Better/Bigger Fans?

Rhonda and I have begun posting questions over on the Daily Duranie Facebook page (come friend us if you haven’t yet!) as a means of getting to know people, starting discussion and adding information for our book.  This morning I posed a question about whether or not people are willing to travel for Duran shows after thinking and blogging about why tours matter to so many of us.  Many people answered that question.  Some people said that they have and included where they have gone and when.  Others said that they are willing but unable to go for financial, family, or work reasons.  One person got me thinking about something that I do from time to time, especially during touring season.  (Like that…it has it’s own season like the baseball season in my world!  😀 ).  Does traveling to shows make you a bigger/better fan?  What about those people who VIP?  Is that better than not?  Then, of course, I wonder who is judging.  Are we the fans judging each other?  Is the band?  Is the band’s employees like the people who work at DDM judging?  Is there a chance that someone could be TOO big of a fan?  Are there other means of showing how big of a fan you are?  Are all of those ways costly?  So many questions…

Does traveling make you a bigger or better fan?  Of course, this automatically asks the question about who is judging and by what standards.  Is this assumption correct?  Here is what I know, objectively speaking. Traveling and going to more shows might give fans a greater knowledge of the band and the fandom as a whole.  It provides the opportunity to meet and get to know more and more people.  You get the chance to see more and more shows performed live.  Then, is the knowledge and the friends that give more status, assuming that this is true?  I don’t know.  Is the assumption correct?  I definitely think that traveling to shows could give people more status both within the fan community and outside of the fan community.  I know that there are fans who get a lot of attention from other fans because they have traveled and seen a bunch of shows.  Obviously, the travelers are believed to be people who know more and who could have greater connections to the band.  Is this always the case?  I’m sure that it is not.  Yet, I’m sure that it does happen as well.  Outside of the fan community, I, personally, have seen people’s reactions to me when it comes to this question.  People are, at first, shocked when I tell them how many shows I have been to and that I have traveled to shows.  The next statement out of their mouths usually is, “You must be a HUGE fan!”  I’m never quite sure how to respond to that, which I guess leads me back to the question at hand.  Is this assumption about traveling done?  Yes, I believe that it is by both other fans and by non-fans.  Is it right?  No way.  Of course, there might be other ways that fans can be seen as “big” or “better” fans as well.

I believe that fans get placed in this bigger/better category all the time for a variety of reasons.  Maybe they do because of traveling.  Perhaps, it is because they always VIP.  Some fans might seem bigger/better because they have a large collection of something or because they can name every b-side.  Obviously, most of those means are ones that cost money.  Is that a problem?  Do you need a lot of money in order to be considered a big fan?  Of course, I also wonder if you could be TOO big of a fan.  Is traveling some cool but going to all shows too much?  Is going VIP once or twice per tour good but doing it every time appear greedy?  Could you have too many t-shirts or spend too much time online talking to other fans?  Could you have met them too many times?  Is there really a delicate balance between being a big fan and being too much of one?  Again, the same questions apply.  Who is judging?  What are the standards and is it a good thing?

Maybe I’m the only one who thinks like this.  Maybe everyone else in Duranland believes that all fans are considered equal.  I don’t know. If people agree that it does exist, should be changed or is there some value to this?  If not, is there someway to improve this, if it exists?  How?  So many questions…so little answers.

-A

Why Do Tours Matter?

Tours matter.  I’m sure you are thinking that I have lost my mind a bit with that opening sentence.  Doesn’t everyone know that tours matter?  After all, it is a means of any musical artist to advertise their music (albums) as well to earn money to make new music.  I’m sure it also provides feedback to them as well.  They learn which songs really touch their fans and which ones aren’t as popular.  I’m sure that they are energized by the love and support that is shown to them, assuming they receive a decent and excited crowd.  But, why do tours matter to FANS?  Typically, for Duran Duran fans, we don’t need to be sold on their music.  Many (most?) of us have heard all of Duran Duran’s officially released material and many own copies or multiple copies of all of it.  Some fans have even heard music that hasn’t been released.  While many of us are happy to help the cause in terms of making money to be able to make more music, I doubt that is why tours matter to us. 

