Category Archives: New album

Waiting for a Look, The Invitation

There are times when Rhonda and I seem to be on the exact same page.  Lately, as the summer begins to move into fall, I feel like Rhonda and I are dealing with similar issues.  She has to deal with scheduling with school and home along with everything else that she is responsible for.  I have also been dealing with the “how in the world am I going to fit everything in” feeling.  You see I have returned to work, to school, to teaching.  Is this what I want?  No.  We all know that it isn’t.  I sent off applications over the summer and looked for something different with no luck.  I am still looking, sort of.  I just don’t know how to balance that, which does take considerable amount of time, with my regular job responsibilities, this blog, our book, and the upcoming convention.  I’m feeling exhausted all ready and the kids don’t show up until Tuesday.  I know that I will get into a rhythm, a pattern where I’m not so tired and where I can get things done after work but I will feel a little bit like I’m drowning until I get to that spot.  Interestingly enough, Rhonda and I have spent time talking about the craziness of schedules during the beginning of the school year but we find ourselves talking about how anxious we are for news from the band.  We want to know about the album.  We want to hear how it is going.  We want to know that they are working on it and that it is on schedule for a 2014 release with a TOUR.  Now, should we be taking the time to worry about this?  Absolutely not.  Do we already have plenty on our plates that we don’t have the time or the energy to do things like plan a tour?  Very much so.  Yet, we still find ourselves yearning for something, anything from the Duran camp.  This is when it hit me.  What is the only thing I’m not doing right now and didn’t do this summer that I have been doing?  Campaigning.  Yes, the summer of 2013 was the first summer that I didn’t campaign since 2009.  Welcome to Wisconsin where politics is an all year long ordeal from January 1st to December 31st with little to no breaks.  Maybe, though, I should use my not-being-used skills.  Perhaps, a new campaign will keep me fresh for those political positions that I should be searching for and applying for.  Hmm…what could that campaign be for?  President is done for awhile.  My state doesn’t have senate races until 2016.  Governor is far too painful.  What about focusing my campaign skills on what I’m missing the most?  That silly band we all know and love!  Yes, that’s it!  I could run a campaign focused on Duran Duran!

Now, there are two kinds of campaigns.  There is electoral campaigning, which focuses on a candidate and getting that candidate to win a specific election.  That doesn’t fit here.  We don’t need Duran to win anything.  They won us over a long time ago.  No, we need the other kind of campaigning.  We need issue based campaigning.  Okay.  Then, we have to pick a goal.  Typically, most issue based campaigns focus on getting a law passed.  An example might be that there are organizations I am connected to that are fighting to get Congress to pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform.  Their tactics then focus on the members of Congress.  Simple enough, or so it sounds.  It is a clear cut goal.  They want it to pass and they know that they need so many votes in the House of Representatives before it goes to the President to sign into law.  Thus, they work at convincing the members of Congress to vote for it.  Let’s think then.  What could we campaign for with the band?  We know that it takes time to finish an album.  We don’t want the album to suck so we can’t really push on that too much.  What should we campaign for?  I have got it!  We could campaign for news about the album, especially since we didn’t get any with Simon’s recent Katy Kafe.  Let’s be even more specific.  What kind of news?  How much news?  We know that there are 8 songs.  Should we demand to hear part of one?  Should we ask for their timeline and how they plan to meet it?  What is reasonable?  Since I believe strongly in democracy, I will ask all of you to help me determine the campaign goal.  I can definitely be campaign manager but I need to know our goals first.
Once our goal is determined, then, we get to choose what kind of tactics to use.  As I’m sure you all know from watching electoral politics, we could either be persuasive through positive means or by negative means.  A negative tactic could be something like a strike.  Obviously, this is a political action often used by labor unions who want their employers to meet some sort of demand like a wage increase or a change in a working condition.  The strike is often effective because it hurts the employer in their pocketbook.  They lose money and will change in order to avoid this loss.  The same is true with a boycott.  We all could decide to stop buying their products and stop talking about them.  What if the Daily Duranie blogged about something that had nothing to do with Duran or started blogging about other bands?  Well, that probably wouldn’t hurt the band at all…okay.  Heck, if they knew about us at all, maybe, stopping would make them cheer!?!  We don’t really want to do that.  Also, it is good to be aware that the tactics mentioned (strikes or boycotts) could cause us harm.  We would be removing something that we enjoy.  Yeah, those ideas might not work here.  
What are more positive tactics?  What about a petition?  If we get enough fans demanding news, a timeline or a snippet of a new song, would that work?  On one hand, if we showed that there tons of fans around the world wanting this, that could be pretty powerful.  That might be enough to convince them.  What if it isn’t then?  Petitions are often used with members of Congress and not always with success.  Then what?  In the world of issue campaigning, we try to use that petition to convince the people who have power over the member of Congress.  Those people could be the people who vote in his/her’s district, state or nation, but they could also be the contributors.  Who would it be with Duran?  Their management?  Their fans?  We could use the petition to show the fans who haven’t signed that the cause is worthy of their signature.  We could also convince management by sending it there, too, right?  We could, if think that will be effective.  Another option could be direct action…a little protest or three, some speeches, an occupation or two usually helped major social movements.  Hm…so many options!  So, team, what shall we choose?  What would persuade them to give us a taste, some info, a little fix to keep us going?  The desperation is increasing as I type!!
Of course, maybe, they would take pity on me, on all of us and give us something without having to go to all of this work.  Maybe, they would want to give us all something to keep us going, to keep us interested, to thank us for being obsessed….I mean, dedicated.  Of course, they would, right?  They want to make us all happy, yes?  I like that idea.  It feels so positive, so optimistic.  I guess if that doesn’t happen…well, we could always still could campaign!!!  ;D
-A
You all get that I’m kidding, right?!  For the most part…

