Category Archives: media

Paper Gods – A Duran Duran Comeback?

There has been quite a bit of press for the band recently, and it has been fantastic seeing their name (and faces) in the news again promoting Paper Gods. As a fan, it is always exciting to see the band in magazines and on covers – although admittedly these days – I see very few “physical” covers, most of it (for me) has been what I’ve seen online. The days of sitting around carefully extracting centerfolds and pin-ups to add to my wallpaper is pretty much over, but I still love reading the articles online and seeing the new band photos, doesn’t everyone?

Since this blog is really an ongoing conversation regarding the “State of Duraniverse”, we comment as fans – which isn’t difficult considering that is exactly what we are. I don’t look at things from a public relations point of view or as an industry insider might, simply because I’m not. That’s the difference in this blog. I’ve never worked at a label or a radio station, and the closest I’ve ever been to management was working with a fledgling band who once opened for Duran Duran. It was like herding cats, I might add…to say the least. I leave planning promotional agendas to the people who are paid to do such things, and I react to things in the same way as any other fan…not as someone who works in the “industry”.  This is a point well-worth making because sometimes, I feel as though it is forgotten. Amanda and I are fans. Much of the time, we’re the lightning rod for the community-at-large, and at other moments, we’re the microphone.

One thing I’ve noticed with the latest round of press is that Paper Gods is a Duran Duran Comeback. The first time I read it, I skipped over the word, because let’s face it – media can be stupid. They assume that just because they haven’t noticed the band as of late, no one else has heard from them either. The second and third times, I wondered if a pattern hadn’t formed. After that I stopped counting, and then this morning I saw the word “comeback” again after another fan pointed it out on Twitter.

I realize that for much of the rest of the world, Duran Duran apparently ceased to exist after what…Ordinary World? The Reunion? I’m really not sure, but it is clear that even though the media has covered Duran Duran without fail (in varying degrees) for each album; and media has used the word “comeback” for more than one album in the past…they’re apparently using that word again to describe the promotion of yet another album release by my favorite band. It’s low-hanging fruit I suppose. Easy words to pin on a band that have not had a bonafide hit in a while, even though to those of us who have been loyal fans for several decades at this point know they’ve never gone away.

Does it really matter? Most likely not. As I continue to be reminded by those who actually DO work in the industry – it’s about the press and I should be thrilled that they’re getting out there on the cover again. Period. It doesn’t really matter WHAT is actually said in the articles about them, it doesn’t apparently matter whether the article is written with a snarky tone or with dignity and respect, it’s about getting their name out there. I did miss my classes on public relations in college, and I’ll be honest: I would have failed MISERABLY at them. My loyalty gets in the way when it comes to this stuff. I couldn’t be that person who sends notes to fans like me reminding them of how amazing it is that they’ve got the cover and that I shouldn’t be disappointed by the words contained within. (apparently no one actually reads the articles these days, which I should probably understand given my experience with this blog at times) I’m still stuck on someone calling Simon out for caring about lighting, or talking about each member of the band’s personal (and ancient) history rather than the music at hand. That’s why I’m a fan blogger and not someone working at a record label, and I’m fine with that, actually. My struggle with the press is real. Cognitively, I get it. Any press is good press. I don’t love the method…but I get it.  Emotionally? I’m loyal and it really bothers me at times. Is that negative? I applaud their covers, I applaud their PRESS. I just don’t care for some of the words used to describe my favorite band. So sue me.

Simply put, I’m a fan and I don’t like seeing my band disrespected.  They’ve worked their asses off to get here; and no, they never left. “Duran Duran Comeback”? Are you kidding? Just because the rest of the world may not have loved All You Need is Now or Red Carpet Massacre doesn’t mean those albums didn’t exist, and many within our community find those albums to be among their best. Comeback for the rest of the world, maybe??

I have no idea what is in the future for Paper Gods, and I’m certainly not going to Monday Morning Quarterback before the game even begins. The Duran Duran comeback the media is talking about could end up being that the new album is a runaway hit, which would be amazing!  I just know that as a fan, the word can be taken in multiple ways – and for those of us loyalists, we know the band has never left, and we’re still right by their sides on this journey. I’m just looking forward to seeing this band get back out on the road again. Let the celebration of #DD14 begin!

-R

John on Film!

If any of you are like me, you probably have been struggling to keep up with all of the media surrounding John Taylor’s book release.  Thus, I thought rather than dive into a deep subject today, it would be better to compile some of those media appearances.  Of course, I’m a chatty one so I might offer a comment or two after each clip.  I’m hoping, though, that you will want to add your own comments as well!  For the purpose of this blog, I will be focusing solely on the video clips one can find online.  If you know where to find the radio clips, I would be happy to put those up as well.  If you would like a full list of media and I know you do, you can find it on dd.com

1.  All About John Taylor’s In the Pleasure Groove:

I absolutely ADORE this.  I love seeing John look through Duran artifacts from the past as well as his diary.  As someone with a history degree and experience in museums and archives, what I wouldn’t do to be able to run a museum or archive just related to Duran Duran.  Think about the various exhibits I could include!  The possibilities are endless!  *sigh*

2.  CNN:

The biggest thing that stood out for me on this interview clip was the comments surrounding teenage fans.  He mentioned how the attention he got was attention he was “uncomfortable with”.  I can’t even begin to imagine how much of a “curse” some of this attention was and still can be.  As he stated, he loved teenaged fans in the concert hall but not right outside his house.  I would assume the same would be true of his middle-aged fans.  On a different note, I smirked when he talked about how all guys fancy themselves a little like James Bond.  This always reminds me of when I sent him James Bond socks during the 2006 Church of the Bass God birthday socks package.  🙂

3.  The Today Show:  Click Here

I noticed two things during this clip.  First, the interviewer mentioned that the book was not a tell-all.  I will wait to comment on this statement for the Book Club discussions on Mondays.  It is something I hope we discuss, though.  Second, both John and the interviewer stressed loneliness.  It is hard to imagine being surrounded by people and being lonely but…as someone who battles with loneliness from time to time, I know how devastating of an emotion it can be.

