Category Archives: Simon LeBon

Things that Make You Wonder…Demos and Videos?

Every once in awhile, I run across some things online that really makes me pause.  Obviously, for the sake of this blog, those things aren’t immature, unprofessional statements made by and to U.S. presidential candidates that embarrass me as an American, but things related to Duran Duran.  I have seen two in the last 24 hours that I thought I would share and react to.

Duran Duran Demo:

Duran Demo

Apparently, Cleopatra Records is releasing the 1979 Duran Duran demo featuring John, Roger and Nick as well as former lead singer, Andy Wickett.  This demo contains the following track listing and will be available both on CD and on clear vinyl.

Track Listing

Side A
1. See Me, Repeat Me
2. Reincarnation

Side B
1. Girls on Film
2. Working The Steel

I have many reactions to seeing this.  First, these tracks have been widely circulated among Duranies in the form of a bootleg for about 10 years now.  For the fans that have heard these songs, I wonder if they find this news exciting at all.  Second, I have to wonder HOW this is getting released.  Did Duran Duran have to sign off on this?  I would imagine and yet I have seen nothing official from DDHQ.  Then, from what I know from various Duran documentaries, Andy Wickett sold the rights to the song and seemed to be a little upset about how the whole situation went down.  Lastly, I’m all for Duran history (as you all know) and all for others to learn Duran Duran history, which makes this a very interesting announcement.  That said, I would first recommend getting familiar with the Devils, which feels more like Duran Duran to me.

Want a taste of Andy Wickett’s version of Girls on Film, though?  Here is an interesting animation he did in 2006 which features the song about a minute in:

Simon Lebon Duran Duran rough cut vid for pitch

This morning, after sleeping a ridiculously, but much needed amount of time, I discovered this video below posted to my Facebook wall:

This video is over 2 years old and, obviously, features Simon.  Here is the thing.  I highly recommend watching it.  Simon is truly entertaining here on so many levels.  That said, I have no idea what this video was actually made for and I can’t seem to find anything about it.  While that is interesting, in and of itself, I find it fascinating that it has surfaced now.  This video is 2 years old.  Why is it being shared now?  I could assume that it is just me and that I missed it when it was released but I’m usually pretty familiar with the latest Duran footage due to writing this blog, at the very least.  So, does anyone know anything about this video?  Why was it done?  What was the purpose?

On that note, I’m going to continue to shake my head and wonder while I get back to work!

-A

There are Kafes, and then there are Kafes…

I took time yesterday afternoon to sit down and listen to the Oscars-edition Katy Kafe with Nick and Katy. I’m not sure if it’s just that I’ve not listened to it in the years prior (can’t imagine?), or that I wasn’t thinking – but I sat down figuring it’d be a 20-30 minute thing, and instead it was an hour and 45 minutes of what I thought was a really great discussion!

I decided relatively quickly that I wouldn’t take notes, primarily because if you really want the quick hit on what was talked about, you can find it on duranduran.com. Instead, I just want to give a quick commentary on kafes in general.

I really enjoyed listening to Nick and Katy talk about not much else besides movies for a change.

The bombshell, at least as far as I am concerned, is that I think I may have only seen one out of ALL of the movies they discussed yesterday. I’m not really much of a movie-goer, I have to admit.  The last thing I usually want to do on a date-night is sit and watch a movie. Now that my oldest is out of the house and my middle one is halfway out the door, we don’t really do family movie nights unless we’re here at home, which is probably where I will see a few more of these movies eventually. Even so, I really enjoyed the kafe.

When is the last time you can say that you actually sat and listened to Nick talk about anything for an hour and forty-five minutes? I thought about that a lot yesterday after I was finished listening.  We never hear him go on that long about anything, much less Duran Duran. I’m not quite sure what that says, if anything, but I did think about that. After all, I’ve said more than once that we really don’t know the band. We only know the image or persona they portray onstage or in public as part of their celebrity. So to hear Nick speak with passion about some of the movies he’s seen or how he feels about the Oscars in general was of interest, at least to me. It is likely the closest I’m ever going to get to being a part of a conversation with Nick, I am quite certain, so I appreciated the feeling of being a fly on the wall. Now if they could only just set something up for a Katy Kafe so we could hear what goes on in the studio…… (if only, right?)

For those intent to hear some news…at the very end of the kafe, Katy asks Nick if he’ll be staying up late to watch the Oscars on Sunday. Nick replies that no, he really can’t because he’ll be going into the studio with a certain John Taylor on Monday morning to work on their musical.

I rubbed my hands together vigorously as Nick mentioned the musical…I can’t wait to hear more in the same way that I can’t wait to get our new book outline finished and off to a publisher. Let’s hope #Durantime doesn’t infect us all.  <big toothy grin here>

The kafe-fairies were generous, as Simon called in for a quick, impromptu chat after his appearance at the Brits. Simon gave a quick chat about handing Adele the award – which I still feel he should have just stolen (figuratively speaking)  since the band was robbed of their own nominations this year, but then spoke of the David Bowie tribute.

I’ve commented on tributes before, and my feelings have not really changed. I can only write as a fan, not as an artist. The general perspective between a fan such as myself, someone who is not in the music biz, and someone who might have been a fan growing up but is now IN the industry, is likely to be quite different. While it may be true that you never quite lose “the fan” in you, I only know what it is like to BE a fan. So my reflections about last night may differ widely from others.