May Katy Kafe with John Taylor

People will often ask me why I’m still a paying member over at DuranDuranMusic, the official fan club.  The first thing I will mention, of course, is the presales.  I might then mention the swag that one gets with membership as I’m a sucker for Duran merch.  That said, I do LOVE the Katy Kafes.  I always feel like I learn a lot about the band and the band member in the Kafe by listening to them.  I gain an insight that I wouldn’t gain from a regular interview.  First, I gain some insight by how the band member in question reacts to the topic at hand.  Sometimes, the tone and whatnot tells me more than the actual words.  Second, the fact that this is done with Katy, someone who really knows them, allows for a different level of interaction than a straight up interview with a random stranger.  My point being that I learn a lot from listening to them and enjoy them, too.  This month’s was no different.

This month’s Kafe was posted to the website on May 20th and found John Taylor in New York City before the band’s appearance in Cannes.  The topics were what you would imagine them to be and included information on the work in the studio, John’s autobiography, and the appearance in Cannes.  There was a brief discussion on coffee and caffeine as well.  While I figured there would be quite a bit of discussion on the new album and the work in the studio, I admit that I was surprised that his book was a topic as that seemed to be talked about a lot last year.  I was also surprised that there was no discussion surrounding his lack of twitter appearances for 2013.  This could have been a perfect venue for it to be discussed and John, certainly, could have explained himself well in this setting.  Yet, the fact that it wasn’t even brought up led me to wonder if it was something agreed not to be discussed, which probably just gets me thinking about it even more.

John did spend a long time discussing the progress of the new album.  He mentioned that they are in what is possibly his favorite part of the process as it seems like every song has the potential to all be fabulous!  It is only as the songs get finished that some are clearly not as strong as others, which I can imagine.  I relate to this as I feel that way as a writer.  Every blog is going to be the best blog ever until I actually write it.  Some blogs really do turn out wonderful and I’m really proud of them and others I feel like I miss the mark somewhere or didn’t explain myself as well as I could have.  He also said that it was nice to be with everyone again.  Katy asked a good question about whether or not people came with ideas despite typically not writing on the road.  He said that people did but that there really wasn’t pressure to come with some.  The most important thing was to get ideas that become or are group ideas.  The album shouldn’t be like a Nick Rhodes solo album with Simon singing or a John Taylor solo album with Simon’s vocals.  It should a great Duran album.  Everyone needs to feel a part of it and he specifically pointed out that “integrating Dom” is key.    One word that he used to describe a great Duran album is balance.  I definitely agree with him.  This is what the first couple of albums had and what AYNIN had.  There was a balance with all members.  They were all present and accounted for.  If they know this now and use this now, I’m totally reassured that the album will turn out well.

John was also asked about working with Mark again and the timeline of the album.  As far as Mark was concerned, he stated that they would be pleased for him to produce some of the album.  He specifically did not say the whole album.  I’m not sure what that means exactly.  Would they bring in other producers?  Produce themselves?  Yet, John did mention that they need a captain to the project and that Mark did that whereas having a band member be captain doesn’t always work, which made perfect sense to me.  The captain isn’t as tied emotionally to any of the ideas or to the band and band’s direction.  S/he could be more objective, at least that is what I thought.  As for the timeline, this part made me laugh.  John said that they were all interested in playing shows next summer but wanted the album out before that.  Hmm…did I just read somewhere about shows in the summer and how much easier it is for people like me?!  Great minds think alike, apparently.  Anyway, despite this desire, he said he is open-minded about the album’s timeline.

Beyond the discussion surrounding the band’s current activities, Katy did ask about the book.  At first, I really wished that she hadn’t simply because I didn’t know what more could be gained.  After a minute or two, I was so glad that she had as John discussed how he did give copies to family members and that they seemed shocked to find out about his struggle with addiction.  He made an incredibly important point, which is that no one really understands as the pain is not seen.  John also explained a little bit about grief towards his parents and how it is a strong force.  This resonated with me.  While I haven’t (thank goodness) lost my parents, I still think I have experienced grief surrounding my job, which might sound silly but that’s how I look at it.  In response to grief, John said that it must be processed in the right way or it can become destructive.  Again, I was led to wonder if I have dealt with my feelings regarding my career the way that I should.  This, of course, is where I really appreciate being able to listen to these.  Not only did I gain insight into John but it forced me to reflect on my own life and my own experiences.

Was the best, more interesting, Katy Kafe ever?  Probably not.  We didn’t get a lot of insider information regarding things like how many songs have lyrics or any other behind the scenes information.  We did get an insight into John and his ideas on how the band needs to function to produce great Duran songs.  We also learned about his ideas regarding grief and loss.  I, for one, am thankful that I had the opportunity to listen to the Kafe completely as my reaction, which isn’t even a summary, does not do it justice.  I recommend listening for yourself.