4.  The Couch:  Click Here

First, I love that John talks about his experience being a fan in the book.  Obviously, this is a topic that is near and dear to my heart.  Then, while watching this clip and hearing John talk about his dad’s experience as a Prisoner-in-War, I couldn’t help but to think about what my sister does for a living.  She is an Oral Historian and documents people’s lives through them telling their stories.  John’s dad would have been a perfect candidate for this.

5.  Big Morning Buzz on VH1:  Click Here

This clip was hard for me as the interviewer just rubbed me the wrong way.  She was everything that bothers me about female interviewers with Duran as she was giggly, asked silly questions and talked about how she was such a fan.  Anyway…I wish that she didn’t go over JUST the “juiciest” parts of the book.  There is so much more to John and his story than just getting the legal age while touring or having fans want to exchange bodily fluids with him.  Ugh.

6.  Associated Press: 

John makes a really good point here.  This is HIS perspective and his experience.  As he points out, Nick’s perspective would be very different as would Simon’s.  The other thing I liked in this clip is that they showed modern footage as well as the classic clips.

Bonus clips:  Siruis XM

I enjoyed these clips very much.  I thought most of the fan questions were well-done and John gave interesting and thoughtful responses because of that.  I can only hope that the reading I’m going to will be just as worthy of praise.

-A

You Can Read about It!

I couldn’t resist.  I bought the latest copy of the silly People magazine.  Unlike a lot of people I know and I say this without judgment, I don’t usually buy People.  It isn’t that I have some great philosophy of not wanting to know what celebrities are up to or whatever.  For me, it is more about the fact that I have three jobs (here, campaigning and teaching).  I don’t have time.  Seriously.  I have watched one new TV show in the last year and that was during the summer.  When current popular culture topics come up in conversation, I just sit and stare, blankly, looking for a connection to politics or to Duran Duran.  Wow.  I’m awesome.  Anyway, I have seen some scans of the little feature on John Taylor and his book but that was not enough.  Nope.  I must have a copy if I can.  Heck, I just renewed over at DDM and, truly, part of my reasoning is that I wanted the stuff.  I like to minimize many things in my apartment and in my classroom except for my Duran collection.  That, I let grow wildly!

As I opened the magazine today, I reminded myself not to have high expectations.  Again, I don’t say this to criticize People or other media outlets like it.  That said, it is what it is.  The articles are not all that in-depth or force people to critically think.  I think, for the most part, people read magazines like this for entertainment, for fun and not to think critically about global problems and their possible solutions.  Thus, I tried to remind myself that this is how a lot of people, probably most people have fun and that it would be good for me to break out of my usual fun reading of Smithsonian and Mother Jones (not even kidding here).  Besides, I was sure that there would be great pictures of John and that could be fun, too!  In fact, there was a lovely picture of John right in the table of contents on page 6.  It described the focus of the article, which, of course, was John’s upcoming autobiography or memoir as they called it.  Then, they mentioned about how it includes sex, drugs and rock and roll.  Ah, yes, the media’s love affair with what is juicy.  I had to have a little self-talk about how this gets people interested, more copies get sold and that once they read the book they will know that there is a lot more to it than just that before I continued on. 

Then, I turn to the article, which is three pages long.  Well, the feature on John is three pages long.  The first page is really just a picture.  It is a nice picture but a picture, nonetheless.  Then, I notice the title.  “Rock Star Gone Good.”  Hmm…again, the self-talk comes back and this time needs to be a little louder.  This voice reminds me that they don’t mean anything by the title just that he is no longer focusing his life on partying and everything that went went with it.  They don’t mean that he wasn’t a good person then, says my inner voice.  I take a deep breath and enjoy the picture again.  Ah, better.  While on the subject of pictures, they include many of them, which I do like.  There are two group shots from 1981, a picture from the Olympics, a few pictures of family and a JoSi.  Most of these pictures have quotes near them.  A couple quotes really stood out to me.  First, John says in 2012 something about how Duran is “sunshine” and that he needed to include the “dark” stuff, too, in reference to the book.  Uh…I know that we have had this discussion here before but I don’t always think of Duran as “sunshine”.  I think it is fascinating that he does.  The other quote that really caught my attention was by the picture of JoSi where John admits that JoSi is a fan fantasy.  Oh my.  Yes.  Yes, it is.  I can admit that fantasy and I know that I’m not alone in it.  That said, I’m terribly amused that he is well aware of it and addressed it here.  Buy the magazine for the quote.  Just know this.  John has a good sense of humor about it all, which I appreciate. 

As for the article itself, it said basically what I expected it to say.  It referenced the rapid rise to fame, the partying lifestyle and the drug use that went with it and where John is right now in his life.  One part that did catch my attention was how John said that the book isn’t about “naming and shaming” people.  I hope we discuss that when we get to the JT Book Club.  Is that a true statement?  Does he keep from talking about others and their behaviors that they might be ashamed of?  If he does, is that how he should have approached it or not?  Now, don’t answer those questions now.  Save it ’til the (Monday) morning after…John’s book is released in the US.  Lastly, the article does feature a small blurb from the book.  Which blurb did they choose?  You guessed correctly.  They chose one about sex.  Go figure.  I’m not surprised and I understand why they did.  I can’t be annoyed at People as this is what they do but I really just keep finding myself wishing that John’s book would be talked about with a focus on other things than sex, drugs and rock and roll.  After all, I think there is a lot more to him and his story than that. 