Simon seemed to say that he was concerned a tribute like that would be cheesy, but that he was very impressed with what Bowie’s touring band did musically. I completely agreed. Not only did they play a very difficult medley based on music and time changes, they did it brilliantly by cutting from one song to another in spots the audience might not have expected. The professionalism of the band, a band that is likely still very much in mourning I am sure, made the piece run smoothly and still come alive with Bowie’s memory. And then Lorde took the stage. Simon said that he felt that Lorde sang “Life On Mars” similarly to Bowie – I didn’t really get that from her – but then he noticed that other people, including Yasmin, were singing along with her. So the tribute wasn’t really about Lorde singing, but about her leading everyone else, and he seemed to really like the performance and what it came to mean in that moment. I wasn’t there, obviously, and only saw the video on YouTube, which I think we can agree isn’t anything like being there in person. My perspective though, was that Lorde sang the song as herself. She wasn’t trying to BE Bowie, but instead sing FOR him, which was beautiful. Maybe I really don’t understand David Bowie’s art, and perhaps I really don’t have the kind of perspective I might had I grown up loving all of his work the way some of my friends might. I’m not sure. I do have enormous respect, and I just felt that her straightforward, heartfelt performance was what I would have wanted as a fan. And the goosebumps I felt run down my body told me everything I really needed to know. Others may have preferred something different.

Simon ended his chat with Katy by saying that when he has something to say, it’s great to be able to do it this way (through a quick kafe chat). The funny thing to me is that at ten minutes, it wasn’t all that much shorter than some of the other Katy Kafes in the past. But I think the key is having something to say. I would imagine it probably does get boring to talk about an album or a tour or things that they deal with every single day, and yet being fans – we aren’t privy to that part of their “job”,  but yet are things we are most curious about. I liken it to when I ask my kids or my husband about their day. They all hate it unless they have something specific to tell me that typically is some crazy anecdote that has nothing at all to do with their classes or the current product Walt is working on.

I’m not sure what this really means, except that I’m thinking it over.

Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to tweeting my way through the Oscars on Sunday afternoon (my time). While I’m no fashion maven on an every day basis (as I sit here in my regular “uniform” of jeans, a Punk Master “vinyl pirates” t-shirt and converse), I am very good at judging red carpet fashion…and my favorite thing…jewelry!

-R

 

Year End 2015 Katy Kafe with Simon Le Bon!

There are some Kafes that you know right away are going to go well because everyone is in the right mood…and there are the ones when Simon is clearly tired and not really into having it right way.  Guess which category this one fit into???

As always, I listened carefully, tried to take notes (while not at all panicking about the amount of shopping, wrapping, cleaning and cooking I still need to do here before Thursday….), and compiled it all into the highlights, written here for your pleasure. Enjoy!

The Tour

I don’t know about everyone else, but by the time we’re in December, I’ve forgotten what the band did back in January or February. Turns out, they’ve done a lot this year. (Never mind putting out that little Paper Gods album…) Katy talks about the UK tour with Simon as he explains that he’s a “bit knackered”, but says that each show the UK tour got better and better, and then he mentions how the tour ended with a very small show for Warner in front of about 120 people in a small pub.  Katy makes the point that the two experiences – the War Child show (I’d completely forgotten about this, and it feels so long ago now that I’d truly thought it happened LAST year. Then again, their performance for the Lynch Foundation feels like a lifetime ago and that happened in April. Maybe it’s just me!) and the pub were like two bookends for all of the great shows, appearances, etc that happened in between. Not sure if Simon really caught on to what she was saying but…I got it, Katy!

Favorite Album of 2015

After a brief discussion, Simon settles on Tame Impala. The funny thing is that the cover Simon describes (because he can’t remember the name) is a “funny green cover.” The only thing coming close to that is their live versions album, made in 2014. I have no idea if this is what he meant – or if he’s confusing album covers, or if he really means Currents from this year. Who knows?!? (Listen people, I try…..)

Favorite Movie of 2015

Continuing on this theme…Simon’s favorite movie of 2015 is Whiplash, which actually came out in 2014. Simon doesn’t care though, because his attitude is that it’s the favorite movie he’s seen THIS year. Good on you, Simon!

As a side note – Simon and Yasmin will be celebrating their 30th anniversary on the 27th. Happy Anniversary!!

Favorite Book of 2015

Simon had absolutely no trouble answering this one, saying that Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James was by far his favorite book of the year. At 800 pages, it’s no short story, and Simon decided to listen to the audiobook of this one.  Each section of the book is written from a different prospective – in a different characters voice – so the audiobook really brought that to light.

Favorite Television of 2015

Simon mentions a few: True Detectives (with Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson), Broadchurch (UK show) and the second season of Fargo.

Favorite Moment(s) of 2015

His favorite show (or part thereof) was walking out on to the stage at Red Rocks. He speaks of how this was like a spaceship  and the beginning of the whole thing for them. Then he mentions a few other moments, such as playing at the Ambassador’s mansion in the UK, the FOLD festival, having Nile come out on stage at the Hollywood Bowl, and Lindsay Lohan at the O2, calling the year “incredible” and “Busy! Very, very busy!” They talk a little bit about the upcoming shows for 2016, including the two legs of US dates and how he doesn’t get into planning the tour itself, that his job is just to show up and get onstage…but that Nick is a “micromanager” (those are HIS WORDS, not mine!) and that he likes to get into planning where and when the dates happen.

(so apparently Amanda and I have Nick to thank for having the dates work so perfectly with our schedules. Amazing. And now we just need to sell some major organs so that we’re able to get to at least some of the dates!! 😀)

The Kafe wrapped up with Simon’s hopes for 2016. He is hoping for some world stability, and then mentioned that they are taking the proceeds from the Eagles of Death Metal version of Save a Prayer and creating some sort of foundation with EODM that works for tolerance and peace through music. It sounds like a lovely way to make something positive come out of something absolutely terrible. The Kafe ended on a much more energetic note than it began, and was a great wrap-up of a very busy year

Don’t tell Simon I told you, but he’s a fan of socks and underpants as Christmas gifts. (he may have also mentioned chocolates, cigars, wine and beer!)