I started thinking about this during my long afternoon at work.  Today seemed relatively calm compared to yesterday when I received many messages and phone calls regarding Simon’s statement on the radio about the band doing 14 shows in the UK during the month of May.  Yesterday, I did not get nearly enough work done so I should have been using today’s calmness (the calm before the storm???) to catch up on work.  Instead, I pondered why so many of us are anxious to see the tour dates that are supposedly being announced on dd.com next week.  Why do we get all excited for this announcement?  Why were so many of us refreshing dd.com’s website earlier in the week to see the instant that Duran’s participation in the Coachella Festival was announced?  I suppose the fast answer to the question is that it depends on the fan.

Some fans might be solely focused on the musical element of a tour.  Perhaps, some fans haven’t seen them play live before and are hoping that this is their chance.  Again, the question could be asked of why seeing them perform live is a big deal if people have heard and own the music.  The answer here could be as simple as the fact that music performed live is pure and could be felt more by one’s soul.  It certainly can sound better than any cd, vinyl record or mp3.  A Duran Duran concert is more than just music but a performance.  Not only do you get to hear them sing and play instruments but you get to witness them interact with each other (yes, I’m thinking about JoSi here!) and with the audience.  The music and songs become personalized through the introductions, through the performance and even through visuals that might be included.  Thus, for some people, touring means seeing a damn good band play live in concert.  Other people might be thinking about other elements of touring as well.

For some fans (including the authors of this blog), touring is much bigger than the shows.  First, for us, it often means that we get to travel.  Sometimes, these travels are within driving distance but it is common for them to require an airplane to get there.  (Please note:  We are very aware of how LUCKY we are to be to be able to do this!)  This provides an escape for the daily grind of work and family.  It is a vacation of sorts as many responsibilities are left at home, including cleaning the house, preparing for meals, etc.  Personally, I know that I appreciate the fact that touring away from home has given me a chance to visit many places that I wouldn’t have before.  I appreciate being able to see other places and while I can definitely do that without shows, going on tour pushes me to go right then!  Second, and perhaps, most importantly, touring gives us a chance to get together and be with other Duranies.  Rhonda and I don’t live close and while we have visited each other in between tours, somehow it is always better with Duran shows involved.  Beyond getting to spend time with each other, we get to see other Duranie friends we have made and make new ones.  There is truly something special when Duranies are able to get together and share our excitement over the band together.  It enhances our fandom, I believe.  It makes our love for the band stronger and certainly makes it way more FUN! 

Beyond the reasons listed above, I’m sure that, for some fans, it is also an opportunity to get close to the band.  Perhaps, some people look forward to shows because it gives them a chance to win a meet and greet where they will be able to tell the band members about how much they have meant to them.  They, then, might be able to get a picture or autograph.  Maybe fans are looking to see the band outside of the venue or at their hotel for the same purpose.  Perhaps, it the chance to fulfill a dream of meeting the band.  For some people, they might hope for more than an autograph or picture.  They might desire a conversation or more as their dream might be more than brief contact.

It is definitely possible to be excited for the tour for a combination of those reasons.  For me, it is the ultimate part of being a Duranie.  While it is wonderful to hear new music and I always appreciate the work that goes into making new songs, there is nothing like a tour.  It is the chance to sing along with my favorite band as they sing my favorite songs surrounded by friends who understand my love for the band in places far away from home.  It gives me a vacation with the most fun possible!  Why do tours matter to you?

-A

The Top 10 Reasons Why I Won’t Be At Coachella this year (and conversely, the top 10 reasons why every Duranie SHOULD be there!!)

This has been a heavy week on the blog, so I decided to lighten things up a bit for today.  It’s good to laugh sometimes, right? I’ve had a few Duranies ask if I’m going to Coachella, and after I finish laughing and catch my breath, I calmly tell them no.  They always ask why….and so I’ve compiled a list for your reading pleasure.  However, I also am a firm believer that this is a fantastic opportunity for the band (again, see how my glass is half empty, but there’s still vodka left in there – and even an olive or two – which in my mind is very positive!), so in a style not completely unlike Mr. Nick Rhodes – I will give my reasons a good spin!

*********************disclaimer alert**************************
Before beginning, this is a reminder that the list is made in jest!  It’s meant to be fun, it’s really not meant to talk anyone out of going (except maybe to remind me, the author, of what would be waiting for me if I should get tempted.  *wink, wink*)…it’s all in fun, which we so desperately need from time to time.  Go ahead and chuckle, no one will take your Duranie card away, I promise!
****************************************************
My List:
10.  IT’S A FESTIVAL!!  This means shortened set lists.  I’m a big believer in a full set list, especially when we’re talking about Duran Duran.

