistry there than with the digital keyboards, but I think this gives a teensy bit into the vision of where they’re going.
Snippets anyone?? I know a lot of people chomp at the bit, waiting in hopes that something, ANYTHING, will be released to give us a taste of what’s going on in there. Simon said that there’s always a chance. There is a real downside to releasing anything though, because if it’s not finished – if it’s substandard – people make up their minds very, very quickly that they aren’t liking it. This is very true. They also believe that anything they release beforehand detracts from the official release. This, I don’t agree with, but maybe that’s because I’m a fan and do not work in the business office. From my point of view – a 20 or 30 second snippet that is still fairly rough doesn’t give enough of an idea of what is to come for it to really detract. In fact, one example I can cite from AYNIN is when a snippet of Runway Runaway was released. All that I got from it was Nick’s keyboards – that sounded very much like any other DD song – and that gave me some comfort that AYNIN was not going to be like RCM in any way. I loved that when the album was finally released, I was able to see where the snippet came from and how it was incorporated. I don’t know how that really detracted from anything. That said, I can understand that if they leaked full songs – well then, that likely would detract, and I can cite Astronaut as an example there. By the time the album was released, I’d already heard every song off of the album and knew that they’d changed What Happens Tomorrow to the point where I didn’t care for the song much. I also know that many others owned the full CD months before the album was released, and so when Astronaut came out, in a lot of ways it kind of felt like an afterthought. If it weren’t for the in-store signings, and the fact that it was the original five on the album, I think there would have been even less excitement. So live and learn.
Anyone remember that fabled album Reportage? It’s the album that everyone wants released, that I hear almost everyone has gotten hold of…that I personally have never heard. (I’d like to know who leaked that one.) The band is still talking about releasing that on it’s own – meaning the band wouldn’t try to release some of the songs from that album on #DD14 or anything they are working on now because from a business standpoint, it’s very hard to mix things they are working on now with things they’ve worked on with Andy. Makes sense…and maybe someday I’ll actually hear the album. I think Reportage has gotten to the point where it’s been built up in our fantasies to be this huge, big thing because it’s an album we thought was coming but was never released. So I wonder if it would be a letdown to hear it now. So many people tell me “it’s out there, you just have to find it.”…I’ve never found it, but I would love to hear it someday.
That’s what I was able to glean from Katy Kafé this month, and I’ve put off my Insanity workout long enough, so I must go. Happy Tuesday, everyone!
It was a rather brief Kafe this month, something about Nick being busy and work on an album or something like that, but there was plenty of time to discuss the AMFAR appearance, the album and even TV Mania, and there was much to be gleaned from the discussion.
NICK’S BIRTHDAY: he didn’t really have plans this year, but then again he didn’t have plans last year until his fellow bandmates came up with the wonderful “art gallery” party for him. Nick mentioned that he’s always up for a party (not a surprise), and that he supposes that you only get one chance to really celebrate some of these milestone birthdays “Well, at least until we get that genetic thing sorted properly.” I had to laugh – and I’d appreciate it we could get that sorted soon. Please.
AMFAR: They were pleased to be involved with such a wonderful event. AMFAR raises money for AIDS research, and on that one night 25 million dollars was raised. That’s a huge amount of money for one evening! Interestingly, Simon, John & Dom offered themselves up for an acoustic set to be played in someone’s home anywhere in the world, and according to Nick, the offering went for close to a million dollars (I believe it was $776k). Katy asked if Nick knew who had won, and he did not know, but “they were very generous.” Not a bad way to spend a million dollars, in my opinion…on one hand, you’d be making a positive difference in the world, and on the other? Those three guys in my living room? That would work. I have room. I’d MAKE room!
