Fan Antics

I have been following and posting on a thread over on DDM entitled “Antics”.  Basically, the original post asked fans to describe some of their craziest behavior in regards to the band.  This topic always can be a dangerous one when brought up either publicly or privately.  If this type of question is asked in public with non-Duranies, there is a good chance that people will be judging you and determining that you might actually  be crazy, that you take this fan thing too far, that you don’t have a life, or something else that is equally negative.  Yet, I do not understand how these people can’t relate.  After all, it is a Sunday afternoon in the fall and I’m willing to bet that countless Americans have their TV tuned to the football game of their choice.  I might think it is weird that they feel these games are so important that they schedule them into their Sunday activities (I don’t actually but I could).  So how are Duranies so different from football fans?  How are they different than people who religiously watch every episode of a specific television show?  Someone explain to me how we are so different than people who go to the first showing of their favorite movie sequel when it comes out?  I don’t think we are all that different.

Yes, fans do things that may seem a bit overboard to outsiders but it is generally all in fun.  Of course, it seems to me that most Duranies’ antics are usually done with other people.  For example, Rhonda and I do most of our fan activities together and yes, some of those things might be deemed a bit extreme to the outside world.  For example, in the fall of 2008, we did drive over 800 miles in a weekend to see three shows and we would do it again.  I suspect other Duranies would, too.  We did not drive all that way or go to those shows as a way of proving how big of fans we were/are but because it was fun!  First, we were able to be together.  In that way, “touring” is a celebration of our friendship.  Second, we were able to experience and enjoy this thing we have in common, which is Duran and their music.  Lastly, we spent time in cities and states that we don’t get the chance to and meet people whom we wouldn’t have met otherwise.  While some people may say it is extreme, I say it is all in good fun.  Of course, I don’t think it is any “crazier” than the Green Bay Packers fans that I see going to games in extreme cold or any “crazier” than those Twilight fans who stand outside in line to get tickets to the latest movie. 

Therefore, a thread like this on a private, fan-only message board should be one where the fans can come and embrace the silly but entertaining moments of the past all in the name of being a fan.  Unfortunately, that is not always the case as fans will often judge other fans and their behaviors.  Some behaviors can be seen as crossing a line even with other fans.  I think most people would agree that committing a crime to get to the band would be over the line.  Another example might be that it is not okay to physically stalk a band member or his family.  Yet, where do you draw the line when it comes to finding out where a member lives?  What about going up to them in public places?  Is this acceptable?  Unacceptable?  What about giving and sending gifts to them?  Crazy or cool?  I don’t actually know.  I know what I might think is going too far but others may disagree with me.  Nonetheless, posters on this thread have enjoyed a positive atmosphere and pleasant response for now and I hope it continues that way so that we can embrace our fandom together.  I wouldn’t be surprised, though, if someone doesn’t come in and call someone a “Durantard” at some point for some action.  It seems to me that negative statements and reactions like that is a way for a fan to distance herself/himself from other fans.  It is an attempt to say, “I’m a fan but I’m not a CRAZY fan.”  In that way, fans can become just like the general public with judgemental thoughts and statements.

-A

Commercial Success

Recently, Roger Taylor’s interview from South African radio surfaced.  (Thanks to Gimme A Wristband for providing it for all of us!)  During that interview, Roger said that the album would be out in January, which is different than what John said in his interview as he said it would be released at the end of the year.  This declaration of a specific month has prompted some discussion among fans about which month would be better to release the album and first single.  This discussion implies that this album and the singles, if there are any released, would have the goal of being commercially successful.  What does this even mean?  Is that even possible for Duran Duran in 2010/2011?

Obviously, Duran has had periods of incredible commercial success, including the early ’80s and the early ’90s.  At those times, they sold many copies of their albums and had chart success for both albums and singles.  It is worth noting that the chart success was on the Top 40 charts as opposed to the dance chart or adult contemporary.  The sale of the albums released in those times resulted in gold and platinum records for the band.  Can the band achieve that again?