9.  THE LINE-UP!!  I’m not going to lie here.  There are a ton of bands in this lineup that I don’t know, and quite honestly – don’t care a thing about.  Yeah, tell me all about how I should broaden my horizons, and I’d agree – but I’d sooner start doing it in the comfort of my own home.

8. PORT-A-POTTIES!!  I don’t think you’ve really lived until you’ve had to wait over an hour to be able to utilize a port-a-potty, and yes – they really are everything (and more) that you’ve worked them up to be in your mind.  The trouble here is that I’ve already been there, done that….AND I’ve waited up to 9 hours before finding a facility just so that I didn’t lose my place in the crowd of hell waiting for the band to play. (see #3 below….)

7. LACK OF FOOD!!  Seriously, do you think you’re going to leave the crowd waiting for the band to perform in order to grab some grub??  Think again….unless you do what I did for Inland Invasion back in 2003 and sit in the very back, which is not a very Duranie place to be when the band is onstage!

6. THE SUN!!!  This festival is out just past Palm Springs, people.  It’s nothing for temps to be over 90 degrees (F) during that time of year, and it happens regularly.  If you don’t think you’re going to be dying for shade for at least part of the day, I’ve got real news for you.  Yeah, you may have been lucky one year, or for even a FEW years….eventually luck runs out and then what?  SPF 50 won’t save your soul here…

5. TOUR TIME IS COMING!!  This is where I’m placing my bets this year.  I’ve heard all sorts of things about how the band can’t/won’t play an LA date due to this Coachella festival.  I have no idea if any of it is true, but MY cards are on the UK this year.  Anything else for me is a bonus…especially if it’s not a festival!

4. TWO WORDS: MOSH PIT!!  I went to Voodoo in New Orleans when Duran Duran played there.  My cohorts and I thought we were so smart.  We didn’t pay for those silly old VIP tickets, we just got there early, spread out a nice blankie to hang out on and wait the day out in.  All was good until the band before My Chemical Romance came on.  Then suddenly we were inundated with people….and even better, when My Chemical Romance *did* come on, the pushing, shoving and crowd surfing started.  All of my GA stance skills were put to the test that day, and I’m sorry to say they sorely failed me.  I was kicked, punched, shoved and scratched.  All in the name of a mosh pit and crowd surfing.  Hey, I’m alive to tell all about it though, there is that.  🙂

Here’s some photographic evidence of the joy that was the beginning of our day (I’m not actually in this photo -which means I’m likely to upset a few people by posting this…including my writing partner, Amanda…that’s OK.  I’ll take the risk):

3. THE CROWD!!!  For somethings, only pictures will suffice.  This was shortly before My Chemical Romance started if I remember correctly:

2. SWEAT!!!  Call me a purist, but I just don’t think that the sweat from someone else’s armpit should EVER be smooshed across another persons face unless he or she specifically requested said smooshing.  (smooshed and smooshing are in fact words, mainly because I said so, thank you.)  Yet another joy of festivals that I have lived through and am now able to joyfully share with my reading audience.  Oh, and in case there’s some question here – no, I did not request the smooshing, and no, I did not know the person who did it.  However,  I did introduce myself to them afterwards, just because I felt that if we were going to start sharing bodily fluids freely – it was high time to do so.  😀

1. ANOTHER TWO WORDS: HAMSTER BALL!!!  Until the day arrives that Simon puts himself into a hamster ball like the one I have pictured here and starts walking over the audience – I’m not bothering with another festival.  When he gets the ball going, let me know – I want to be there to take pictures of that nonsense!

And now, in true Nick Rhodes fashion – I will turn all of my “my glass of vodka is half empty” into reasons why Coachella is *the* place to be for the band!!  (If you’re wondering why I keep referring to Nick – it’s because he is truly the King of PR Spin for this band.  Need evidence?  Watch every video and interview leading up to the release of Red Carpet Massacre.)  I aspire to spin as well as Nick.  If the band doesn’t work out, I’m thinking PR would be a good back up plan….

I digress….

Top 10 Reasons why every Duran fan SHOULD be at Coachella!!

10.  ITS A FESTIVAL!!  It’s a really big concert over three days.  If that’s not a party….what really is?!?

9. THERE ARE A LOT OF BANDS THERE TO DISCOVER!!!  While we all know Duran Duran is *the* band on the bill, there are a lot of other bands to listen to, learn about and listen to when they’re in the studio for 5 years working on the next album!