-A

Get Angry at the Weekend and Go Back to School

Tuesday evening, I went to a meeting to discuss possible political work with the people who were my campaign volunteers.  I looked forward to the meeting as I miss many of the people now that it isn’t campaign season.  Yet, instead of enjoying myself, I found myself increasingly frustrated.  Why?  Well, our discussion included the results in the last election, which included results on three seats for our local school district’s board.  Now, as you all know, I’m a teacher and many of my team are current or former teachers as well.  (That probably says something about Wisconsin teachers!)  Anyway, the discussion moved away from the results to discussion on the new superintendent of the district.  During this never-ending discussion, everyone kept asking me what I thought about the new person, what her plans are, what she has done as far as outreach was concerned, etc.  Eventually, the discussion became just about education, in general, and different mandates within my district.  After an hour, I wanted to beat my head against the wall.  Do I have some opinions about the state of my district?  Of course.  Do I have thoughts about the school board results?  Sure.  Do I have a few ideas on the new superintendent?  Maybe.  Yet, we weren’t there to discuss all that.  We weren’t.  We were there to discuss possible upcoming political actions.  We weren’t there to debate actions on education, either.  What irritates me is that a number of these people ALWAYS ask me about teaching and the state of education and only about that!  I understand why they do.  They know that I’m a teacher.  It seems logical to them.  For me, though, I don’t have those meetings to talk about WORK.  I am there to talk about other things.  I talk about work plenty when I am at work.  I want a break from work.  Is that too much to ask for?

After the meeting, I arrived home to check on the online world, including facebook.  That night, like I frequently see, someone had posted an article by a teacher who talked about why he would not encourage anyone to go into teaching.  That didn’t surprise me.  Yet, I made the mistake of looking at the comments that followed.  A number of comments were offering support to teachers and how hard our job must be.  Unfortunately, a number of them were usual anti-teaching rants about how little we work since we only work until 3 and how we get so many days off and summers, etc.  Yeah…that isn’t the first time I have read/heard things like that.  It won’t be the last.  My only response to those comments is that I would gladly allow them to take over my job for a full calendar year so they can see how wrong that comment is.  As I tried to sleep that night, I pondered about how both the meeting and the comments were expressing the same thing.  They want me to be a teacher at all times and do nothing but think, breathe and talk teaching and education.  I shouldn’t want to talk about anything.  I shouldn’t want to have other thoughts or interests.  I shouldn’t want to take a break from it ever.  Teaching should be my only identity.  I shouldn’t be an organizer/campaigner/activist.  I shouldn’t be a fan/writer/blogger.  I am not sure where my friends and family should fit in.  Maybe they shouldn’t be that important either.  Nope, it should be all teaching, all the time.

Clearly, I don’t think it is fair of people at my meeting or the random people posting comments to think that I should only talk about teaching.  I think we would all agree that people aren’t just their jobs.  People should be allowed to have other interests, no matter what your job is or how important it is.  I shouldn’t have to just think about teaching.  I should be allowed to have a life outside of work.  I bet everyone reading this would agree with this.  Yet, I wonder if we really think this for the members of Duran.  Do they have a right to think about something outside of their JOB?  Can they think or talk about something other than Duran or something else connected to Duran?  Do we as fans let them?    I wonder if we do.  This week, for example, Simon showed up on Twitter.  The first tweet I noticed was about Margaret Thatcher’s passing.  Soon after that, my timeline was filled with tweets to Simon.  Were they tweets about her death?  Were they tweets reacting to what Simon said?  From what I saw, they weren’t, for the most part.  Many of the tweets were about the band and the work in the studio.  Is this just like the people at my meeting who seemed to think I would want to talk about work when I’m not at work?  While I understand how we all want to know what is going on in the studio and how the album is going, should Simon and the others only get to talk about work?  After all, Duran is just their job.  Yes, it is a big part of their lives but it isn’t their whole lives.  They have ideas outside of the band.  They have other interests.  I know what some of you are saying…but they are celebrities.  Their job is different than yours and mine.  True.  They are.  Yes, their job is different than mine.  What part of being a celebrity means that they can or should only think about work?  Maybe, I’m missing something but I think they should be allowed to think and talk about other things.

Then, of course, I have also seen some criticism around Duran’s time in the studio.  Where/when did this criticism come from?  I saw some of it as soon as John’s book talk in Copenhagen was announced for April 17th.  Then, when Roger’s DJ Set in Chicago was announced for April 25th, the criticism increased.  “Shouldn’t they be in the studio?  Shouldn’t they be working more?  Why are they taking breaks?  This album will never get done.  Why isn’t the album their priority?”  I could keep going but those are some of the things I have been hearing.  Isn’t this like those people who criticize teachers like me for getting a break?  Some people are allowed breaks but others aren’t?  Is this fair?  I get it.  People want the album to be done as quickly as possible.  We all want the album today or, at the very latest, next week.  We love Duran music and we would love to hear new music from them.  That said, they aren’t machines.  They are people who do create and perform music for their careers.  I believe, though, that they, like everyone else, need breaks.  Breaks help people be productive.  Also, they are involved in the creative arts.  I don’t believe that people can just be creative every single day to the same level as the same as the day before and the same level as  the day after.  People can’t control creativity like this.  I know that my mom, who is an artist, can’t.  She has times when nothing hits her.  She may try to work on something and nothing shows well.  Then, at other times, she can’t stop her creativity.  On those days, I think my dad has to make her step away from her work just to eat.  I know that I feel this way with writing.  Some days, I don’t feel like I can even write a sentence and if I do, none of them make sense.  Other days, I wish that I could just write the whole day and all of it sounds fabulous.

I think my point here is that I’m not just my profession and should be allowed to have breaks and other interests.  Likewise, John, Simon, Dom, Roger and Nick are in a band for their careers.  They, too, should be allowed to have other interests and be allowed to have breaks.  Maybe, I’m crazy but I don’t think their fame took away this element of their humanity.

