Yesterday brought a wonderful gift to Duranies everywhere: a shiny brand new Katy Kafé on DDM! As usual, I listened, took copious notes…pondered things I probably didn’t need to ponder, and now I’m ready to share. Once again, I must remind our readers that my goal here is not to transcribe the entire Kafé, but rather to highlight some of what I found most interesting, and to open up those subjects for discussion. If you want to listen to the entire Kafé, (which I think is worthy of your time, and then some!) you must be a member of the paid fan community at duranduranmusic.com.
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…