8. PORT-A-POTTIES!!!  Who needs bathrooms – you need something quick, and there will be tons of those port-a-potties available.  Grab yourself a Depend and be on your way, man!   Besides that, who needs to take time out for that sort of thing and lose your place in the masses??  Start limiting that fluid intake now…..

7. FOOD?  WHO NEEDS FOOD??!!  As Amanda and I well know, food isn’t necessary.  It’s all about the music!!

6. IT’S A DRY HEAT!!!  No really, it is.  You won’t even notice that it’s 90 degrees outside when you’re amongst 80,000 of your new best friends anyway.

5. THE TOUR IS COMING – IT’S THE BEGINNING OF SUMMER FOR THE BAND!!  Nothing marks the beginning of summer like a festival, and this one marks the beginning of the tour!  What a great way to “warm up” for fans than to play in front of a huge, welcoming crowd at Coachella, that way they’ll be ready to go when they start playing regular concert dates!

4. TWO WORDS: MOSH PIT!!!  How many of you have actually seen a mosh pit at Duran Duran show?  Here’s your chance!!  😀

3. CROWD!!  There’s nothing that will energize the band more than looking out and seeing 80,000 people screaming for them.  What a great place to share that energy!  The band needs that after being in the studio for so long!

2. SWEAT!!  What is sexier than sharing sweat amongst new friends – and what could possibly be more entertaining for the band than looking out and seeing that sort of craziness going on?  It’s like a massive sweat orgy…

*trying to cast aside THAT visual….*

1. THE POSSIBILITY OF SEEING SIMON IN A HAMSTER BALL!!!

Ok really.  Who doesn’t want to see that?  I don’t believe you.   😉

See, all in fun!?!  If you didn’t at least crack a smile don’t blame me.  Go get yourself a sense of humor.  Have a good weekend everyone – I hear tour dates are imminent so next week is liable to be a barrage of “What?!?  Why are they playing __________ and not ____________”  (there might even be cursing involved….)

-R

Patience is a Virtue and other lessons of the day….

Last night, I was watching V with my family, and since it started to completely gross me out and disgust me (stay with me….), I grabbed my laptop and figured I could get some work done.  Ha.  I should have known better, really.  I hopped onto twitter only to find Mr. John Taylor spouting some sort of nonsense about sticking around for the “Official” Coachella announcement (because that clearly wasn’t obvious enough for me to understand that while John had also told us all – liar liar pants on fire – it was very “unlikely” for them to play Coachella, they really WERE playing!)  I’ve got your number now, mister….  It really was *unlikely* for them to ever play Coachella, but it was also really *unlikely* that they’d ever reunite with Andy again…and they did.  *sigh*   I really need to learn how to translate Duranspeak better than I currently do.  🙂  It wasn’t long after I tweeted back that yeah, he also had to stick around so that I and 3000 other buddies of his could give him a rough time playing Coachella after telling us that it was unlikely that he said Night Tweeties.  (oh John, you’re a funny one, aren’t ya?)  I won’t go into the number of times I refreshed dd.com until it was FINALLY announced that yes, Duran Duran is playing Coachella on April 17th…nor will I go into the myriad of reasons why I am not going.  No really, I’m not going.  Festivals and I are not friends.  Regardless, I do think it’s a fantastic opportunity for them, and while I do have some serious reservations – I will keep those to myself until after the rest of the tour is announced.  John says those dates are coming next week….we will see.

