Category Archives: roundtable

New Romantics?

Hi everyone – hope you all are having a good Monday. Mine is beginning with a new schedule to get through, so this blog is probably going to be posted later than normal on Mondays from now until June. Once again I find myself needing to be in 3 different places at the same time. Never a dull moment. Never.

Amanda and I spent time over the weekend listening to the recent roundtable that Katy conducted with the band while they were at the end of their tour. As she mentioned, both of us listened, and then I sent her my notes to compare with her own once she was finished listening.

One topic that came out of that entire conversation that stood out for me is that we as fans have an extremely romanticized image of what being in a rock band must really be like. We assume that the band takes the time on Twitter with us because they want to know us. We probably once thought that the band lovingly signs each of those CD’s with care, and that when they do all of those photo shoots – it’s us that they are thinking of. I would imagine that many out there still believe that the band cares enough to have say in where they tour, what venues they play in, and even what dates they appear. I mean, when I watch those videos – I am POSITIVE they smile in my general direction, aren’t you?? It’s natural and normal to assume that the band is in business simply because they want to share the music with us, and if it wasn’t that way, especially now that we’re all older and wiser (well, somewhat anyway), perhaps fans would start to become more cynical about the process as hand and maybe wouldn’t fawn quite as much over those posters they still have hanging in their bedroom closets at home. Or is that just me? (the closets..not the cynicism!)

Just last night the subject of Twitter came up. It seems to be a pretty common curiosity as to why the band, or members thereof, are on Twitter. Is it because they really want to talk to us?  Is it because they really want to promote whatever it is they’re selling? No one wants to believe that John or Simon consider Twitter as just another part of their job – no one really wants to believe that they’d rather forget the fans even exist at times. I hate to say it, but of course all of those things are true. It’s a hard reality that for the band, it is simply a JOB. That doesn’t mean they aren’t curious, and it doesn’t mean that there aren’t times when Simon – who uses Twitter as a vehicle for being as unprofessional as possible (which is really kind of funny when you think about it!) – wants to tweet and see what gets thrown back at him. It doesn’t mean that John isn’t curious about how we see things sometimes, but yes – it does mean that if it weren’t for the band, they probably wouldn’t have sought us all out. Then again, if there wasn’t a Duran Duran, what are the chances I’d be following them, either?  Hmm. Now that’s a subject worthy of an “insomniac” hour or two between the hours of 3 and 5am.

A fan or two asked questions about touring that Katy graciously passed on to the band (even though I am pretty sure she knew what the answers would really be). Fans want to know why the band plays where they do – and why they completely miss other places in the world. I still have the feeling that fans believe the band huddles around a table with a map in the middle, and I think they simply throw darts at a map on the wall and see where they land. The reality is, as Simon mentioned – unless they really have an issue with a particular place, they let the concert promoter do the work.  I can’t really blame them here. Everyone has their own expertise, and the band’s is the music. That seems reasonable to some extent. The band doesn’t have the time to plan their own tour. I really don’t know a lot of bands out there that have their hands that deep in the mix – even bands who are just starting out. They trust their manager to find a good promoter who is able to book them in the appropriate places and they pray that they won’t be sleeping for too many nights in the back of their van along the way. I know this can be maddening to fans who want the band to come to their area of the world, or to their state, the venue down the block from their house in the “right” month, or in my case: my backyard anytime of the year. Let’s be honest, it’s much nicer to think about the band trying to cater to all of our needs than it is to see the reality: it’s all business, it comes down to money, and it’s not about pleasing the handful of diehard fans that may or may not be present in any one place. It’s really not. Should we whine now or later? I could hear the collective sound of a rejected sigh come over the fan community when a question of doing a tour of B-sides came up. Let me be clear: I would love a tour of B-sides as much as the next person. When I complain about…well…certain songs that I promised never to mention again…it’s mostly in jest. I know they’ve got to play those songs, or a variety of them, most of the time.The reality? A B-side tour just is not marketable as a concept for an entire tour. Simon was very honest when he said that for them – this just isn’t a hobby. Touring is how they make money, and they have to play things that are going to keep people coming back for more. Aside from the few thousand – give or take – of us that will pay money to go to a show to see B-sides, how on earth would they make money off an entire tour of them??  There is just no way to make that economically viable, and while yes – it would be lovely to continue believing that the band does this simply for the love the music and the fans, that just is not reality.  Reality is hard to live with in fandom, because for us – it is our escape. It’s our little island of utopia, and on utopia – the band plays out of love for us. Am I right??? The one concept that I think is genius in the making is doing a sort of multi-night “residency” in a few cities, so that they can do a different variety of songs each night. Maybe one night they play all of Rio, the next night they do B-sides, maybe a night they play So Red The Rose…and so on. How many of us would buy multiple nights? Um….all of us! I personally love this idea because it would mean traveling to ONE location (because goodness knows I can’t see the band in Los Angeles – that would make far too much sense!) and then staying there. I really love that idea and while I feel that there’s almost zero chance of this happening (it’s right above the chance of that career anthology box set), I pledge to buy tickets as soon as they’re offered, even if it means traveling to Africa to see the shows. (Note to self: get PAYING job. Quick.)

