Over the weekend, I received a friend request from a Duranie who lives in Italy.  She and I have never met, and unless she makes trips to the US for shows – I doubt we will, since I don’t normally travel to Europe, shows or not.  As I accepted her friend request, I thought about how far technology has come since I was 11 – in late 1981.  Back then, computers were something that took up entire rooms, and I definitely do not remember ever hearing much about them in my 6th grade classes at school, other than they were something the government used.  Twitter, Myspace, Facebook: all things that I am sure I never would have anticipated being my every day reality.  Mail was conducted with paper, a writing utensil, an envelope, stamp and some hope that the letter carrier would get it to it’s proper address.  Fan clubs of any kind were all done through the mail by newsletters, special little cards, pictures, and that sort of thing.  If I think back on it, it’s no wonder I grew bored of fan clubs pretty quickly back then – they were almost completely non-interactive unless you were lucky enough to have friends nearby that were in the fan club with you!  Fast forward to 2010, where I am coming down the pipes to the big 4-0, fan clubs are almost entirely online, snail mail is almost so non-existent that stamps keep going up in price (to account for the thousands of pieces of mail that are sent electronically), I work on a computer that literally sits on my lap and is thinner than a pad of paper, and I can keep up with Duran Duran’s happenings on a daily basis, and quicker than it takes me to make my coffee in the morning.

My contemplation for the morning is “Is it better to be a fan in the year 2010 than it was to be a fan in the year 1981…or 1984/85 for that matter?”  I think each fan has to answer that for his or her own self, but here are my own thoughts:

I believe that in order to truly appreciate being a fan today, and vice-versa actually, I’m glad I was a fan in the 1980’s.  Yes, I got to live through the bands hey-day.  I was there when the videos started playing on MTV, I was listening when Richard Blade announced their albums on KROQ (Los Angeles), and I suffered the heartbreaks when Roger, Andy and much later John left the band.  That said, let’s list what I did NOT get to do:  I was too young to go to shows (according to my parents), I did not ever go back to their hotel after the shows were over, I didn’t know any other fans outside of my circle of friends in school, I certainly never traveled to shows, obviously; and I never met the band.   Once again we fast forward to the 2000’s, just after the reunion was announced.   I’ve gone to shows, traveled to shows, communicated with people who live in other countries, gone to their hotel after the shows (to hang out in the bar – not to their rooms, of course), and experienced many of the things I missed out on in the 80’s.  I feel as though for the most part, I’ve had the chance to complete the circle of what it means to me to be a fan.

With that in mind, I feel so lucky to have gotten to experience my fandom in virtually two eras of my life.  The first era being my childhood/adolescence, and the second as an adult.  As much as I felt that I may have missed out on some very cool things back when they were the biggest band in the world, I’m almost relieved that I wasn’t older (like my late teens/early 20’s), because if I had been, I’m not sure I would still have the stamina to go and see them now.  I would not have met the fantastic friends that I treasure, I don’t know if I would have gone ahead and created a facebook, a myspace page, or become friends with people in completely different countries.  What some consider obsessive, I consider to be pure luck.

-R

Should they tour now or later?

Last night, I saw a new “rumor” posted on the Duran Duran Message Board about Duran playing a show in South Africa in October.  Interestingly enough, there is also a thread on the fan community board about whether or not the band should tour now or after the new album has been released.  This thread includes a poll so that Duranies can indicate their preference.  Surprisingly, only about two-third of the Duranies who answered wanted them to tour now.  I don’t think this would have been the case a few years ago.  2006 is a good example.  It was right after an extremely heavy touring year and in between albums.  People were excited to go see them at any of the dates during the fall of that year, even though no new music would be played.  What is different now?  Perhaps, the fans burned themselves out by all of the shows they went to.  Maybe, they are interested in other bands.  Their lives might be filled with other things right now.  Maybe they really do just want new music as they are sick of the setlist always being the same.  Obviously, there can be a variety of reasons for people to not jump at the chance of shows right now.

