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

The Return of the White Jazz Shoe

I’m pretty sure every Duranie within reach of a computer is aware that Duran Duran played with Mark Ronson and Business Int’l on the 28th in Birmingham.   I’ve watched the videos myself “a few times”, and of course I’ve been keeping one eye pretty much glued to the computer all week, just in case the band decides to spring dates on us with 2 hours to presale or something.  (Can you tell I’ve been around a while??)   Besides writing this glorious blog, we also keep up with Twitter. (friend us – we’re @dailyduranie)  Yesterday, Mark Ronson (@iamMarkRonson) posted a picture taken by none other than Nicholas Rhodes.  The picture was taken backstage – and by Mark’s own description it was “artsy”.  Well, I took a gander;  lo and behold, there were white jazz shoes on the floor, and certainly not just one pair!

I remember white jazz shoes fairly well – I lived in them when I was in about 8th grade.  They were some of the most comfortable (and easy to take care of thanks to white shoe polish!) shoes I’ve ever had!  I believe I even ditched my beloved Vans to wear them most of the year.  🙂    By the following year though, their popularity had wained in favor of whatever else came “in-style”.  I can’t seem to recall, but I think it might have been the ankle boot – I know I had a pair of those my freshman year of high school.  Then again, I was never a fashion maiden.  *sigh*

Regardless, my joy at seeing the jazz shoe was quickly cast aside as I realized that I must REALLY be getting old.  Not only did I live through the fashion once, but it’s already making a second trip around!  *gasp*   This line of thinking isn’t especially helpful to someone who is already having a “slight issue” with turning 40 next month (for crying out loud I bought “reviving” eye cream for the first time yesterday!!), but I digress.   The item of interest here really isn’t MY age…it’s that the band isn’t exactly getting younger either.

As a fan, I really try not to notice the small things.  Yes, they’ve all acquired some character lines.  Yes, it’s true that John doesn’t really bleach his bangs any longer (he doesn’t even really wear bangs), it’s also true that Nick hasn’t shown up with red, green, orange or even purple hair in a very long time.  (I have to wonder if his platinum blonde is a genius way of disguising his true white hair…or if it’s really from a bottle….or none of the above!)  I just try not to notice because you know – ignorance can be bliss.  If they haven’t aged, neither have I, right?   The thing is, when I saw the jazz shoes yesterday, I did think about the fact that they aren’t the young kids they once were.  How long can they really keep going?  (I hope a very long time – I plan to be wheeling my oxygen tank in to shows with me if need be!)  They can provide rocking chairs for those of us still around – and I won’t even care if they play sitting down. 🙂

I don’t know if other fans really think about the inevitable “end” to Duran Duran.  I do.  There was a point a few years back when I’d really felt as though I’d had enough.  I felt as though I’d gotten the closure I’d needed, and I didn’t think the shows really excited me the way they’d used to.  I almost felt as though I was giving in to the fact that I’d finally grown up past the band.  I was very angry with them for putting out an album that I *still* feel was a complete sell out. (that album was Red Carpet Massacre, and yes – for the record I *STILL* feel that way, and I’d tell that to the band themselves if I ever had the opportunity.)  I just didn’t think that I could get behind the band and feel like a real fan again.  I didn’t go to shows for a while, both because of the album and because I was pregnant with my third child.  Then they came back for some shows on the east coast, and I went.  At first, I half-heartedly enjoyed the shows.   Then something clicked with me and I think I realized that every single time I go to see them could be the last time, so I’d better enjoy it.

I really don’t know how I’ll react when the inevitable day comes and the band is finished.  I honestly don’t know ANY fan who truly knows how they’ll react.  I suppose it will feel as though a very close family member, or even a part of myself, has just died.  I can’t even begin to fathom what the reality will hold for any of us at the time.  I just know that I will continue to go and enjoy each show as though it could be the last.

All we really need is now….and a good pair of white jazz shoes.

-R

Fluff!