Some fans clearly believe that they can have that success again, if they are arguing about which month is better for an album to be released.  They are not discussing this in order for themselves to have the money to purchase it but in order to get the most notice from the general public.  This public includes Duranies, casual fans and non-fans alike.  Most, if not all, of the Duranies will purchase the album, no matter the quality of work.  Goodness, many bought copies of Red Carpet Massacre (RCM) even knowing that they were not wild about it.  Yet, most fans are extremely loyal to a band that they have admired for years/decades.  They always want to support them and give any music by them a chance.  Duran did not seem to sell many copies of RCM beyond those loyal fans and they didn’t get into the mainstream charts.  One can then argue that this is because the music wasn’t solid.  That’s fair but Astronaut did not achieve commercial success, either, except for a few specific countries.  Most Duranies bought more than one copy of Astronaut because it clearly felt like the Duran that we know and love and many casual fans purchased it as they, too, were excited by the reunion of the original five.  Perhaps, even some non-fans gave it a shot.  Despite that, they didn’t sell enough copies to turn even gold and their chart success was limited and short-lived.  Why?

I’m sure that every Duranie is going to have an answer as to why they didn’t achieve “success” with Astronaut and RCM.   Some will focus on the fact that their record label at the time (Sony) didn’t promote them or the albums well.  Others will focus on what they perceive were poor choices for singles.  Those things may be true but even with more publicity and different songs for singles, could they have had success?  I actually suspect that they didn’t have that then and probably won’t have it now.  While those decisions about singles and promotion may have an impact, but they don’t tell the whole story.  The quality  music could also be part of it.  I’m sure it may be all of those things combined but I also think that age plays a role.  Obviously, Duranies still think the band has got it, but will those people who decide who or what should be played on the radio?  I will never forget how the Killers kept being played on Top 40 radio and Sunrise wasn’t, during the fall of 2004.  What made the songs so different?  The bands have a similar style and feel.  Heck, the Killers even claim Duran as an influence.  Yet, one was acceptable and one wasn’t to much of mainstream coverage.  The difference between the two isn’t sounds or even looks.  It is age. 

Will Duran reach commercial success with this new album, I still doubt it as they are not getting any younger (dang it!).  I suspect that Top 40 radio stations will to continue to overlook them no matter how good the music is.  Should I even be rooting for them to achieve this?  I don’t know as having that kind of success brings a lot of problems with it.  What I hope for is that Duran has made an album that they can be proud of and one that the fans will love, no matter what happens to it, chart wise.

-A

What the Fans Really Think

While my blogging partner had a chance a couple of days ago to comment on John Taylor’s South African interview, I didn’t.  Obviously, she picked out a great deal of what I had focused on when listening to the interview.  One line, in particular, has stayed with me, days after hearing it. 

When talking about Red Carpet Massacre, John said the following:  “The fans were like we can’t hear you, John.  We can’t really hear Roger.”  Okay, confession time.  I said that and I know Rhonda said that.  I also read something similar on many posts in a variety of message boards.  Did I say it to him, personally, or to any other band member?  Nope.  Did Rhonda?  Unfortunately, no.  Did the countless other fans say it to him?  I somehow doubt it.  John isn’t typically out in social gatherings where fans would have access to him.  Could fans have made comments to Roger or Simon who are?  I doubt that, too as most fans don’t try to talk shop with the band in a relaxing setting.  Even in non-relaxed settings, fans don’t often have a chance to provide in-depth thoughts during events like concert meets-n-greets or record store signings.  Lastly, even when they do have a chance, would they utter something negative, even if it was constructive criticism that probably needed to be said?  My guess would be probably not.  I suspect that most fans use their few minutes with the band to tell them about how they have inspired them or touched them in some way.  They might ask for autographs or pictures.  Maybe they would make comments about the show but to talk seriously about the instrumentation of the album?  I doubt it.  Of course, I could be wrong.  Besides, even if some fans do use that opportunity to make some serious statements, how many fans would that be?  Should the band trust that those feelings represent most of us?  I don’t think so. 

