Guest Blog: Simon Le Bon Interview on Hawaii Public Radio

By The ’80s SLB Fan

On the morning of July 14, 2017, I checked out a Tweet from Duran Duran regarding an interview with legendary Duran Duran frontman, Simon Le Bon on Hawai’i Public Radio with host Dave Lawrence.  Duran Duran performed on July 16, 2017, in Honolulu, Hawai’i, and this was their very first concert performance in their entire music career in the Aloha state.  So I went ahead and click the link from Duran Duran’s Tweet in order for me to listen to my big ’80s crush’s voice on the interview.  I felt so excited.  I could not wait to listen to his voice!

Simon Le Bon discussed his music and acting during his youth, as well as his start with songwriting before he joined Duran Duran.  What really struck me (or I should say, ‘what really surprised me’) while listening to his interview about his youth are as follows:

Simon Le Bon’s Influence In Classical Music During His Childhood

Simon Le Bon started listening to classical music during his childhood in which he got influenced by his mother who liked to listen to that genre.  I remember my childhood in the ’80s when I started listening to classical music on the radio.  I got influenced by classical music from my father who, still to this present day, is a super fan of classical music from instrumental to opera.  I have no clue if Simon really loves listening to classical music these days, but I love classical music!  Every time I drive in my car or do house chores at home, I tune in to classical music on either FM or Internet radio.  Classical music is part of my blood and family history.  My grandparents from my father’s side, whom I never met, loved listening to classical music.  Even my uncle, my father’s older brother, loved listening to it.  Among my five older siblings, I am the only one who loves listening to classical music, and they do not.  Whether listening to any kind of music or learning how to play a musical instrument or learning how to sing, classical music is THE very first step in learning music.

Simon Le Bon Studied Playing The Violin During His Youth? Huh?

REALLY!!? NO WAY!!! I didn’t know he studied how to play the violin during his youth.  I thought he studied piano lessons during his youth, which is true as he did mention that during the interview.  However, I was so surprised when he included the word ‘violin’.  I hope Simon did not make this up.  I am just curious to find out how old he was when he started playing the violin and how many years he played that musical instrument.  I wanted to start studying the violin when I was either 8 or 9 years old, but I was not able to start taking violin lessons due to transportation & schedule issues.  My mother could not drive, and my father was working a 9-to-5 corporate executive job plus business meetings Mondays through Fridays.  I started studying the violin when I was 15 years old, and at the same time, I took orchestra class in my junior year in high school.  I had to take private violin lessons, take a trip with my fellow orchestra classmates to compete for high school orchestra competitions, perform during recitals and school events.  I played the violin for less than 2 years until I graduated high school in 1998.  That same year after I graduated high school, I stopped playing the violin when I started my freshman year in college.  Also, I learned from my father that my uncle took violin lessons when he was in grade school, but it did not last long for him either.

Simon Le Bon’s Influence In Singing

During the interview, Simon Le Bon discussed his influence in singing during his childhood, about his involvement in the choir, and about his amazing choirmaster.  Simon mentioned that his choirmaster taught him how to read music properly, how to learn the theory of harmony, and how to listen to his ears.  Simon fell in love with music, and it just came naturally for him.  I started listening to music on the radio and watching music videos when I was very young about 2 or 3 years old.  Even before I started attending preschool, I started singing in tune.  I even started picking up the microphone and started singing with the Karaoke machine in front of my family and relatives. Oh, dear! I remember having my family’s first Karaoke event in 1985, the year of Africa USA and Live Aid!  Even when I entered Kindergarten in 1986, I sang in music class in tune, while most of my classmates sang horribly and out of tune.  I was so involved in singing in music class from grade school up to my freshman year in high school that I joined the choir.  I didn’t take any voice lessons during my youth.  However, I ended up taking voice lessons during my junior year in college.  

My Opinion & What I’ve Learned So Far During Simon Le Bon’s Interview On Hawai’i Public Radio

In my opinion, I think the legendary Duran Duran frontman and myself have something in common when it comes to childhood influence in music.  The only difference is Simon Le Bon has a lot of experience, and he’s been performing professionally for a very long time.  During his youth, he got influenced by music, he started acting and became a thespian, and he even started writing poems and songs.  Songwriting is not my interest and skill.  And can you believe he even studied how to play the flute and a guitar when he was young?  Wow!  That’s what I really love about Simon Le Bon.  He is a super multi-talented individual.  I think talent not only comes naturally in a person, but it comes from a person’s heart. His mother was responsible for providing music.  She even strongly encouraged Simon to sing and join the choir.  Having very strong support from a talented individual’s parents is extremely important.  I think his mother deserves huge respect and honor for supporting his gifted talent.  In my side, I feel I did not receive enough strong support from my parents for my talents.  Even though my mother heard my singing abilities when I was young, still she did not do something to help me develop my talents more and encourage me to join a talent show or choir.  I just wish that my parents were so supportive of my talents just like Simon Le Bon’s mother.  I will discuss my other talents aside from my music talents on a later blog.  I hope that Simon Le Bon will read this blog and appreciate it, and I just want to say to him how I admire his special talent so much.  I also hope that I will meet him some day, and I really want to thank him so much for being truly Simon Le Bon.