-A

Breaking open doors I’ve sealed up before

When I am stressed out about something, my creativity completely tanks. I don’t really know if that’s a normal thing for most people – or something that only yours truly deals with, but today my friends, I am stressed. In hindsight, I should have seen this coming, but even so – when the words are just put out there to the universe, it makes it all real.

On Sunday night, my oldest came downstairs to talk to her dad and I. Both of us knew something was up just by the way she walked into the room. She sat down on a chair and told us that she’d been thinking it over, and has decided that she’d like to return to her “home” high school for her junior and senior years, rather than continue to attend her school of the arts. On one hand, I should be thrilled. I hate that drive every single day and anything to keep me off the freeways of Southern California should be applauded. On the other hand, I am very sad. I have tried extremely hard to remind myself that this is her life, not mine, and her dreams are just that – hers. There are a lot of parts to this story, a lot of subtle things that I really can’t get into here on the blog, so I will just say this: she is growing up and I think that she is changing her mind about a lot of things. It is extremely difficult to sit back as a parent and be supportive of choices that you’re unsure about, but I trust my daughter implicitly. She has a good head on her shoulders, and if she really feels that her current school is no longer the right place for her, I have to remember that she is the one who has to be happy with what she is doing, no matter how “great” the school looks on paper.

I know that for most of you, this is probably something small. Who cares, right? If you knew my daughter (and a few of you have known her since she was seven!), you would understand just how big of a deal this is. While most young kids in our neighborhood played outside with friends, had slumber parties and did fun things during elementary school, my daughter was at dance class – a decision she made all on her own. She was a competitive dancer from the time she was five years old, dancing a minimum of 10 hours a week, up to her maximum of about 20 hours a week when she was twelve – doing everything from ballet to hip hop. At that time, she was injured while training and had a hairline fracture on her L5 that sidelined her for about six months while she was in intensive PT to help heal the injury and combat the curvature of her spine that was taking place as a result of the fracture. This is all going back a bit – but she has had lingering back issues ever since, and she had to quit dancing competitively, it is just too hard on her back, and to think that at one point they thought she’d be in a brace for ten months with possible surgery, I think overall she’s done very well. She never once complained, choosing instead to start doing musical theater. She worked her butt off to be accepted to the school, even more so to change from Commercial Dance to Music & Theater, and now she’s ready to leave it all behind. Truthfully, the news didn’t surprise me. She has had a difficult time this past year – the very nature of the school is such that kids travel from all over Southern California to be there, and so your friends might live an hour or more away from you.There’s not much getting together on the weekends, and “after school” is nearly non-existant, so it’s a tough life with little chance to make long lasting friendships, in her case. Lately she has been spending more time with her friends here at what would have been her regular high school, and I have always told her that if she wanted to return back to her regular school, the choice was hers. I didn’t want her to have regrets, or to blame her dad and I for missing out on the high school experience (her school doesn’t have football, cheerleaders, spirit days…that’s just not what it’s about). Of course, I never really thought she’d take me up on the offer. Funny how that happens. Naturally, this isn’t the end of the world, and she can still act, sing, dance and do all of the same things she is doing now – just in a different place with a set of friends that is truly supportive. I just have that normal parental worry, and now, rather than having one child to register into school next year, I have three. (One in kindergarten, one in a homeschool program for high school, and one in regular high school.)

So, I’m stressed. When I’m stressed, I have a tough time writing (and making SENSE).  My inspiration seems to be completely drained, and I’ve only been writing for a short time.  It makes me wonder how the band does it. What could possible inspire them after 30 years??? In the past, I’ve never really thought much about how the band writes an entire album.  I think the blank space, the “empty air”, would drive me crazy. The thoughts of knowing that you’ve got to come up with a good 15 songs, out of thin air, would be a constant source of anxiety. There are some mornings when I come downstairs, sit down, and there’s absolutely nothing.  I wonder if that happens to the band? I can’t really live my “real world” behind – I have no studio to step into or a door to close, but even if I did – I wonder how they get themselves going each day. Does Simon have as much difficulty writing lyrics when he’s stressed as I do writing this blog?

Many times, readers have asked Amanda and I how we do this each day (write the blog).  They think we’re nuts for ever calling it Daily Duranie. They want to know if we worry about ever running out of things to say. The thing is, Amanda and I are just like anyone else. We both have lives outside of what happens with Duran Duran, or what goes on here online.  Part of the point behind the blog is just to talk about what it is like to be a fan, and for me that includes the rest of my life and family. That alone gives me a lot to say, although the challenge, especially at times like this – is finding how it possibly relates back to the band.  One thing that I can say (and if I could just remind myself of this every morning) is that it’s only when I stop to think about having to write every single day that I start really worrying about what to say, and about whether or not I’ll run out of things to say. It is sort of like this: I sit down each day and just think about that one blog, that one day. If I start considering about the entirety, it’s only then that I feel daunted by the challenge…and never fear, we’re probably not going to run out of things to say just yet, even if writers block occasionally hits me in the face!

-R

Look Into the Future…Don’t Be Afraid

Duran Duran is back in the studio.  Those are, generally, music to my ears.  In fact, it might be my second favorite phrase after, “Duran Duran is on tour.”  🙂  This week, we have seen some evidence of that in the form of tweets.  Two days ago, Simon tweeted a picture of a computer screen with obvious music being made.  Then, a day ago Duran Duran tweeted again an excerpt from the Katy Kafe with Simon when he talked about returning to the studio.  In this clip, he mentioned about how things didn’t do quite how they were supposed to, as typical of first days.  Yet, there is hope as Roger is a fabulous drummer, John plays bass like a *****, Nick plays keyboards well, Dom plays a killer guitar and Simon can sing.  Also, Mark Ronson shared a picture of Roger Taylor behind his drum kit.  Dom didn’t stay out of the action either as he tweeted that it has been a productive couple of weeks in the studio for Duran and Mark.  Then, yesterday, another Duran tweet about how more pictures will be shown from the studio next week.

