Leaving a Light On

By Jonee Howell

At some point in January of 2011, I was using the interwebs for, I dunno, SOMETHING, and I happened to run across a blurb about Duran Duran.

What? They’re back together? When in the world did THAT happen? I have truly been living under a me-sized rock!

Confession: I’d followed everything Duran from the time I was twelve — I was one of those umpty-gajillion kids with thoroughly Duran embellished walls — until just after the Powerstation project, when I sort of fell off the DD wagon and into full-blown adolescence. Sure, I knew about their next couple of albums and I bought them, but I was no longer the obsessed fan that I was as a young teen. Life happens to all of us, right?

Anyway, this Duran blurb was something related to the upcoming release of AYNIN: exciting news, indeed. But what REALLY caught my attention was at the bottom right corner of said blurb: a tiny little black and white JT icon with a little @address beside it. Hellooo, old teenage crush! John Taylor is on twitter? Wow, I haven’t thought about him in ages.. Hmm… I might just have to take another look at this Twitter thing.

So I did.

I think that for the for the first week or so I just sat back and watched. I read JT’s older tweets, his mentions; just getting acclimated to the app and to what he had to say. It was absolutely fascinating, this method of communication! (Who knew??) Then one day I happened to be logged in when JT was on and tweeting, so I thought, “what the heck?”, jumped right in and joined the fray. Tap! Tap tap! S’this thing ON?

Tweet from Random Fan:  Surreal but awesome. 30 years later, getting updates from my uber teen crush, @thisistherealjt

@thisistherealjt:  Surreal to me also

Tweet from Me:  Surreal good, or surreal…uhh..not-so-good. Could be either, right?

@thisistherealjt:  good

(!!!!!)

Oh my god! Did that just happen? He talked back! (This thing IS on!)

I remember thinking, Man…my teenaged self would be flipping OUT over this. (I think my adult-married-with-two-kids self flipped out a little bit, too.) The JT I “knew” from all the magazine-printed facts I’d memorized as a young teen, the videos, the posters, the interviews… THAT guy was actually acknowledging the existence of ME (really, to me, my thirteen year old self) by typing a one-word response on his keyboard. All that long-forgotten energy I’d expended “loving” John Taylor as a kid came swirling right back up in a vortex of instant, hit-and-run emotional gratification. Can you say “hooked”?

That first little typed out word from him would be my tweeting gateway drug, and the beginning of my part in a running conversation he’d have with all of us for the next two years. One that we’ve all sort of settled into like a comfy chair.

During these couple years, I’ve tweeted to John (a lot! Ha!), read the occasional reply back, seen him perform on stage quite a bit, read his book, met him on a few occasions, talked to him a little. But mostly I’ve listened. I’ve heard what he’s said, and have sometimes seen the significance of what he’s left unsaid. He’s been generous in putting himself out there like he has. I’m sure it can’t always be easy for him to do that. Funny thing though, I would swear that he actually liked it! Liked talking with us, and probably liked just listening, too. It never felt forced or that he was doing it solely to promote something (notice i said ‘solely’. Even I’m not stupid enough to believe that wasn’t a part of it at times.)

But then JT fell off the Twitter grid. When he was quiet in December, and even through January, I imagined that maybe he’d just decided to take a breather from all things Duran, from Pleasure Groove stuff, from ANY thing that required him to be ‘on’.

“He deserves a break!”, I read so much during this time. “He’s exhausted!”, I saw. Absolutely, I thought.

He’d been working non-stop the last couple of years, so it was understandable that he might choose to self-impose a time out. To quietly turn off the blackberry and hide its charger somewhere safe–just for a while–until he’d fully recharged himself. He’d be back around soon enough (‘of course he would!’), and we’d continue our conversation as if this blip of silence had never happened at’all.

But winter marches on, and the lasting reticence of my twitter pal is deafening. Instead of an affable turning off, it’s starting to feel like he’s slammed down the phone and jerked the cord out of the wall. Like he’s made up his mind to cease all communication, period; to end this long chat with the sharpness of a director’s clapboard — SLAP! Just like that. Connection with JT has flatlined.

Others have shared some goings on over the last few months, which is cool. I appreciated hearing about his recent award ceremony: seems a lot of love surrounded him that night, which makes me ridiculously happy for him. He’s studied to become a half US citizen now — Love that, too. And he’s probably gone back to England, hopefully getting ready to start stirring up a lil Duran somethin-somethin. All good things.

But its just not the same, is it? A big part of the Twitter connection is the two-way-streetness of it. That even when he doesn’t say anything, the line is still open to say something to him. And I’m fairly sure he used to hear all that, and that was the special bit. For me, having John on Twitter hasn’t been just about what he decides to share but that he’s cared enough to listen back. Must be the extrovert in me that likes to know that I can talk to him and there is at least a chance that he’ll hear me. Otherwise, what’s the point of all this? I can get news from anywhere. It’s the interaction that matters, and for a long time we had it. Totally just a gut feeling, but I think that line’s been cut. Is it a temporary thing? Who knows? Was it something we said? No idea. One thing we can be sure of, though: he now has an “off switch” that is fully functional. And maybe that’s a good thing for him.

I’d love to be able to tell him that we all miss him around here. I think he knows that, though. He’s a pretty smart cookie. I’d also like to tell him that if this is something he needs to do for himself — for whatever reasons — that we’ve got his back (even though I really hate it from this end). And I’d also tell him we’ll still be here when (if?) he decides it’s time to open up the lines again. Cause that is what friends do. They leave a light on.

Mostly, I hope he’s so happy that he can’t stand himself. Truly, inexhaustibly, ferociously happy.

Much love your way, brutha. Much love.


