Category Archives: Neurotic Outsiders

Today in Duran History – Neurotic Outsiders at the Viper Room

On today’s date in 1995, the Neurotic Outsiders (with John Taylor) played at the Viper Room in Hollywood, California. The Viper Room was known to be “home” for this group, as this was the club where the band first began jamming, and is also the location where an unofficial live album was recorded in 1999.

-R

Happy Birthday Mr. Taylor!

This is a first for me!  I am actually writing this year’s birthday post for our favorite bass player, John Taylor!  Of course, as Rhonda mentioned last week, we switched days in order for her to write Dom’s birthday post and for me to write John’s.  Frankly, I suspect that this blog will not live up to the high standards that John’s birthday post should meet.  I will do my best, though.  As I begin this post, I think about all that John is and has been.  It is clear that he is much more than a bass player.  He is more than a founding member of our favorite band.  Obviously, his musical talents have expanded far beyond Duran Duran as he has been involved in side projects (Power Station and Neurotic Outsiders) as well as his own solo work.  He has also been involved with other musical projects as a guest like his vocal performance on Koishii and Hush’s C’est Tout Est Noir.  John isn’t all music, either.  He has been an actor and, this past year, we saw him become a best-selling author as well.  In fact, it is truly difficult to hit on all aspects of John Taylor’s successful career.  I will attempt to the best I can here, though, because he deserves the effort!  Besides, his fans deserve to celebrate everything he has given us, too!

Obviously, most of us became fans of John Taylor through Duran Duran.  I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m thankful on pretty much a daily basis that John discovered music as a kid and had the desire to form a band.  Then, of course, he had determination and ambition to do what he needed to do in order to be a success.  These qualities can be seen from the very earliest days of Duran to Duran today.  To me, these qualities along with his absolutely outstanding bass playing make him such an important piece to the Duran enterprise.  Yes, I’m sure that there are people out there reading this who want to remind me and others that John left the band and the band continued.  While that’s true, it is clear that the band would not have survived much longer with that line-up.  Simon, in particular, was open about how much he missed John.  For John fans like myself, it was really hard to get excited about anything Duran without him there.  All of this said, this blog post is about celebrating John and what he brought and brings to Duran Duran and their fans.

Clip of John discussing playing Planet Earth from the early 1980s-

An acoustic performance of All You Need Is Now from 2011-

Of course, for many of us, when we think about what John does best, we often think about live performances.  As a kid, I will never forget seeing the live video of The Reflex.  There was just something about him that caught my attention.  Yeah, yeah, I’m sure those flattering camera angles didn’t hurt.  Nonetheless, as an adult, I have learned that he truly does a tremendous job during their live performances.  Of course, one thing that I truly love about John live is that he is always interacting with either Simon or Dom.  I am a big fan of both the JoSi and the DoJo–honestly, partly, because it seems to me that they sincerely love performing together!
The Reflex-

Careless Memories from A Diamond in the Mind:

Now, of course, John hasn’t just performed with Duran Duran.  He has been involved with two side projects.  The first one, Power Station, is probably one that most Duranies are familiar with.  Yet, I would also recommend Neurotic Outsiders.  I suspect that this project did John a lot of good.

Power Station’s Some Like It Hot-

Jerk by Neurotic Outsiders (live)-

I happen to think that John’s most important musical work outside of Duran Duran is his solo work.  If you haven’t heard it, I highly recommend it.  John’s solo catalog reveals so much about his musical open-mindedness, skills and passion.  Perhaps, just as, or more, importantly, his solo work is so personal.  I often say that the majority of Simon’s lyrics are either pure poetry or a story about someone else.  The exact opposite is true of John’s.  Most of his songs are intensely personal.  It shows a lot about what kind of person he is to share so much of himself with the world.  Of course, his autobiography did that as well.  Someday, I’ll do a blog of must hear John songs.  In my personal opinion, all serious John fans should familiarize themselves with his solo stuff.

John’s song Fields of Eden-

Beyond music, John has been been both an actor and an author.  How many people out there can claim all of this (musician, actor and author)?!  His acting appearances were always entertaining to me from when he played an English rockstar in Sugartown (that sounds familiar…) to a badass rock star who enjoys trashing his hotel rooms in Strange Frequency to a hitman in Four Dogs Playing Poker.