On top of all these official tweets were the responses from the fans I saw.  All of the ones I saw were positive.  (Of course, there might have been less than positive ones that I just didn’t see.)  Some people were just excited to see the pictures.  I get this.  While, of course, many fans do like to look at the band members and I’m sure that’s part of it, I also think seeing the picture makes it so much more real.  After all, we all know that words on twitter do not prove anything.  Pictures do something else that words can’t always do.  They can really show body language and give a deeper sense as to how the person(s) is (are) doing and feeling.  That picture of Roger, for example, shows him with a slight smile on his face, which is great!  Judge yourself–go here to look.  Thus, am I thrilled that we might get more pictures next week?  Of course, I am! 

Other fans are just now finding out that Duran is working with Mark Ronson again.  For those fans, they couldn’t be more thrilled (assuming that they loved AYNIN).  For most fans, this news brings a certain level of excitement but also a certain level of comfort.  Let’s face it.  Duran has been so innovative that they truly have tried to never make the same album twice and each album definitely sounds different from the album before it and the album after it.  Sometimes, the change has been welcomed, especially when it feels like they hit the nail on the hit with an album after one that wasn’t as well-liked.  All You Need Is Now is the perfect example of that.  A lot of fans were disappointed or worse with Red Carpet Massacre.  AYNIN was very much a welcomed change.  I suppose it can be argued that some of Duran’s best albums have been created after a not-as-great album.  Some would say the Wedding Album was another example of that.  My point here is that Duran often tries to change, to be different from the previous album. Will that happen with Mark?  It is hard to say.  Will the new album sound like a continued version of AYNIN?  Will it sound different?  The one thing a lot of us fans would say is that Mark seemed to really get Duran. Thus, it doesn’t matter as much if it sounds like AYNIN part 2 or is something totally different.  We have confidence that it will still sound and feel like Duran.

The other interesting thing about the band working with Mark again is that they haven’t worked with same producer two times in a row for a whole album since their first two albums when they worked with Colin Thurston.  Yes, I realized that they worked with Nile Rodgers a few times, but those weren’t all for albums.  Likewise, Alex Sadkin produced Seven and then produced Arcadia.  That still isn’t the same.  Anyway, interestingly enough, the first two albums plus AYNIN are definitely my top 3 Duran albums.  I wonder how much this fact of having the same producer will make a difference.  In particular, I have to wonder about how long the album might take.  I’m sure all of you out there are talking about Durantime as you read and I won’t disagree, but I have to wonder if already having established working relationships might not speed up the process.  Perhaps, it won’t speed up the process as much as it might make it more enjoyable for all involved.  We may never know.

No matter the length of time to make the album, I have confidence that it will turn out well.  I also have to hope that there continues to be tweets and updates from the studio.  It will definitely keep my excitement up!!

-A

Get It Up, Get It Out, Get It in Time

There are some days that I can’t wait to blog.  There are some days that I wished I could blog but it isn’t my day to do it.  Then, there are days like this.  I’m crabby.  I’m tired.  I have things I want to say but not sure if I should put them out there or fear that if I do, I won’t explain them well enough to be understood.  Is this a problem with my writing?  Certainly.  Is a personal thing?  Most definitely.  Is a fan community thing?  Absolutely.  I will say this much.  Sometimes, many times, I feel like the odd one, the one who doesn’t fit in, which is why it always blows my mind when someone comments on a blog post of mine with agreement.  What?!  Someone actually sees it like me?!  Really?!  Sometimes, of course, I stick with topics that I know most people are going to understand my point.  It is safer that way.  Today is going to be one of those days.

This week, the members of Duran returned to the studio.  The reactions I saw where as I expected them to be.  Generally, there was excitement with lots of “yay”s and smiling faces.  I got this as it was my reaction, too.  Who wasn’t excited about seeing Duran back in the studio?  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, despite all of the rumors about John leaving and Warren coming back, it appears as if things are as they were.  There are no lineup changes.  Heck, even, Mark Ronson is coming back.  Now, as the case for all things Duran, there are some people who might be disappointed that Warren isn’t back.  Heck, some might be sad that Andy isn’t either.  There is not universal excitement about Mark Ronson, either, as All You Need Is Now didn’t cut it for some fans.  That said, from what I could tell, most fans, a large majority of fans loved the album and are thrilled that Duran is continuing in the same path.  Truly, for most of us, we cannot wait to hear what they come up with and have confidence that it is going to be good!!!

Of course, I wouldn’t be me, though, if I didn’t put a little reality back into Duranland.  The band got back into the studio this week.  When do we think, in all seriousness, that we will hear a finished product?  I’m not saying this to focus on Durantime, something we are all familiar with, but to point out that this truly does take time.  Duran albums almost always have.  The only albums I can think of that truly went fast were the first two and that is definitely partly due to the fact that many of the songs were already written and arranged.  That isn’t the case in 2013.  I don’t hear of the band writing full songs while on tour.  Instead, I hear about their current writing process, about how they get into a room and play until someone comes up with something to focus on .  Then, the rest gets built around that.  This process sounds like it could go so quickly for some songs and take a very long time for others.  Would I like the band to go quickly with their albums?  Sure.  What fan doesn’t?!  That said, I would prefer to wait a little bit longer if it means that there is more quality to the songs and to get the best songs possible.  Yes, I know that there are some out there right now complaining about how the time in between albums kills Duran’s chances at momentum to increase commercial success and all that.  While I get that, I also recognize that making music is an art form, which sometimes truly can’t be rushed. 