Another fan asked if the band ever looks to the fans for inspiration or direction when they are writing music. Simon had no trouble answering this question with a very emphatic “No.  Sorry, but no.” I have to say, I thought it was pretty funny how quickly this idea was shot down on one hand, but on the other – I have to ask about Red Carpet Massacre. You’re telling me that it never once entered their minds how much that single album took their fan base aback – some deciding that it was time to close the door on Duran Duran forever? I guess I question that only because later on in the roundtable it was brought up how the band, and specifically Simon felt that if the fan base didn’t care for All You Need is Now, he felt they would be finished, that they would have done everything they could do, and that they would be finished. That isn’t to say that the band didn’t love Red Carpet Massacre. I’m sure they did, because all of their albums are a labor of love for the band. That doesn’t make them a hit…and that my friends is a tough reality for the band. That said, I highly doubt the band thinks about what WE would like as fans when they go in to write and record an album, and you know what? They shouldn’t! Doing that would be very much like “deciding” to go in and make a hit. It doesn’t work that way.

When a critic writes a bad review, or a journalist lauds the band for being picked to play at the Olympics, fans go crazy…including us here at Daily Duranie at times. It’s easy to become outraged over the stigma of simply being a fan, or at the audacity of journalists that don’t get themselves educated on the subject of which they are reporting. We think the band has the right to be furious about such things, and we think that if we just brought it to their attention…they’d DO something! Hell hath no fury like a Duranie scorned…….even if the band doesn’t care…. Wait, what?!? This isn’t about the band caring or not caring about critics though. I’m always amused when a fan (usually it’s a male fan, but not always) takes the time to chide Amanda or myself, reminding us that the band doesn’t care and that we should just love them for the music anyway. I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck yesterday. I’ve done PR for bands before, and trust me – I’ve seen more than one bad review written over the years. Some were even rightfully so! I think the bad reviews tend to wholly outnumber the good ones no matter what band. Yes, I know they don’t care and that even with all of the horrible reviews they’ve gotten over the years they have still done amazingly great things and had an outstanding career. That doesn’t mean that the rest of us shouldn’t take notice and use the topic as a starting point in a discussion. That’s sort of like saying that since it’s generally accepted that women continue to make less than men in 2012 we don’t need to talk about it and that we should just be thankful for our jobs regardless. Are you kidding me? Romantic images of the band reacting aside, these reviews make for good discussion. Sure, we get emotional, and sometimes even angry. That emotion tends to equal passion, and Duranies are nothing if not passionate.