While bantering to John, I my mind wandered to a written “conversation” I’d had earlier in the day with Amanda.  I’m currently working on a chapter for the book about Facebook and Twitter, and I’m brainstorming the topics that I would like to cover.  I have quite a list going, but one thing we wrote back and forth about was that because of the fact there are so many of us who have been fans since our early teens or even earlier, many of us feel as though we know them.  I would argue that yes, we do know them – we know exactly what they wish for us to know about them.  The trouble is, and I think this is a common side-effect for any long term fan, we tend to feel as though there’s a relationship between the band and ourselves, and of course – as we know once we stop long enough to think about it – it’s truly just one sided.  As I’ve mentioned before, the band doesn’t have the foggiest idea who I am.  (probably a good thing)  I will say that I’ve been to a few shows in my day, and I’ve had the opportunity to be near the front enough to gain their attention. (I’ve been taught how to clap properly to Red Carpet Massacre by John, I’ve also sang with him a time or two…I’ve had Roger attempt to throw a stick to me, and I’ve laughed right along with Dom).  That said, they don’t really know me.  I can’t imagine any of them would recognize me, and I know they don’t know my name.  I might think that I know them, but the truth is – if they saw me on the street they’d walk right past me – and rightfully so.  What really adds to the confusion of where the line between fan and friend really lies is the premise of social networking.  Sites such as Facebook and Twitter initially began as ways to maintain friendship.  You add “friends” to your facebook account, and you follow people on twitter.  At one point, celebrities didn’t really utilize either facebook OR twitter – it was about friends.  So now, we’ve got Duran Duran on facebook; John and Roger are on facebook, as is Dom….and we’ve got Dom, John & Simon on Twitter.  Even I have a hard time remembering that these guys don’t KNOW me.  I’m bantering AT them as though I’m giving a friend a hard time. (as opposed to WITH them, because, let me be honest here – they’ve never retweeted something I’ve said or even acknowledged me at all)  I would never openly tell the guys they should stop coming to facebook or twitter, absolutely not – but I do need to remind myself from time to time that I’m just a fan.  I’m one of…well…a LOT of people out there.  I suppose this topic does tie in a bit with the validation topic from yesterday, but it’s an interesting facet of what social networking sites have done to change or evolve the definitions of celebrity and fan.

Which brings me to patience, of which I have very, very little.  Not sure if any of you caught that yet. Twitter is great in that we get almost instant gratification since it takes place in “real time” – but that 140 character limit thing can be a problem.  Then there’s facebook, which is much more an “at your leisure” sort of thing.  Messages can sit in my inbox for as long as I wish, I can reply at length, and the pace is less frantic.  In the past week, Amanda and I have expanded our horizons to include a new facebook page for Daily Duranie, and quite honestly I’m amazed at the differences in the fans so far.  There are people we’ve befriended that are active both on facebook and twitter, and then there are people who seem to stay mainly on twitter and mainly on facebook. What’s really fascinating to the two of us, being the social science observers we are – is that the types of fans we find in either place truly differ quite a bit!  It is a bit early for to draw conclusions on what I’ve seen so far, but it’s fascinating that the mechanics behind each of the social networking sites attract different types of fans altogether. I suppose it makes sense, but very interesting, nonetheless.  Are you a patient fan, or more like me where you want it all yesterday?  🙂

-R

Validation

As I’ve mentioned in many, many blogs now – I’ve been a fan since 1981.  Probably not unlike many of you out there.  It all began with one song played on a local radio station (KROQ), and I’ve honestly loved them ever since.  It’s not as though Duran Duran have been the only band I’ve ever loved or enjoyed, but for me they’re the one band I will literally move mountains to figure out a way to go and see when they tour.  I just don’t have the time or energy to do that for every other band I like, and I’ve learned that I have to prioritize, as much as I might not like it.  I don’t follow other bands as closely as I do Duran Duran, and rest assured in case you were wondering, no, I don’t blog for any of them either!

I think part of my long term love is that at the time I became aware of who Duran Duran was, I was an adolescent…I was almost 12 at the time, and so I suppose you could say that Duran Duran took me through puberty.  (wow)  It would be fair to say that they were the first real “crushes” I had, and yes, I must use the plural on that because the truth is, I had crushes on each one of them over the years.  Some crushes lasted far longer than others (Roger by a landslide), and some were just fleeting (let’s just say I had a thing for Simon while he was in Arcadia), but at this point I’ve settled into being fond of all of them.  To have been a fan for as long as a lot of us have been at this point, I think it’s fair to say that they’ve been a big part of our lives for a long time – and that’s really something when you consider that most of us have had very little chance to ever really get to know them past their music.  I don’t know any of them on a personal level (and I’m not saying that I should…read on.), but yet I feel like the band is a close friend in some sense.  It’s an odd sort of “relationship”, for lack of a better word.  I’m as thrilled as anyone else when I see any of them take the time to truly talk to the fans.  We’ve come quite a long way since the days of staring into the posters on our walls, getting no real reply beyond the melody of their music, haven’t we?  Or have we?