How did John Taylor find out that many fans were thinking that about the lack of instruments on RCM?  How would any band member?  How does the band learn about what we REALLY think?  It can’t be from face-to-face interactions, at least not in high numbers.  Of course, fans can submit questions to Katy but those are usually questions and not comments.  She controls what is shared there.  Fans can also post ideas, praise, complaints, etc. on message boards.  Would any of them go on message boards to see what the fans like?  Would they do it on a regular basis?  Which board would they choose?  How would they sift through all of the other discussions to actually discover what we think?  Do they hire someone to do it?  How do they determine if the posts are representatives of the fans as a group, since some people just lurk.  I have heard them answer the question about checking the message boards and I distinctly remember Nick saying something about how terrified he would be in an interview from 2005 or 2006.  This leads me back to the original question.

How does the band learn what fans really think?  If fans knew that they were watching and reading, would that alter their behavior or stifle their thoughts?  Would this be a good thing for the fandom or a problem?  I’m sure that most fans would love for them to know what they are thinking but I’m also sure that fans wouldn’t want them to think less of them.  It would be an interesting sociological experiment to introduce the guys into a message board and see how it changes.  Maybe it would only matter if they post themselves.  I don’t know but it sure would be interesting to find out!

-A

More Like John Taylor than I thought!

Good Thursday morning!  I spent a few minutes listening to the interview that John Taylor did for a South African radio station, and I need to send a shout out to Gimme A Wristband for posting it so quickly.  If you haven’t already checked out her blog – you should.  It’s honestly to the point where I check that site BEFORE I go to either DD.com or DDM .  We’re a family in this community, and I want to give credit where credit is absolutely due.

In any case, it was a thrill to hear a decent interview from John – it’s been a while since they’ve really done press, so it was great to hear him.  It’s funny, I’ve been a fan now for a long time, and I suppose in that time I feel as though I have at least some small amount of knowledge with regards to who each of the band members really is.  I don’t mean musically, and I don’t mean the surface crap (What’s your favorite color John…and that sort of thing).  I mean who they really ARE.  That said, I only know what I read, what I’ve witnessed personally, and what I’ve heard them say.  In any case, I suppose I always felt that while John seems like a nice enough guy – I didn’t think we really had too much in common.  That’s not a bad thing, and it never made me like him less, I just didn’t think I’d have much to say to him (that sounded good anyway), if and when I ever had the chance to talk to him.  (keep dreaming, Rhonda…)  So, when I listened to the interview, I was surprised when I found myself nodding and laughing in agreement.

I’m sure most Duranies (all Duranies??) know John has a daughter named Atlanta.  Now, this blog is about the band, not their children – but because of the fact I too have a daughter (who believes she’s 18, but to the best of my knowledge is really 13), I listened to what he had to say about her music.  I fully expected that because of the fact John’s a rockstar, he’d have far more tolerance for her music than I do for my own daughters’.  HA!   As it turns out, he doesn’t enjoy it anymore than I do!  I suppose though that if I tried to show that to my 13 year old as some sort of proof that she needs to buck up on her musical taste, she’d scoff and say something like “Well, it’s because you both are too old to appreciate good music!”  (my apologies to John for the “old” comment.  I suspect he’d understand though.)  My response to that would be – “I’m old enough to appreciate REAL music.”  So is John.  He has the same complaint as I, in that he prefers to hear real instruments.  I could make a sideways comment here about a certain bands last album….but I’ll refrain.  For now.

My husband and I have a real affection for vinyl.  Currently, our vinyl collection is about 5,000 albums strong, and while I love vinyl – in particular 80’s vinyl (I’m sure you’re all shocked); my husband’s collection is taking over our garage and is threatening to invade the living room soon.  So, I’ve developed kind of a love/hate relationship for our collection.  Kind of the way I feel about wine at times. (especially after a long night out!)  We collect that as well, and it’s funny how I don’t seem to mind that invading our living room…but I digress.  The thing is, John commented that listening to vinyl is a lot like savoring a vintage wine.  It’s not something you want to do everyday, but on occasion, it’s great.  I totally and completely agree.  I would assert here that there is NOTHING better than listening to Rio on vinyl.  Nothing.  There is a warmth that no CD can ever bring – I don’t care what anyone says about the sound quality, when you have a record on the turntable that is in very good condition and a great needle on the player – you can’t beat the sound.  Vinyl and wine – two of my favorite things.