Today’s blog is full of fluff…and I make no apologies for that.  It’s one of those days where I can’t think clearly enough to put anything hard-hitting together, and so I’m going to just gush instead.  🙂

Has anyone seen the photos or video from the bands’ appearance with Mark Ronson yesterday?  (if not, you should check out gimmeawristband.com for photos and youtube for video – I found one of Planet Earth that was great and I’ll post the link below!)  The band looked great, and I loved that Mark was all in his 80’s glory as he was playing the guitar – I would swear I had similar hair at one point during the 80’s.  😀  A couple of comments:

*The Eagle has landed…on Simon’s belt, again.  I couldn’t ignore that the infamous eagle belt has been resurrected.  Some love it, some don’t…but it was there in all it’s glory.

*Plenty of JoSi moments for those who like that sort of thing…it was good to see John and Simon smiling and happy, and it did make me wish I was there!

*Nick was wearing….sneakers???  Really?!?   Jeans can NOT be far behind, my friends.  All that really did was give me permission to ditch the heels, save my forever aching feet and be proud in my own sneakers as I stand in GA this tour…which I will!

*I loved John’s t-shirt…so much that I already own one of my own.  Love that we’ve finally gotten rid of the Red Carpet Massacre-wear.  I’m so used to seeing the guys on stage in basic black/white, to me it’s how they belong.  I’m sure they’ll have something different going on for the next tour, but I do love a man in a suit.  😉

*Musically (oh yes, they did play didn’t they?), they sounded great.  I thought that maybe the beginning was a little slow – but given that the video was taken from a live show and of course the sound wasn’t balanced the way it would have been had it been taken directly from the sound board, I thought they sounded great.  I have to wonder what Mark thought about being on stage, playing with the band he seems to idolize so much….that’s a subject I would LOVE to hear more about from him if given the chance.

I hear more dates are to be announced soon, and the video from yesterday only makes this fan more excited!

Promise to back to my more analytical self tomorrow…..

-R

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Every year about this time I see a post on more than one DD message board, and it goes a little something like this “I cannot BELIEVE  ____________  was nominated before DD!!  How can that be??”  Almost every year, I resist from posting a response, primarily because there are several others that have already posted exactly what I’m thinking – which is generally “So what?!?”

I know that probably sounds crass coming from a fan.  It might even seem a little blasphemous to some.  The fact is, and I know there are many out there who are with me on this – why on earth should Duran Duran be IN the Hall of Fame?

Are they a great band?  Well, in MY opinion, yes…but in the opinion of most Americans, and definitely in the minds of most of the people  who nominate, probably not so much.  The fact is, Duran Duran is an 80’s band who only had wide appeal for a very short time, musically speaking.  That doesn’t detract from what we as fans see, and it’s not meant.  Bands like Bon Jovi, (nominated this year), or U2 – as much as I hate to admit it in the case of the latter – they’ve had enormous mass appeal for a very long time.  U2 can still fill up stadiums when they tour.  Duran Duran can fill up some of the House of Blues locations.  It’s just the way it is.  Duran Duran have never had immense success with critics, and although as a fan I can give critics the finger and be done with them,   it seems to me that having the critical acclaim is important (to some) to show that yes, this band has actually influenced musical history over a length of time.

Did they have impact on the industry?  Here is where I think there’s a chasm between the fans – they had a HUGE impact on VIDEOS, yes.  Music??  I have to say probably not as much.  Yes, it pains me to say that – but it’s true.  I really believe that many years from now, the music history books will take a paragraph or two to denote Duran Duran’s influence over the way videos were made and marketed to the public.  I think a lot of fans who have been following the band over the years would agree that it’s in videos where they are likely to leave their lasting mark.  They already have, in my book.

Lastly, and probably most importantly for the fans who like me aren’t concerned about Duran Duran being in the Hall of Fame yet, the band isn’t finished.  In some respects, it really seems that a band shouldn’t be nominated into the Hall of Fame until they’re done and they have their whole catalog to be reflected back on.  To nominate them at this point would seem to be a little unfair to the band, because they just aren’t finished.  It would almost be like assuming their best is behind them – and while I know there are many out there that think Rio was the pinnacle, I’m saying (and others like me), be patient.  Let’s sit back and wait this one out a bit because I have a feeling that the band isn’t quite finished.