Can you believe we’re nearly to 2016???

-R

Facebook Q&A with Simon Le Bon

In case you missed it, Simon was on Facebook today, fielding questions from the crowd of Duranies, typing ever so quickly and creatively to get their curiosities answered by Mr. Le Bon (along with super quick typer Katy Krassner, of course!).

I always wonder how these things look on the other end – is Simon on the phone with Katy as she asks him questions and he answers? Is he looking at Facebook and telling Katy what questions he wants to answer? I have no idea, but it was those things that I was wondering about as I sorted through the hundreds of topics and fans, all wanting their moment of notoriety of having a question answered.  Not one to disappoint, Simon answered plenty of questions this morning, ranging from how it feels to have come all this way in Duran’s career (He said it feels “great”) to what songs he favors because of their importance to the band’s career (At least to me, it was surprising to read that he feels strongly about “Is There Something I Should Know” because it entered the UK charts at #1. Fair enough!).  I don’t know that there were any REAL surprises from the Facebook Q&A, except that having such things on Facebook is a challenge to follow…at least from my end.

That’s the one slight observation I made, and I’m wondering if others found themselves in a similar situation.  I had a difficult time following along – and my method sort of went like this: Read thread, hit refresh, read thread again…hoping to find any new question that had been answered. Get to end of thread. Sigh. refresh again. After a few passes through the content, I decided to just wait until I knew it was over, then go back through and find the answers. Thankfully, Katy (DDHQ) must have realized it was tough to follow and was nice enough to screen shot the questions he answered and put them all in the album on the band’s Facebook page. Easy!

I did see a few fans comment that the system on Facebook is just not user-friendly for something like a Q&A. I think that’s one of the main reasons Amanda and I decided to start a message board, because that way – threads are easy to follow and real discussions can be had.  That said, there are people who really enjoy the Facebook atmosphere, and this Q&A probably worked very well for those people. Social media is definitely not one-size-fits-all. While audiences tend to overlap to a certain degree, by reaching out to different avenues of social media such as Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter (among others I am sure), Duran Duran is much more likely to reach a wider cross-section of their audience – which keeps fans happy in the end.

You can find the full Facebook Q&A here, if you haven’t already taken a peek! I’ve linked the picture announcing the Q&A session, and from there, you just click on the forward arrow to see the questions one by one in Duran Duran’s photo album. Enjoy!

-R

 

Happy Birthday Simon!

I am running late, and I apologize. No wi-fi here at the house much earlier this morning, and I drove like a madwoman back from dropping kids off at school (this is not a “drop off down the street” sort of deal – my kids go to school about 30 mins from our house) to get back in time to blog for my dear UK friends and readers!

I don’t need to tell everyone what day it is – clearly it is being celebrated all over my FB news feed and Twitter timelines this morning, and now it is my turn to join the well-wishers. It feels like it has been quite a while since I’ve written a birthday blog, actually.

It seems fair to surmise that had Simon Le Bon never been born, our lives – those of all who read this blog – would have been very, very different. In fact, I can’t imagine what that world might have been like. Thankfully, we don’t have to even give that a single thought!

It is also fair to say that I don’t really know Simon. Up until fairly recently, I’d never really even spoken to him! Even my oldest daughter, Heather, had chatted with him more than I ever had. The only interaction I had was when he would be onstage – which means none, basically.  I had heard all sorts of things about him from other fans, read about him a lot in articles over the years, and knew that you never really knew what you were gonna get when you met him. I’d heard he could be incredibly moody, downright mean at times to some; and on the other hand, I’ve heard he was very nice, very kind…..and knew exactly what was going on in the fan community at any given time. Interesting to someone like me, for sure.

Over the years, I’d decided on my own that Simon was pretty quick-witted, and that his blanket reply about lyrics being about sex was just that – an answer, or a portion of his “schtick.” Simon likely acts and respond the way people, or fans, expect. Part of a much larger “fact” cache, so to speak. (I love it when the lyrics work for me) I was, and still am for the most part, pretty convinced that a lot of the things that drove me crazy about him were all part of a survival plan for him, or rather, his “on-stage” or “off-stage” persona that people expect.

I remember reading something a few years back from Katy Krassner about how it made her sad to see some of the things that had been written about Simon over the years  because he is a very kind and smart man.  I have no doubt that Simon exists somewhere in there. I see glimpses  from time to time, actually more now than ever before, and I really like it. I’ve gradually gone from doing a lot of good-natured teasing and making fun here on the blog to actually having a huge amount of respect for Simon. (Although that dancing of his? Forget it – I will always tease about that!)

I don’t know when it really changed, but I think back to seeing him outside the studio in the UK. He was still in his element, and I was completely OUT of mine (Never once had I ever gone to wait outside of a studio to see a band before that day).  He took the time to come over to the group of fans waiting there to explain his situation. He genuinely seemed worried, a bit contrite, and definitely sorry.  Truthfully, he didn’t need to comment on how far some of us had traveled or how badly he felt – but he did. He could have gone all “rock star” and basically waved us off, but he didn’t. I won’t forget that.