ALBUM: Katy wanted a scoop. I kind of think we’ve got some news to work with here…there are about ten songs now. 3 or 4 of them actually have titles, although Nick was not ready to share those yet. One of those songs is virtually finished. (We have a finished song, ladies and gentlemen!) Nick made sure to say that it is different from the last album. I appreciate that each member continues to pull the party line and say that it’s different – but what I’d really love is some further explanation of HOW it is different. Nick used the words “groovy” and “energy” to describe the music. It is just so difficult to pull much of anything from the descriptions they’re using. I’ve heard it described as a sort of Duran Duran meets Radiohead style, groovy, energy, and very different from the last album. I can’t even imagine what it all must be like yet. As for the album’s timeline, Nick said that they’ve tried to set themselves a goal that the album will be released in late Spring of next year, which means they would need to be finished with it by the end of this year. He knows better than to promise that though (smart man)…but he did say that they are farther along in the process this time than they were with the last album. So we do have hope. Katy asked if they were looking at working with a label this time or how they might look at releasing the album, and Nick said that naturally they will utilize iTunes and other digital marketplaces (Amazon, etc.), but that they were still thinking about what to do with regard to the label. He felt that AYNIN was successful in some ways, but not successful in others – which is understandable – and so they would obviously be looking to improve. There are real pros and cons to working with a label: on one hand they would be getting a much needed hand of help with regard to worldwide promotion, but on the other – working with a label is like dragging a big clunky machine behind you. The flexibility to change things on the fly is lost, and they wouldn’t be nearly as light on their feet. As a fan, I can certainly understand the reasoning on both counts. So at least Nick is considering the option of going with a major distribution deal on a label…we will see in the coming months ahead!
TV MANIA: Did you know that you too can be a TV Mania franchisee? It is true, my friends! Let’s pretend that you live in Outer Mongolia, well – you can register to become TV Mania Outer Mongolia. What does that do for you? The whole point is that you can create your own beautiful works of sound and video and upload them to the TV Mania website – thereby creating content for the rest of the world to listen, view and admire. TV Mania has a manifesto (rules that they work with) as well as a toolkit available to franchise owners that contains music samples, but it sounded to me as though there was room to be creative well beyond the framework that they’ve tried to create. If you’re at all inclined to create music and video in the vein of TV Mania – this would be an excellent opportunity to get your work out there for all to see. The cost for being a franchise holder? FREE. That’s right, it’s free. This is purely for artistic purposes. TV Mania will even issue you rights to use their logo in conjunction with your name (so that barcode would read TV Mania Outer Mongolia)…and it really sounds like a great creative platform for anyone interested. One caveat: if you are going to be sampling music – you’ll need to get those samples CLEARED. (meaning you’d better ask permission from the artist you’re sampling from!) This is one way to share the music without TV Mania touring or doing appearances, which makes sense due to the unusual aspects of the project.
SECOND LIFE: Nick loves Second Life. Katy even called it “Nick Rhodesian”, to which Nick replied “Good grief”. The TV Mania family even has their own home in Second Life, and Nick jokingly said that he thinks a sitcom is coming next. Truthfully, I had given up on Second Life – it just seemed much more difficult to navigate than I’d hoped, and this was back several years ago when they first announced the plans for a Duran Duran world. In the past few months though, I’ve seen more and more taking place there – and even Nick commented that he sees Second Life “growing and growing into something more unusual.” So am I Tempted?? (See what I did there?? And you people think I’ve no love for RCM…) I really am…maybe this summer I’ll find time to wander over there again. Maybe.
So it seems that our fearless controller never stays still for long, as he was off as quick as he arrived at the Kafe. I think we had a fair amount of news, and I applaud Katy for asking more questions about the album and even the whole debacle of labels…it’s of interest to all of us and we appreciate that she took the time to ask!
This month’s Kafe was posted to the website on May 20th and found John Taylor in New York City before the band’s appearance in Cannes. The topics were what you would imagine them to be and included information on the work in the studio, John’s autobiography, and the appearance in Cannes. There was a brief discussion on coffee and caffeine as well. While I figured there would be quite a bit of discussion on the new album and the work in the studio, I admit that I was surprised that his book was a topic as that seemed to be talked about a lot last year. I was also surprised that there was no discussion surrounding his lack of twitter appearances for 2013. This could have been a perfect venue for it to be discussed and John, certainly, could have explained himself well in this setting. Yet, the fact that it wasn’t even brought up led me to wonder if it was something agreed not to be discussed, which probably just gets me thinking about it even more.