Jonee has been a fan of Duran Duran ever since she saw John Taylor running down the streets of Sri Lanka bare chested in Hungry Like the Wolf when it came on Friday Night Videos (she was 12). She missed a great deal of touring since her first show in ’84 (life, college, grad school, family, yadda yadda), but has since come back into the Duranie fold just in time for this whirlwind All You Need Is Now tour. She loves the band and all the ridiculously cool friends she’s made through them. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, is the mom of two kids, and is currently trying to convince her sweet husband that she needs to see Duran Duran just one more time..

Funny It’s Just Like a Scene out of Voltaire and the Show, Derek!

As I was checking around this morning in the online world of Duran Duran, I noticed a little YouTube video had been posted by Duran Duran’s facebook.  What’s this, I wondered.  It was just what I needed!  The clip was an episode of “Derek”, which is a British comedy written, directed and starring Ricky Gervais.  The show focuses on Derek who helps out in a kind of nursing home.  For this particular episode, the home is putting on a cabaret show.  In the past, they were able to hire a celebrity but the budget has forced them to do it themselves.  As part of this show, they are going to do a play on Duran Duran.  You can imagine the comedy that ensues.  Here is the clip for your own enjoyment!

Now, tell me that I wasn’t the only one to laugh out loud, especially at the Duran parts.  Let’s discuss.  The opening scene is one in which the staff are discussing the cabaret show and what they can include in it.  Derek’s friend, Kev, introduces the idea of doing a play based on a movie that he wrote about Duran Duran in 1998.  During this scene, of course, there is a lot of references to commonly stated stereotypes or beliefs about Duran, which as a fan I truly appreciate.  I couldn’t help but to laugh at some of the humor directed at our favorite lead singer with references to his name and more.  Of course, no reference to Duran would be complete without a mention of hair and women’s clothing.  Ah…stereotypes.

As the show moves closer, Derek and company have to find the rest of the band and have to find appropriate clothing and hair.  Derek first asks the kid who is fulfilling his community service at the home only to find out that there were no black people in Duran!  Where do they collect clothing?  They borrow from the residents while Wild Boys plays in the background!  Then, of course, they need to find a drummer and can’t remember Roger’s name.  LOL!  No worries.  Nick gets name checked as well. 

Of course, my favorite scene definitely has to be the show itself!  The introduction is priceless as the audience gets asked to pretend that it is Birmingham in 1791.  *snort*  It wasn’t that long ago!  Then, the performance of Planet Earth was the best!  Like Simon, lyrics weren’t always so easy to remember for Derek!  It also featured the best line of the whole show, “There is nothing funny about Duran Duran!”  Oh, I disagree!  I can and have laughed at the band many, many, many times and have no doubt that I will do it more!  Likewise, I have laughed at shows like this one!

I absolutely adore the fact that Duran Duran gets referenced in shows like this one.  It shows, first of all, that Duran is commonly known, that they are part of the pop culture landscape.  Second, I love the fact that the jokes here were really based on all the bad stereotypes of the band, including Simon’s a bum, no knows Roger’s name, is Duran the name of a person, etc.  This provides a little extra humor for the Duran fans while still being able to appeal to the larger audience.  Good, fun viewing on a Sunday morning!

-A

American Science

I’m exhausted but in a good way!  It has been quite a week in Duranland, or at least, my little, tiny corner where I live.  As I’m sure that you all are aware that tickets are now on sale for Durandemonium 2013!  The website for the convention is http://durandemonium2013.webs.com/ and the direct link to buy tickets is http://durandemonium2013.eventbrite.com/#.  I have to tell you that it wasn’t easy just working out all of the details for the tickets to go sale.  It probably even gave me a new appreciation for organizations like Artist Arena.  Gasp!  That said, I couldn’t be more pleased by the reaction so far to the convention!  People definitely seem excited, which just increases my excitement more!  Personally, I cannot wait to see friends who I haven’t seen for months or years, in some cases!  Likewise, there are many new friends that I look forward to meeting face-to-face.  The more and more I think about it, the more and more it is becoming more like a family reunion!

Meanwhile, I understand that there have been some happenings taking place in Duranland beyond the convention.  I don’t understand it but apparently that’s true.  One of the things I saw was that a certain bass player we know officially became an American citizen this week.  While I believe that his wife tweeted a picture of him saying the oath of citizenship, there was also a brief clip on NBC news about it.  The link to that interview is here.  I was surprised that something like this would get any sort of news coverage.  I’m glad it did, don’t get me wrong, but still surprised.  As for the interview itself, even though it was short, there are some things to comment on.  John states that he has always felt comfortable here and welcomed, which makes sense since he has lived here so long.  The next part caught my attention, though.  John states, “I want to vote.  I want to get involved.”  Now, anyone who knows me knows that I’m a political geek.  I’m someone who pays a ton of attention to what is happening, politically.  I always vote even in those very small primaries for super duper small races on a very local level.  To me, voting is such a big deal and having that right is one of the best rights that we have here.  I spend an enormous amount of time encouraging others to vote from family and friends to complete strangers.  Heck, I am even a special deputy, which means that I’m able to register people to vote in my city.  Too bad, I’m not able to do it in Los Angeles.  😉  Anyway, I will defend and support the right to vote for anyone and everyone.  Therefore, nothing could please me more than John’s desire to vote himself.  Voting matters.  Then, to have the next statement out of his mouth be about getting involved.  Hmm…would that involvement go beyond just voting?  Time will tell I suppose, but I would love for him to get involved and do more.  Again, I admire anyone who does more than just talks the talk.  That doesn’t mean that I think less of people who don’t get involved beyond voting.  I’m just saying that I admire those people who do.  Obviously, I have.  Maybe, we will never know if he does, either.  It may not be something that ever gets back to the fans, which is fine, too.  Duran isn’t a political band (for the most part) and I wouldn’t want that to become the focus. 