I don’t forget the moments during interviews when he talks about the fans and how much we mean to them; or when he mentions how Duran Duran is a thinking band. Those are the moments I love most, and not surprisingly it is because those are topics Amanda and I have written about here on the blog. I don’t know if Simon has ever read a single one of our posts, but sometimes – it feels like it. Not gonna lie, it feels good to know that we’re not all that far apart in the way Amanda and I feel versus the way at least one member of the band sees it.  I like hearing what he really thinks during a Katy Kafe session, regardless of whether we’re talking music or just life in general.  When he balances that seriousness with his own silliness and fun – for example when he mentioned that he dreamed about “naked ladies” the night prior to the MTV EMA’s – it works.

Simon is also inspiring. I could go for the obvious: the guy has come back from obvious vocal problems more than once (1993 and then again in 2011). This time, I’m going to pick something slightly more personal. In April, Amanda and I met Simon very briefly after the Lynch Foundation show – we just said “hi”, and took a quick photo. Simon had lost quite a bit of weight (he has said he lost 30 pounds, but it sure looked like more!) and I noticed. I didn’t say anything to him directly because that seemed a little, well…forward? I mean, I hadn’t ever met him before, really.  Anyway, I noticed and I thought about it a lot.  He looked great, and in my honest opinion he looks even better now and seems like he’s got a lot more energy. By the time I’d gotten home, I had decided that it was time that I lose weight too. I told myself that if Simon could do it, so could I. And I did. I changed some bad habits, found some better ones, and now I’m nearly at my goal weight. It has taken me a long time, and I fight the food game every single day.  I’m getting there, though…and yeah, I thank Simon for that. Out of any band member, I just never thought it would be Simon who would inspire me this way.

Our relationship is bizarre, and I don’t mean just with Simon. There are these four guys that we’ve all read about, and have “known” for an incredibly long time. For me personally, it’s been almost 35 years now. Yet I don’t really know them, and I am nearly 100% sure they don’t know me. They might recognize me, sort of, as the girl who ducks when Simon spits during White Lines at shows (Yeah, I’ve been baptized and have lived to tell about it. Still hate it, and I’m just gonna keep ducking.), but aside from that – the “relationship” is all one-sided. Even so, it exists for each and every one of us. None of us can imagine our life without Simon being in it. He still makes me smile, challenges my thinking every now and then, causes me to roll my eyes in exasperation in some moments, and other times – I even laugh. Not bad for a long-term, one-sided relationship of thirty-five years.

Yep, that last sentence looks as crazy in print as it did when I thought it in my head before typing. Fandom is still alive and well. 

He’s a pretty good guy, even when he’s heading up to the front of the stage with a mouthful of water and I’m looking at him coming right at me, all the while cringing and saying “No. Please no. Please not this way.  Oh gosh…” DUCK!!!

One of these times, I’m bringing an umbrella.

Happy birthday Simon!! I’m awfully glad you were born, and that you’re still our frontman! Much love, best wishes, and good health to you AND your dad today and always!!

-R

 

October 2015 Katy Kafe with Simon Le Bon

I don’t know about anyone else, but all at once it feels both like it has been  several months since the last Katy Kafe (seriously, just the other day I was thinking that I hadn’t written up one in a long time, although I know I did the one in September with Nick standing in front of the elevator banks at the Jimmy Fallon show)… and just a few minutes ago it seems like it was August. So, I was thrilled to see that the time had come for the October 2015 Katy Kafe.

This month, Simon joins Katy in the Kafe, drinking his “black coffee, no sugar” while in the UK. The birthday boy discusses everything from #musicrediscovered to his next Simon’s reader. As always, I admonish that these are just highlights that I’ve picked out to share, and if you want to hear the entire Kafe – get yourself a DDM membership.  I still feel as though $35.00 a year is a bargain, never mind the access you’ll receive to ticket pre-sales and the like!

#MusicRediscovered

Lately, Simon has been listening to music he once loved and had forgotten.  A prime example of this is Fela Kuti. Simon liked listening to a piece of music called “2000 Blacks Got To Be Free”  back in 1987 during the Strange Behavior tour (this was a tour where Simon liked to decorate his hotel room and feel at home with lots of scarves and incense).  He’d long since forgotten about it until one day while he was staying with John recently. John pulled out the vinyl and launched Simon right back in time. Since then, Simon has been tweeting with the hashtag #musicrediscovered. (which I personally LOVE. He’s already picked out several gems that have in turn taken ME right back – music has a great way of doing that – so be on the lookout for his tweets!)

Anyone remember cassette tapes? I sure do – until VERY recently – the only copy of Big Thing I owned was a CASSETTE! Simon apparently has stacks of them in his house. The few that I still have are in a box in my garage. I don’t listen to them because I’m afraid that they’ll be eaten by the stereo in my car – which is the only surviving tape player I’ve got left. Simon says he liked them back then because they were easy to take places. Easier than vinyl, yes!

A side note that I think is funny enough to highlight: Simon told a little tale to illustrate why he no longer burns incense in hotel rooms:  apparently he was staying in a Boston hotel and was having an in-room treatment where they were burning incense cones on his back (this might sound stranger than I think it was) as a stress-relief.  A knock comes to the door, Simon answers and it is hotel security along with the police who want to have a stern discussion with him about not smoking drugs in his room.  Point taken.

Anyone out there enjoying Apple Music? Simon mentions that he is enjoying Apple Music – prior to this he had not tried streaming on other apps like Pandora or Spotify, and he likes that he can get just about anything on Apple Music….except Medazzaland and Pop Trash, that is…

Paper Gods

Simon hasn’t been in the Kafe since the album was released, and  says he is still listening to the entire album. (Side note: Katy says the album is very linear and that she can’t skip songs. I am 100% ALL FOR buying the album in its entirety. This is not an album where you buy one song or another – this album is absolutely meant to listen from start to finish at least the first 100 times you listen. I’ve had it myself for over a month now and I’m still hearing it differently every single time. What do you mean you don’t have it yet? WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? GO GET IT!!)