Interestingly enough, while I would choose to listen to Rio on vinyl over CD any day of the week – I cannot say the same for other DD albums, such as  Red Carpet Massacre.  That album was never meant for vinyl.  Too electronic, too synthetic, in my mind.  John revealed something that I have been saying since the very day I first heard Night Runner, and judging from other fans’ reaction to the album in general – I know I’m not the only one.

     Everybody sounds great on it and that’s the difference between this album and the last album, which we made with Timbaland…He didn’t really know what he was doing with a band.  He didn’t know what he was doing with a bassist or a guitarist or with a keyboardist…The fans were like we can’t hear you, John.  We can’t really hear Roger.  This album really features the musical character of all the band members.”


My biggest pet peeve – admittedly there are many – with Red Carpet Massacre is that you cannot HEAR the instruments.  It could have been Simon singing with just anyone and the sound would be the same, and while I’m all about having the band try different things (hey, I have even learned to love Medazzaland), I want to actually HEAR. THE. BAND.  So, I was very happy to hear John make some sort of comment about that.  That said, the album is MUCH better played live, and I still think the song Red Carpet Massacre rocks.  I’ll clap along with you any time, John.


That brings us to the new album, doesn’t it?  Apparently Ronson’s fantasy was to remake Rio, and of course John mentions that was a fairly unrealistic goal.  I haven’t heard the album yet, but I know to try and beat what many believe to be the pinnacle of Duran Duran is a huge, huge goal.  That said, I hope they do it.  I hope they prove everyone, including yours truly, wrong. I know the band has it in them, and I’m thrilled to hear John say that Mark Ronson continued to crack the whip on them to get the album right.  Good for you, Mark!  A real fan, which I honestly believe Mark is just that, knows that the band can do it.  They just needed to bring it and have someone producing them that wouldn’t settle for less.  Once again, I was just a little dumbfounded to find myself nodding in agreement with John.  


John also talked about Ronson’s new album.  Now, this is a Duran Duran blog, so I haven’t said too much about Ronson’s album, Record Collection.  I have to say though, I bought it last week – and I love it.  It’s modern, but it absolutely has that 80’s feel to it as well.  There are a lot of gems on the album – and it’s very electric in it’s own way, but what it isn’t is fake.  I don’t know how else to describe it really.  It’s pop and electronic without sounding manufactured and fake like so much of the music heard on radio today.  John calls it intelligent, and I would wholeheartedly agree.  It’s worth the money to get it, and not just because Simon and Nick are also on the album. (the song “Record Collection” gets a huge thumbs up from me – and I wish Mark would SING MORE.  He’s got his own style and it’s fantastic!)


A favorite quote of mine from his interview that I believe sums up the bands entire career if not this next album…and it really should be a quote that all of us live by:


           “You need to feel good about the music you’re making right this minute.”   


That, Mr. Taylor – is music to MY ears.  It is exactly what I’ve been begging for the band to feel since the night of the dreaded fan show at the Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC (June 17, 2007).  Be proud of what you’ve done, love the music you’re making –  the rest of it comes naturally.  I really do believe that, and it works in my own life.





Yep, I’m just a little more in awe of John Taylor today.  
  




Have a good weekend, everyone!


-R

Is This Time the Last Time?

Before I get started here – I have to apologize.  I had promised an FAQ list for message boards today…that blog has been pre-empted and will be posted at a later date.