John goes on to talk about how he will have the best of both worlds as he will have dual citizenship.  I, for one, am glad that he didn’t have pick one over the other.  While I’m an American, I will always think of Duran as a British band.  Honestly, maybe, that is part of the reason I never was able to full embrace Warren.  I liked that they weren’t from here.  To me, as a kid, this made them exotic.  Special.  Different.  I didn’t want my favorite band to talk about things like baseball games and Independence Day.  I wanted a different world with different perspectives.  To me, this dual citizenship is ideal.  He could have a voice for what happens here, which matters since he lives here, pays taxes here, etc. but isn’t rejecting where he came from.  I have to wonder what the British fans think, though.  Do they view it the same way?

Now, of course, any interview with a band member wouldn’t be complete without a mention of the band, would it?  John stated that they were “still in love with each other” and that he doesn’t see them “quitting any time soon”.  They also believe that “the best is yet to come”.  Why do simple statements like these make me so happy?  I didn’t worry about that rumor that John was leaving.  I never thought the band was planning on ending.  Yet, statement like this still provide some sort of comfort.  I guess I view them this way.  It is like when a loved one says that s/he loves you or gives you a hug.  You don’t doubt this love ever but it still feels good.  Yeah, I like that image.  Statements like those are like hugs to the fanbase.  🙂

On that note, I better check on the rest of Duranland and see what needs to be done next for the convention! 

-A

The Pleasure Rising When I Take the Hit!

Of all the band members, I have always felt like I’m the least like Simon LeBon (it is probably Roger but…whatever).  Why?  One big reason is that Simon is a risk taker, an adrenaline junkie.  We all found this out in 1985 when he decided to hop on a little boat by the name of Drum that…you know…capsized with Simon under water.  No big deal.  Then, of course, as we know, he got back on that boat.  Since then, he has had a fondness for motorbikes and other vehicles that seems to move at a brisk pace.  Heck, even in the videos, he, generally, was in the most dangerous positions.  Goodness, we all know the story of that dang windmill getting stuck with Simon’s head under water during the Wild Boys video.  Truly, it is a wonder that the man is still alive and healthy!  He must be lucky!  See, if I did any of those things, I would be so badly hurt that it wouldn’t be funny.  I’m sure that might not even be alive at this point.  I know better.  I know that I’m klutzy and that I have a tendency to fall when doing simple things like walking.  Just ask my fellow blogger about one night in New Orleans.  One minute, I was upright and walking and the next, flat on my face.  It wasn’t pretty.  Thus, I tend to avoid things in motion.  I’m not an adrenaline junkie in any way shape or form.  Oh wait…could there be adrenaline from other things than risky behavior and fast vehicles?!

What is today?  Today, my fellow fans is a big, huge, gigantic, immense one for us here at the Daily Duranie.  I hope, by now, it is all obvious!  It is the day that we have officially begun selling tickets to Durandemonium 2013:  The Duran Duran Fan Convention that we are organizing in Chicago, Illinois, over the weekend of October 18th-20th.  We can’t go back now!  The nervous excitement is intense right now as we wait to see how Duranland greets what it bound to be one kick ass party.  How can it not be?  After all, we are sticking a ton of Duranies in one room with good food, good drinks, good music and good company.  How could it be anything but?!  The lead up to the big decision, the big announcement and the big sale has been a bit crazy to say the least!  Rhonda and I are at that point when everything in the world seems funny to us as we have been on the phone with each other more times than I can count and for longer periods of time than EVER, I swear.  Heck, I think I have talked with her more this week than I do when we are planning a tour that includes meetups!  Then, there is the work involved, which includes setting up websites, facebook pages, and twitter accounts that the committee has done.  There is the registration information to put up and organize.  My phone has been getting a work out from not only calling fellow committee members but hotels and restaurants and from responding to people every few minutes!  What does this mean for my household chores?  It means that they aren’t getting done.  Sleep isn’t happening either as my paid job still needs to be done. 

When I take two seconds to think about my life right now, I am reminded of a time in October and November when I was pulling the same kind of hours and focusing on work of some kind for more than 14 hours a day.  What was I doing then?  I was campaigning.  I was focused on doing various tasks to get a job done right for a large event, for a cause.  Hmm…This is truly starting to sound and feel familiar.  Then, I think about myself in between these periods of chaos and intensity.  I’m reckless.  Anxious.  Bored.  I should be relieved and I usually am… for about a week or so despite always having things to do.  Touring then pops in my mind and again, it is another period of intensity with both the planning and the actual touring with little sleep, always being on the move, etc.  What the hell?!  Could it be that I, too, am an adrenaline junkie?!  I do feed off of intense experiences.  Wow.  Does this mean that I’m like Simon?! 

That is a thought that I truly can’t think too much about.  I’m too busy responding to people’s questions and watching people make plans for the convention.  I’m focused on details and next steps.  I’m too busy being excited by the convention myself!  I can’t wait to spend time with Rhonda and the rest of the convention committee.  I am hoping that there are a lot of Duranies whom I have met along the way who come and I love that there will be new Duranies to meet.  Hmm…is this adrenaline rush, this intensity part of fandom for me?  I think it is.  Goodness knows that I experience it every time those 5 guys come on stage in front of me.  Heck, I don’t think I’ll ever forget that moment in Biloxi when John and Dom came over right in front of us for the beginning of Planet Earth.  It was too intense for me!  I think I have to conclude that intensity is a part of it for me.  Heck, these friendships I have and soon to have are probably also intense.  After all, we all have the same passion for that silly band from Birmingham, England. 

On that note, more to do, my friends, more to do…

-A

Daily Duranie Review: Carnaby Street – Michael Des Barres Band

As promised yesterday, today we are reviewing Michael Des Barres new album, Carnaby Street.  

Once again in case you missed one of our many other disclaimers: we are not paid music critics. For that matter, we’re really not unpaid critics either.  We’re just a couple of music fans. Some may say that we don’t know what we’re doing, and to be fair – they are probably right!  However, it is our opinion that “not knowing what we’re doing” is likely to be what sets us apart, happily so, from every other critic out there. We still listen with our hearts than our heads, and while it might be true that we haven’t reviewed every genre known to man – we still recognize what we love when we hear it.  With that in mind….