The Duranies who indicated that they wanted shows now, new music or not, often expressed what was experienced earlier in the week on this blog.  There is something special about a Duran show, especially when the band is “on”.  For the authors of this blog, good Duran shows provide a high like no other.  The shows can provide two hours of non-stop singing, screaming, dancing, laughing and, if you are really lucky, a moment or two of interaction with a band member or two.  Of course, I have often said that Duran shows are like 3 shows in one (preshow meeting, show itself and post show fun with your close friends).  Shows give us a chance to meet other fans or see people we haven’t seen in a long time, which usually happens in a preshow get together or dinner.  After the show, while on the high, we find fun wherever we can.  ;D  The whole experience can be summed by a quote from the song Astronaut, “There is nothing gonna ace this.” 

I would love to see Duran play a show or two in South Africa.  I realize that I would not be able to attend those shows as they are too far away but they would give me hope that they would be coming closer to me before too long, new music or not!

-A

Careless Memories

Last night, a couple friends of ours were watching old Duran footage and posting about it on facebook.  They watched As the Lights Go Down, which is basically a concert from 1984 with some weird imagery thrown in for good measure, and videos, including the fan favorite of New Moon on Monday.  I have to admit in being jealous in not being there with them.  Of course, I have my own copies that I could watch everyday.  I don’t because it isn’t the same as watching Duran with other Duranies.  When Duranies watch together, we are allowed to *squee* at the same shots, laugh at the silly Simon dance moves, make fun of the cheesy “special effects” and comment about why the stuff was and still is so great. 

Thinking about these videos bring me back to happier times.  I think about when that footage was fresh (1984) and what it was like to watch them for the first time.  I remember how I could not get enough and watched as much as I could over and over and over again, thanks to the magic of the VCR or of the constant reairing on MTV or Friday Night Videos.  I am also reminded of the reunion in the earlier years of this decade when Duranies came out of their Duranie closets to once again admit that they love this British band.  At that time, old footage was played and replayed as we were all excited to find others who loved as we loved.  It built up our excitement about what the new album with all five members was going to sound like or how the next tour would be.  I think all of us, whether we admitted it or not, felt that we had the chance to experience 1984 not as the children or teens that we were but as the adults that we are now.  This meant that we could follow the band to as many shows as possible within our means and have a very good time while doing it.  Now, life in the fan community isn’t as rosy or as positive.  We have come back to reality, somewhat, as we have witnessed Andy leave again and an album that left many Duranies wondering. 

As we sit and wait for the next album and tour, I cannot help but to hope for a little bit of that 1984 or 2004 magic.  I wish for excitement and positive energy.  I long for moments of *squeeing* at the band members and feeling like I was part of something with a bright future.

-A

Our background and logo!

We are very fortunate to have access to a fabulous artist, my mother, who has created both our background image and our logo.  Lucky for me, she has always been someone who has supported my love of Duran Duran.  I have even caught her singing along at times!  I think she, especially, appreciates the song, “Notorious.”  🙂

When I gave her the task of creating our images, she was dubious.  She did not think that she would be able to capture what we hoped.  Yet, as always, she has not only met my expectations but exceeded them.  When I explained what we were looking for, the idea was completely influenced by Duran and things that have and will always remind us of them.  I wonder if other Duranies will be able to see what we see by our artwork.  I wonder if Duran Duran would be able to!  I suspect that they would, at the very least, appreciate it.

One thing I have always admired about the band was their connection to art with Nick and his photography and John with his graphic arts.  They have not only been friends with artists like Andy Warhol, personally, but have sought out ways to support artists and to include art in their work.  While I, like most Duranies, get frustrated by the time it takes for Duran to actually produce something (cd, documentary film, t-shirt logos, etc.), I am confident that they have taken PLENTY of time (and more!) to make sure that the product looks good, visually!  For example, while many in the Duran community did not necessarily like the album, Red Carpet Massacre, musically, I did not hear anyone complain about the package.  Of course, the solid packaging also helps to sell their products.  I know many people, myself included, bought Red Carpet Massacre on vinyl simply because of the cool look to it.  The actual vinyl was red!  How cool is that?!  That said, I’m fully expecting this upcoming album to be at least as visually stunning as the last album and the album before that and the album before that…
-A

Is Anybody HUNGRY?

