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.