The ’80s SLB Fan was born in the early 1980s and is considered to be part of “Children of the ’80s” and “Generation Y2K” movement.  Around 1983, she started listening to Duran Duran’s “Is There Something I Should Know?” on the radio when she was 2 years old.  That same year, she heard the beautiful singing voice of Duran Duran’s frontman, Simon Le Bon for the first time.  It took this girl several years until she was 19 while attending college which she ended up having a HUGE ’80s crush on Simon Le Bon.  She is residing in Las Vegas, Nevada, and she is an actor, extra, model, and novice voice actor (known as voiceover). She grew up in a family who loves music, and her top favorite musical genres are classical music, EDM, and ’80s music.  She official became a Duranie in 2000.  Visit The ’80s SLB Fan’s blog site at the80sslbfanblog.wordpress.com, where you’ll find her blogs dedicated to Simon Le Bon.

People Tell Me I Haven’t Changed but I Don’t Feel the Same

Are you participating in our #2017DDChallenge this year leading up to Duran Duran Appreciation Day?  I certainly am and have been enjoying it!  If you have no idea what I’m talking about, read the blog posted here.  This isn’t the first time that Rhonda and I have done such an activity.  In fact, it is pretty common for us to do something surrounding or for Duran Duran Appreciation Day.  Yet, it was shocking to us at how different the original set of questions were.  Needless to say, this year’s questions for the challenge are far more positive than the ones from a few years ago.  That isn’t to say that all the questions will be positive but the vast majority will be.  We are still thinking and critical Duranies but we are different now.  At least, I feel like I am.

Looking back through the years of blog posts here it seems obvious that I’m far less negative and critical of the band now than I once was.  Even during the All You Need Is Now era, which I absolutely adored, a lot of what was said, talked about, and written about by me was more critical in nature.  Then, of course, the time in between All You Need Is Now and Paper Gods was problematic for me.  I wanted so desperately for the band to capitalize on what I felt they created with AYNIN and was afraid that any or all momentum would be lost with too much time.  My criticism or negativity definitely came from the best of intentions and with all the love I could muster but I just couldn’t or wouldn’t see it from the band’s side.  I didn’t understand that the creative process could not rushed.  Then, of course, I had plenty of ideas of how Duran could help themselves and offered many of them here on the blog.  Some of those ideas might have been good, I don’t know.  I can’t remember.  No matter, now, I like to think that  have learned some big lessons.

One of the biggest lessons I have learned during this album cycle is to just be more empathetic.  I cannot possibly know what life is like for the members of Duran Duran.  While, yes, I might have lots of ideas about how to approach this, that or the next thing, I have no idea whether or not those ideas are even possible.  Some might and others might not be.  I recognize now, though, that as much as I try to think about what it might be like to be in their shoes, I really cannot.  I can only know what it is like to be in my shoes and to have my perspective.

Because of this realization, I’m truly picking my battles. Some ideas might still cause a passionate response in me.  For example, a reader posted a quote in some Hawaiian press that the band is considering including Andy Taylor in the 40th anniversary celebration.  That got a response from me.  (For the record:  I’m not a fan.  It isn’t that I don’t or didn’t like Andy.  I just like the band the way it is now and I worry that having Andy return in any capacity would cause problems for the band and/or Andy.  I don’t want that.)

On the other side of the coin, I’m letting go of the little things.  I’m not going to worry about who is modeling the merchandise, for example, or whether or not the right or wrong word is used in a tweet.  None of that really matters to me.  I get that those things might to other fans and that’s fine but they don’t to me right now.  I realize that those little things that I could be critical of don’t change my fandom for the positive.  No, in fact, they could make me less happy being a Duranie.  I don’t want that.  I want and need Duran to be my happy place.

Likewise, I’m also going to cheer things that the band or DDHQ is doing that I like.  For example, I’m loved all of the tweets/posts/pictures of the band in Hawaii.  While I could not be there, I at least feel as if I’m a part of it in some small fashion.  It also keeps that small connection that I felt towards the band from the shows in Oakland and San Francisco alive.  I appreciate that A LOT.