Just prior to writing today, I went to our Daily Duranie twitter account and noticed that Nile Rodgers had posted a video of the last show with Bernard Edwards.  This video is short 2 minute clip of the song Wild Boys – Simon LeBon is singing and it is at the Budokan in April of 1996.  Here is a link to that video on Nile’s site. Bernard had pneumonia and refused to cancel the gig.  He did play the show, but had to be helped with oxygen at times. (Nile describes the situation best on the site)  That was his last show.   There is also video of Notorious from that same night, during that song Bernard was behind the drum riser getting oxygen – and apparently continuing to play.

I keep stumbling on the fact that it was Bernard’s last show.  No one in the audience knew that would be the case.  I can’t possibly know what Nile was thinking, and I can’t imagine that Simon recognized that Bernard would never play again either.  The fact is, I don’t think you ever really know when this time is going to be the last time.  I just believe that you have to enjoy every moment as though it could be.

Switch ahead to what I believe is still the working title to Duran Duran’s new album – All We Need is Now, and it hits me like a brick.

While I’m sure that I won’t ever forget walking up to all 5 of the original band members at Virgin Megastore in Hollywood back in October of 2004 (goodness knows I’ll never forget speaking to Roger Taylor – sure, I’m a blogger – but I’m also a HUGE fan!!), what I know to be true is that my biggest memories in this whole fan experience will be attending the shows with my friends.  Squeezing Amanda’s arm (or wait – maybe it’s been MY arm that’s been squeezed) every single time there is a JoSi moment,  rocking out with Dom Brown (no, really – we had our moment!) when he was just the stand-in guitarist and no one else gave him the time of day, clapping along with John during Red Carpet Massacre, and laughing til we cried while we watched Simon dance.   Those are the show moments I’ll remember best.   I probably won’t remember trying to figure out where everyone was going after the show because no one wants to say (what if the band shows up, then they’d have to share them! *gasp*);  I doubt I’ll remember having to assume the GA “stance” so that other fans couldn’t suddenly decide that they needed to be directly in front of me – even though I’d been there for hours already.  I really don’t think I’ll remember that another fan (who was much taller than I) decided to jump up and grab the drumstick that Roger had tried to throw me in New Orleans.  (well….no, I’ll probably remember that – but only because of the smile Roger flashed me and my sign before throwing it my way.)  I definitely won’t think twice of how vicious fellow fans can be on the message boards simply because someone complains over the cost of VIP tickets, or because someone asks if anyone has any ideas of where the band is staying.   In the end, none of that is going to really matter!

As much as I might curse the band at times, I feel so incredibly lucky.  Duran Duran has been the soundtrack to my life. (and probably yours…)   Yes, people in my life tend to give me a rough time over how much time I’ll spend on Duran Duran, and while part of me can laugh in spite of myself – there’s a growing part of me that almost feels sorry for them.  They have NO idea the gift I’ve been given.

We are lucky fans, indeed.  Enjoy the moment!

-R

The Games People Play

As promised yesterday on Twitter, I’m revisiting the subject of our fan community today in the blog.  Ok, so the reality is that there’s no breaking Duran news for me to report….I admit it.  😉  In all seriousness though, is it just me or does anyone else out there in Duranland (Duranverse?  Durankingdom??) notice how cutthroat the community can be at times?

I have no frame of reference for other fan communities, as I only have enough time and energy for one truly favorite band!  I just know that after so many years of being a Duran Duran fan and being involved in the community – it’s very hard to ignore the constant game playing that seems to take precedence over friendship whenever the band is involved.   That said, why is it so important to make sure that you have the “most”?  For instance, the most pictures with the band, the most drumsticks from Roger, the most meet and greets, or the most and best information with regard to where the band is staying or hanging out after a show.  Are those things really that important, and do they really make someone more or less of a fan if they do or do not have them?  I’m not sure I can really answer that question within the framework of our blog…so let me bring up a few thoughts to ponder:

Why is it that men don’t seem to have a problem “sharing” the band?  What I mean by that is specifically – when I’m on a board, or at a show and I want to know something, whether it’s where everyone is staying before a show, where I can find a picture/unreleased song/album, etc, where everyone is going after a show, etc – if I ask just about any Duran fan that is male – they have absolutely no issue telling me.