I think I’ve possibly sunk to a new low in using a line from my least favorite Duran Duran song ever as a title.

That said, my point in using that line was to bring up touring, or in this case – a lack thereof!!  Yesterday it was announced by duranduran.com that they are going to be doing two UK dates with Mark Ronson, the producer of their next album which is still being mixed at the time of this writing.  After cursing briefly, I thought about how long it had been since I last saw them.  You would think it had been 12 years based on how much I’ve complained recently, but the truth is – I last saw them in July of 2009.  Yes, that was just last year, and yes, I DO realize that I could probably get therapy for this affliction that I seem to have.

The truth of the matter is, touring is like my drug.  I’m completely addicted to it as long as the music is good and the crowds are supportive.  I’ve been to shows where the crickets in the building have been louder than the audience on hand, and those shows can take the wind out of you like nothing else.  I’ve also been to shows where the audience has been so wicked crazy for more that the pure rush I get out of just standing there almost brings me to tears at the end of the night when the band leaves the stage.  I walk out of the venue with enough energy to keep me going the rest of the night into the following morning – which I HAVE done before – and I’m ready for more the next night.  It’s those shows that keep me coming back for more.  It’s a high like none other that I’ve ever experienced, and I’m happy to say that it is a Duran Duran show where I’ve had that high the most often.  The interesting part of this whole equation is that it is absolutely not every single Duran Duran show where I get that incredible rush or high.  I’ve walked out of some Duran Duran shows almost completely deflated, and some others – I’ve just felt “eh”.  So, that makes the chase even more interesting, and even more so like an addiction.  When you first take a narcotic for the first time, regardless of what it is – it takes very little to make its effect known, and typically the high is so great, that every single time an addict chooses to take drugs again and go after that high – they are truly chasing after the same high they experienced the very first time they took the drug. It may take more of that drug to create the same experience, and it’s likely even more frustrating when the high isn’t as intense.  For me, this silly band provides the exact same experience. So, when it’s been over a year without a decent show in sight – keeping in mind that I have been to a couple good concerts since my last Duran Duran show – asking if anyone is a little hungry almost seems like a tease!

Today I ventured over to the fan community to see the boards and read what’s been going on, and it appears that I’m not the only one chomping at the bit for a Duran Duran show.  There are more than a few that would love even ONE show to go to, and naturally – most of us are here in the good old US of A, where the band is NOT doing shows with Mark Ronson.  Of course, I don’t think anyone really faults the band for playing the UK and we certainly don’t blame the UK fans for being excited – they should be!  I just think we want our turn.  Over, and over and over again like the truly addicted folks we are.

Following up to Rio

On one of the boards I am a member of, there has been some discussion lately about the album that Duran Duran is currently working on with Mark Ronson.  Many things have been covered, but one sticking point that seems to keep popping up is that the album has been billed by Ronson himself as “The follow up to Rio”.  To be fair, the band hasn’t downplayed the comment, but I don’t think they’ve discounted it either.

The funny thing about that comment is not so much that I personally believe it to be relatively impossible, but that the entire Duranie community is up in arms over the idea.  I can just imagine what the band must be thinking as they peruse the internet… (and yes, I’m assuming they actually have the time and interest to see what we’re talking about.  Hey – it’s my blog today, my fantasy – just deal with it!)  they probably figured that by having Mark Ronson say at every possible moment that the album is a follow up to Rio that fans would automatically flock in anticipation.  What they are forgetting though, is that we’re DURANIES.  We (as a community) don’t react the way most people might think, and let’s be honest, I’m not sure that there is anything the band could possibly announce or do that would make all of us happy.  Even the very thought of the reunion of all 5 original members was met with scrutiny by some.  Rather than being excited by the possibility of the new album, especially after the outcry by many within the community to return to their roots, Duranies are completely pissed that Ronson would dare utter such words….and CONTINUE to utter them at every possible opportunity.