John did spend a long time discussing the progress of the new album. He mentioned that they are in what is possibly his favorite part of the process as it seems like every song has the potential to all be fabulous! It is only as the songs get finished that some are clearly not as strong as others, which I can imagine. I relate to this as I feel that way as a writer. Every blog is going to be the best blog ever until I actually write it. Some blogs really do turn out wonderful and I’m really proud of them and others I feel like I miss the mark somewhere or didn’t explain myself as well as I could have. He also said that it was nice to be with everyone again. Katy asked a good question about whether or not people came with ideas despite typically not writing on the road. He said that people did but that there really wasn’t pressure to come with some. The most important thing was to get ideas that become or are group ideas. The album shouldn’t be like a Nick Rhodes solo album with Simon singing or a John Taylor solo album with Simon’s vocals. It should a great Duran album. Everyone needs to feel a part of it and he specifically pointed out that “integrating Dom” is key. One word that he used to describe a great Duran album is balance. I definitely agree with him. This is what the first couple of albums had and what AYNIN had. There was a balance with all members. They were all present and accounted for. If they know this now and use this now, I’m totally reassured that the album will turn out well.
John was also asked about working with Mark again and the timeline of the album. As far as Mark was concerned, he stated that they would be pleased for him to produce some of the album. He specifically did not say the whole album. I’m not sure what that means exactly. Would they bring in other producers? Produce themselves? Yet, John did mention that they need a captain to the project and that Mark did that whereas having a band member be captain doesn’t always work, which made perfect sense to me. The captain isn’t as tied emotionally to any of the ideas or to the band and band’s direction. S/he could be more objective, at least that is what I thought. As for the timeline, this part made me laugh. John said that they were all interested in playing shows next summer but wanted the album out before that. Hmm…did I just read somewhere about shows in the summer and how much easier it is for people like me?! Great minds think alike, apparently. Anyway, despite this desire, he said he is open-minded about the album’s timeline.
Beyond the discussion surrounding the band’s current activities, Katy did ask about the book. At first, I really wished that she hadn’t simply because I didn’t know what more could be gained. After a minute or two, I was so glad that she had as John discussed how he did give copies to family members and that they seemed shocked to find out about his struggle with addiction. He made an incredibly important point, which is that no one really understands as the pain is not seen. John also explained a little bit about grief towards his parents and how it is a strong force. This resonated with me. While I haven’t (thank goodness) lost my parents, I still think I have experienced grief surrounding my job, which might sound silly but that’s how I look at it. In response to grief, John said that it must be processed in the right way or it can become destructive. Again, I was led to wonder if I have dealt with my feelings regarding my career the way that I should. This, of course, is where I really appreciate being able to listen to these. Not only did I gain insight into John but it forced me to reflect on my own life and my own experiences.
Was the best, more interesting, Katy Kafe ever? Probably not. We didn’t get a lot of insider information regarding things like how many songs have lyrics or any other behind the scenes information. We did get an insight into John and his ideas on how the band needs to function to produce great Duran songs. We also learned about his ideas regarding grief and loss. I, for one, am thankful that I had the opportunity to listen to the Kafe completely as my reaction, which isn’t even a summary, does not do it justice. I recommend listening for yourself.
There was, obviously, quite a bit of a discussion about the TV Mania project and how unique it is compared to other bands or to other side projects of Duran’s. Part of its uniqueness is that there was this family created that truly reflected the society of the 1990s. One of the questions that they were asked focused on who influenced the creation of their characters, specifically Sassy. Nick explained how they were truly based on “extreme stereotypes” including the Dad is the “religious freak”, Mom is a “pill head”, the son is a computer hacker and online gamer and the daughter is a fame seeker through whatever means necessary. While this wasn’t necessarily new information to me, I did find out that this family now has a space on Second Life. Who knew?! As someone who doesn’t go into Second Life ever, I had no idea. My question to those of you do: Can/have you interacted with them?! Of course, the project is also unique because of the incredible focus on the visuals and how, musically, it creates a new genre, according to Warren, which I have to agree with. He explains how it doesn’t fit into the electronic genre of the 1990s and doesn’t fit today. Of course, the visuals for this project are everywhere. Many of us are fascinated by Nick’s photography exhibit, which he discusses to some extent. I didn’t realize that the images were divided into “vicious women” or “troubled women” but featured all the same model, who is the “Sassy” character. Fascinating. This is one of those moments when I truly wished that I could see this in person. Of course, the vinyl packaging is also supposed to be something. (I will discuss that when I receive my vinyl. Anyone in the US get theirs yet??) They also mentioned the video for Euphoria and how there is a video remix of that coming, along with the video for Beautiful Clothes. I, for one, cannot wait for that!? Nick also mentioned how there will be a “visual” surprise for What About God?