This, of course, leads me to think about touring.  In fact, I had a dream last night in which I was in my childhood home trying to convince Rhonda to go to a show in Nova Scotia.  Seriously.  The reality is that DDHQ on Twitter has said that there will be no touring in 2013.  I have no reason to doubt this.  The band will be working on the album.  Will they take breaks?  Sure.  Will those breaks be to do shows?  Doubt it.  A break is a break.  Personally, my fandom doesn’t do well when the band isn’t releasing an album, preparing for a tour or touring.  I don’t like the fact that I will have a long time before I see them perform live again.  (Yes, I know that there are people out there who will call me spoiled since I have been able to see them so much.)  That said, I am so thankful that I have the convention to look forward to.  I love that I will be able to be around Duranies for a weekend and talk about Duran the entire time.  Maybe, then, my patience will be ever better while I wait for the album and tour, whatever year that they may be.

-A

Winter Marches On (Ok, so it’s barely Autumn….)

Is it just me or does summer feel like it was a long time ago…and next summer seems like a mirage out in the distance?

Stay with me here, I’m not talking about the weather, of course. Today in SoCal is pretty much the very first “rainy” day we’ve had in, well…many months.  I’m actually in long sleeves AND enclosed shoes!!! (I am an admitted flip-flop wearer. Style be damned. I’m casual and I like it!) Thank goodness for my grey Chuck Taylors.  I’m talking about the band, of course.

Today I read a great little interview on John Taylor in Guitar World magazine. Haven’t read it yet?  Let me do you the favor of passing it on right here. (Guitar World)  John explains why he wrote the book, why he chose to do it now, and what’s coming up next for the band…which has the rest of the Duraniverse, myself included, on the edge of our seats.  We know they’re headed back into the studio to work with Mark Ronson again in March of 2013, and that is great news. Mark seems to know how to give the band the confidence they need in order to own their own place, and that in turn is the recipe for the band creating their best work.  Synergy can be powerful once placed in the right hands.

March.

I’m not going to lie.  I’m a fan just like the rest of you.  I want to hear news from working on the album tomorrow because that’s what keeps me going.  I want our book done tomorrow, too. That just isn’t possible…on all counts…and we know that.  They finished the tour just what – six weeks ago or so? I suppose it does seem a bit like a slave driver to start cracking the whip just yet, so I will refrain. No really, I promise!

It’s really no better where I sit. My schedule is crazy, Amanda’s schedule is even worse. We’re talking about meeting somewhere and shutting ourselves in a hotel room until our book is done. (Ok, really just for a weekend – but I like the idea of not coming out until it’s done.  My husband though?  Not so much!)  So on that note, I can understand how this works.  I also completely understand the excitement of being a fan, missing the band, wanting new music, and continuing the journey – because that’s what this is really all about, isn’t it?

However, there was another sentence in that interview that continues to give me a small ray of hope.  A little something about touring in the summer…

I tweeted a little note to Duran Duran HQ this morning.  Let’s begin the chant, shall we?  Repeat after me: Summer. Shows.  I love those words, do the rest of you?  Let’s make them work for us.  Let’s keep that little ray of sunshine going through what might very well be a long winter.

-R

 

Life Moves Pretty Fast

This is an exciting time in Duranland.  A new album was released last week and we have TV performances and concerts to look forward to.  In fact, there isn’t a day that there isn’t something Duran related going on, in one way or another.  There may not be a concert or TV performance everyday but it seems that we get some piece of news or something.  Today, John and Simon were posting pictures of New York City where they traveled to and people are posting clips from their performance in Miami yesterday.  In the fan community, there are contests taking place and all that goes along with that.  Some of us are spending time getting ready for upcoming shows and concerts and others are on the ready for any show announcement that might work for them. It is kind of funny.  In Duranland, we have a term for how every project in Duran’s world seems to take longer than they should, which we lovingly or not-so-lovingly call “Durantime”.  What do we call times like this, though? What would the opposite of Durantime be?

I wish that I had a cool term to coin to describe times like this when the band is so busy and that there is so much going on with them, but I don’t.  I’m not very good with slogans.  (Anyone have a good idea?)  The point of this blog entry isn’t to name this time but to actually take some moments to appreciate it.  Where was the band a year ago?  I guess they were working on the new album.  Maybe they were getting ready to play a private gig or two, but most of us couldn’t appreciate either one of those things.  Yes, I realize that they need this “downtime” in order to make new music and to pay for these projects.  Nonetheless, I know that I appreciate times like this more as a fan.  Who doesn’t?  I know that I didn’t get a chance to see them live in 2010 but now have a number of chances to do so.  (I’m obviously feeling BEYOND lucky, too!)  I also realize that times like this don’t come around all that often so I better take a moment or two to appreciate it. 