He comments that it’s a top ten album, which is true – it did hit the top ten on Billboard, and it’s been a very long time since a Duran Duran album has done that, and yes – Paper Gods absolutely SHOULD feel like vindication for the band in spending the time to get it right, even IF I gave the band nothing but grief for doing so. Sometimes, #Durantime makes sense.

One thing Simon mentioned was that it all still feels very fresh and new to him even though they’ve been on the promotion cycle for the past couple of months now. He says that the first single – “Pressure Off” – has already came and went in the UK. He says that the song didn’t do that well on the charts because of how it was released. Not living in the UK, I don’t know what that means. However, I continue to witness what is or is not going on in the US with regard to “Pressure Off” thus far.  The song JUST debuted on our America’s Top Ten (Hot Adult Contemporary charts) this past week at #39. I cannot even begin to imagine that this is the peak for the song, because I’m still not really hearing it on radio much at all. I’m not sure if that’s because it’s not getting played, or it’s because I’m not listening to the right stations or if it’s because I’m just missing the finer points of how a single is released to radio. I know that I do not just speak for myself when I say that I hope this isn’t where they’re leaving it with this song – I don’t know who is in charge of getting airplay or how, but it just seems like a lot has been left on the table with regard to this one. I’m crossing my fingers that more is yet to come, because the song is outstanding and EVERYONE should be hearing it all over the (radio) dial.

What’s Next?

The band just won the Q Icon award (announced today!!), and they are off to Milan in several days for the X Factor Milan show and a big show in the Piazza Duomo for the MTV EMA’s. Then they are back to the UK for another round of production rehearsals for the UK tour, which begins in November. Simon explained that the UK shows will be longer, with at least another song or two from the new album, and they’ll have more lights. I also heard him say something about the stage, but I didn’t catch it fast enough to write it down.  He was also very quick to point out that after the UK, they’ll be going to many other parts of the world in 2016, and back to the US for the summer – which is exciting!! (Could it really be that Amanda will not have to battle her school schedule as a teacher in order to go to shows?!? We will see….)

Katy asked an interesting question at this point, and it was asked in just the right sort of way so that Simon would answer! (well-done!!!)

“What song do you enjoying singing most off of the new album for the live shows?” Simon paused long enough to absorb that yes, she did ask what he enjoyed singing most as opposed to what song was his favorite – so he answered with “What are the Chances?” That song gives him plenty of highs and lows. The most difficult songs to sing live are “Last Night in the City” (definitely guessed that one!) and “Pressure Off” because the vowel “U” is high in that song, and it is the most difficult vowel to sing high.

Katy also asked about the beloved confetti cannon, to which Simon assured her would remain in the stage production. The confetti creates such a party atmosphere, and lingers into the next song as it quietly floats to the ground. It really is dazzling to experience during their show.

Yasmin and Amber Save the Elephants

Yasmin and Amber have the opportunity to ride a rickshaw in India as a fundraiser for Elephant Family, so check out this link to their fundraising site. If we all chip in a few dollars it will go a long way towards a big check (bank-note)  written for a very worthy cause.

Simon’s been reading!

Currently Simon has been reading H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald and says it’s been excellent. He plans to write a Simon’s Reader for that book as well as an audiobook he’s been enjoying called May We Be Forgiven by A.M. Holmes.  He says the book is very dark and very funny.  Look for those to be added to Simon’s Reader on duranduran.com very soon and check them out for yourself!

The October 2015 Katy Kafe ended with Katy sending good wishes from the community-at-large to Simon…did you know that Katy has been giving Simon socks as birthday presents for 19 years now? I wonder how that started?!? He apparently has a pair of Batman socks among the many he’s been given….who knew?!?

-R

 

 

Damn It, Le Bon!!!

(Amanda kind of dared me to use this as the title, and maybe you’ll see why in a bit.)

I have spent my day re-writing. A wise person once told me that writing is really re-writing. I really wish I’d listened more carefully because they weren’t kidding. My brain is now fried, so let’s all hope for the best and expect the worst for this particular post!

I haven’t been to a single show yet (well, recently is probably more accurate), and so my excitement has been confined to being thrilled for other fans, and reading the inevitable reviews following a show day.

As I mentioned in my first paragraph, I’m struggling with the basic thought process, so I’m probably going to be more honest and blunt than usual. With that in mind, I’m just going to say it: I always look for Dom’s name in the reviews. Is that wrong? I say no. Most of the rest of the band gets mentioned in each review; but it’s not always that way for Dom, so to see him be mentioned certainly isn’t a bad thing. Likewise when the band is interviewed – typically they are being asked about themselves and their career. It’s really rare to see them asked about their guitarist, so when they are and someone brings up Dom’s talent – I notice.

Imagine my delight when Simon is asked about working with guitar players in today’s edition of The Morning Call.  John Moser conducts the interview with Simon by phone (By the way Mr. Moser, it’s Nile. Nile Rodgers) and asks about how they got together with John Frusciante for the album. Simon explains how they were contacted by John, and Moser follows up by asking Simon if he’s worried about replicating the sound live.

“Well [laughs] we’ve got an amazing guitarist, which is Dom Brown [he’s been the band’s touring guitarist since 2006*.] Dom in very versatile; he’s been a session player for years and years and years before he became part of the Duran Duran setup. And if anybody can do it live, Dom Brown can.” – Simon Le Bon

Exactly.