Rhonda’s turn:

One thing I love about doing Daily Duranie that I never thought about back when we began is just how much new music we would be encounter here on the blog. Let’s face it, the topic of the blog is pretty focused, and it never occurred to me that we would have the opportunity to delve into different artists. I am appreciating the opportunities to hear new music and learn about different musical backgrounds.  In that regard, Michael Des Barres certainly does not disappoint.

His latest effort reminds me so, so much of the South. I can feel the culture reverberating as I wander aimlessly through the album. There is a “Southern Sensuality” present, as I’ll call it, that is carried on throughout the album. In that respect it is incredibly cohesive and not at all disjointed the way I feel many albums are finished today. The album is very easy listening. By that I don’t mean songs that you’d hear on your local “Love Song” station, I just mean that it is a carefree, easy album. Something you might listen to on some of the warmest nights of the year while you’re sitting outside on the porch or patio enjoying the sweet relief of nighttime air.  When I listen to this album I can’t help but think of summertime.

The opening song off of the album, titled “You’re My Pain Killer” has a fantastic 70s groove with true swagger, paired with what has got to be electric organ – it’s so smooth I double checked to make sure I hadn’t downloaded an early album by mistake. “Sugar” is as hot and sensual as it is raw rock and roll, in delightful opposition to one another. I love those rough edges. The guitar throughout the album, along with Michael’s vocals provide the perfect rough and slightly raunchy edge to the smoothness of keyboards and that ever-present Southern rock groove.

A highlight on the album for me personally, “Carnaby Street” brings Michael’s true musical roots to the forefront.  A British Blues/Rock song if I’ve ever heard one – it’s a standout on the album most certainly, and the driving guitar solo practically brings me to my feet. I would love to hear this one live.

The different textures bring such an amazing dimension to the music, there’s no need for overproduction here. The production is simple and almost raw in parts, which only emphasizes the Southern feel and works extremely well with the music. This album not only has a pleasing rock or blues sound, however. “Please Stay” is a fabulous example of a blues ballad, and if you were smart enough to grab a copy of Carnaby Street that has “The Key of Love”, you’ll hear a sweet, heartfelt ballad – certain to win just about anyone over.

Lyrically, Michael focuses on simple, easy to understand messages.  There is no mystery here over what is being communicated, and it’s very clear – this album is about learning and love. Loving what life has to offer, good, bad and otherwise, a great message to take to ones heart!

Amanda’s turn:

I have a fandom philosophy.  This philosophy says that I should give every side project and solo project of Duran’s a chance.  I also think that means that I should pay some attention to people who have been connected to Duran over the years, including one Michael Des Barres.  Like all of you I found out about Michael through the Power Station in the mid-1980s.  As Rhonda has pointed out in yesterday’s blog, he has been a busy guy.  I knew that to be the case as I have seen him in various acting roles.  My goodness.  Who doesn’t just adore his portrayal of Nick in the movie, Sugartown, which also features our favorite bass player?!  That said, when we started to notice that Michael had a new album out, I knew it was only a matter of time before I decided to give it a try!  The fact that he has been active on twitter hasn’t hurt, either.  I have nothing but respect and admiration for any artist who reaches out to make connections with fans.  Even though, I was interested in the album, I really had no idea of what to expect.  I also knew that like the Koishii and Hush song featuring John Taylor, I had to go in knowing that I couldn’t judge it in the same way that I judge Duran.  Nope.  It wouldn’t be fair as they are different.
As soon as I put on Michael’s album, I knew that this was the right way to go.  This would be less about looking at the music from a thinking perspective and more from a feeling perspective.  There is a raw quality about the music that grips you from the first note of “You’re My Pain Killer” that doesn’t let up until the very last note.  It is a bit jarring at first because Duran is the exact opposite of raw.  Every note, every sound has been perfected and polished in completed Duran songs.  One of the songs that really shows this rawness well is the song, “Please Stay.”  It starts off at a slower tempo, producing a melancholy vibe.  Yet, as the song progresses, the melancholy becomes more and more intense, more and more distressing.  The emotion is pouring through from the backing vocals to the lyrics itself as Michael pleads and pleads for this woman to be his.  This is straight up rock ‘n’ roll that reminds me of every bar in America on any given day with musicians playing their hearts and souls out, feeling every lyric and every note.  The production enhances this feel, too, as it seems like it is purposefully left to feel live, to feel like the music was meant to be and not how the studio could create it.  
The beauty of the album is that it doesn’t feel like anyone thought too much.  Instead, they let the music speak for itself.  This is clear in the production and it is clear in the lyrics.  One of the things that immediately grabbed my attention is that the lyrics were straightforward—sometimes emotional and other times a bit naughty.  Heck, sometimes, they were even political in nature, which caught my attention.  Take a song like “Little Latin Lover” that dives a bit into the immigration debate without being preachy.  In fact, the song shows how issues like that really can be personal ones as well.  I admire him for not shying away from tough subjects and doing it in a way that isn’t in-your-face or opinionated.  He managed to walk a fine line here that most artists can’t.  
Overall, while the album isn’t very Duran like, there are elements that I really found refreshing.  The raw quality of all elements from the instrumentation to the production to the lyrics provides a nice break from the stylized music that I listen to the most.  This music is just about being music, which really is all about feeling.  Emotion.  Passion.  It is also about playing live, which this album would totally lend itself to.  I know that Michael has a couple of live dates planned but would love to see more added since this album was built for live performance.



http://michaeldesbarres.bandcamp.com/album/carnaby-street-encore-edition-bonus-track

Also available at iTunes, Amazon and CD Baby – grab your copy today!