-A

The Notorious Press…Again

Duran Duran has been doing a ton of press lately.  It seems like a day doesn’t go by without me reading a new article or seeing a new video of an interview.  While I adore seeing the band get attention, get press, I continue to find myself frustrated by how they are covered as well.  Yes, yes, I realize that I’m taking it too personally and/or that this type of situation is not unique to Duran Duran as it has been happening with everything lately.  First, let me give you a couple of examples then ask the questions.  Is it important to respond?  If so, how? 

The first piece of news that caught my attention for this lately is an article that was featured in a variety of news sources.  The link here was in MSN Music.  The part of the article that bothered me was this,
“In interviews recorded to accompany the band’s concert DVD “A Diamond in the Mind,” bassist John Taylor admits his friend’s frustrating health crisis almost led to the band’s breakup.  Taylor says, “I did consider that this could be the end of the band. … There’s no way you can avoid those thoughts. Obviously one felt for him — he was living it — but we were all looking at, ‘Wow, what does this mean if it doesn’t come back?'”  Maybe it is me but the term “breakup” creates a pretty strong image.  A breakup, to me, can imply that there was conflict, that there were some members going one way and others going a different way.  This, again, is how I’m interpreting the term which is very different than the band calling it quits, saying that they were done together as a united group.  Now, perhaps, I’m sensitive to the idea of the band stopping.  Maybe, I am being a little too protective of the band.  I just don’t like the idea of anyone thinking that the rest of the band was so upset with Simon or his situation that they would call it quits as we all know that this wasn’t the case.

Then, the second piece of press was today’s video from People.com.  The headline ran like this–Duran Duran:  Our Old Songs Are Our Best Songs.  Then, the video clip didn’t show them making that statement.  Yes, clearly, they talked about their old songs and how those are songs that people want to hear live.  Okay.  Later in the video, which you can see here, John and Simon talked about how they are still creative and enjoy making new music.  They also talked about how their career has shifted from making an album and touring to support that album to making an album to support touring.  Yet, instead of having something about that as the headline…no, People decided to say that their “old music” is their best music.  Well, why the heck would anyone want to check out their latest album then?  This is so unbelievably not helpful.  On top of that, why imply that was the quote and not show the quote.  Is that what they said?  I don’t really know.  The video clip seems out of context to me. 

Am I the only one annoyed by this?  Maybe, I am.  Maybe, it’s me.  If that’s the case, I’ll enjoy a couple of drinks tonight with friends at a comedy club.  Clearly, it is what is needed.  If that’s not the case, how should Duranies react?  Should we just know the truth ourselves?  Is that enough?  If it isn’t, how should we deal with it?  Would we and the band benefit from having a truth team of sorts that would respond via comments or email to whatever news source?  Food for thought on a Friday.

-A

You mean that band is still around? Really?

This morning I was in Target, picking up the usual: milk and that sort of thing.  I was in line – a very long line I might add, and my cell phone rang.  My ringers are personalized depending upon who is calling, and this person has a DD ringtone assigned to them.  (Those calls get answered first, especially when it’s Amanda’s ringtone I hear!  Other calls, such as the ones with just a regular ring, typically get ignored, and I’m not even kidding.  All of my kids school numbers – as in the office number for their schools – are assigned to Reach Up for the Sunrise because the chorus is so loud it nearly makes me jump out of my skin…so I know to pick up immediately!)  Anyway, after the call, a woman behind me asked if my ring tone was Duran Duran, to which I smiled and said “Yes”.  That’s when she said “I loved them back in the 80’s, but they aren’t even together anymore.”  Well, my eyes about bugged out of my head at this point, and I took the time in line to correct her.  She was shocked, and even more so when I explained that they have several albums out that she should really look into getting!  (Her fascination ended at The Wedding Album. *sigh*)

I don’t know about anyone else, but this happens to me quite a bit, and mainly because of my ringtones!  I’m pleased to help out the band with their grass roots marketing, but also completely annoyed that people have been living under a rock for the past 20 years.  I have many friends from high school who have found me on Facebook, and one of the first questions they ask me, obviously after scrutinizing some of my pictures and things, is whether or not I’m still a Duran Duran fan.  Some are nice about it, but a lot of them try to tease me by saying “What? You’re still into them?  Aren’t they dead yet?”  (Yes, people REALLY say that…)  After which I take a deep cleansing breath and attempt to answer their questions as nicely as possible.  Sometimes, I even succeed.

After my excursion to Target, I came home, knowing that I needed to blog and that I didn’t really have much of a topic in mind.  That’s happening a lot lately.  I’ve got tons of book ideas, but the blog is tougher right now.  There’s not a ton of Duran news, and what news I do have doesn’t really affect me to the point where I have an urge to write.  It’s either feast or famine sometimes.  Anyway, I hopped onto Twitter to see if something would get my creative juices flowing, and I saw the #questionsIhateanswering topic trending for Los Angeles.  My answer?  The topic of this blog.

It’s not even that I hate answering the question,  it’s that it is even a question at all.  I can’t help but be frustrated that such a fantastic album like All You Need is Now has gotten so little notice from the general public, and what’s more – I’m completely annoyed with my fellow 30 and 40 somethings out there that they haven’t stayed more in touch with music in general.  It’s sad that once we hit the age of 30, 35 or 40 we stop paying attention to what’s out there.  Granted, I’m preaching to the choir here, but it’s no wonder that our demographic no longer seems to matter to anyone but ourselves, and that’s incredibly sad.

One person commented back to my rantings on Twitter that she’s over it.  She just loves the band for what they give us (I’m totally paraphrasing here, my apologies), and the rest of it just doesn’t matter.  Most days, I would agree.  Today…I’m missing that mark.

-R

My Response to Nick!