John in Strange Frequency-

Of course, last year, we all had the pleasure of reading John’s autobiography.  I have read it multiple times and continue to be impressed by his writing skills as well as his ability to be so open.  If you haven’t read it, you totally should.  It provides such insight into John but also into Duran Duran, the Birmingham scene, fame and more.  
John reading the chapter on Coachella from his book-

I adore this final chapter of the book.  Why?  It feels to me that John really gets it.  He understands his role–to make music, to connect with us when they are on stage and we are in the audience.  Clearly, he understood the importance of connecting, including the band to us but also fans connecting to other fans.  In the end, that is what it is all about—making connections, long lasting, lifelong connections.  Thus, on this day, we celebrate John’s birthday but we also celebrate all that he has given us–his music, his voice, his talent, his words, his creativity, his soul and, through all of that, each other.  Truly, June 20th is one date to celebrate.
Happy Birthday John!!
-A

Book Discussion–In The Pleasure Groove (Chapters 65-69)

Is it Monday already?  Where did the week go?  While I’m way less than thrilled that my weekend is over, I’m always happy to have a book discussion, especially when it is on John Taylor’s autobiography!  This week, we move on to Chapters 65-69.  These chapters cover right after the Wedding Album to John’s solo days (1994-1998/9).  Both Duran Duran and John Taylor faced a ton of changes during the time period.  Duran recorded an album of covers, Thank You, which was released in 1995.  John formed another side project, Neurotic Outsiders.  While this project was not long lasting, John’s time with Duran ended until the reunion in 1997.  The band moved on without him and he worked on a solo career.  Personally, he had a successful experience at rehab.  He also divorced his wife, Amanda, and met and married Gela, which resulted in a blended family.  Much to discuss!!!

Chapter 65:  A Million Tiny Seductions
Why do you think the chapter was called “A Million Tiny Seductions” when it really describing John hitting rock bottom?
A – I don’t have a good answer to my question, but one that I’m left wondering about.  Is it a reference to the drugs?  They seduced him a million times.  Could that be it?  Could it be that all of the seductions John had been involved with were not enough?  He still ended up unhappy and addicted until he sought out the help that he needed.
R – I really don’t think it’s was JUST the drugs. I think it was the fact that there were seductions around every single corner and yet none of them were ever enough.  I mean really – wasn’t that truly it?  The man had everything most of us every really even think of – and yet none of it was ever enough, and some of it was just way too much.  

Did you find any thing surprising about John’s decision to enter rehab?
A – In some ways, his story seemed common.  His last night of partying that he described in this chapter was bad, but not life altering.  Yet, it seems to me that it isn’t always some dramatic moment that leads to the decision to admitting that one needs help.  It also didn’t surprise me that John heard about the rehab facility and thought it wasn’t for him, at first.  I think that is common.  What did surprise me is that those around him didn’t seem to really get that John was suffering as much as he was.  Now, I’m not saying that to be critical.  It could have been that John was such a functional addict that people didn’t see it as a problem or that John doesn’t remember them being concerned.  It is just unusual.
R – I’ve been thinking a lot about that whole “English-way” thing.  I know from my own family they just don’t talk to one another! It seems to me, as the hopeless American, that they hide quite a bit and just keep going (but they don’t call it hiding).  My point being that I don’t think he would have gotten any of his bandmates to ever tell him that it was too much until it was too late.  Maybe John hid it well, maybe the band members had their own worries, and maybe it was just expected behavior.  I don’t know.  I did like the little tale about his assistant at the time who just kept driving and dared to say “You never know John, you might make some friends.”  Good on her for not giving in to his fear – because that’s exactly what all that was – fear. You know, if John Taylor ever said “F you” to me – well, he’d think twice before doing it again. Just saying. I’d have calmly stopped the car and told him to get out and walk the rest of the way to rehab, and those of you who really know me understand that I’m not kidding. Good times.  No, I wouldn’t have made a good assistant.  

Chapter 66:  Tucson
John mentioned that he blamed his parents for some of his problems while at rehab.  Does that fit with the rest of the book?
A – I think John did a marvelous job presenting himself and others as the complex people that they are.  While his love for his parents is obvious, he never said that they were perfect.  It seems to me that John had to walk through the process of acknowledging and forgiving his parents for being human in order to heal.
R – I’m not surprised he blamed his parents for some of his problems.  I am rather fond of the saying “No one gets through childhood unscathed.”…and that’s true.  I think it’s normal because our parents very much mold us into who we become to some extent…and parents are still human.  We make mistakes every single day (as I am told).  I think it is all part of the healing process, and I still believe this book is very much a love letter to his mom and dad as a way to honor their memory.  It’s not really about Duran Duran, although I think many out there see it that way. 