Connections and Love: Michael Des Barres and Carnaby Street

By now, it should be evident that for Amanda and I, the notion of “connectivity” in fandom is rather important. In some ways, connectivity has become somewhat of a thesis statement – our Mode of Operation – our reason for existing. (Well, not OUR reason, but the reason for the blog!) 
Connections do not just occur between a band member and his/her fans, yet on the surface, the possibility or opportunity for those connections may very well be the attraction for participating in a specific fandom. For many, the music is what draws one in, but the relationship that ensues is why one stays. It is delightfully refreshing to see that other artists agree. The relationship between a musician and his/her fans does not NEED to be solely transactional…although very few musicians are genuinely comfortable allowing fans “in”…for very obvious and understandable reasons. 
Michael Des Barres, however, is one of those upper-echelon musicians. Most Duran Duran fans should recognize the name, he was the touring singer for one of the fantastic Duran side projects – Power Station – back in the 1980’s. In addition to being a fantastic front man onstage, Michael is a very accomplished actor, guest-starring in TV shows beginning in the 1960’s in the UK. He is one of the most recognizable and versatile actors on television today, having accumulated a full resume of US shows such as Rockford Files, WKRP in Cincinnati in the 1970’s, Miami Vice and MacGyver in the 1980’s to very recent appearances on NCIS, Bones, and The Finder.  Luckily for MDB fans, he is not a difficult man to find!  Fans are people that Michael seems to treasure, as has alluded as much on a fan-developed  and managed website www.desbarres.com:
“The message that I have to say to fans and friends, and I don’t think of them as fans, I think of them as friends – and they are friends. We should all be friends, and really my belief is in connection and engagement and letting people into your life… and I say it in the briefest possible way – LOVE EVERYONE NOW!”
Michael Des Barres & John Taylor 

Michael doesn’t just say the words, they are put into action. His interactions on Twitter are not just one-way, he genuinely responds to fans on a continual basis. He takes the time to not only read what they are saying, but to engage with them on a personal level. Michael took time to sit down for an interview with Kitty Amsbry to discuss his theories on social media, connecting with fans, and the direction he took with his new album, Carnaby Street.  Kitty Amsbry should be no stranger to any Duran fan out there.   She is recognized as the brilliance behind Gimme a Wristband (www.gimmeawristband.com) and the mastermind behind Michael’s new website, www.mdbimmedia.com, and now she has a brand new title: Chief Media Strategist of MDBimmedia.

 Michael describes his initial tentative steps into social media, … I started to realize if somebody said “I like what you’re doing” I would respond to that. You know, I think that the mistake that people make is that they don’t interact, they put out – they postulate this theory – or this whatever it is, but they don’t respond to the response…”
This is key, and other bands could maybe take note here. As Kitty says herself, “There is no effort to grow”. Good point. There is only so much consumption that one person can do without any sort of response, recognition or interest from the other party. This is why so many Twitterfolk appreciate a RT every now and then – and why it’s become such a huge issue amongst fans.  To be clear, I’m not solely referring to Duran Duran fans. The consumptive culture of Twitter can be found pretty well-pronounced across the board. Rather than using the vehicle for an honest conversation, many times it has become a sort of carrot dangled: look at us, you can talk at us, but we will never, ever respond…unless you’re the most interesting or something spurs us to speak.  So what could have been a true movement towards a real connection between people is now a big dog and pony show in many cases – bring out your best, try to show up anyone else, and maybe then you’ll be the winner of a coveted response. Fine for a fourteen-year old, but a forty-year old? I guess I’m not convinced.
“Give and take. It wasn’t somebody preaching and just wanting his flock to do his bidding. It’s never been that way. Never, never, never…. ‘The Electric Church’ is for everybody…it’s the music really, essentially, and then you build on that, and you get to know each another, and then you build on that, and it’s exactly what happened to me, to have so many people interested, and why the records sold so fast! That’s exactly what I want to happen… is “connection”. I’m saying “Let’s get connected” and I was saying that before I was even realizing what I was saying, and how it could be done you know, I meant emotionally, and then suddenly I realized that that’s what the Internet is, it’s not babbling on with some wacky theory, it’s a place which you use, it doesn’t use you…”
It is difficult to argue with such logic. We’ve said many, many times here on the blog that the music has become the backdrop or the soundtrack to our lives. The fan community has become a very large, somewhat dysfunctional family – but a family all the same.  But how did Michael stumble across such an opportunity to connect with fans?
“From the very beginning when social networks came online came you know, into my life, which I imagine was a little over 3 years ago, I started to realize that I had a lot to say. I said it, and what has happened to me is I had gone through a dreadful accident, and my wrists were like smashed and I couldn’t play guitar, and I couldn’t, you know, physically work out or do anything like that. So I was forced to really go inside into what the fuck is happening, yeah, and I started to write status updates and various things, in various ways, and I started to get a really human, loving response to what I was saying.”
What becomes glaringly obvious is that people SEARCH to connect to other people, no matter whether that person is a celebrity, a rock star or a suburban mom. The beauty happens when synapses can be formed between those connections and the music – because then we’re not all just talking about how great a riff is, but how it completely caught us in the heart. It becomes about something much greater than the sound, and yet – to be certain – the sound and message is exactly what it’s all about.

Michael says something that is interesting to me when referring to the fan community family, “The vehicle for all that communication was Duran Duran, but you know, like for me its Carnaby Street.”  

It is nice to read that somebody out there gets it. As a blogger, it is affirmation that I’m not all alone in this universe, speaking on an empty street-corner with only the sound of leaves blowing past along the pavement to accompany my voice. There may not be many out there that really understand what music really means to diehard fans like myself – but I believe Michael not only understands, but lives the message each day.