I know that as a writer, I should be taking “myself” out of this blog – but the fact is, I could have cried in that moment I read that line.  I tweeted my one-word comment and the link out to Dom, because you know what?  He so deserves the kudos. Damn Simon, making me feel all sappy…

But then I kept reading (Yes, I really did stop reading in order to send the tweet to Dom.  I have a very soft spot in my hard-as-nails heart for the guy. If he ever left Duran Duran, I would still be a fan.) I’m glad I went back to the article. Simon was asked a great question about how to walk the balance between pushing the envelope and keeping the “older” (I will try not to take offense at that term) fans happy with newer music.

“Well I think you’ve got to think about all your fans. And the first ones you’ve got to look after are the ones who’ve been with you for years and years and years. You know, those are the people, by the way, who gave [Duran Duran’s 2007 album] ‘Red Carpet Massacre’ the thumbs down, and that’s because it didn’t have that critical mass of following supporting it. It didn’t really make it onto the radio and it wasn’t really a hit because of that.

The next album, 2011’s ‘All You Need Is Now,’ definitely connected with  out fans. They felt it was our and Mark Ronson’s attempt for Duran Duran to reclaim the ‘80s. And that worked really well with our fans – they loved that one.

With this album, we take it as – we realize we couldn’t really do the same thing with ‘All You Need is Now,’ but this band had to develop the idea. And do something – well,  guess that the fans would be proud of. You always want your fans  to be proud of you as a band, because really you belong to them.” – Simon Le Bon

I don’t need to talk about Red Carpet Massacre. That album is the past, and it is every bit as worthy as Rio in their narrative, because both albums brought them to this point. And this point is pretty damn good, I must say.  Instead, I’m thinking about my pride at being a fan. I certainly didn’t know when I was eleven years old that I would still be a fan at forty-five, and yet here I am.  Proud? Without a  single doubt.

This band really isn’t “mine” in the sense that I own them….but on the same token, I feel as though their history IS a part of my own. This fandom is so complicated and messy at times, but it’s home.  For those that don’t know, I’m Italian. We Italians are a funny sort, and family, or, “famiglia”, is very important. Never mind that you may get supremely angry at your family for something as small as calling during dinner and choose not speak to them for the next six months…famiglia is important. This band, as well as the fan community, is my family.  It is home.

 

It touches my heart whenever the band mentions the fans, because although I try to pretend otherwise, I’m really not made entirely of stone. The love is there, and to feel it being returned on occasion sure doesn’t suck.

Then there’s this beautiful interview I read this afternoon on rolling stone.com . Yes, it mentions Lindsay Lohan…again….but I can ignore that purely because Rob Sheffield is saying something that I wish I could scream from the rooftops.

“If Paper Gods were a debut from some upstart band, the buzz would be insane — yet this is the latest from a group that’s been reinventing itself for more than 30 years.” – Rob Sheffield, Rolling Stone

I don’t necessarily always agree with Sheffield, but he nailed it here. If this were any other band, the buzz would be huge. I think most fans believe in this album and know it SHOULD be huge. The question, the struggle, is how to get it there.

All I really know how to do is love the music, love the band, and keep writing.  Amanda and I have always kind of poked fun at Simon here on the blog…and of course there’s that whole “do not spit on us during White Lines” thing. We love him, and we love to tease him.  Endlessly. Mercilessly.  We figure that he’s got most women willing to eat out of his hands, so he can take a couple of Americans giving him a rough time once in a while.

So, when in a single day I read not one but two heartwarming and kind quotes from Simon…it throws me. No, the Rolling Stone interview quote wasn’t from him but I don’t care. I’ve got no Le Bon jokes today. Damn it!!

-R

*Dom has been touring with Duran Duran since 2004, but he wasn’t actually made a permanent member of the touring band until 2006.

May Katy Kafe Bonus with Simon LeBon!

Just when you’re thinking it’s safe to go run errands…Katy surprises us all with a bonus Katy Kafe!  Apparently Simon was so chatty during Katy’s anniversary chat, they kept the “tape” rolling, and off comes this fun, informative and even educational Kafe with Simon! I picked out the highlights to share, enjoy!

Coffee, Coffee and More Coffee!

Simon has become quite the coffee drinker, and he likes it black. As many might be aware, recently Simon began a fitness regime. He wanted to lose some weight (he’s lost quite a bit!!) and just get fit for the upcoming album release/tour/etc. His program required that he cut out dairy, and Simon cannot drink tea without dairy. So, he tried coffee…and he loves it. He loves coffee so much that he drinks six to eight cups a day!  He explains, much to my relief, that he dilutes the French press coffee a bit because he prefers it weaker than say, the espresso blend that Starbucks and similar coffee shops prepare.  To myself, I imagined Simon on the fully-leaded Starbucks espresso, and I was tired just trying to keep up!  He loves a particular brand of coffee called Cru Kafe and he went into particularly great detail about how the coffee smells when it is freshly ground. Katy, on the other hand – not a coffee drinker at all.  She can’t stand the stuff.

This led into a great discussion on how Simon feels that this program has re-educated his taste buds to prefer less “rich” food. He talks about how he enjoys salad and now craves green, raw vegetables.  I’m eating a kale salad as I’m writing this (I too am preparing for any and all upcoming gigs and tours, you see…) and I have to wonder what in the hell Simon was eating BEFORE the program.  He talked a bit about wanting to eat cleaner and have a simpler digestion while on tour.  I thought about how vodka might fill that bill.  (for me…for me….) It’s clear. It’s clean…and I am the (self-proclaimed) Patron Goddess of Vodka.

moving on…

I saw Simon in early April and he looked very trim. I’ve seen the recent ads he did for that wildlife campaign, and he looks fantastic. I’ve got work of my own to do to keep up!!