By any account, 30 years is a long time.  My kids think it’s practically eternity.  I can understand that – when I was a teenager, I thought that 25 was old! (wow was I ever wrong!)  I feel incredibly lucky to still have the time, energy and concern to follow the same band that I did back when I was the same age as my son is now – and what’s really funny is that I look at him and realize that my gosh, when I was his age, I was already completely head over heels for Duran Duran.  They’d already served as the wallpaper for my bedroom! That’s unreal.  My oldest is about to turn 14, and at her age I was just about to suffer the heartbreak of watching Roger and Andy leave the band.  At that point, I don’t think I ever even considered what it meant to feel validated.  I just knew I loved the music, and their job was to make the music, and mine was to buy it along with everything else I could…to show the world I loved them.  At that age, I highly doubt I even gave it much thought, really.  It was a simple system.  I hadn’t ever met the band, I hadn’t ever gone to a show; in fact the closest I’d ever come at that point in time was getting their video album on VHS.  (a glorious moment indeed)  I think that during that time, my validation came from other friends – my friends still loved Duran Duran, and I knew I was a good fan because I had far more posters on my wall, records in my collection, etc. etc. than they did.  😀  Ah, the joys of being young.

So in todays world, what does validation really mean, and what importance does it really have?

For some fans, I think that validation isn’t any more or less than a great album or a fantastic concert.  For others, they want to make their fandom into a career of sorts in order to validate the time and energy they’ve spent.  (who me?!?)   For still others, they want that interaction, that acknowledgement from the band.  They want to know that they haven’t been a fan for X amount of years in VAIN.  They not only believe that the band should take the time to acknowledge their fans, but they also believe that they deserve that interaction.  They’ve waited many years between daydreaming lovingly into Simon’s eyes as they stare at the poster on their walls to actually reading tweets from him on Twitter – and they want their moment.  For the coveted few, they might get answered; but for the majority – it’s you and the poster, baby.

Sometimes I wonder what it all looks like from the bands point of view.  Several years back when I was working for Clear Static, the guys would tell me that Duran Duran’s fans were VERY overwhelming to them.  One of them used to tell me that when the fans would come at him after a show (which we did tend to do),  he would feel as though he couldn’t breathe, and not because he was claustrophobic, but because the feeling of desperation would suck all of the air and energy out of the room.  These statements were very hard for me to take in, purely because I was and am a Duranie, but I understand what they meant.  One of them told me that he pictured the situation like a huge cage fight where a box of jewelry (listen, my thing is jewelry, but this could be anything…food, money, John Taylor….whatever!) was dumped into the center of the cage and the Duranies would be fighting to get to the jewelry before it was all gone.  I took offense to this characterization to begin with, but now…I totally get it.  I can’t really argue it isn’t that way.  When you see the way it is after a show at a bar if the band has been spotted there, or if you watch twitter when John or Simon make an appearance and send out tweets, it’s our reality.

One could argue that fandoms exist at least partially because of the desperate need to feel validated.  Of course, this feeling differs in each individual, and there is a fine line between a fan who would just like a simple wave hello, and a fan that relies on constant validation as a source of self-esteem.  It’s the same fine, yet sometimes blurred line that divides fan from fanatic.

-R

So What’s This All About Anyway?

There are days, and then there are days.  After a night where I believe I got less than 3 solid hours of sleep, NOT BY CHOICE…sometimes you just have to take stock in what you’ve got going on, and be good with it.  This, my friends, is one of those days for me.   I’m sick with some strain of influenza that has decided not to let go of me just yet – courtesy of my youngest.  I’ve been sick for a week now, last week being just a bad sore throat and exhaustion and now today the congestion has hit.  It’s a wonderful day to be a blogger, and a Duranie…and a parent…but that’s another subject for another blog.

I believe we’ve been at this blog now for a bit less than 110 days – I can’t remember the exact figure in this moment.  The plan was simple: write a short article every day about being fans of Duran Duran.  It could be a commentary on the news from the fan perspective (as opposed to being unbiased reporting), it could be about a specific fandom issue, or something else entirely. So far, so good.  People are reading and hopefully enjoying the blog, which was the plan!

What made us decide to do the blog, though?  I don’t think either Amanda nor myself ever had big plans to be bloggers in our everyday lives!  I never gave it any thought prior to this past year, although I do enjoy writing.  Amanda truly shouldn’t even have time for blogging at all – but somehow, she finds the time each week!  I suppose though that the idea behind the blog was a seed that was planted several years back.   I am pretty sure I’ve explained that Amanda and I originally met at a fan convention in 2004, and since then we’ve traveled to shows together, posted on message boards, and basically assaulted the community with our opinions, which we now share here for your reading pleasure.  🙂  During that time, Amanda and I talked about writing a book based on our fan experience.  I think that for me, a lot of that was just in joke form – we’d see something while on “tour”, and say to one another “That has GOT to go in our book!”  Then as time wore on, the idea grew more serious in nature.  It wasn’t so much that she and I felt we had a story that was any more significant than any other fan, it was that we shared a desire to tell a story of our fan community.  In our eyes, the Duran Duran fan community, the fandom as we call it, is very special and unique, and deserves a book!  With that thought in mind, we brainstormed about topics that would be interesting to include.  I believe that to begin with, our idea was never to do a gossipy, syrupy tell-all about either the band or the fan community;  we wanted to write a book that could both be interesting and even amusing to our fan community as well as a book that could be taken seriously in an academic setting.  Much discussion and brainstorming ensued.