Kitty asks Michael if having that connection with fans creates pressure. Pressure to put one’s self out there, pressure to perform, pressure to be someone that he really is not. 
“I can’t even spell the word “pressure”… I’m not interested… I’m not interested in pressure. Stress doesn’t interest me. What interests me is “love” and “Chuck Berry”. You know? I don’t give a fuck about any of that….I’ve been vilified and I’ve been glorified, and both of the routes are absurd. Absurd!! The only person that can give you a “thumbs up” is you. The only person who can really appreciate what you’re doing is you! And everybody else, you know, on a humanistic level you’re over there enjoying what you’re doing but it isn’t the ” be all, the end all”. You are in this to be loved. You’ve got to love yourself first. (If) you can open yourself to what is… and accept what is… your life will change immediately. It’s not as if you have to go through a course and become a Doctor in 12 years. You can say right here, right now, that I’m gonna to open to everything and I’m gonna accept… and I’m talking about the death of a child, I’m talking about, you know, a #1 record, whatever it is, acceptance is the key, there’s no question about it, and forgiveness, and that’s it… and you’ll be fine.”
Michael is way ahead of any of us at this point. Where we are all trying to catch up, learning to be open and accepting of what life may throw our way, Michael continues writing and sees the future albums making their way down the path. His latest effort, the album Carnaby Street, is a celebration of what life offers us.
Michael continues, explaining the consciousness of the album, “This album is a celebratory, and a redemptive album. It’s sticky and it’s hot. Yes it is that…. it’s only because… I mean it’s way too hot and sticky for me to actually live there but what it is… it’s just sensuality really… and I suppose the South, certain states represent that don’t they? I mean in an American sense of, you know, people mopping their brow and summer dresses… you know… swampy… it’s sticky. It’s sensual and it’s honest and they’re very authentic down there you know, there’s no pretense, the musicians in Austin and where I spent a lot of time creating this thing, you know, don’t wanna do a “reality show”… that is absolutely what I felt down there – I was just talking about this – about how Austin really, really changed me… in a way… it brought me back to what I loved in the very beginning of this rock and roll journey. When I was a teenager you know. But I used the thematics of London, and swinging London as kind of a template for the thing, hence the title, but mixed that with the music  from whence British Rock and Roll came, which was from America. And it’s still being playing authentically in places like Austin… Nashville… Atlanta.”
Carnaby Street is just that. It is a combination of all that is that good old Southern heat. It is sticky and sensual and it has a 70s blues swagger that is refreshing to hear after mind-numbing Top 40’s pop for so long. The album takes a good look back without stepping away from good old 2012 or 2013. Amanda and I will be reviewing the album tomorrow – so do yourself a favor, grab a copy and have a good listen so we can compare notes. Luckily for all of us, Michael has autographed copies of the CD available:
http://michaeldesbarres.bandcamp.com/album/carnaby-street-encore-edition-bonus-track

The album is also available via iTunes, Amazon and CDbaby, so do yourself a favor and grab a copy so we can compare notes!

Michael has a couple live dates coming up in the very near future: The Bowery Electric in New York City on March 7th https://www.facebook.com/events/571991999480643/?fref=ts and at SXSW on March 13th https://www.facebook.com/events/479407348773840/?fref=ts with more dates around the country in the works!

We appreciate Kitty and Michael for allowing Daily Duranie the opportunity to work with them on this project – a heartfelt thanks to both of you!!

-R

All quotes from Michael Des Barres taken from a phone interview in 2012, conducted and transcribed by Kitty Ambsry. 

Registration is coming, Registration is coming!

This is going to be a crazy day, I can just tell. I didn’t sleep well last night, with thoughts of to-do lists encircling my head. I have trouble with the shut-off switch in my brain sometimes, and sure enough, at 2am, I was awake feeling as though I should probably just start my brain right then. Eventually, at 4:30 I fell back to sleep, only to wake with a start way after 7, which is entirely too late!  *sigh*  So here I am, typing as fast as my fingers take me to catch up.

The good news is that my energy and excitement comes from other fans, who grabbed onto the news of the convention with gusto.  The committee and myself are astounded by how well the information has been received and how excited people really are already!! Our Facebook page and message boards have been peppered with messages from fellow fans telling us that they are making plans, reaching out to find roommates for the weekend, and they can’t wait to register! This is very exciting! I think we are going to have a very, very full house that weekend and we will definitely sell out – I sure hope the city of Chicago knows what they might be in for!

The convention committee is also very excited. As I said yesterday on Twitter, I know that the  really “cool” thing to do is act aloof and under control. Maybe even a little secretive about the goings on in the committee. Well folks, that is not me. I am a fan, and so is everyone else on the planning committee. This is not a company, (although I swear it’s starting to feel more and more that way)  the only thing we’re really professional about is the band (HA!), and we are truly learning what to do every single step of the way. We have hiccups, sometimes on a daily basis, and we sit down for hours with friends to try to figure it all out. The reason why this convention is going to succeed is because there are several of us who are just that committed to making it happen. And it will, and it’s going to be outstanding.  Those of you who really know me, know that I will do anything and everything to make that happen, including staying up until 2 and 3 am to work on a website (Something I have never done before until now.)

I just want our readers and potential convention guests to realize that we are real people here, this isn’t a company trying to make a fast buck – we will honestly be lucky to break even for this convention – and THAT is our goal. No profit. We aren’t doing this to make a single dime, and the cost of the convention will simply pay for everything we are offering. I don’t think anyone can have a firm grasp of the expense of banquets and activities until they’ve talked to as many hotels and seen as many contracts as we have lately – and trust me when I say, we are so, so thrilled to be able to offer such a great convention for such a great value. There was a while when the convention team were collectively banging their heads on their keyboards wondering if we’d ever find a place that we could afford.  Thankfully, Hotel Amalfi and Harry Caray’s came through for us! It appears that other Duranies are just as enthused, which makes me so proud of our steadfast perseverance.  It worked.

As I mentioned, we did have a few challenges last night, but as of this moment it looks like we are still on track to start registration tomorrow. (I believe it is set for 9am CENTRAL time)  With the amount of excitement we’re seeing and feeling – registration is going to go very well.  Lots of your fellow people will be in Chicago for that fateful weekend in October.  All that is left to answer is if YOU will be among them. We certainly hope so.