Overall, I don’t think I’m the same person or the same fan that I once was.  Maybe, this change has come from my own experience with the creative process.  Perhaps, it is that the reality surrounding me means that I need my fandom to be just a happy place.  I don’t know.  It could be a new maturity.  I guess it could be a lot of things.  If I had to say, though, I think this change is a good change and one that I’m embracing.

-A

Favorite Show From Paper Gods Tour

I was thinking about the Paper Gods tour last night just before falling asleep. I had a great time at the shows I attended, without a doubt.  But, if I had to pick just one as my favorite show—which would it be?

First of all, this is a personal question, in that my choice for favorite show is probably not going to be very indicative of the best gig or the best sound or even what was best for you. And my favorite show might have more to do with how I was thinking or feeling that night than how the band did. I’m human enough to admit all of those factors play a part.

My intention last night was to lie there quietly and go through every single show in my head. I got through Hollywood Bowl. (to recap: that was show number one for me. So….) I know what my knee jerk answer probably is, but I want to be sure.

Amanda devised this fancy concert rubric grading system (she’s a teacher, so this makes sense!), but that’s not really working for me here. First of all, I’m a little more emotional than that rubric allows. Secondly, there are some shows that just don’t stick out.

There are a few shows though, that really make me smile when I think back on them. Two of them are at Agua Caliente in Rancho Mirage, which is funny.  The first Agua Caliente show had me in front row. There is a certain magic in being up there – as much as I’d like to deny its influence, I just can’t. My elbows were on the stage, and it was the first time I’ve ever been that close – normally there’s a barricade or a security guy.  In fact, there was a monitor right in front of me, and my hearing has never been the same since.  <grin>

The second show also had me in front, but there’s more to it than that. I was up there with Amanda and one of our roommates, which made the night so much more fun.  We had been at an impromptu meet-up beforehand, and then the show, and then hung out at a bar afterward.  The entire night was so much fun, and then we found out the band was coming back for these July shows. (and were admonished not to tell a soul – which we didn’t until DDHQ spilled the beans the next morning!) It wasn’t just the show, it was the full experience that made it so memorable.

This last set of shows – Oakland and San Francisco – were fantastic, too. In Oakland, we were second row center, GA, but Amanda and I were with friends. The show itself blew me away for a multitude of reasons, and we hung out with Duranies in a hotel lobby bar afterward. I loved every minute.

But for me, if I had to pick a gig that was my favorite show of the entire tour, I’d have to go with San Francisco. Oddly, had that evening happened even a year prior, I would have come away feeling dejected and angry, and yet I’m telling you that for me – it was the best show of the entire tour.

First of all, I was nowhere near the front. The view I had for 99% of the show was obstructed at best. Making eye contact with band members was really tough to do, if not non-existent for most of the show. Amanda and I stood by ourselves, with no other friends around us. Most Duranies were up front, having paid for VIP. (we just couldn’t. Sixteen shows, people. My bank account said NO) Instead, we’d done this crazy California room add-on VIP deal, that wasn’t really VIP at all. It was really kind of a worthless, shitty deal that normally would have put me in such a bad mood I wouldn’t have enjoyed myself, but that night, I refused to give in. I was not going to let the last show (for me) on this tour go by with me being grumpy and mad.

Instead, I stood there, and let the music wash over me. I loved that set with every fiber of my being – yes, even Hungry Like the Wolf.  I saw Nick grin, I noticed Simon pointing into the crowd, and yeah, I even saw Dom and John rocking out together on stage. None of them probably saw me, but it didn’t matter. I danced, I sang, I held my hands in the air and gave it my all, and the band gave the energy right back. I cried through New Moon on Monday without a single thought to what the band might think. I didn’t care. There was no holding back out of fear of how I might look, or trying to get someone’s attention. I just lived in the moment, through the music, and it was fantastic. I can’t think of a better way to have ended my travels (for now).

Here’s the “thing”…this album, the tour, and even writing a rejected manuscript, changed me. I don’t think I necessarily liked the person I was becoming when Paper Gods came out. I felt like my fandom was kind of, well, fading, maybe? Perhaps it’s that I didn’t feel like I could really BE a fan because I was so busy writing, working, and trying to be “Daily Duranie Super Fan Organizer”. I’m not sure, and this experience I’m sharing is not necessarily what Amanda experienced. I’m just writing about me, here. I only know that when Paper Gods came out, as much as I loved the band, I think I was more worried about what other fans thought of me and what I was writing. I let the need for acceptance outweigh everything else. It’s easy to get caught up in one’s head when you’re trying to write a blog that people will take time out of their busy days to visit and read. Then there’s just the book writing in general. (which has so far proven unsuccessful in as much as getting a publishing deal but the personal experience? Priceless.) It was a lot of pressure I put on myself, and ultimately, I think it may have broken me.