For the past two days, I had professional development, which means that I sit and listen to the latest and greatest idea in education.  I’m not very good at these type of things because, as a teacher, I’m used to doing.  I’m used to moving and talking constantly throughout the day.  I am not good at listening and NOT responding as I have many things to say about any/every idea presented.  Perhaps, this is part of the reason I chose to do this blog so that I could respond to what is going on in Duranland.  Tonight, the boys are playing their second to last show in Boston.  Yesterday, I became aware of an article/interview with Nick from The Boston Phoenix.  The article can be found here and my responses to the answers are here!  Obviously, some questions did not get my attention as much as others.

In the beginning of the interview, Nick is asked where he is to which he responds about how he is Chicago and says the following, “Actually in Chicago we’ve spent quite a bit of time.  I’m sure I’ll find some trouble to get into.”  As someone who was in Chicago, I have to ask.  What did Nick do?  I know that John and Dom went record shopping but what about Nick?  What about Roger or Simon?  Next time, I think the band should let Rhonda and I know their plans.  It would make our lives more interesting and fun!

Shortly, Nick gets asked about the new album. 

SD: So 2011 has been a pretty big year for you guys, although, not without ups and downs.NR: Yeah, it’s been one of the most exciting years in the Duran calendar in our three decades, I have to say. It all started with the release of All You Need is Now, which we worked on with producer Mark Ronson. I think when you have something that you feel very confident in musically and artistically, it gives you the energy to go forward and do other things and it helps to unfold the origami, because things start to happen when you have something other people are excited about too. We made the film with David Lynch. That’s certainly one of the highlights throughout our career so far. He’s been someone we’ve admired for many, many, many years, so when the opportunity came up to make a film together, that was a complete thrill. We started out playing in America at the SXSW festival. We talked about going there for years, because the spirit of Duran Duran has always been that of an independent band. Even when we’ve made records that have been enormously successful commercially and we’ve been on major record labels, we’ve never lost the spirit that we started out with.” 
My response:  I’m thrilled that they feel confident about AYNIN, musically and artistically, and that should be a highlight of the year.  Yet, the interviewer asked about the ups and downs.  Why not acknowledge everything that Simon went through?  Everything the band went through?  Everything the fans went through?  It could be easily acknowledged and done in a way in which tells how Duran is stronger, better because of it.

Later in the interview, after discussing how other bands had been “borrowing” from Duran, the interviewer asks about the fanbase, which as a student of fandom got my attention!  “SD: I think one of the reasons that you guys, and you know, this is me postulating, you can tell me what you think about it, one of the reasons you’ve maintained this fan base is because Duran Duran is kind of like it’s own little culture, it’s own little land. From the earliest interviews with you guys, you’re always talked about different art and culture, and I think in America, especially kids living in the middle of nowhere, to hear about Andy Warhol, to see Keith Haring on television, to hear about Cocteau and Patrick Nagel, and all these people. This was a big deal for a lot of people who didn’t have access to that kind of culture.NR: Well, I hope so, because I know what other artists from all spheres have given to me over my life. It’s food for me, for my imagination. Nothing makes me happier then sitting in a cinema or going to an art gallery. John, Simon and I all went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art the other day, because I’ve been there several times before and neither of them have actually visited there. I said, “Look, we have a day off, let’s go.” They were both completely up for it. We all left there just floating because seeing the collection that has been that well curated over so many years. I mean they have some of the greatest artworks ever made in there. They have the ultimate Marcel Duchamp collection, including The Bride Stripped Bare, the Nude Descending a Staircase, the Urinal, the Bicycle Wheel, each absolutely extraordinary. But then you sort of wander down the corridor and they’ve got one of the greatest Van Gogh Sunflowers. They’ve got a couple of the best Matisse’s that I’ve ever seen anywhere in the world. You know, if you can bring a little of that information to other people in, I don’t know, in the form of suggestions, or images, or just the notion of it. Then I think that’s great.”
My response:  First, I completely agree that Duranland is its own little culture, which I have addressed before.  I think that Duran has influenced many of us to check out musicians, artists, fashion, etc. that we would not have ever considered.  As much as I was destined to check out art because my mom is an artist, I doubt I would have cared as much if it wasn’t for them.  I also find it amusing that Rhonda and I are like them as well since we try to check out art museums when we can!

This question about the year leads to questions regarding Mark Ronson.  “SD: Back to the new album briefly, I have to ask, I think a number of people have asked, and I know you guys obviously don’t have any plan or anything. But as a big music fan, like you guys are, I’m sure you can think of any number of sequels or trilogies of records that bands have made with producers. I know a lot of people are wondering if you guys might work with Mark again. It’s been a while since you’ve done two in a row.NR: Of all the producers that we’ve ever worked with, I have to say, Mark is the one that I think suits Duran Duran best. We’ve worked with some amazing producers, we really have, we’ve been very lucky. Sadly, the first few albums produced by Colin Thurston, and then the third album by Alex Sadkin, who have both passed away, but they were extraordinary teachers.
SD: For me as well…
NR: Yeah, amazing, amazing, amazing people. But, of the people we’ve worked with in the last couple decades, Mark just suits us better. He has an understanding of so many genres of music. He has incredible style and great taste and he really, really gets what Duran Duran is about. So, I sincerely hope we work with him again. We stay in constant touch. We’re so fond of him on a very personal level, as well as musical level. He’s really something.”
My response:  I completely agree with Nick that Mark is the producer that suits Duran best.  I think he gets THEM and I think that he gets US (the fans).  Thus, I, too, hope that they work together again.  🙂

Of course, this leads to brief discussions about both Red Carpet Massacre and Reportage.  “SD: I like the last record, I like Red Carpet MassacreNR: Me too.
SD: …I actually think it’s great Simon record.
NR: Yeah, a few people have said that. John and Roger feel that their presence was diminished on the album, I understand that.
SD: I feel like maybe the fans kind of felt like that. It felt a little anti-climatic post-reunion?
NR: Maybe. It was very programmed. You see, the genesis of that record is quite interesting because we made an entire album with Andy Taylor. Which is called Reportage…”
My response:  I’m not surprised that John and Roger felt like their presence was diminished.  It felt that way to me, too.  Thus, it didn’t feel like Duran to me no matter the quality of the song.  It wasn’t what I think of when I think Duran.  I also agree that it was very programmed, which again makes it anti-Duran to me.  Of course, Duran can, has and should use technology but it should have something organic, something more musical. 