The Summer of Festivals

That’s what I’m dubbing this summer. Katy asked what Simon might be looking forward to for these festivals and he said they would not play a “hell of a lot” from the new album. He thought that if there were a single out they’d play that (so that’s a little different from what John had said previously – we’ll take a single!!). Katy asked how long it takes to put together a set list, and Simon said that he really wasn’t the “list maker”….apparently John and Nick share that duty. John is fairly obsessive about it, noting what songs create what type of mood, etc. Simon likes the idea of a three-act-play model. He doesn’t go into detail, but basically the idea is to break the setlist into parts: the set-up, the confrontation, and the conclusion.  However, Simon is more interested in what he can sing properly. For example, one of Simon’s challenges with their music is that if one song, such as Girl Panic, is in a high, full-out range…it is very difficult if not impossible for him to follow that with a song that is meant to be sung low, such as Come Undone. So he looks at their set lists with that in mind. It’s a little insight…

Simon would love to sing Too Late Marlene in a setlist, but according to him, they’ve tried it before and have always backed away from doing it because perhaps it didn’t sound right. He feels they are much better musicians now and can play it properly – it’s a hidden, overlooked gem in their music because of the fact it doesn’t have a huge hook. Simon feels it would go well with Serious. Do we agree?  (I do!) He was very, very quick to say that they won’t be doing Too Late Marlene this tour…but it’s something he’d like to try in the future.

 

That’s about it from the Kafe this time around. The extended Coffee Kafe was a fun surprise to round out the month of May! Looking forward to next month!!

-R

 

 

Happy Anniversary Katy! (with Simon!)

I really and truly don’t even know where to start with the highlights from this Kafe. If I could somehow put it all into a frame and hang it on my wall forever and ever, I would. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed these Kafes – probably even more so than the regular ones. (sorry Katy, I mean it in the kindest possible way, I really do!!) I’ll get to why in a minute. I might be the only one out there that feels this way, but I don’t care.  I will also disclose here and now that I’ve never actually been in tears due to a Katy Kafe before, much less due something Simon has said…until now.

I’m going to assume it’s really NOT my hormones on overdrive this morning, although I won’t lie, it’s been quite a day so far. (I went to school with my youngest this morning for Muffins with Mom. I know this has nothing to do with Duran Duran but she is the sweetest kid in the entire universe and I am so lucky to call her my daughter. So there you go. Mom-tears.) Moving along…

To begin with, I don’t know that I ever truly realized just how close Katy and the band really are. Yes, I know they’ve worked together for a long time, but somehow I don’t think that always comes through in the Kafes or the work she does. But when you hear her speak with Simon, you can really feel the warmth between them. Sure, she’s lucky because she works with the band we’ve all been rather fond of since we were babies…I know that’s the way many feel and yeah, it’s a given but let’s get PAST that for a second.  She’s very lucky to have found a family within. I know a lot of people who worked for the same company nearly all of their lives and don’t have the same sort of relationships with their coworkers (or bosses!)…so there’s something to be said there for both Katy and those Duran Duran guys. 🙂 I think it was incredibly nice of Katy to include all of us in on her special time with the band, because really, she didn’t have to. She could have celebrated her anniversary with the band privately and never done a thing…and really, how many of us would have even taken a second to figure out how long she’s been with the band? I venture to guess not many because what she does for them is just taken for granted. We don’t think about how it all happens, we only know that we want and need what we want and need, and if it’s not perfect, we’re pissed. I’m super glad she shared, and that’s not me gushing, it’s me being honest and thankful.

There were a lot of little tidbits they shared (I for one cannot wait to hear the Simon “Alabama Slammer” story. I just hope she doesn’t wait 20 years to share!), such as the first time she met the band at the St. Regis and Simon chucked a water bottle across the room to her and she caught it, to which Simon announced that he liked her. I can envision that happening…and I can envision myself missing the bottle, too.

They talked about 9/11 and how the band was meeting with Miles Copeland at his house. They were apparently unaware of the planes hitting the WTC until they got there and Miles said that they couldn’t talk, and there they watched the second plane hit the building. Katy had emailed them, and Simon returned the email, telling Katy to “keep her wits about her”.  Truer words couldn’t have been said. Our world really did completely change that day, didn’t it? I don’t live in New York, I didn’t have family anywhere near there…but there are still many, many times when I feel like I don’t completely recognize the world these days. Sometimes not at all.

They also talked about Katy’s highlights, which she’s mentioned with each band member, and that brought them to talking about the new album. I appreciated this section the most, and believe it or not – it wasn’t the memories of 9/11 that brought me to tears. No, it was this part.  First of all, Katy says that it’s “a Duran Duran album, but it’s a fucking great Duran Duran album”.  Simon agrees, and then they start to explain that this isn’t an album just for the fans. As you might imagine, that sentence is unsettling to me. But I try to listen with an open mind, after all, sometimes what is communicated in words isn’t really what is meant. Simon continues by saying that what he means, is that this album is meant for MORE than just the fans. It has a much wider appeal than that. Now while it’s easy to get our ire up, wondering if the fans just aren’t “enough”…. I think we have to understand that this isn’t a band that just wants to sit back in a corner and not continue to grow.  They want to grow their appeal. That isn’t a bad thing, and although I haven’t heard a single (entire) song from this album yet, I can’t wait to be able to say I love it and continue to work very, very hard to keep this fandom going and growing. They really WANT fans to love the album, and then they want us to take to the rooftops and draw others in.

It’s in this moment that I look back on the time in between albums and it doesn’t feel quite so long, and sometimes I feel like Amanda and I get it completely wrong…but we’re on the right track.