Our project eventually solidified itself, and we began writing in earnest.  At this point, I would say at best guess that we are closing in on being 2/3 of the way through with the initial writing.    The best way to describe our book is that it’s an examination of fandom using Duran Duran’s fan community as the case study.  We examine why fandom exists, how it continues to thrive 30 years after the release of Planet Earth, and in answering both of those questions, we also celebrate the overall “friendship” of the community.  We try not to gush too much in the book, although I think it’s very clear through our writing that we both respect and admire the band in our own way.  (they’re not too bad I guess.  :D)

Our overall goal is that this book be written both from an entertaining and academic point of view, which has been no easy feat thus far.  It is important to both of us that we remain true to our collective background in social science, (my dad would be so proud to see that I’m finally using all of the writing skills I gained in college with my American Studies degree :D) not only discussing the characteristics of fandom, but examining the “why” behind each one.  We continue to write away, hoping to finish the book at some point later this year.

This blog, while not really designed to be a true extension of the book, has allowed for several discussions to spur our creative juices, and we’ve found out a bit more about our fandom at times.  The blog has taught me some much needed discipline, tact (ha!), and it gives me plenty of writing practice in finding my own voice, and I’m positive it will continue to do more as the years…yes years…go on.  I hope the band is planning on continuing for a while….  We’ll be sure to keep our readers updated as the process for the book, blog and world domination continues.  (wink, wink)

This past weekend, we continued on with our idea of becoming professional Duranies (hey, who said you couldn’t make a hobby, er…obsession…into a career?!?)  by adding a facebook page to our efforts.  Obviously we’re not busy enough with writing the book, doing a daily blog,  and keeping up with John and Simon showing up on Twitter, now we’re doing a facebook page as well!  In any case, we hope you’ll find us on facebook and befriend us!  http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001986818033

In the meantime, I will leave you with one final thought that I know Amanda and I both plan to write more about in the coming days.  Why is it that we fans feel the band owes us?  Why do we think they owe us interaction on facebook & twitter?  Why do we feel they owe us answers to our never ending questions, both personal and professional?  Why do we act out of such complete desperation whenever the band is within “striking” distance….and why do we continue to do that even though the band has been around now for 30 years?  Other fandoms aren’t quite like this, so why is this one?  I look forward to reading some comments here on and on facebook about this!!  -R

Chats with Band Members

Twitter and facebook have been incredibly crazy places to be lately!  As Rhonda mentioned in a post a few days ago, these sites, particularly twitter, have begun to feel like the old days of message boards where there are a ton of people on, day and night, and that it is VERY challenging to keep up.  In fact, the only way to really do that is to stay signed in at all times.  Why is this?  Well, first, everyone has discovered that everyone else is there.  It is the place to be.  Like the message boards, it is the place to exchange ideas about the band and meet people.  Second, and more interestingly, it is the place where the band members have been interacting with us fans.  It seems that John has been holding a daily chat session with fans where they ask questions and he answers as many as he can.  During those sessions, the fans are not only trying to get their questions answered but also chatting with others about what he said or about the questions asked.  After he leaves, there continues to be some flurry of activity as people react to what they saw/read, publicly, and some behind-the-scenes commenting as well.  A couple of days ago, Rhonda tweeted something about how this was just like being at a bar or club after a show.  Now, I’m not sure how many of our readers have experienced being at a bar or club after a show with a bunch of Duranies and a band member or two but it is quite something and, in many ways, the social interactions are playing out in the same way here in cyberspace as they do in real life.