The interview continues to say:  “SD: Which is coming out when?NR: It may come out, it would need mixing, it would need finishing a few things, but then what happened was we were just literally going to do a couple tracks with Timbaland and we got in there and Andy didn’t turn up for those sessions, and so we ended up doing them without a guitarist, we obviously added guitar to the tracks later, but we recorded them without guitar, wrote them without guitar. That set the mold, really. Had Andy been there, I think those tracks would have probably started to sound a little different in the first place.
SD: They sound really cool, and if that record had come out in, like, ’99 no-one would’ve batted an eyelash, but I think when you have this sort of legendary rhythm section back together it felt like, you know, they are a little bit under utilized on that record, theres just little moments…
NR: Yeah, I understand. For me, that album was an experiment. For everyone in the band, that album was an experiment. It was how to merge the Timbaland beats with Duran Duran. And the expense of us doing that was the rhythm section became different. Obviously they both played on the album. They played synth bass on some of them. Some of the drums were programmed by Roger…
SD: There’s some of that on the new album too…
NR: Yeah.
SD: It’s not like it’s unlike Duran Duran to have some synthbass.
NR: Yeah, but on that one it was largely the makeup of the sound and I think we definitely sacrificed something but we work as a unit and whatever we feel is right for Duran Duran, and I mean honestly, if we decided we wanted to make an album that was just guitars and strings and we decided, no, we’re not gonna use any synths on this, we would do it. It’s a case of the time and we felt with Tim that he was one of the most interesting people out there making contemporary music at that time. We’ve always loved dance music and so…”
My response:  Obviously, I have no idea about the quality of the songs on Reportage, how much work it would be to finish or even if they can finish it and release it, legally, but I would still love to hear it.  It might also be a good way of releasing another album sooner rather than later, if there aren’t legal issues with it, as most of the writing and recording appears to be done.  Nonetheless, it says something to me that if Nick, who was RCM’s biggest supporter, is saying that “something sacrificed” when they made RCM. 

Nick goes on to make a really good point and one that I must remember: “And certainly, the other point about working with Timbaland is that had we not made that album, I don’t think it would have lead us to make this new album with Mark.”  If this is true that Duran needed to work with Timbaland and needed to make RCM as a step before working with Mark and making AYNIN, I am grateful it happened.  I do think that sometimes things need to be one way before things are able to go a different way.  Maybe RCM was the lesson they needed to learn.

Then, of course, the interviewer turns to the current tour and the current setlist.  Oh boy.  “SD: I have it on good faith that you guys are gonna be playing “Shadows On Your Side” in Boston. Can I put that in print?NR: (laughs) We haven’t played it on the American tour at all yet. The trouble is with set lists, and I’m sure you could talk to any artist, you must know this yourself, if you have have a lot of material, it’s hard enough to condense it into something that is a little less than two hours. But when you want to put in a song that is possibly a real fan favorite, but maybe not with the broader audience, it’s hard to find places in the set to put them in. For example, recently we have been playing a song “Tiger, Tiger” from the third album which is instrumental. And the reason we started playing it was to create a little three minute spot for people to Tweet live during the show onto the screen. And it has been a fascinating moment in the set.
SD: Gives Simon a rest.
NR: So we thought, perhaps we’ll replace it and we’ll do “Secret October” instead because it has a vocal on it and we said we would play this song. And of course, Simon said “I don’t want to do it and have Tweeting going on whilst I’m singing.” Whereas musically, we are just creating a soundtrack and I think that’s fine, visually. And so we took out the Tweets and we did the song, and the song went down really well. But then we realized that a lot of people were missing the Tweeting thing because a lot of it was interactive and thats part of modern shows. So you have all these things …all I’m really doing is making excuses for you. We probably won’t. We could play it instead of a number of things but I’m not sure what would give.”
My response:  Clearly, they don’t want to put in anymore “fan favorites” than they already have for these US dates.  Obviously, they feel that they need to appeal to the “broader audience”.  As Rhonda and I have both mentioned, I think this is lame.  If you play enough hits, that “broader audience” will be happy.  Duran should worry about keeping us dedicated fans happy and keeping us going to shows.  Then, to hear Nick talk about the discussion surrounding Tiger Tiger versus Secret Oktober, I got even more frustrated.  Yes, I can understand Simon’s point of view of not wanting people to tweet during him singing.  I tweeted during Tiger Tiger but that felt uncomfortable, too, as I’m ignoring the band playing.  If you want to have the tweet thing in do it when the band is not on stage.  Have people tweet while waiting for the encore to start but don’t let that get in the way of the fans hearing a song they desperately want to hear!  Ugh!