Sometimes, even in Duranland, patience can be a real virtue.

-R

New Album Title – the sequel!


So John Taylor tells Katy that the new album is to be named All You Need is Now.  Quite a departure from King of Nowhere, I’d say.  🙂  

Where King of Nowhere could possibly be very telling as to the bands’ overall mood at times, if I’m going to be fair and truthful to all that has ever been Duran Duran, All You Need Is Now is probably a much better title for one of their albums.
I don’t think Duran Duran has ever really been the brooding type of band, so sunk into reality that they can’t see the beauty in just living.  No, I think the band has probably been just the opposite.  Simon himself said in one of the promo videos for the Astronaut album that the band is about pure joy (as was the song [Reach up for the] Sunrise, off of that same album).  The band has always been about enjoying the here and now, and let’s face it – if All You Need is Now is to be the next album title – that truly embodies the full spirit.  
Even more interestingly to me were the reactions from the fans as the community contemplated King of Nowhere as the album title, and once again All You Need is Now.   With King of Nowhere, many fans were disappointed – they felt the title was too depressing, too negative – and some were even concerned that it was going to end up being a self-fulfilling prophecy. (clearly those fans haven’t been around since Astronaut – the last album title was Red Carpet MASSACRE, folks.)   Last night, I took a peak around some of the boards after this latest news was announced, and amazingly enough, the fan community as a whole reacted far more positively, saying that the title reminded them of the type of hope, love and joy that they believe the band stands for.  
I think that the fantasy life – the yacht, the wealthy (young) men, the models, the champagne, the exotic locations – is the package that once sold the world on Duran Duran.  It’s not just one part of it, it was the sum of all of the parts that made the group what we know it.  Many of those same fans are around today, and I can’t speak for all of them, but for me, my reality is pretty far from the life Duran Duran once portrayed in their videos and songs.  The band is still very much an escape at times (heck I even travel to shows in order to escape from the present!), and during those times – I really do try to live in that present.  I only get a weekend or two a year at the very most to spend with my friends, and when you’ve only got those few moments – you tend to try and only live in that moment, right?
Even back in “reality”, living in the now is a lesson all of us should learn.  Not long ago, my father was very ill, and while I would sit and worry and ask him how he was feeling – he would constantly tell me not to think about it.  “What will happen will happen, but while you’re alive, you need to LIVE.”   I don’t think I ever understood that until the day he died.  It’s a simple, but very difficult lesson to put into practice….and I stand even more fascinated that the band is continuing to teach and challenge their fans, should they take the effort to look a little deeper than the surface.  

Durantime

Since the announcement of the South African tour dates, fans have been speculating about when exactly the new album will be released.  The press release said that these dates will begin a “global campaign” for the new album.  The common thinking is that the album will be released in early 2011.  This would make sense since that is what the band have been saying in interviews and also what was stated in the presale email from the official fan community.  Plus, this fits in the typical pattern for Duran. 

On every message board I go to, there are references to “Durantime”.  This is a term used to describe how Duran Duran takes an incredibly long time to release new material, no matter if that material is a new album or a new dvd or even a re-release of an old album.  Everything Duran is connected to seems to take a long time.  Of course, some of that time is because the band seems to seek perfection, which really could be a positive.  After all, fans, including myself, want quality products.  We don’t want things that look or feel rushed.  Most of us would prefer quality over quantity.  Right?  If that is true, then we must accept this concept of “Durantime” even if we do not like it.

Like most fans, I accept “Durantime” (since I have no other choice) and I will continue to complain about it.  At this point in time, though, I would LOVE the band to destroy this concept, at least a little bit, by releasing the album ahead of the common thinking.  Perhaps, this is just my desire to get my hands on the album sooner rather than later.  At the same time, I think it would be good for the band to be a little less predictable.  It would keep the fans on their toes and more engaged in the fandom.  After all, who can afford to turn away when something may happen at any time?! 

-A