Rest assured, Duranies – we are going to have a fantastic time at this convention.  We want all of you to have the time of your life. We are going to be right there along side of you, and there will be much laughter, debauchery, music, and memories.

-R

A little Durandemonium, anyone??

Big day on the blog.  As some of you might have already seen, we have finally signed contracts for the convention and we have some fantastic plans ahead!

Today, in fact right after I’m finished publishing this blog – our brand spanking new website for the convention will go live.  I won’t lie – it’s not finished.  I tried, but at 2:30 this morning sleep finally took over.  I will still be working on it throughout the day as we finalize the last few things we need in order to give you accurate (and absolutely final) pricing on the convention.  I don’t think anyone wants to be charged any more than necessary to come to this shindig – so please bare with us just a bit longer on that front. Trust me, it will be worth it.

However, we do have a ton of information to share – and still more that is in the works in varying stages!   I will do a basic run-down here, and then leave you all to your devices to go to the website.  What I do want to share with you a bit though is our vision.  There are a number of people who have put their hearts and souls into this project, and we could not have possibly gotten to this point without their incredible help.  Amanda, Julie, Lori, Kevin, Laura, Melissa and Kimberley have done everything short of going right into the cities we looked at to find the perfect “home” for this convention, and I really can’t thank them enough. Going into this project, we wanted to do something different.  While the band is truly a huge part of our lives and it is what brought us all together – it is each of us that make this fandom unique, yet Amanda and I have seen what the competitive nature does to people.  It makes this fan community one of the harshest places to try and survive at times.  So from the onset of Daily Duranie – even then – we wanted to try and bring fans together.  We want to make this about one another, less about being the “ONE” to get closest to the band.  So planning this convention is about creating an atmosphere, creating a vehicle – so to speak – that allows us to make connections with one another.  Hopefully at least some of those connections turn into lifelong friendships.

With that in mind, I am very proud to announce our 2013 convention!

Durandemonium 2013: The Music Between Us

Date: October 18-20, 2013

City: Chicago, Illinois

Hotel: The Amalfi Hotel

This year, we are working with The Amalfi. You all will adore this place. Not only is it super sleek and has a fantastic elegant vibe about the place, they have a Managers Reception each night for hotel guests.  This isn’t any ordinary reception though.  It’s a premium open bar from 5:30-7 each night along with hors d’oeuvres. Their signature drink is the Amalifi-tini, a sort of citrus-based martini. I look forward to having one with you. Probably EACH of you by then!  In addition, every morning this hotel offers a continental-style breakfast to it’s guests.  Once again, this isn’t just an ordinary “hard as rock” croissant and a cup of coffee that could have been more aptly named “tar”, this is breakfast located on each floor of the hotel!  Talk about service!

On Saturday night, we are having a banquet/party/dance right across the street at Harry Caray’s in a private room upstairs!  I am especially thrilled about this opportunity because Harry Caray’s is a great Italian steakhouse, and so the food will be fabulous – not like the lukewarm hotel buffets that cost an incredible fortune but have very little flavor.

I could go on and on, but really – what I need to be doing is working to finish the convention details!!

If all goes well and my offerings of sacrifice have pleased the gods – we will open registration on FRIDAY. Yes, this Friday, March 1st. If that changes, we will let you know IMMEDIATELY. We are working with EventBrite, and there will be links posted here on the blog, on the convention website, the Daily Duranie Facebook page and Twitter, the Durandemonium 2013 Facebook page, and the Durandemonium Twitter.

As you can see, there are a lot of pieces to this engine that all have to run together well in order to work. Timing is key, and I’ll be honest – timing has been an issue for me this week, as in I have none. Like all of you, I am mere mortal and I’m just a fan trying to make this work.  Please have patience as we get this going, and please feel free to ask questions if needed.  We are here to help you have a great time.

Listed below is the link to our website.  We are also devising a Facebook page and a Twitter account for the convention, and once those are ready to go I will gladly share them with all of you as well.  No matter what, you can always count on accurate information on the website, the Daily Duranie Facebook page, and of course @dailyduranie on Twitter!

Durandemonium 2013 website:  http://durandemonium2013.webs.com

Convention email: durandemonium2013@gmail.com

-R

We’ll all be famous for just 15 minutes…my love/hate relationship with rumor.

I have a love/hate relationship with rumor. Maybe I should write that as hate/love. I really detest hearing rumors because they tend to be time wasters. More often than not, they are completely ridiculous and I have to wonder what happened to creativity. I mean, if you’re going to spout rubbish, let’s be a little unique, shall we? On the other hand, I love to sit back and wonder how each little piece of created news began. I also like to be the one cracking the rumors (don’t we all?), but more often than not I’m usually left wondering if it’s true only to be told otherwise. I can’t get over my natural curiosity for such things though. Where most want the rumor to be proven (whether true or false), I’m sitting there wondering who really started such a thing…how it happened…and why. What did that person think they were going get out of starting such a thing. Did they just figure if they flung enough mud, something would stick? Yes, I really spend time thinking about that as everyone else is in a panic.  Then I start in thinking about the panic and how quickly it spreads like wildfire. I know, I’m “unique”. (That’s a nice word for crazy in this case. I know.)

My personal opinion of rumors in this community is that we get bored with not hearing any news and so we decide to make up our own. I kind of think in some respects this is narcissistic behavior raising it’s ugly head. People like being the center of attention and you know, if a well-placed news tidbit gets us noticed, what harm could it do??…and besides, it could be true. What seems like something so innocent – like simply giving our opinion on something – could easily wind out of control. Once upon a time (back during the writing and recording of the RCM album – which I personally felt went on about 18 months too long.), I remember some crazy rumor flying through the community about the band working with Kanye West. I suppose that it was very possible that phone calls had been exchanged between Kanye’s people and Duran’s. I don’t know – that’s why I get paid the big bucks. (Oh wait….)  Anyway, I was pretty frustrated at the time and mentioned on our message board that I bet I could start rumors about the band working with Britney Spears and that it would fly.  Not long after that I did a search (Yes, I had free time back then.) on Duran Duran working with Britney Spears. Lo and behold – news items popped up citing “rumors read on fan message boards”. Honestly people. If you’re going to use MY completely fabricated, totally false rumor, at least credit me as the source. Dammit. See how quickly things start?