Chapter 67:  Day 31
Why do you think that John believed that it would be difficult to continue his career sober before he saw the interview with Michael Douglas?
A – John didn’t explain this very thoroughly but he did comment that magazines like NME taught him that he needed to be wasted.  Why would he need to be wasted?  As we know, NME was not kind to Duran ever.  They did not think that Duran deserved the success that they had.  So did he feel like he needed to be wasted to be able to blow off the negative feedback?  Was only able to be a rock star when he was wasted or so he thought?
R – You know, some part of me thinks that John Taylor, along with many many other young celebrities out there, really just didn’t get it – it being his life, his career, etc.  I came away from the entire book thinking that it must have been very difficult to reconcile your sense of self as an individual entity away from the celebrity self.  They seem to be two very different things, and I think it takes a certain amount of self-awareness and even maturity to be able to really handle celebrity.  It’s only natural to attach yourself to whomever that “onstage” persona might be, and navigating the span between the two must be incredibly difficult.  I really don’t think being a drug addict had anything to do with dealing with the negativity as much as it did for him to deal with real life – the time when he wasn’t onstage working and was trying to function as John Taylor.  Or Nigel for that matter.  Who was he supposed to be?  I think that was just as much of the issue as anything else.

Chapter 68:  A Fine Bromance
Why do you think John included Neurotic Outsiders versus something like his acting?
A – Clearly, he learned an important lesson from playing with this band, which was that he could have fun playing music again.  It didn’t always have to be career focused.  I also think it was important for him to be around other rock stars who were in a similar situation in celebrating their sober lives.  They probably acted as a support group of sorts for each other.  On a completely different and unrelated note, I love the song, Better Way, and was happy that John included something about it.
R – I think the lesson was important for him.  He needed to see if it was still fun.  I really don’t know what acting really was for John other than maybe an aside – could he do something else entertainment related?  I’m not really sure.  It’s all self-exploration when it comes down to it, but I can understand why he left acting out of the book.  

Chapter 69:  Gela
Did you feel like you understood why John left the band?
A – John didn’t go into too much depth for why he left Duran.  He mentioned how he had to travel less in order to really focus on his family and blending it successfullyWhat I find interesting is that I had forgotten he was still in the band in the last couple of chapters.  It seemed like Duran was the last thing on his mind.  While I’m sure that part of that happens after being in a career for awhile, but he didn’t talk about making Thank You or starting to work on Medazzaland.  It seems to me that John explains it more as he talks about his solo days.  He needed to see who he was or if he even existed outside of Duran Duran.
R – Admittedly, I am so fuzzy on details when it comes to this point in the history of Duran Duran. I don’t have the timeline straight in my head until I re-read what he says.  I was busy trying to define who *I* was during this period for very different reasons, so Duran Duran wasn’t really on my mind much either, I guess.  In my opinion, his quitting the band was as much of a statement as to the fact that John had finally figured out how to BE John as it was anything else. He was able to distinguish his own self from the band.  I have to applaud him for being able to walk away from that and just exist.  

What lessons do you think that John got from being solo?
A – Clearly, he learned two very important lessons.  First, he learned that he really could connect with people through music.  The machine of Duran had/has gotten so big that it must be hard for the band to think of making connections with individuals.  I’m sure it is far easier to think of us as “The Fans”, collectively, rather than a group of individual people who have something in common.  Second, he learned to really love playing live and that each gig should be approached with the idea that this gig must be the best one.
R – I think you pointed out all of the same points I was thinking!  In some ways, it is a shame that the Duran Duran “machine”, as you put it – got so out of control in the 80’s.  I don’t think it was just John that didn’t have any idea how to deal with us, “The Fans” on any sort of individual level.  I mean, let’s face it – it’s been many many years and I think it’s only just recently that they are even SORT of beginning to feel comfortable with us as people.  Sort of.  I can’t really blame them in some respects.  We’re very overwhelming as a whole.  As individuals – which might be easier to see with Twitter and Facebook, we might not be so bad, but it takes a long time to reprogram yourself to think that way after the days of the 80’s where we were a huge mob just after anything and everything we could get.  Anyway, it’s clear that he needed to see what it was like to connect with fans again.  Like he said, standing up in front of thousands was easy, but 8?  Maybe not quite as simple in a completely different way. 

Final Thoughts:
This section could be called the lessons learned part of the book.  It seems to me that John learned about himself, about the disease of addiction, about how to forgive and stop blaming, about how to stand on one’s own two feet, about how to really be in a family, about how fun music can be especially when making connections with others.  It seems to me that we could all benefit from remembering some of the more universal lessons ourselves.

Next week, we will be discussing Chapters 70-72.  This is a short section that covers his mother’s death and the reunion.  It should be interesting.  Until then, grab a beverage and chime in!