Why is that?  Collectively, why are we so resistant to the idea of following up Rio?   I have a few ideas:

1. To many within the community, Rio is the end-all.  It is the album that encompasses the band as a whole.  Image-wise, Rio is what many picture when they think of Duran Duran.  Yachts, champagne, Anthony Price suits….and possibly the picture of John throwing Andy off of the yacht.  😉   If in fact you buy into the idea that Rio was the pinnacle of Duran Duran’s career, nothing could possibly be on the same pedestal of this album.

2. Are they setting themselves up for certain failure by even saying it’s the follow up?  Let’s face it – most albums are created during a moment in time (even if it takes years for the album itself to be completed).  How can a band recreate that moment enough to even explore taking the album one step further to create a sequel?  It’s not likely to happen.   The band line-up isn’t even the same, and even IF you’re not a big Andy fan at this point, I don’t know many Duranies that would argue with the fact that it took all 5 of them to create the beauty that we know to be Rio.  That’s not the case this time around.  It seems incredibly ballsy to simply announce that it’s the follow up to Rio just because it leaves everyone in the community with a certain idea in their head as to what that might sound like.  A lofty goal, indeed.

3. If in fact this album IS the follow-up to Rio, what is all of that between Rio and this album?  A huge detour??  Some of the bands finest work can be found during that in between period, and you don’t even have to be a Duranie to recognize them.  To name a few obvious choices: Notorious, Ordinary World, and Come Undone…and to name a few more of my own personal favorites: Secret Oktober, Fallen Angel, Serious, Finest Hour, Land, Too Late Marlene, Virus, and even Red Carpet Massacre.   In this authors opinion, any and ALL of those songs are indeed follow ups to Rio.  Why?  Each one of those songs came later in their career, and by that definition – they all did in fact follow up to Rio!  Why wouldn’t the band continue to evolve musically from Rio?  Even if the music evolved in a direction that some of us didn’t always enjoy – they didn’t play it safe and stick to the same formula for each album, and I dare assert that there would be even less fans left if they had.

Lastly, Duranies have gotten quite tired of the way the band chooses certain talking points for each album.  Red Carpet Massacre included much about Timbaland and that the album was a dance album.  I myself got to the point where I could recite Nick’s “speech” whenever he was interviewed about what RCM was going to sound like.  The trouble, from what I’ve noticed, is that very few Duranies are really listening to the “spin” the band tends to give each album.  Even I come away from most interviews and album updates rolling my eyes.  I suppose it’s really unfair to the band in some respects because we’re dying (no really, we are at this point) for information about the album – but yet when they try to tell us, I think most people are sick of being fed the party line.  If Nick asked me what *I* want to hear – I’d tell them that I want each of them to look me in the eye (the camera) and tell the truth.  How is THIS album different? What does it feel like when they play the songs?  How excited are they (or aren’t they) to play it for us?  Did they have a rough time creating the songs, lyrics, etc.

Mostly, what I think Duran Duran needs to realize, is that they aren’t dealing with 12 year old girls (and guys) anymore.  We’re all at least nearing 40 by now (well, the large majority of us anyway), and musically speaking, we’re not an uneducated lot.  The “party line” isn’t going to work for us because we’re not going to buy it.  Why?  Well, I think at 12, we all were more than ready to accept the fantasy.  We all wanted to live like Rio, didn’t we?  Now at 40-something, we’ve had quite a life already.  We get that it’s not all sunshine and roses, and I think we all know the band is aging.  We can pretend it’s not happening, but what good is that really doing anyone?  Sit down and TALK to us about the band, about the album, about trying to find a label again, and why they aren’t ready to give up yet.  If the band just did that – no holds barred – I think that after we all picked ourselves up off of the floor, they might just find that there’s even more of us coming back to listen and support.