Speaking of Twitter, the interviewer asked about the band’s involvement.  “SD: It is interesting. I think both Simon and John have been doing it since around the release of the record. It is interesting to kind of follow along…NR: I think John particularly loves it. I think its really something that he’s been able to focus some of his energy on. I know he’s always taking little photos and putting them up when we’ve arrived somewhere, or we see something interesting. He was tweeting from the Museum the other day. I’m all for that. I have a concept for tweeting which would be very much against the grain of what people like it for, so people may really not like the idea of what I might want to do with it, and I keep threatening to do it. For me, it would be a complete experiment so I would enjoy it, and I think there may be some people out there that would see what I was getting at, but it’s much more of a one way street. It would be that I was really just publishing certain things and not really getting involved in conversations about them. I’m not sure if that’s in the spirit of it, but I may do that.
SD: Well it’s difficult, I think, to have in-depth conversations. I think John tries to answer peoples’ little questions and things from time to time, but I don’t think you can get too in depth. The other side of it is, I think for some people, and I don’t know if you fall into this category or not, but some people see that artists being on Twitter constantly, kind of affects their mystique a little bit. Where it was so hard to get information about somebody ten years ago but now it’s like…
NR: Well I feel that way very generally anyways. We were talking about when were growing up as kids and the photos of artists we used to see, whether it was David Bowie or Iggy or the New York Dolls or Lou, they had a real mystery to them because there weren’t that many photos. You might see the occasional live photo from a concert or you’d see David Bowie and Iggy Pop in Moscow together or a picture of a couple people on a train having lunch and this was really as far as you got into their world and you had to then use your own imagination as to what else they might be doing or what it was like in the studio and what they were recording. Now I do feel with web cams everywhere and everyone with a mobile phone during the show, every second of everything is recorded from all these different angles and published everywhere, it’s an overwhelming amount of content. In a way, you definitely lose focus because people are watching dreadful live videos with dreadful sound quality and then saying, “Oh well that was that, wasn’t it.” As opposed to something that was being produced with beauty and care. And its not that I’m completely against it because this is a very modern world where this is what’s happening and that’s that, but as regards to what it has done to mystique, yeah, its shattered it into a million pieces.
SD: Yeah that’s true, it’s a strange game. I can’t think of a band, current day, that can maintain that exactly. You have to, obviously, evolve with the times somewhat, but it’s interesting with some groups, it might not be in their best interest to be too involved with that.
NR: I think you have to embrace new technologies and use them to the best of your ability, and use them artistically. With our online presence we’re always looking to do different things. We launched Second Life some months ago which was initially launched as a completely non-commercial project. It was literally an arts project. We built a universe for people go in as Avatars and communicate with each other, really. And so far I have to say I’m thrilled with the results because it seems to be a really good breeding ground for ideas and for artistic statements. The costumes that people are wearing in there are spectacular. It’s worth going in to look at that alone. When they have parties in there it really is pretty remarkable, it’s an utterly surreal world where anything goes and they’re having an amazing time. So, you try to do these different things with the website we’re going to relaunch that soon, so its version 2.2 or 3.3 or wherever we are now, and there have been some huge improvements there. The live stuff and the Tweeting. During the live shows I take pictures of the audience every night which has now become quite interesting because there’s a whole section on the site where you can see the audiences from my point of view from the different shows. We’re always looking to do things and find ways to make it a bit different. Everybody out there is putting everything up they can.”
My response:  I can definitely see Nick’s idea of tweeting being VERY different than what is normal, common, expected.  My guess is that Nick fans would eat it up!  Yet, ideally, fans would want some conversation and it doesn’t seem like Nick does, for whatever reason.  I also agree with Nick that technology should be used and embraced but that it does have its drawbacks and has taken some of the mystery out of life.  That said, I still don’t get Second Life.  I don’t understand why he is so thrilled by it.  He says that it is filled with artistic ideas.  Really?  Someone who is involved in it tell me how. 

The interview ended with a question about John’s book.  “SD: Have you seen any advanced writing in Johns book?NR: No, nothing. I think it’s probably best that I don’t and I’m sure John would feel the same. I guess eventually there will probably be a full set of books. I don’t know when I’ll be doing mine. I don’t know when Simon will be doing his but I imagine there will be a set, and that will give you all the different perspectives as to why Duran Duran is what it is.” 
My response:  I’m thrilled with the idea of one day having a set of autobiographies from the band members.  Maybe then, we would have a good idea of what went down and how it was!

So, readers, read the entire interview, and come back and tell me your responses!  Were there questions that I didn’t focus on that I should have?  Were my responses different than what you would have said?  I would love to know!

-A

Media Representations of Fandom

Before I dive into today’s blog, I want to thank those people who have submitted answers to this week’s video challenge questions.  If you are interested in participating, you can find the rules and the first 10 questions here:  Friday Night Videos Daily Duranie Style Part 1.  I’m hoping that people will enjoy watching some Duran and Duran related videos over their weekend.  Perhaps, for those dealing with Hurricane Irene, it will provide a nice break from reality!  While I’m not dealing with bad weather (for once), I, too, have found a break from reality needed this weekend as it is my last official one before I return to work (teaching).  While part of my weekend has consisted in continuing to plot with my partner-in-crime, it has also been filled with watching silly movies.  This morning, I watched the movie, “Music and Lyrics.”  For those of you who aren’t familiar, it stars Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore.  He is an 80s rocker who continues to perform, but at places like amusement parks and class reunions, and she is a struggling writer.  Together, they team up to write a hit song for a current big time star.  It is a romantic comedy but the love story didn’t interest me as much as the references to the 80s and, more importantly, references to fandom.

Very early on in the movie, we see this 80s star perform at a class reunion.  He has signature moves that get the women squeeing (sound familiar anyone?).  These women know all the words and sing right along with him.  (Again, don’t know where I see that in real life…)  When Drew Barrymore’s character tells her sister about this performance, her sister screams in delight and goes to change.  She returns in a low cut, tight fitting blouse.  When they enter the ballroom for this performance, she barges her way through the crowd to get to the front.  Of course, she isn’t the only fan we meet in the movie.  Another fan tells Hugh Grant’s character that his song helped her get through her parents divorce when she was like 7.  How many of us have made statements like that in reference to a Duran song or album?  Many of us, I’m willing to bet.  I suspect some of us have even had the chance to tell a band member or two as well.