What do we really get out of playing “the game”?  Honestly.  Think about that.  Yeah, I suppose you could say that you’ve got a boatload of drumsticks at home, or an entire album filled with pictures of yourself with all members of the band….but really, does that REALLY get you anything else in life?  Call me crazy, but if you’re willing to throw other fans, possibly other friends under the bus in order to get closer to the band…what are you really getting out of it?

Lastly for today, when does it end?  Meaning – at what point do you think the band will become less of a trophy to win and more like something special that connects all of us?  The band is something to be celebrated, not something that should require strategic networking, secrecy and deception.  I’m not saying that we should all go to our nearest Duran Duran board and broadcast that the band is staying at such and such hotel – that’s just stupid – but on the same token, the next time someone comes up to you after a show and says “Hey, where are you guys hanging out after the show?”  Maybe, just maybe….you’ll feel comfortable telling a fellow fan.  After all, at this point in our lives, we should be celebrating the fact that the band still tours and plays a great show.

Tomorrow (barring any exciting news from the band…):  A set of FAQ’s for any “new” fan to a message board!

-R

Dwindling numbers

Lately, I’ve been spending some time over on DDM, which is the paid, official fan community for Duran Duran.  They have a message board or forum there that members may participate in – and over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to meet several of the members “in person” at various events:  concerts, meetups, pre and post show parties, etc.  It’s a great resource for fans to connect with other fans in some sort of “official” fan club.  I confess that up until very recently, it wasn’t one of the first places on the web that I would frequent for fan information, or to connect with other fans.  This is purely a personal decision – there was nothing inherently wrong with the community there, it was just very big and impersonal unless you were among the privileged few that had been an active member since day one.  I think I’ve had my membership since about that time, but because the board was so busy, and because I’d already found my own message board “home”…I never really got involved. (my home?  DDF.  It’s a VERY tiny board these days.  Very quiet, but at one point we did have quite a solid group of fans posting there.)  Recently though, I’ve taken more to posting there because my old home board has gotten so slow that I would swear cobwebs are forming on the website.

I’m sure that as you’re reading this, you’re thinking about how numbers seem to de dwindling all over the place.  They really have been since the end of the Astronaut tour, and of course the last album probably did not help.  Well, at some point last week, someone on the DDM board posting something about the dwindling membership there – and much to my surprise, they were able to locate the current number of members on the board.  As of this writing today, there are 2237 people registered on the DDM member list – I believe those are forum members, not necessarily ALL the members on DDM, but I can’t be sure.  Down on the bottom of the forum index page, it gives some song and dance about how there are 13,590 registered users – those may very well be all of the members who have paid to be on DDM.  Regardless, those numbers are down significantly from 2005.

It seems like once or twice a week (give or take), someone will post something about how they miss the crowds that would frequent the board back in ’05.  They miss the “fun” people, they miss the sheer excitement that surrounded the band.  You would almost swear we were waxing nostalgic on 1985, and while I can certainly understand how people miss the days when we were all thinking “what if this band makes it big again – how cool would THAT be?”, I also wonder what is really driving people away from the fan community.  Sure, everyone has their own lives – although I had my “own life” back in 2005 and still made time for the band and making new friends.  That doesn’t seem to be what’s really changed for most people…

I don’t think the band has ever been the type to just get out and be with their people.  In fact, I  daresay that the band doesn’t really think we “ARE” their people.  🙂   I’m not asserting that they should think that way – I’m simply stating what I feel to be true.  It’s not really my job to decide if the band is doing something the right or wrong way – it’s my job to see it from the fans’ perspective.  One of you can do the hard work from the other side of the fence!  As such, over the years I’ve heard fans say over and over again that the band doesn’t try to connect with us.  They’d don’t twitter, they really don’t facebook on their own, I know there’s been rumor of some posts way back when on dd.com  when they had a message board – but there’s never been any substantiation of that, and they really don’t make too much of an attempt to hang out with fans before or after shows.  Yes, we might get lucky and stumble upon them at a bar or club…which, in THIS fan’s opinion anyway….has always been a bit of a circus spectacle.  Hmm, perhaps they don’t want to hang out with us BECAUSE of our behavior.  Gee.  In any case, perhaps this has driven fans away.  They’re tired of supporting a band that doesn’t seem all that terribly interested.