The romantic image we have of John, Simon, Roger & Nick staring at us from the posters on our bedroom walls is one that I think most of us have trouble shaking. We all expect for the band to love each of us as much as we love them – and some of us may have deluded ourselves into believing that this “relationship” between fan and band is far more than the transactional one that actually takes place. Over and over in the roundtable I would hear Katy ask a question to the band, and I could almost feel them all exchange looks like “Are you kidding me? Why isn’t this OBVIOUS to them (the fans)?” Invariably when it came to conversations about business related items, various members would say “Well, it’s very obvious.” My reply to them is “Obvious to whom?” Surely not fans. Most of us have very little clue as to how the business side really works – and in all fairness, I don’t think most people would stomach it very well if they knew. When the band looks out into the audience at a show, we all want to believe that they aren’t thinking about what they’re going to do after the show, how they would rather be napping or at home with their families. When John decides to chat with us on Twitter, we want to believe that he genuinely WANTS to be there and doesn’t feel forced… and unfortunately, it’s like falling down on concrete when we take our heads out of the clouds long enough to realize that just as we each go to our jobs each day (Paid or not!), Duran Duran is in fact a job for these four (five) men. Perhaps that is one good reason to keep the backstage curtains firmly closed and just enjoy what is happening on stage.

-R

Duran Duran Roundtable Part 2: Touring, Online, and Miscellaneous

On yesterday’s blog, I responded to the first half of Duran Duran’s roundtable released this week, which, again, you can find here.  The first half of the roundtable focused on music, including albums, singles, unreleased material and more.  The latter part of the roundtable contained some questions regarding touring, online presence and questions that did not fit into any category.  Like yesterday’s blog post, I won’t transcribe questions and answers but respond to what I heard. 

The first question under the touring section regarded how much input the band has on what countries, what cities and what venues they play.  Simon mentioned how their are certain countries they won’t play due to the countries due to political regimes of those places, which makes sense to me.  He then went on to say that they really let the booking agent work out the details of a particular tour.  The only time they might step in is if the tour misses an obvious city like Los Angeles or New York City.  I have two thoughts in hearing this answer.  First, I hope that their booking agent takes some factors into consideration.  I couldn’t help but to think of this summer when the band played outdoor venues in the heat of the summer.  I couldn’t also help but to think of Nick getting sick at the end of the tour, too.  Second, I think this shows how much we, fans, do not know about the business.  We don’t know all of the details that must be worked out when it comes to planning a tour.  We don’t know exactly which pieces the actual band members have their say with.  I guess this helps me realize that there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes and that the band can’t do every little thing themselves.  They must have help and must trust that the help knows what they are doing. 

The next question regarded writing on the road.  I was pleasantly surprised that they started to record some of the jam sessions or warm-ups as something interesting things were heard.  I wonder, of course, who all is involved in the warm-up.  I remember back in 2005 that there were clips of the warm-up and, at that time, it consisted of John, Roger and Andy Hamilton.  Is it still John, Roger and Saxy Simon?  What about Dom?  Is he involved? 

There were a number of questions that touched on the setlist in some way, which isn’t surprising to me as setlist discussions are frequent ones in Duranland.  They were asked if they would ever play Palomino, if they would ever do a B-Side tour, or if there is one song that they must play.  They did not think that there is one song that they must play.  I suppose that I agree.  I have kept track of the songs I have heard live.  I have been to 32 shows and have not heard one particular song 32 times.  Thank goodness.  I could say, though, that there are far too many that I have seen about 30 times.  As far as Palomino and the B-Sides go, the response was predictable.  They like the idea but…as Simon pointed out it is a job.  Thus, they have to be sell tickets and leave people with a lasting positive impression so that they want to come back for more.  This makes perfect sense to me.  As much as I would love, love, love a B-Side tour, I get that the crowd isn’t made up of just us die-hard fans.  Much of any audience is made up of people who only know the hits.  Those people wouldn’t enjoy a show of B-sides.  John did suggest an idea of Nick’s to do a 5 show residency in which each show would have a different focus.  One night might be B-Sides.  One night might be So Red the Rose, etc.  I don’t know about the rest of you but I would LOVE this.  I think it would be a great way to thank the hardcore fans!