-A

Duran History 101

This morning, I was treated to a new Daily Duranie “Would You Rather” question on Facebook.  The question was “Would you rather listen to The Devils or Neurotic Outsiders”.  Two completely different sounds from completely different ends of the musical spectrum.   Many, many fans had distinct favorites between the two, which is natural – I wouldn’t have expected any less!  More alarming, however were the comments from those that had never heard of either one.  I know how that can be – you get involved in real life, you don’t pay attention to every single thing that goes on.  It happens.  That said, I simply cannot stand by and not do something to remedy the situation properly.  So today, we’re going to have ourselves a little Duran history, thanks to a couple EPK’s and videos I found on YouTube. (thanks to Nick Rhodes, Stephen Duffy and John Taylor of course!)

A little background on The Devils is probably necessary…and it’s the beginning, which is a very good place to start.  (Be careful or I’ll start singing Do Re Mi from Sound of Music.  A frightening thought by any means.)  In 1978, Nick Rhodes and Stephen Duffy started writing music together, and ran into John Taylor who was performing with a group called Dada.  At some point later Stephen walked to art college, and met up with John Taylor, who was not doing anything at that time – and Duran Duran was born.  The music that we know as The Devils is basically the first album that Duran Duran would have made had the original original original (yes, that wording IS necessary at this point) stayed together.  (does anyone else ever get the feeling that the constantly changing lineups is just part of what makes Duran Duran, Duran Duran?!?)  This my friends, is why every Duran fan on the planet, every single Duranie, should know The Devils.  No, of course you don’t have to like what you hear and I’m the last person to condemn anybody for not loving something Duran has done…. but I do think you have to know where they started to truly appreciate the band they’ve become.

I’ve posted both parts of the EPK that Nick and Stephen produced – they’re on YouTube.  (and I’m extremely thankful for that!)  For the first EPK, my advice is to watch the whole thing through, and then take special care to listen from about 13:20 to the end again several times.  The song is called Big Store, and if you don’t hear Duran Duran in there, listen again.  I have a deep appreciation for the dark and innovative sound…if only they had more clarinet in there…

(psst, Nick!!  I’m free…and I can really play clarinet!!)  

One of the more amusing and interesting things on this first EPK are the slides that are interspersed throughout.  They are from John’s geography field trip, and there are several from streets in Birmingham.  What tickled me personally was that I could actually identify several of these shots and where they were taken.  I guess that first trip to the UK back last May was beneficial in many ways!

On the next EPK, it opens with Dark Circles.  This song would have EASILY fit on the first album.  I love it dearly, and what’s more – it reminds me of why I fell in love with Duran Duran in the first place.  Then we get to hear what Nick coins as being “the most goth sound on the record”.  This is the darkest, scariest song that I think I’ve ever heard, and chances are – I’m going to have nightmares with this song as the soundtrack for the rest of my life.  I think you’re right about the goth thing Nick, and the video makes it even scarier!

(note to self: do I really ever hear music in my dreams?? Good question!)

I’m not sure how much Duran I hear in that particular song, but Nick’s innovative mind is right there, and Stephen’s voice is downright haunting.  Take a listen to Barbarellas and even the Tinsel Ritual, and really look at those old slides – that was the Birmingham from which the band emerged in 1978.  (which is really not all that unlike the town *I* came from here in the states, which is probably why I felt so at home walking around.) They have come very, very far.

And now that you’ve come up to breathe after that long trip down memory lane, here’s some Neurotic Outsiders to wake you up!

The Neurotic Outsiders is a band that John was in during the time he was not a member of Duran Duran.  The other members included Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols, along with Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum of Guns n Roses.  I feel as though this band held much of his healing – as of course did his solo work.  In some ways it seems as though Neurotic Outsiders helped him see that being in a band could still be fun.  Their music was as much hard, dirty rock as The Devils was all about art, experimentation and the bridge between punk and alternative in 1978.  If there was ever to be a cosmic opposite to The Devils, Neurotic Outsiders would be that band.

I hesitate to include this next video, primarily because it’s a Duran song being covered….but I must because I really kind of like what they did with it.  Get through the first verse before you judge, and yes – the video is not an official one.  Ignore the video and just listen.  

The next one is live….

Sorry for the quality, but to get a good idea of what Neurotic Outsiders was like I think you have to see them.  I have to say, they rocked it, and I love that about them.

What is fascinating to me…and should really be to the rest of you as well, is that yesterday we asked if you’d rather listen to Arcadia or Power Station.  To the best of my count, Arcadia won that question by a landslide.  So far today, however – Neurotic Outsiders fans far exceed those of The Devils.  One could argue that The Devils and Arcadia are similar types of music, very “art school”, very experimental; and of course conversely, Power Station and Neurotic Outsiders are both rock, although Neurotic Outsiders comes from a far heavier place.  So, is it that The Devils just isn’t well known?  Is it that Simon isn’t singing??  Even better – what about John Taylor fans out there?!?

Watch the videos, take notes, because at some point, there might even be a test!  Enjoy!!

-R