These representations of fans were meant to be silly in this movie as were the references to has-beens and bad 80s hair and fashion.  That said, I wonder why fans are shown as a joke of sorts?  Why is some fan telling her idol about how a song helped her emotionally something to laugh at?  Obviously, I believe that this is due to the stigma fandom already experiences or is it a situation where movies like this make the stigma to begin with.  Which comes first, the chicken or the egg, or, in this case, does stigma or negative representations come first?  Is the art representing life or creating something new?  I don’t know the answer to this.  Yet, it made me think of other films, books and TV shows that show fandom.  One movie, Rhonda reviewed, which is Fever Pitch.  That movie focused more on the fandom than this one did.  What other movies are there that touch on fandom?  Here’s the list I have so far:  Music and Lyrics, Fever Pitch, Trekkies (examines Star Trek fans), Something You Should Know (about Duranies!), and even John Taylor’s Sugar Town.  There must be more.  What am I missing?

What about books?  What books showcase fandom?  Here, I’m not talking about the many books I have read in relation to writing our book.  I’m not looking for non-fiction, but stories in which fandom plays a role.  I just finished “Juliet, Naked” by Nick Hornsby, which focused on fandom.  In fact, I started reading it in England, which assumed me to no end as the characters had gone to America to see their idol’s home country.  (Let me know if you want to hear more about that one).  I also read “How Soon is Never?” by Marc Spitz in which the characters try to get The Smiths to reunite.  There must be a ton, though, that I don’t know about. 

TV shows also show fandom.  When I think of TV shows, I immediately think of the episode of Samantha Who guest starring a Mr. John Taylor.  That episode is probably worth its own review!  What other shows had episodes about fandom?  I’m curious because I think seeing how movies, TV and books show fans and fandom will help me to really understand how and why fans have been given such a negative image.  I believe that if I know why the negative labels began, then I can figure out what and should be done about them.  So help me out here!  What are other books, TV shows and movies that show fans and fandom?  I appreciate the help in advance!!

-A

RIP Mr. Laufner

This morning, as most of my mornings begin, I checked out Facebook and saw that Charles Laufner has passed away.  Who is Charles Laufner, you ask?  Well – for a good many of you, if not most of you, he is whom we have to thank for our “wallpaper” back in the 80’s.  Mr. Charles Laufner was the founder of Tiger Beat, and he died in Los Angeles at the age of 87.

Tiger Beat was one very good reason I insisted on accompanying my mom to the grocery store each week.  As she would shop I would make a beeline for the magazine aisle, knowing that I had a good 20 or 30 minutes to look over each magazine, read the articles in the magazines I couldn’t purchase that particular week, and daydream about the day that Roger Taylor would come to rescue me from my life in suburbia.  Ah, to be 12 or 13 again….  There was hardly a time where Duran Duran wasn’t somehow featured on the front page – and most assuredly there were pictures contained within, if not full pin-ups.  I would spend hours scouring each issue, making sure to read every single word when it came to a Duran Duran article.  To this very day I remember an interview the magazine had done with Nick Rhodes.  Most of the interviews were very basic, and the answers were always very PG – at the time I never noticed how squeaky clean all of it was, interestingly enough. (call me naive if you must….and I was!)  In this one interview, the magazine asked Nick if he’d ever consider dating a fan. Nick’s answer?  He once dated a 1969 German air conditioner – if we had to know!   I don’t know why that stupid question and answer still stick with me, but to this day, when I see Nick – I think of that silly article!!

There’s no question that celebrities and bands alike have to thank magazines like Tiger Beat, and publishers like Charles Laufner, for their success.  Duran Duran utilized that market to the best of their means, regardless of whether we look back at that strategy with a sense of nostalgia or disdain.  Yes, critics always seemed to laud Duran Duran for appealing to teens like myself rather than going after the “serious” music crowd – but isn’t it funny that it’s teens like myself (and probably many of our readers) who continue to stick by the band, now in our mid 30’s and 40’s, as the core fan base?  Serious music consumers indeed.

Of course, Tiger Beat wasn’t the only teen magazine on the market – but it was among the first.  His first magazine was Teen, and his son Sean has continued the empire by buying Tiger Beat’s parent company in 2003 and continues to publish Bop.  Back in the day when I was a consumer of Tiger Beat – the magazine was one way, if not the only real way, that I could really indulge in my crush (the entire band…of course).  I could read the articles, learn about them, fawn over the pinups, put them up on my wall, and of course kiss them goodnight if I so chose, which I did.  (don’t tell anyone!)  It’s been many years since I last bought Bop or Tiger Beat – no really, I swear, but I have to wonder if the purpose of the magazine is still what it once was.  The internet has really shortened the distance between fan and “interest”, Twitter and Facebook have made it possible to even interact with celebrity in a way that I couldn’t have ever even dreamed back when Tiger Beat pinups covered my walls.

Mr. Laufner is responsible for opening my eyes and expanding my world back in the 80’s.  Without his magazine I would have never have become the fan I am today (and perhaps some would have appreciated that!), and I think it’s fair to say my life wouldn’t have turned out the same without Tiger Beat.  Thank you!

-R

Slow Food

I was reading the paper this weekend, and an article caught my eye.  The topic was on Slow Food (as opposed to Fast Food), and how the idea of homecooked, real food is starting to really catch on.  You’ve probably heard the term “Farm to Table” before, and Slow Food is just another aspect of that concept.

As I was growing up, the big deal was convenience.  Everything from food to gadgetry of all kinds were focused on getting easier and quicker to use.  Back when my mom was a teenager, fast food was something you had once in a very great while – like a treat.  Her mom spent great amounts of time in the kitchen preparing meals for the family.  Then my mom had her own family, found herself in need of getting a job and bringing in a second income for the family – and those things along with a deep hatred of the kitchen somehow got us to having tons of “convenience food”.  TV dinners were very much a part of my growing up (I hated them with a passion), as were many, MANY kinds of frozen foods.  I think my mom actually kissed our microwave more than once.  Somehow from there, fast food became a staple as I continued to grow up and get out on my own.  Likely because I inherited my mother’s dislike for cooking.  However, as the years went on and I had children of my own, I’ve turned that curve, and most of our meals are home cooked again.  I order my produce from an organic farm that delivers, and yes, my children eat vegetables.  Mostly.   Fascinating how the tides have turned back from trying to eat fast and furious to taking our time and enjoying real quality – and of course, knowing that this way is far healthier hasn’t hurt the concept, either.