The Video Generation

Did you know that on this date in 1984, Nick and Simon were presenters for the MTV Video Music Awards?  I suppose nowadays they just call them the VMA’s…  In any case, that got me thinking about how MY world has really changed.  Back in 1984, video was truly king.  I could come home from school and watch Richard Blade – on TV no less – hosting Video One.  It was on at 3pm where I lived and it was the most important part of my day.  I LOVED videos, because they brought the song to life.  Sure, a lot of the time the video had almost nothing to do with the song whatsoever – but somehow the idea of relating pictures/images to music resonated with not just me, but my entire generation.  There aren’t many songs from the 1980’s (alternative music) that I can listen to without picturing the video in my head, and I’ll bet I’m not the only one out there that can relate.

As a Duran Duran fan, I know that video was HUGE to the band.  Duran Duran have truly made the most of their career in large part due to their constant attention to their image – video was an outstanding way to broadcast that image worldwide.  In all my time as a fan, I’ve yet to run across a fellow fan of Duran Duran who hasn’t spent many hours in front of their TV watching and re-watching their videos, squealing in delight as their personal favorite flashes on the screen.  It was a big part of what made following the band so fun.  We could see and hear them everywhere: on the radio, on TV for interviews, video shows, MTV, in magazines and even books.  I suppose to some extent it was hard to avoid them, and yet maybe that was the point.

Personally, I think they are having a difficult time adjusting without it.  Yes, I know they made videos for Reach up for the Sunrise, What Happens Tomorrow and most recently – Falling Down.  How many within the general public know that?  Go ahead, consider that briefly.  I’ll wait……. most likely no one but fans have really seen videos made by the band within the last 10 years.  A fact that pains me to admit.  Videos certainly lack the importance they had back in the 80’s, and yet *I* absolutely squealed in delight when I saw Sunrise for the first time.   I don’t really know that a video has that same effect on someone in the golden 13-25 age bracket that the record labels love.  My own 13 year old is typically less-than-impressed by videos, to be sure.   That fact makes me incredibly sad, but the truth is – this generation doesn’t really NEED video.  They have access to more information, images, music and people than any of us ever had back when we were teenagers.  The internet is up and running 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week…with all of that going on, there’s no time or interest for a video shot in a fantasy location.   I try my best to explain to my daughter what she’s missing out on – there really is nothing better than watching John Taylor strapped to a car on late night television – then she whips out her smart phone and before I know it she’s showing me what some young icon from her generation has sent out from Twitter as a status update.  She tells me that fantasy is great, but getting real messages from her favorites feels like a real connection, because she can answer her back and possibly even get a message in return. Is that really all there is to it for kids today?  I don’t know…for me it’s a far cry from watching Roger Taylor in New Moon on Monday, or Simon in the Arcadia video for Election Day.  I’ll take the fantasy, thank you!

Without video as a major marketing and promotional tool, I believe bands like Duran Duran really are having to relearn the biz, and it appears that the learning curve is gigantic.  Not only do they have the challenge of becoming/remaining relevant to a generation that weren’t even around in the 80’s, they also have to learn to work within the digital world.  No longer is video king – it’s now the internet that is king.

In some ways, YouTube has become the MTV of today – with independent, unknown directors.  YouTube is fascinating – you can find a video on almost anything there.  People create their own, bands upload their official videos, and all of it is available for any one else to see.  As a “dangerouslycloseto40-something”, the fact that I have so much information at my fingertips is both handy and frightening.  There is a lot out there that I never wanted to know much about, OR see….yet the younger generation has a huge appetite for all of it.   They want no barrier between themselves and their celebrity favorites (music or otherwise), they want no fantasy, and they crave instant gratification.  Will a band like Duran Duran be able to evolve enough to remain relevant, or will they simply fade into the background and become the muzak for my own generation?  (I’ve already heard them several times at the grocery store – but thank goodness it’s been the original that’s been played, not the muzak version!!)

I feel the need to go put Greatest in the DVD player and watch it full volume on the big screen….