There was a time when I stopped wanting to talk to anyone. I felt like no matter what I said or did, people reading the blog would find fault (and they did). Oddly though, after a while, the negativity seemed to even out. That said, we had support from people who didn’t necessarily SAY a word, but showed us they care by liking things we posted. Sometimes subtle works, even if it’s not noticed at the time. It turns out that while I felt very much alone for a while there, I had people by my side (or our side) all along. You know who you are, and I need to thank you. Sometimes it really is the smallest of things that are the most meaningful, and knowing someone (or a few people) had our back and accepted us for who we are and what we have to say made the difference.

So this album—Paper Gods—was not the easiest era of my life, both in fandom and for personal reasons. It was as though all of this writing and STUFF had to break me down completely before I could really begin to rebuild and figure it all out. And as that was happening, I was beginning to be happier and willing to be straight up honest with myself about why I am the way I am. When I went to those shows in March, I was absolutely thrilled to be there, something I hadn’t felt in a long time. When I drove to San Francisco last week, I was excited to hear every last song on that set list. No complaints. Life is too short and I’m way too much of a fan of this band and love the people in it too much to worry. I’m still a work in progress, as we all are, but when I look back over this time, I’m going to know how much personal growth was happening. I suppose in some small way, it took me as much time to come to terms with all of that as it did for the band to come to terms with what Paper Gods was going to be.

When I think back on the San Francisco show, not only will I remember just how on fire the band was, or how fabulous the sound was that night. I’ll remember that even though things didn’t go quite as planned, I loved every single second.

-R

On this date in DD History – The Joint in Vegas!

Do you remember 2003?  I sure do. It was the summer of Duran Duran shows, and not just “ordinary” Duran Duran shows…but reunion shows. John, Simon, Roger, Nick and Andy. On stage. Together. For the first time in 20-some years.

Complete insanity.

My summer began that year with a show in Costa Mesa at the Pacific Amphitheater. I can still remember completely losing my mind when all five of them walked on stage together. I pinched myself until I was bruised just to be sure I wasn’t imagining everything I was seeing. It was absolutely, positively, unreal.

I know I wasn’t the only one, and little did I know at the time that it wouldn’t be the ONLY show I’d see with them that year. From then on, I was a woman out of control, or so it felt. I bought tickets to see them at 4th and B in San Diego, and then again in September to see them at Inland Invasion (a festival). I hadn’t seen all five members together on stage EVER, and then suddenly I saw them three times in the same year.

That said, I didn’t try to get tickets to see them in places like, Las Vegas, which looking back, seems like a silly thing to overlook. At the time though, traveling to see the band in another city so “far” away (it’s what, four hours from my house if I drive?) seemed so ridiculous. So “out there”.  Who would do something so frivolous???

I can honestly say that in 2003, I didn’t really know anyone in the Duran Duran fan community. I know I had already started dabbling on the message boards, but it wasn’t until after the summer that I found the message board that eventually became my online home. So, I wasn’t aware that droves of fans from So Cal went out to Vegas to see them that summer. It never even occurred to me.  But on this very date in 2003, a gig happened in Las Vegas at the Joint in the Hard Rock Hotel. Many of you were probably there, and can tell me all about what I missed out on, and that’s OK.

So yeah, my fandom with Duran Duran – or at least the really active part of it – happened later in life. I’ve tried to make up for lost time since, though!

Does anyone remember the show at The Joint?

-R

Mi Vida Loca and John Taylor

Hi everyone! I love it when the day in history gives me something new to learn. Did you know that John wrote a score for a movie? (you probably did, I however…did not.)

On this date in 1994, Mi Vida Loca was released. The movie was directed by Allison Anders, and it is about a group of Mexican-American women in Los Angeles, describing their struggles with gangs, drugs and betrayal.  John wrote a portion of the soundtrack for the film, which was then performed by other artists. A list of the tracks he wrote are as follows:

1 “La Blue Eyes Theme”

  • Written by John Taylor and Jonathan Elias

2 “El Duran Theme”

  • Written by John Taylor
  • Performed by El Chican

3 “Echo Parque”

  • Written by John Taylor
  • Performed by El Chicano

4 “Giggles and Big Sleepy Get Busy”

  • Written by John Taylor
  • Performed by El Chicano

I’ve never checked out this movie, although I’m sure Amanda has. I’m on vacation this week, but I need to find time to see it!

-R

An outspoken examination and celebration of fandom!