I have a number of friends who follow different bands (shocking that all of my friends aren’t Duranies, isn’t it?).  These friends like bands who are smaller in scoop as they have had some success in their careers but nothing like Duran’s level of success.  On one hand, I’m jealous of them.  Their bands tend to tour much more frequently as this really is their main source of income.  (Yes, I realize that Duran makes a ton of money on touring but they aren’t living tour to tour the way a small band does.  Heck, Duran charters a private plane when they can on tour.)  Typically, their tours include smaller cities in the States, which allows fans to see a bunch of shows without traveling that far.  We don’t have that chance with Duran.  We have to be willing and able to travel to see, sometimes, even one show.  On the other hand, though, we get to watch Duran on the Tonight Show and on Ellen.  We get to read countless reviews. Duran gets a ton more press because of how big they truly have been over the course of their career. 

Today, I find myself just appreciating the time I’m living in, in terms of being a Duranie.  Is it a perfect time for all Duranies? No, personally, it isn’t, but as a FAN, it is pretty good right now.  I love the latest album as does most of the other fans.  There is not the division that existed during RCM times.  I get very excited by every TV performance and every piece of news from their concerts. I am SO looking forward to my shows.  However, I also want to be aware that these fabulous times won’t be around forever so I shouldn’t rush to see the next event take place but take the time to savor every event and every day. 

-A

Album Updates (or lack thereof…)

We have a new banner to our blog, to the right of this entry.  Duran Duran’s official site as well as their twitter account has been advertising the new banners with the album release date being March 21/March 22.  What is interesting to me is not that this is the magical date, but the fact that there has been no official announcement made about the album beyond these banners.  (There seems to be a theme lately in my blog posts, doesn’t it?!)  I wonder why.  Clearly, the date is set, if they are encouraging people to use the banners.  They want those dates out there for promotional purposes.  So, why hasn’t there been a full page press release on dd.com?!  The only clue I have relates to the track listing of the album.

The track listing in the UK is as follows for the deluxe edition, according to Amazon UK is:
Track Listings
 1 All You Need Is Now
 2 Blame The Machines
 3 Being Followed
 4 Leave A Light On
 5 Safe (in the heat of the moment)
 6 Girl Panic!
 7 Diamond In The Mind
 8 The Man Who Stole A Leopard
 9 Other Peoples Lives
 10 Mediterranea
 11 Too Bad You’re So Beautiful
 12 Runway Runaway
 13 Return To Now
 14 Before The Rain
 15 Networker
 16 All You Need Is Now Youth Kills Mix

The track listing for the deluxe edition on Amazon US is:
1.  All You Need Is Now
2.  Blame the Machines
3.  Being Followed
4.  Leave a Light On
5.  Safe
6.  Girl Panic!
7.  Diamond in the Mind
8.  The Man Who Stole A Leopard
9.  Other Peoples Lives
10.  Mediterranea
11.  Too Bad You’re So Beautiful
12.  Runway Runaway
13.  Return to Now
14.  Before the Rain
15.  Networker Nation (bonus track)

Obviously, both editions have a lot in common but there are some differences.  First, the UK version still has the record label being Tape Modern whereas the US one has S-Curve Records.  Interesting.  I’m not sure what that means, if anything.  Could it mean that they are only doing the distribution deal in the US?  I wonder what the rest of the world looks like, in terms of label.  The track listing is basically the same except for 2 little differences.  The UK version has an additional song, a mix of All You Need Is Now by Youth Kills, that the US doesn’t have at all.  The bonus track is on both but with a slightly different name.  For the US, it is Networker Nation and, for the UK, it is just Networker.  I wonder why.  Are they still trying to decide on the final name?  If so, they better hurry as that release date is just over a month away.  Then, what happened to the idea of having many different versions with different tracks on each of these different versions?  Did they not finish enough songs?  Did they decide to stick with 2 basic editions, one with a DVD and one without?  If so, why? 

According to my calculations, there is at least 5 new songs on the physical release.  Of course, there are many speculations that Diamond in the Mind and Return to Now are just different versions of All You Need Is Now.  If so, are they giving us enough new material to make the physical album worth it?  It is for me, but, then again, I have purchased an album for just one additional song before.  Plus, of course, that the deluxe edition comes with a DVD of some footage or another.  I can’t even begin to imagine what that must be.  I guess I could assume it would have the video for AYNIN and maybe what used to be called the album’s EPK.  As for the rest, I don’t have a clue.  Live footage?  Promo activities?  Other videos?  Your guess is as good as mine. 

Now, some fans have expressed concern over these new songs.  Their worry has to do with two things:  1.  Album flow and 2.  Quality of these songs.  It is absolutely true that many, many fans love AYNIN the way it is.  We have gotten used to it being as it is with Runway Runaway following TMWSAL.  Will new songs interrupt that?  I don’t know.  It is impossible to say, in my opinion, until these songs have been heard.  For me, it will absolutely depend on the quality of them.  If they are quality songs that were written and recorded like the rest of the album, I would suspect that they will fit in just fine.  If they weren’t, then, I think there is reason to be concerned.  It seems to me that they continue to work on some of these bonus songs.  Will they be the same if Ronson wasn’t there?  I’m hopeful.  I’m always hopeful when it comes to Duran.  You would think that I wouldn’t be after some of the not-so-great moves that they have done over the years, but what can I say.  I’m a fan.  Still.  Thus, I prefer to think that these songs are going to be on the same quality as the original 9.  Then, March 22nd is a day that I will really be looking forward to!!!

-A


Late March

Today, a news article in Variety magazine was released with some updated news about the band and their upcoming tour.  You can read the article here.