Speaking of which, the project unlike a lot of music out there really, obviously, reflects on society and popular culture. While the project came out before a lot of the social networking sites were up, running and popular, they did talk about the current use of twitter. For them, it is another visual. They described it as a means to send out random thoughts and images to “stimulate the brand”. That said, when asked about what they saw the future being like, Nick hoped that social networking still wouldn’t be as important as it is now. Hmm…so he still isn’t a fan? Yet, clearly, TV Mania is using it. Is Second Life not social networking? This is even more interesting as they introduced this idea of having TV Mania being a franchise with different TV Manias all over the world. What would that be like? It would be anyone who is interested in making music using samples, technology, different sounds and combining it with visuals. There would then be a YouTube channel that would showcase these different ones. Wow. There is a lot to think about with this idea. On one hand, I love the idea that everyone could do it. It feels very punk rock in that sense. I also adore the encouragement of art and creativity. Yet, I wonder about the details. How exactly would it work? I’m sure there will be more information to come.
Of course, no Katy Kafe would be complete without some mention about what both Warren and Nick are up to. Nick, as usualy, sounds super busy. He mentioned how they were back in the studio with Mark Ronson with the hopes of releasing the album next year. One personal project he has is to sort his photography archives, especially since they won’t be touring anytime soon. Yet, the part that caught my attention is how he is working with John on some sort of elaborate musical project with a storyline! Fascinating. While they might be the oldest of friends, they certainly haven’t done much together outside of Duran. In fact, when apart, they seem to have gone in opposite directions, musically, so I can’t wait to see what they could come up with together! Warren is working with a singer from Stockholm on some sort of Missing Persons project and is busy with his production company.
This Katy Kafe was jammed pack with both information and with interaction. Katy, often, didn’t get a word in edgewise as frequently Warren and Nick would just keep discussion alive. If you are a fan of hearing interaction, then, this is a good one to listen to. Sometimes, it was hard to pick out the information through all of the interaction and, at times, humor. I appreciated the little jokes like the idea that TV Mania would tour in 2031 since it seems to take a long time to do things surrounding the project or when Nick stated how it was -500 degrees there. Oh, Nick. Try living in Wisconsin the last few months! There is still snow on the ground that has been around since before Christmas. All of that said, I can see where Warren fans would enjoy this Kafe more than others. For me, I just loved hearing that there is more to look forward to with TV Mania and other projects!
I must concur with what DDHQ tweeted yesterday that Simon did not disappoint. He never really does – his Kafes are always entertaining for a multitude of reasons, and he was in an especially jovial mood on Monday. He opened the Kafe with mentioning that yes in fact he has about 98,000 followers on Twitter (DDHQ has almost 90,000 as I’m writing, yes – I checked.) This is apparently a source of great amusement for Simon and Katy, and unlike some more recent Kafes with other members of the band, it is very evident that Simon and Katy have a good time giving one another a hard time, which I admit – I enjoyed. (Granted, I was saying “Go Katy, Go…” but that’s just me.) I also loved that she gave Simon a good ribbing that she makes sure to keep the @duranduran Twitter updated several times each day (which is VERY true) and Simon comes around whenever the urge hits him. (Also incredibly true.) Simon said that he does try to come on once a day but sometimes it doesn’t happen. I just want to pipe up here and say that out of the entire band (I am looking squarely at you, John Taylor…and also YOU, Dom Brown…), Simon is truly the best on Twitter. Yes, I really did just say that. He *does* come on there and posts something fairly often, if it isn’t always daily. I know that as a fan, we appreciate that. It’s just nice to see that everyone is alive, doing well…and still at least appears to be somewhat interested even when there’s no new album to promote. Get my point?