Gadgetry though, seems to have stayed on the path of convenience.  We have computers that are the size of cell phones now (and smaller), we have GPS equipment that tell us exactly where to go and how to get there, our refrigerators not only have TV’s right in the door so we have something to stare at during dinner (rather than each other), but you can program your fridge to even tell you what’s missing – why get up and make a list when the fridge can do it for you?  Snail mail is practically a thing of the past, everything can get to you electronically now, and theoretically you really don’t have to leave your house for much – you can order anything and everything online and have it delivered.  Then of course, there’s music.  Stores like Tower Records, and the Wherehouse have been gone for years.  Vinyl became CD, and CD became MP3.

Many consider MP3’s to be the “Fast Food” of music.  You can download the files in the blink of an eye and be on your way.  It’s fast, convenient and still does the job, just like eating at a fast food restaurant.  It’s enjoyable because it’s practically instant and you really don’t even have to leave your house in order to own the latest and greatest.  Is it really satisfying our needs though?

For me, MP3’s feel very synthetic, very plastic and even very one dimensional; and very much like the salty french fries I used to crave from In-N-Out.  Given the fact that for many years, fast food was a staple for me, I loved those fries.  I loved that I didn’t have to wait long for them, but as time wore on and I ate them more often; well, first of all my blood pressure took a huge hit, as did my waistline over the years.  Then, I was completely sick of them. (along with any fast food!)   More often than not these days I really just want to have a salad (and not that salad from a fast food place – I don’t know what it is about those, but they always taste like plastic to me!), or some roasted or grilled chicken, some fish, or even a great petite sized steak.  Yes, I sometimes miss the convenience, but I feel so much better, I look a lot better, and I know I’m a lot healthier without that steady diet of crap.  I kind of think that MP3’s are that same way, and I’m wondering when we’ll begin to turn that corner back towards real quality in music…both in the quality of the end product AND in the quality of the artists.

-R

What’s the Goal?

I spend my time reading a lot of articles and interviews with and on Duran Duran during “Duranietime” (thanks to Rhonda for the term!) like this when they are doing a lot of publicity for a new album.  I always enjoy these interviews and articles as they often give me insight or what I think is insight about the band members, about the project and more.  For example, there were a number of articles during the Red Carpet Massacre phase that got me thinking that they weren’t 100% excited to be working with Timbaland (No, I don’t remember which ones.  I’m old.)  It seems to me that most of the current batch of articles have focused on how great it was to work with Mark Ronson and the return of the classic Duran feel.  It seemed to me that they were happy just to be making a quality album, making quality music.  Then I read this article yesterday:  Duran Duran: Still Hungry?  I didn’t have the same feeling after reading this one.

This article began as many of the current set of articles have with praise given to Ronson.  I appreciated that John talked about how every note and every word were considered when writing the album.  I like knowing that there was that level of intense attention to detail.  Then, the article took a turn as John explains how addictive having hits is and that the point of pop music is to sell.  In fact, he describes their goal as to “turn this baby around.”  I assume that the baby would be album sales and chart placement for their singles.  Now, normally, I agree with John’s thinking.  This time, not so much.

Why should the focus of pop music be to sell?  Why is it that pop music needs to be hits in order to be worthy?  I guess I don’t agree with that premise.  I can think of many pop songs that are high quality that aren’t hits and I can think of many pop songs which suck, which have charted.  In whose mind does this matter?  Does it matter to them?  Now, I can understand that they would want to have hits.  It is the most obvious means of showing how successful they are, but is that the only way?  Shouldn’t making higher quality music be more important?  Couldn’t hits be just an icing to the cake and the cake being having good songs? 

This debate is an interesting one to me as a teacher.  I’m constantly hearing other teachers, parents, the public and politicians talk about facts regarding how well students are doing.  Usually, when this is done, they are referring to test scores.  Yet, this measurement does not always work.  I’ll explain.  I am a special education teacher, which means that I work with students who have been found to have one or more disability(-ies).  Some of my students might score very well on standardized tests but then struggle behaviorally.  Do these tests show how well those kids are doing?  Then, I might have other students who will never score at grade level, due to their disability, but they might be making tremendous progress.  If I judged myself and them based solely on this one test, I would think that they are complete failures.  I would think the same of myself.  Yet, for the most part, I think my students are great.  They are not perfect but they come to school and they fight to improve.  Thus, I don’t think that they should be judged based on this one measurement.  Clearly, one size does not fit all.  So, why should Duran use this one measurement of sales or chart placement to determine their success?  Shouldn’t they realize that there is much more to it than that?  Besides, art isn’t always popular and they should remember that. 

To be fair to John, I don’t know the other questions that were asked or the other statements that were made.  I know enough about interviews to realize that quite a bit might be edited and that a certain angle might be focused on over others.  Nonetheless, I’m surprised that he even made comments like that.  I honestly thought that Duran might have moved past that focus.  I do get that having hits and being commercially successful is something that must feel so wonderful, but I don’t think it is good to always expect that.  Let’s face it.  The music industry is not always kind to artists as they age.  I don’t know that Duran is even being given a fair shot for this.  Are they then just leaving themselves open to major disappointment?  Instead, I would prefer them to feel good about what they have accomplished with AYNIN, no matter where they end up, chart wise, and no matter how many units get sold.  Perhaps, they should learn from my students, in this regard.

-A