The band has been inconsistent.   *I* am not saying albums have flopped, so stop writing that hate mail right this second!  I’m observing things from a fan prospective.   I think that in general – there are fans that jump on the bandwagon with one album that jump off for the next one.  It happens to all bands, to all fandoms for that matter, and the strong tend to survive.  I have to wonder what the next album will bring as far as new fans, or old fans that have come back into the fold.  I’ve been on message boards where the longtime fans have come down hard on people who have fallen away when the albums haven’t lived up to expectation, and my response to that is “WHY?”   Sure, I feel pretty strongly about my own fandom.  I’m proud to say I’ve been a fan for almost 30 years now….but isn’t it our job to welcome new fans or returning fans?  At this point, the band could really use our help to welcome people in, not be the bouncers for those we deem to be not worthy.  Just a thought.

The fan community itself is a tough place to navigate.  I don’t mean specifically DDM – I’m talking the community as a whole.  I’ve run into fans over and over that complain about the fans themselves.  It’s a big game of who has met who, how many pictures so and so has with the band, how many times someone has gone VIP, and my personal favorite…”I have information that I can’t/won’t share.”  *gasp*   It’s a shame that the fan community at its worst turns into a place where only the toughest and most strategic can thrive.  Shouldn’t we be welcoming new people rather than trying to run them out of town, so to speak?  Shouldn’t we be sharing information, since the band is the one thing that connects all of us?  Many fans, like myself – have been a fan now for nearly 30 years. (29 in my case.  That’s ridiculous!!!)   Isn’t it time we realize that no matter how many photographs we have, drumsticks we’ve caught, VIP tickets we buy,  this isn’t a game where there are winners or losers.  It’s a fan community.  Emphasis on the community.  The friendships you make will take you far beyond the time the band ever gives you. Sure, the fantasies are great, but let’s be real for a second and realize that the band is merely the backdrop to the fun times the community has together, whether the community is strong at 15,000 or mighty at 2,000.  I think that for a lot of fans, they’ve gotten tired of playing the game.

I don’t know what exact combination of reasons has brought us to a few thousand devoted members on DDM, although I know the list of reasons is FAR longer than the very select few I’ve mentioned.  I only know that we’re as strong as we are connected – and we as fans have a LOT of work to do in that arena. (yep, the pun is definitely intended!)

-R

Is It Just About the Looks?

Whenever new pictures of the band members are released, there always is some discussion about how they look.  This is not new.  Many of us fans did the same thing whenever a new issue of Tiger Beat, BOP, or Smash Hits came out or whenever a new interview or video aired on MTV or Friday Night Videos.  Yet, the criticism now can be harsh.  Back in the 1980s, if there was an unflattering picture, we could easily dismiss it as such.  We were reassured that the next shot would be better.  Now, the criticism isn’t about the camera angle or the pose.  Now it is about age and everything that goes with getting older.

Many fans have become critical of how Simon, Nick and John look.  I cannot think of much criticism of Roger but I’m sure that it will be coming.  After all, he, too, isn’t getting any younger.  In Simon’s case, there has been constant teasing over the year about his weight.  People cannot come to grips with the idea that he is no longer a skinny 23 year-old.  As for Nick, the judgement centers around his hair and the fact that it appears that he is combing over the hair to hide balding.  Interestingly enough, John has been the object of scorn lately for the fact that he has appeared with grey hair.  People are saying that he isn’t looking good with it.  Here is what I do not understand.  They do not like that Nick tries to hide this physical flaw of balding but they also do not like that John isn’t trying to hide the grey.  In reality, I suspect that they do not like that they are aging.