-R

An introduction is in order!

So, this is the first of what we hope will be many years worth of The Daily Duranie blogs!  The two authors of this blog are your basic everyday fans.  Both of us have been fans for years, and it’s only been recently that we’ve decided to start subjecting the universe to our opinions, rants, excitement and theories.  Watch out, world.

The fact is, this isn’t going to be a basic blog about the happenings surrounding the band.  This is really more about THE FANS. There are already a million places to find out about what the band is doing, like how long Nick is taking to mix the next album, and how much of a fan Mark Ronson really is. We aren’t looking to replace those sites – the fact is, we read them too!  This blog is about our community.  It’s about how the news of the day or reflections of the past affects us as fans – and how we (the authors) feel about it.  It’s about how being a Duranie fits into daily life, and it’s about how we fans see one another.  It’s important to note that this blog is purely opinion, and we don’t anticipate that everyone who reads this blog every day will agree with everything we say.  We simply hope that the blog creates an arena (pun totally intended – old habits die hard!) for discussion, learning, and celebration of the fact that one band brought us together as a community.  Enjoy!!

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With that, I’m going to jump right in and post the first State of the Union (for Duranies anyway). Today, Duran Duran reported that the remastered re-releases of Notorious and Big Thing will not be released in the US (North America) until October 13.  The original release date was to be September 27.  The funniest part of this post is the middle sentence of the news byte – apparently one of the geniuses at EMI says that slow shipping is to blame…

and so that is why the release is pushed back 3 weeks?  Wow.  When did they ship from the UK – yesterday??  Of course, I’m only assuming that the remastering, and therefore the shipping, originated in the UK, since the European re-release is still on schedule for the 27th.  That said, I have to wonder just how much of a priority these re-releases really are to EMI.  The fact is – many Duranies have posted scathing reviews of the re-released version of GOF due to the muddy sounding opening camera clicks at the beginning of the song.  The original version that any Duranie has had in their collection since they were in their preteens sounds MUCH better than what was sent out in the “re-mastered” version, and yet EMI met the criticism with barely a blink.  Basically they told the fan community that they weren’t concerned about it – almost as though they were telling us to “buck up” and deal.  Really?? That’s all we deserved?  I just have to think that yes, financially – I can see the point in not being willing to take back the hundreds (thousands if I’m feeling especially positive and optimistic) of CD’s that had already been sold, that just doesn’t make good sense; but conversely, to try and make it sound as though we’re all just splitting hairs over the quality is a little unfair.  The camera click sound is what helps to MAKE THE DAMN SONG!!!.

So now, we’re looking at a pushed back re-release date, and while that’s obviously never going to make national or world news – I have to wonder why.  I really do picture some worker bee over at the EMI shipping department (if there really is one) looking over the traffic and logistics printout for the month and realizing – “Crap!  I forgot all about the carton of Duran Duran CD’s gathering dust in the corner!! Oh well – so it’ll hit the US a little late.  Whatever.”   No, it’s not the end of the world, but it’s just another little bit of injustice for a band that, at one point, practically owned that label.  It’s sad, really.  Sure, we can all be thankful the CD’s are being re-released at all….just as long as the re-release holds up to the original at the very least!    What’s even sadder is that this topic isn’t even getting talked about much on the boards.  Is it because every other Duranie out there has flown the coop, or is it because we’re so used to the slap we expect the backhand, duck, and then go about our business as usual?

As a Duranie myself, once again I found myself pausing and trying to find a sensible reason why EMI basically didn’t give a crap.  Sure, the band isn’t quite up in the charts these days, and sure, I can see why they didn’t want to spend a ton of time on the re-release – the band isn’t even currently signed with them. (but hey – it’s a great thing that EMI can continue to milk them for all their worth, isn’t it??)   However, can’t we at least make sure what we’re sending out sounds good?  If not for the sake of Duran Duran, for at least the professionalism of the label?  I would think that the band and their sales during the 80’s are worth at least that much.  

-R

An outspoken examination and celebration of fandom!