Once again, Durantime rears it’s head, complete with bed-head hair and the remnants of last night’s makeup underneath it’s eyes.  Clearly, it’s been a wild-ride thus far.  In reading the news, it’s impossible to overlook the fact that in December, the plan was to release early February, then mid-to late February, then March…and now late March.  I’m sure that there are many reasons behind the release date that someone like me, someone who is just a fan, would not even begin to understand. That said, the point of our blog is to examine the news from the point of view of the fan.  Sometimes, that’s a good thing.  Like it or not, the fans are the lifeblood to the longevity of the band.  If we’re excited about something, that certainly isn’t a bad thing.  The converse also holds true, however.  If the fans aren’t on board – it’s tough to make headway.  I’m not trying to make the fans appear to be an unstoppable force (although one glimpse of us at a show and perhaps that would seem to be the case!), but I am saying that we’re a team with the band.  It truly is teamwork that keeps the band going, and really – that keeps US going as fans.  So, with that in mind, I forge ahead.

My first thought upon reading the news of the day is that it’s already been quite a while since the digital version was released, and as far as I can tell – our excitement has already began to simmer down.  I think that’s natural, and in this day and age with electronic media – what at one point took an entire month to cycle (as in a magazine), now takes days.  Information flows so quickly that we consume it and go on to the next thing in a blink of an eye.  This gives anyone, any band, much more of a challenge to continue to remain new, fresh and relevant;  momentum can be gained and lost overnight.  I think that’s really the energy behind Twitter and even Facebook to some extent, and if bands and artists don’t learn how to use it, well – they lose it.  This is where my concern lies with Duran Duran.  The “public” has already heard the new single.  They have a decent portion (appetizer or otherwise) of the new album.  Sure, sales were good that first week – I’m not really sure how they’re doing now but I have to imagine they’ve weakened since then, and that’s OK.  That said, now there’s a real wait on our hands until late March…and let’s be honest…it could easily be late April, as happens in Durantime.  (imagine if they had decided to withhold everything until then?  As my friend Jessica mentioned today – MUTINY!)

I have to ask – how is that going to help them?  They had real momentum in December.  It would have been very easy to continue to capitalize on that by doing a select number of shows, MANY more interviews, etc.  Instead it would seem as though there was a slight hiccup or misstep in the planning process, and now we’ve got this huge gap of time.  Make no mistake, 3 and a half or four months between the release of digital material and the actual physical CD is a LONG time.  I’ve seen artists have their work released, distributed, and sent BACK to the distributor in that amount of time. (not kidding there)  It’s a gamble, to be sure.  I know they are putting new unheard material on the physical album, the packaging is supposed to be very cool, etc etc.  It all makes me think back to (Reach up for the) Sunrise off of Astronaut.  Here was the first single from the original 5 members in over 20 years.  It was released as a single off of the Queer Eye soundtrack – a different version, yes.  Then, in what I feel was a very risky move – it was released as the single off of the bands own album in yet another version.  Did it gain attention?  Nope.  Not even from fans – we’d already heard it.  Been there, done that, so to speak.  I have some concerns that this album is going to garner the same sort of attention, or lack thereof.  Of course, there were many other issues present with Astronaut, and I’m sure one can find a myriad of reasons why the album didn’t do as well as it should have commercially – MY point is simply that once the fans have heard it and consumed it – we move on quickly.

Then there is/are the sheer lack of dates.  We’ve got what appears to be about 2 months and some before the album drops – I read tweets each day from the band saying that they’re working on bass, keys, vocals for the bonus material – and while that’s exciting, what would really fill the time between now and the album dropping are shows.  That’s right, shows.  You want to keep the fans attention?  Play some shows.  Yeah, it would require work.  Yeah, it would be a pain in the butt to get it all together, but it would keep our interest, and the band might even get some new attention from new fans too.  Of course, they could already be planning shows, I have no idea.  There are rumors of some UK dates in February (seems to me that those should already have been announced or else they’re totally behind the 8-ball…),   but otherwise, I’ve heard of nothing.

I suppose one could say that the wait increases demand.  I would say in return that you’re playing an awfully risky game.  Fans are fickle, and the last album should have proven that without a doubt.  Sorry to those of you diehard RCM fans out there, but a lot of fans simply gave up on the band after that album was released.  So now other bands are starting to announce tours for the spring/summer, and people who might have thought about going to Duran shows are starting to consider other bands – and trust me when I say that most people do not have the money to do it all.  Recession…United States…banks failing all over the world…any of that ringing a bell with anyone?  I just don’t feel that Duran Duran is in the position to play that game and win.

For all of the downer news, however – there is always some good.  For instance, the CD/vinyl will have 14 tracks (if you’re counting, that means we haven’t heard at least 4 or 5 of them, depending upon whether Mediterranea is included), and according to their management, they are looking at doing specific packaging and extras for specific retailers, which means plenty of versions to buy.  I suppose that could be deemed as bad news – but for me, I want it all and I’m not ashamed of that.   We know that they’ll eventually announce tour dates, because they are planning a tour in April (hurry up April!), and in time – all of this waiting will be a distant memory.  Heck, if they wait long enough – I’ll probably forget all about it! (memory isn’t what it used to be!)

I suppose that some will say I’m impatient (no, really?), and some will say I’m negative. (listen, even if the glass is half empty – there’s still vodka left in there, how is that not positive?!?)   That’s OK.  I’m positive most of the time, I try to see the good in the band, and there’s plenty of that to see.  It’s just very hard not to notice the missteps at times, and ANY fan should be able to recognize that.  I still love them all and really, the bottom line here is that if I didn’t care, I wouldn’t mention any of it.  For that matter, I wouldn’t blog.

-R