Part of me understands the desire to keep the band members looking as young as possible.  Who wants reminders that we are all aging?  Why do they need to be better than us, looks wise?  They did not become famous solely for their looks, did they?  I thought it was because of the whole package:  music, style, creativity, looks, etc.  Does that mean we should think less of them when they show that they are human?  After all, they still could have the rest and that is something that I think still bears celebrating.

-A

New Songs and Bootlegs

Last night, I saw a clip on youtube of an interview with Simon in South Africa (Simon’s South Africa interview).  During this clip, he says that the band plans to premiere a song or two during the shows there in December.  My reaction to this is mixed.  Of course, I’m terribly excited over the notion that they will be playing new songs.  That said, I’m so jealous of those people who will be there and will get to hear the songs in person!  Is it possible that someone will record it and put it on a message boards or three so that other fans can hear the songs, too?  I hope so!

Many bands and artists have expressed their opposition to bootlegs, including Duran Duran, at times.  In recent years, there have been online sites who have been told to stop hosting areas where fans can exchange or download bootlegs.  I’m not sure I understand this.  Do they think that the fans who download bootlegs won’t buy the official materials?  I don’t know a single fan like that.  In most, if not all, cases, these fans would LOVE to buy officially released live shows.  Thus, Duran is missing a huge revenue source as they could be making money by selling bootlegs of their shows.  Typically, fans download the shows in order to have as much Duran stuff as possible or to have a memory of shows they have attended.  The bootlegs only serve to reinforce the fans’ interest.  I know that the more I hear, the more I want. 

As for the new songs, I can understand being concerned that if the songs were available online ahead of the actual release that people won’t buy the album.  Yet, I don’t know any fan who would be satisfied with just a live clip of new material.  Of course, they could just release the new songs that they may play ahead of time and then those particular songs won’t be an issue.  If not, they should be aware that many of us are dying to hear the new stuff and will try to hear it anyway we can.

-A

Types of Fans

Five years ago, the authors of this blog were in Las Vegas, attending a charity event featuring many musical artists, including Duran Duran.  Interestingly enough, many Duranies went despite the fact that Duran Duran played only 4 songs.  I know that I was thrilled to see those 4 songs.  In fact, I was so thrilled that I nearly lost my voice in my attempts to show support by singing and screaming.  Of course, the fact that I stayed up all night, dancing and hanging out in a club with countless other Duranies did not help.

Would every Duranie fly across the country to see only 4 songs?  Would every fan spend time away from work and their families to be with other fans?  Does that fit the definition of a fan?  Do you have to be willing to travel and spend a lot of money to be a fan?  Do you have to own everything about your favorite whatever?  Does all, or most, of your free time center around something related to the object of interest?  Should most of your vacations be spent with other fans?  What if you don’t do those things, does that make you less of a fan?

After years of being involved in the Duran Duran fandom, I have come to realize that there are different levels of fans.  By saying that, I don’t mean that one level is “higher” or “better” than the other just that being a fan means different things to different people.  I realize that in my daily life.  I certainly know people who like a few songs who consider themselves to be fans.  Obviously, there are other people who are interested in their upcoming new album and hope to catch a show or two on the next tour, if it fits with their schedules.  Then, there are the fans like my blog partner and myself.  We check the message boards frequently for news and commentary.  We look forward to every product released from and about Duran.  Touring is our most favorite activity and we take it pretty seriously.  So much so, we wouldn’t recommend joining us, if one was faint of heart.  That said, we know that there is a balance that needs to be maintained.  We are reminded of that when we see or hear of other people who might have crossed the line a bit when it comes to celebrities. 

All types of fans have their place in fandom (assuming that no one would go so far as to hurt the band or their fellow fans).  When I think back to that weekend in Vegas, I’m sure that I met, saw and connected with fans across the spectrum from the casual fan to the serious one to the overboard fan.  I like that we are all different, in our level of intensity.  It makes us more interesting and it reminds me that fans comes in all levels of commitment and behavior.  The important thing is that we all like the same thing and we just tend to express it in different ways and amounts, or so I remind myself.  Not every fan needs be like me!  The world would be afraid.  🙂

-A