The last touring question that caught my attention was whether All You Need is Now, the tour, was the best ever.  John said it was consistent and “up there”.  Roger said that the quality had a lot to do with the right album and the right band.  (We think so, too.  Have we mentioned that we kind of like that Dom Brown guy and think he offers a lot, especially live!)  The part that really caught my attention was how John said the band no longer focuses on numbers.  They aren’t going to hit the numbers of the 80s.  Now, they just focus on playing better than ever.  Rhonda rightly pointed out that this seems like a bit of the All You Need is Now philosophy!

The online question focused on the use of twitter.  John’s and Simon’s responses clearly show how they use twitter differently.  For John, it is “therapeutic” and he likes (kind of) being in touch with the fans and knowing what we are thinking.  Simon, on the other hand, uses it to be “unprofessional”.  He gets to say what he thinks without it being what Duran thinks.  Then, he points out how that can be scary because he can say the wrong thing.  I’m glad to hear that my thoughts about their twitters match exactly to what they think of their own twitters.  It has always seemed to me that John typically uses twitter to converse.  Simon uses it to say what he thinks.  Obviously, neither one is wrong.  They are just different. 

The last serious question that I noticed had to do with John’s book.  He was asked why was now the time and if there were any events that pushed him to writing it.  He said that his father’s death and Simon losing his voice.  He didn’t say much after that but how Simon losing his voice gave him extra time.  Yes, that would be true, but he could have done other things to fill the void.  I have to wonder if both of those events reminded him that nothing lasts forever.  Again, how very All You Need is Now!

The rest of the roundtable was fun and kind of silly with questions about hair, cooking and hobbies.  I enjoy those light moments and it sounded like the band did, too.  Overall, I enjoyed the roundtable and would love to see more of them.  They seemed to be tired but perked up as it went along, which is usually how I am when I first start teaching in the morning!  The one thing that Rhonda and I really picked up on, though, is how curious the fans are about the business side of Duran Duran.  We don’t really know much about so many elements of their jobs and we have to remember that.  It is a job.  It is what they do for a career.  We may think we know what they should do, but most of us don’t have a clue.  We know what we like.  For example, we know that we would like them to do a B-Side tour or, at least, play a song like Palomino.  We forget that it is about ticket sales–not just current ones but future ones.  The same is true when it comes to locations of where they play.  We don’t know who is making the decisions and why they are making them.  Again, we know that we want them to come to our locations and most of us rarely think about why they might not.  I would also say this.  I think this must frustrate both sides.  We don’t know how things are run so we get frustrated when it seems like they should be doing something that is obviously what we want or think makes the most sense.  I’m sure they also get frustrated that we don’t understand how the business part of it works.  It seems to me that the best way forward would be for all of us to try and be understanding. 

Now, my new understanding self is going to wait patiently for the next roundtable, tour, album, etc.  I can do this, right?  🙂

-A

Duran Duran Roundtable Part 1: The Music

I had planned to discuss all of Duran Duran’s Roundtable, which was posted yesterday, which you can find here but I have simply run out of time.  Besides, there is plenty of material with which to work from with just the first part when the band answered questions related to music.  To catch people up, Duran had fans submit questions then Katy read them and compiled some to ask the entire band at one time.  In this case, the roundtable took place at the end of the tour and Nick was not present, which one might assume was due to his illness.  I noted that this took place at the end of a very long tour, which may have an impact on what was said and how they sounded.

In the music section, they were asked 9 questions regarding the following topics:  All You Need is Now, box set of all material, redoing songs, releasing singles, Reportage, fans, critical acclaim and the next album.  I won’t transcribe the questions and their answers as you can listen for yourself, but I will comment about what I found interesting or what struck me.  Rhonda also sent me comments as well so I will include those, too. 

The first question regarded All You Need is Now.  The band, in response, discussed both Mark Ronson and Red Carpet Massacre, their previous album.  John talked about how RCM was the “farthest” out from the Duran sound they had gone.  This, of course, is reassuring to those of us who felt like the album didn’t feel like Duran.  Clearly, there was a reason, which as John pointed out, included that there was few live bass, drums and guitar.  He’s right about that not being typical and many of us missed that.  John also said that they were happy with the results.  I wished there could have been a follow-up to that since those ideas don’t seem to go together.  What about the results made them happy?  Did he think they were quality songs?  Did the songwriting work?  As for AYNIN, they acknowledged that they don’t look back at their own history but were ready to after RCM.  For that, I will be grateful that RCM happened as it sounds like they wouldn’t have been ready to recapture their sound without that experience.