So, as I mentioned on Monday, my psychic powers were telling me that the band was back in the studio. Ok, so I might have known that they were planning on going into the studio on that date…knowing that Mark Ronson will be joining them later in the month. Simon confirmed that yes, they gathered together on Monday, March 4th for the first time back in the studio. I’m sure chaos ensued because after six months – what really happens when you get back on the horse again? Katy asked Simon if he goes into the studio with a plan in mind – Simon’s first answer was “Yes, to make a hit record.” Then he quickly checked himself and said “No, really the idea is to make good music.” I was relieved. I don’t know about the band, but I think the last album was a gigantic success for them. Monetarily? I have no idea and its none of my business – but as musicians, artists and the idols I’ve always known them to be? Absolutely.
Simon spoke a bit on why he doesn’t like to explain the writing/recording process – he feels like the finished album is the important part. As a fan, I have to agree that the finished album is the most important part. That said, Katy mentioned that fans like hearing the background stories and things like that – and she’s right. However, I understand Simon’s point. As a writer – there’s no way I’d let people actually read my first drafts. Except for this blog…because this my friends, is always a first draft. *gasp*
The mustache. You knew he’d get around to it – and he did not disappoint. He is WELL-AWARE of how it has taken on a personality and life of its own. (along with it’s own Twitter account, which I rather enjoy) And, just as I’d suspected – Simon said that he “doesn’t give a fuck what people think.” I laughed. Loudly. While it is true, I’m not necessarily a fan (loved the beard but the mustache…??), I have to say – good for Simon, and spoken like a true stubborn Scorpio. (I should know – I’m a Scorpio too!) If I had to guess, I would say that the Simon-girls out there had better learn to embrace the facial hair….and if it continues to grow…it might end up embracing YOU! (<— worst joke yet on this blog) He says he likes that Wild West look.
Back on the album front – Mark Ronson arrives next week. Simon said that Mark will probably follow the ideas that the band has for this album and will just guide the band through them this time. He made sure to mention how wonderful it feels to work with someone that they all truly enjoy. He feels that while All You Need is Now is a tough act to follow, they can’t be intimidated. I can see how for some bands, that might be a problem, but Duran Duran seems to have no trouble going from one album to the next, closing one door, opening another, and continuing to add dimensions to their sound. I can hardly wait to see what comes next.
Katy brought up the retrospective of The Wedding Album, but interestingly enough they ended up talking more about Liberty. Simon said that they were disappointed that they didn’t get Liberty right so they knew The Wedding Album had to be done right, and he looks back on that time with “great fondness”. Katy mentioned that she didn’t think Liberty was all that bad (I would agree completely – there are great songs on that album that get overlooked), and Simon mentioned Venice Drowning, Serious, and Violence of Summer. (Katy feels that should come out of the closet – again, I totally agree. I think this would be fantastic to do live again.) Simon did not like First Impression though – and neither did I. I don’t know what it is about that song, but it doesn’t work for me unless I’m driving home from the Key Club up in Hollywood at like 2am and need to stay awake….another story for another blog…
Katy and Simon talked a little bit about the Oscars and some of the movies up for Best Picture, and interestingly enough – Simon had some rather strong words for Mr. Ben Affleck regarding Argo. In Argo – the point is made that the British don’t want to help out with the plan to get the hostages out of Iran, which is factually incorrect. There was some press regarding that when the movie first came out – I believe that it was done in order to “simplify” the storyline, but Simon is absolutely correct when he says that when you are creating a movie that is supposed to have true historical basis, it’s a good idea to stick to the truth. I can see why Simon would be upset – the storyline makes it look like the British didn’t care, even though that particular piece of the story is not integral to the storyline (which is the whole reason I think it was written that way). Ah, Hollywood.
And in case you missed it – Simon is in People magazine this week. Why? The mustache, of course.