Not too long ago, there was a rumor circulating – and maybe it is still out there – that John is leaving the band. I felt pretty sure that wasn’t happening. The rumor made no sense, and aside from his continued (and very much noted) absence from Twitter, as far as I can tell, that rumor was a complete waste of time. However, every now and then, I still see people chatting about the possibility. Their theory? Well, he’s not on Twitter, now is he? I often wonder if people have ever heard of taking a break. Maybe he needed time to get his own personal priorities back in line? Maybe he just saw Twitter as a time waster and he needed to move on. Perhaps something spurred him into realizing that he needed to be present in his own private life. Sometimes things happen that we aren’t necessarily privy, which I recognize is a very tough concept for fans. He has this entire other life of which you and I are not a part. I also know I’m not too worried. I figure he’ll either come back when he’s ready, or he won’t and I’ll still wave to him at the next show. Either way, I think he’s still in the band and I think that while the rumor annoyed the hell out of many of us, we need to just relax a little.

That brings me to just this past week, when I started noticing discussion on Twitter that caught my eye, but I didn’t get involved until I started getting personal messages. I hesitate to bring it up, but I think it’s worth noting if only for the sheer magnitude of seeing what gets the community riled up. The discussion has been something about hearing that Warren was back with the band again, and people wondered what would happen to Dom. Oh boy…here we go, right? First of all, I have no knowledge of any of it, whether it’s true or not. However, let’s just look at some facts, just for fun. TV Mania is coming out with their album on March 11th, correct? Warren at least appears to be helping out with the promotion of that album’s release, and seems to also be helping out with the @TVManiaMusic Twitter. Maybe…because we still can’t really tell for sure who the creative genius is behind all of that. The 20th anniversary for the Wedding Album (Duran Duran) took place on February 23rd.  Warren offered a beautifully written piece on his thoughts of that special anniversary, as did the rest of the band. Then Katy (who I honestly don’t think realized what was going on in the fan community with regard to this rumor) mentioned how fun it was to work on that piece with everyone. Then finally, someone let me know that Warren was hanging out in DD’s Second Life.  Somehow all of those things, as disjointed as they seem to me – have made some people in the community believe that Warren is back in Duran Duran, and they just haven’t told Dom yet. Or the fans.  Can you just envision my eyes rolling right now???

I know I’m not commenting unless this really becomes news, and this my friends…is not news, it’s wild guessing and assumption at this point. It’s only worth mentioning because it is another example of just how quickly rumors spread and grow out of almost nothing. Stop the insanity!

We must really and truly be bored…which is why I will close this with a bit of news:  Mark your calendars and plan to be in Chicago, October 18-20 for a DD fan convention!!  More details to come this week!!

-R

A View To an Oscar-sized Snubbing

If you were on Twitter last night, you are probably well-aware that many fellow Duranies were also online, doing our own running commentary of the Oscars. While I had much to comment on last night, today’s blog is about one thing: I want to know who Duran Duran angered, whether recently or long ago, so much so that A View To a Kill was completely and totally snubbed during the Bond Tribute last night.

To be fair, other theme songs were completely ignored as well. I only heard the opening chords to Live and Let Die (it was a ten-second glimmer of hope I had that faded very quickly!), and aside from the familiar melody that pervades nearly every Bond theme song – there wasn’t much to support Halle Berry’s comments prior to the tribute that they were celebrating the music that fifty years of Bond has brought to the world. However, the one fact that continues to sting, even this morning as I collected my thoughts for the blog – is that A View To a Kill continues to be the only Bond song that has ever made it to Number One on the Billboard Hot 100. Take that, Adele (although I still love your music!). A feat that at least this fan feels (along with countless others, including one Katy Krassner that made their feelings known last night) should have been recognized. Would it have really hurt SO badly to admit that Duran Duran contributed the one thing that no one else has been able to accomplish? I think not.

Let me drive the point home just a little more: AVTAK was released in May of 1985. It hit the number one spot in the US, Canada, Sweden and Italy. It was number two in the UK, Ireland and Norway. Duran Duran was nominated (along with John Barry) for a Golden Globe in 1986. I attempted to find sales figures but those are pretty sketchy (there are several ballpark figures out there and there doesn’t seem to be rhyme or reason as to how they were reached, so I didn’t dare include them here). Apparently A View to a Kill went at least gold in Canada, selling 50,000 copies. It sold over 250,000 in the UK. Seems to me the song was liked by a few people out there.

However, even with all of that in mind (prepare yourselves, Duranies) – AVTAK still is not in the top five best selling Bond soundtracks of all time. Skyfall by Adele, has sold 1.5 million digital copies to date – nearly as many as all other Bond theme songs combined. Even so, this is 2013. Copies are downloaded these days, so it does make sense to me that Skyfall has been downloaded that often. I think that had the same opportunities been present back in 1985 – we’d have some comparisons to make.

I sat in deep disappointment along with a touch of anger last night while I watched the Oscars. Don’t tell me that you’re celebrating Bond’s music when you ignore nearly all of the Bond themes to date. The one bright spot during that part of the show occurred when Shirley Bassey took the stage to sing Goldfinger -brilliantly I might add, but as I noted last night – many, many viewers (and not all Duranies by any means of the word – I had retweets from DJ’s, music historians and even other celebrities) commented that Duran Duran should have been there (or telecast from Zurich!) to show the world what it really means to write and perform a number one Bond theme that has more than survived the test of time.  

Shame on the Academy for not giving history its due.

-R

An outspoken examination and celebration of fandom!