Simon speaks directly to the fans in this Kafe, explaining that we’re as much a part of that band as they are (cue tears from me), and that he wants us to own this next album and get it out there.  Katy agrees, saying that the fans she interacts with already feel that way, that they have a tangible sense of ownership with Duran Duran. It’s true. There are so many out there that really DO have a positive sense of ownership regarding the band. It’s also a major double-edged sword at times. We think we know best. We really don’t because we only know what it is like to be fans. It’s a problem, but I suppose it’s a good problem to have. We just love the band – we’ve loved them so long that it’s difficult to separate them from us. My memories are entwined with their music and even with them as people. It’s messy, it’s lovely, and it’s FAMILY.

Katy talks to Simon about how he keeps up the facade that he’s got his head in the clouds, and yet she claims he doesn’t miss a thing. Ever.  I also noticed that when he talked about the line up of the band when Katy first met him – he referred to “Simon” in the 3rd person. This is all starting to make much more sense to me now…It’s funny because now that the word is out, I’m not so sure he’s gonna be able to keep up that act, but hey – I’ll play along. Thanks for not spitting on us in Biloxi, Simon….I don’t think I’ve ever thanked you for backing up instead of showering us…. 😀 and thanks for taking a picture with us in LA, too. You’re the one band member I never, ever thought I’d actually have a photo with, so it’s special.

What am I missing? Ah yes, they talked a teensy bit about shows this summer, and in doing so – Simon explains that this is the “Information age” and that information is valuable. Agreed. If he were to give out information about what things, especially “Big” things that might soon to be announced for the US (no pun intended!!), it would mess up the promotion, marketing, etc. (my apologies for paraphrasing) I’m not going to chastise him for not telling us when and where. I can’t. I get it. Things happen for a reason, and it’s not my job to ruin it for them. In fact, I think it’s the opposite, isn’t it?  So he announces the shows that have already been announced, and leaves us all hanging on the footnote that something big is coming for the US.

I can’t wait.

So while this was a celebration of Katy’s time with the band – it was also a little bit of a celebration for all of us. It takes all of us to keep this engine running and the wheels moving, and I hope we all take Simon’s words to heart (do yourself a favor and get your DDM membership so that you can listen to this Kafe yourself!) Once again, there is no way on this earth that I would want Katy’s job – I’m not that nice, definitely not that patient, and I really like writing anyway, but I’m awfully glad we have her around to “herd the cats” when necessary. Congratulations and a VERY happy anniversary (Happy Mothers Day too!) Katy!

-R

There’s a Dream that Strings the Road

Have I ever told you about the time we got a picture with Simon?

There are some people that I can honestly say I never thought I’d actually speak to in person, much less be brazen enough to request a photo….and I really believed that Simon was ON that list. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

So, our fateful meeting – of which I am certain that Simon has little to no memory – took place after the David Lynch Foundation event at the Ace Hotel.  We’d been ushered out of the rooftop bar at closing, and spilled out onto the sidewalk in front of the hotel. I fiddled with my phone while the group I was with mingled about, and I happened to look up to see a crowd just down the street in front of a taco hut/truck. At this point, it was after 2am, and I wondered who would want to eat so late, then I saw someone very tall in the crowd, and I knew it had to be Simon.

I mentioned as much to Amanda and our little group, and I believe it was Krista who announced that Amanda and I would be getting our photo with him.  I nearly dropped my phone when I looked up in surprise, eyes wide.  “Are you sure we should?” I asked.  In my defense, I figured that I’d gotten into the after party…I’d not only gotten a photo(s) with Dom, but I’d had a conversation with him, given him a wristband (Oh yes, he has a Daily Duranie wristband now!)…and seen Amanda get a photo with John Taylor. Why press my luck with the one band member that I know has taken many a fan down a notch for approaching him at the wrong time?  I’ll admit it, I was a little (a LOT!) worried about approaching Simon.  But before I could really run the other way…Krista had already walked right up to Simon AND told him who we were.  “Hi Simon, this is Amanda and Rhonda, they write a blog called The Daily Duranie, you may have heard of it.”

Simon was up and off the bench he was sitting on in record time, saying “HELLLLOOOOO” just like Mrs. Doubtfire!  At that point, I was sure that I was about to wake up in my own bed from the strangest dream I’d had in years, but someone had asked him if we could get a picture with him and he said “Let’s do this!”

And before we knew it…he hugged us to his sides and we got a photo. I lived to tell about it!

Hellloooooooooooo

 

Truth be told, I’d heard so many stories about approaching Simon over the years, that I would have never, EVER done it on my own.  As much as I might tease him mercilessly here on the blog, and as much as I might be really hard on the guy, I do have great love and respect for him. I mean let’s face it – Duran Duran has been a huge part of my life for a very long time. I didn’t want anything to ruin my feelings. That said, Simon couldn’t really have been any nicer than he was to Amanda and I that night…and I will never forget his hearty “HEELLLLLOOOOOO” as we walked up and Krista told him who we were.  There are moments when I wonder if I’d dreamt up the entire thing, but then Amanda reminds me that she was standing right there with me and heard him say it!

Life is pretty damn ironic at times. A month ago I would have told anyone they had a screw loose if it was suggested I’d get a picture with Simon…not to mention that out of the “official” band members, he was the very FIRST.  When I think about the journey I’ve been on with this band, going to the UK twice, writing this blog….my long ago “spirited” posts with Moocher on DDF, I smile.  Sure, maybe it’s ironic, but I think it worked out exactly as it was always meant.

I hope I always remember that night. It was a long time coming and worth every second.

-R