The next question that caught my attention was the one about whether or not they would redo any of their songs.  Roger said that he wouldn’t, which is the standard answer for them.  Simon, on the other hand, would want to rerecord Someone Else Not Me as he felt it would be too slow.  John said that he would be up for it.  Fascinating.  They also mentioned a song called, “Don’t Look Back” that was done around the time of Wild Boys.  I’m sure that all Duranies would love to hear that one along with the Reportage album that they hope will be released one day, according to this roundtable!!!!  Then, John also mentioned adding a choir and strings to Finest Hour, which thrills both Rhonda and I.  Of course, I doubt any of those will see the light of day but dreams are free.  It was interesting to me that Simon and John did say they would redo songs as I have always heard them with their philosophy of no regrets and how they love all their songs equally.  I wonder what changed, especially since later in the roundtable John says that he wouldn’t have done anything differently as he likes where they are at now so little decisions don’t matter that much. 

Then, of course, they talked about singles.  To John, they truly don’t seem relevant anymore.  Hmm…he did say that radio play doesn’t matter as they can still have good shows and get the music out there.  I wonder if he would think differently if they were an upcoming band trying to make it.  Yet, they did say that they chose AYNIN as the “focus” track as it had many of the album’s ideas in it.  I have to agree with this.  I know that there was much discussion when it first came out, especially with that jarring beginning.  Yet, that song does, at least, for me, capture the spirit of the album.  As for wishing some songs made it as singles, Roger mentioned Beautiful Colours that didn’t even make it on the album and John mentioned using a Timbaland track for RCM.  My thoughts on those songs are this.  Beautiful Colours should have, at least, been on the album.  They had many quality tracks from that era that wasn’t used and should have been, including Salt in the Rainbow and Virus.  As for Timbaland, I may remind him that they had Night Runner up on some site before the album for people to listen to and it was not well-received.  Maybe that had something to do with the decision to release Falling Down instead.  For me, it would have been tough to take a Timbaland song as the single since I really pretty much hated them.  I, at least, liked Falling Down. I wonder what the fan community would have been like if they had released Night Runner as the single.  That said, I suppose one of those tracks would have better represented the album, which could be important, if that is the main purpose of “singles” now. 

The last two questions that caused me to react were the ones about critical acclaim and AYNIN influencing the next album.  As far as critical acclaim goes, they acknowledge that it did hurt to have some particular magazines that they read and believed as kids be critical.  Yet, they knew that what they were doing was right and that outweighed any of the negative statements.  They wondered if the critics didn’t like them because they weren’t needed for their success unlike other artists.  My response to this is simple.  There are many reasons why the critics slammed them from what I have been reading, which I have been writing about in the chapter I’m working on for the book. 

As far as AYNIN influencing the next album, Simon’s response, especially caught my attention as well as Rhonda’s.  Simon said that the main objective to AYNIN was to connect to the fans and that he doesn’t think they would have made another album if that didn’t happen.  We think he is absolutely right both about having another album and about having their focus be on connecting with fans.  We were around during the RCM days.  The fan community was dejected and divided.  It seemed like all the positive feelings that came with the reunion and Astronaut were gone, even for the fans that liked RCM.  It wasn’t that fun to be a Duranie then and many (most?) of us felt that the wall between the band and the fans was so tall that there would never be a connection made.  I think a lot of us were wondering if the end was near.  Thus, like John, I, too, think it is good that they are working with Mark Ronson again.  I’m sure it makes things easier for them and it helps all of us, fans, look forward to what is next.  We have hope that the connection will remain moving forward.

Tomorrow, I will discuss the rest of the roundtable!  Until then, let us know what you thought of their answers.  What caught your attention and why?

-A