On the surface level, fans have expressed their joy and excitement over being able to chat with John or Simon.  They get to share this excitement with others who feel the same way.  For some people, this thrill is shared among friends and for others, it is a way of getting to know and becoming friends with other fans.  On this level, everything seems very positive.  No one is being negative about the questions asked (at least not among our followers and the people who follow us) and everyone seems genuinely happy for the people who get their questions answered.  Yet, I worry that this positivity won’t stay or that there is more going on underneath the surface.  For example, are Duranies talking about other Duranies behind the backs, based on their reactions, their questions, or their level of excitement?  I suspect that there are.  Are people paying attention to whose questions are getting answered and whose aren’t?  I bet they are and I bet that some people might be feeling REALLY good about themselves if John has answered multiple questions from them.  They might even be feeling a bit superior because of it.  (Note:  I don’t know this, for sure, but I just saying that it might be a possibility.)  Then, there is the actual interaction between the fans and the band members.

In real life, I find being in the same location as the band and the fans to be fascinating.  At times, I have felt like everyone has been really respectful of each other and the band members.  At other times, I have felt this sort of dog-eat-dog mentality where some fans just push other fans out of the way in order to get more time with the guys.  I have seen people give Nick or Roger or whomever their space and I have seen other times when they did not appear to have much, if any.  Do I know if this bothers them?  Nope.  I don’t.  I am just saying that I have observed a spectrum of behavior.  I am wondering if I am not seeing similar types of behavior taking place online.  Are some fans trying to get as much time as possible with the guys?  Sure.  Am I blaming them?  Not really.  I understand that desire because I have it, too.  Do I think they are trying to push other fans out of their way?  I don’t really know.  It is possible, I guess.  Even if they are, is it malicious?  Maybe, for some, but, I doubt it.  Nonetheless, I am concerned.

I, like every Duran fan who has been witnessing or participating in these little chats via twitter, want them to continue.  I LOVE being able to ask John or Simon questions and have them respond.  I LOVE that they seem to care about what we think and want to interact with us.  That said, I want to keep it positive, for all of us fans and for the band.  I don’t want this to turn into a means of gaining status within the community.  I also want us fans to always be respectful and considerate of each other and of them.  We need to remember to share and to give space.  Then, I think it can remain as fun and as exciting as it has been so far!  If not, I fear that they won’t last.  Some fans will stop logging in and participating and maybe the band will stop as well.  If so, that would hurt all of us. 

-A

The Next Single?

According to BBC Radio 2, Duran Duran plans to release Girl Panic as their second single.  This, of course, caused some discussion within the fan community.  Some of the questions included:  Why is there no official announcement about it?  What happened to All You Need Is Now?  Is this the right choice for a single–in terms of radio play, increased sales, capturing the feel of the album as a whole.  I, too, have all of those thoughts.  I first wonder what a single in 2011 really means.

When I was a kid, a new single was a very big deal.  When a single was released, this meant that we would now hear the song on the radio, see the video on MTV and buy the single either as a record or as a cassette tape.  It would also mean getting another song known as the B-Side.  For Duran fans, the B-Side was always VERY exciting as many of their B-Sides are fabulous tracks and some of my favorites.  What does it mean today, though?  Clearly, it is not the same.  There will be no record or cassette tape.  Will a video be made for it?  According to some interview, videos will be made for all of the tracks no matter their single status.  Luckily, the band is making some extra tracks that they are referring to as “b-sides”.  This leaves radio airplay.  Will this song get radio play?  Obviously, many Duranies were wondering the same thing.  Here in the States, I don’t think that it will.  Now, I openly admit that I don’t listen to the radio.  I haven’t since I moved away from Chicago as a kid.  Radio, at one point in my life, really opened my eyes to new artists and some great tracks but I don’t think that it does that much anymore.  My understanding is that radio has become even more rigid in terms of their playlists.  I know that Duran didn’t get much play with any of their albums where I have been since the Wedding Album.  Is this because they didn’t choose right for the singles?  In some cases, I might have thought they choice the wrong track but even when they made “good” choices, they still didn’t get play.  Radio doesn’t work as it used to and clearly, most stations around me aren’t open to a band like Duran Duran even if the music is solid.

Did Duran Duran make the right choice for this second single?  I think so.  First of all, I love the track.  I think it really captures everything I think of when it comes to Duran Duran.  It is upbeat and catchy.  The song has strong instrumentation, fun lyrics and discusses girls.  Very Duran Duran.  Some fans are disagreeing, though.  They either don’t like the track or would prefer a song like The Man Who Stole a Leopard because they feel like it is either a better track or would be so new, so different that it would get people’s attention.  I agree that the song is unique and unlike what is on the radio but I don’t think that a lot of people would take the time to really appreciate it.  As for capturing the overall feel of the album, I think it shows the spirit of the band.  This song, like the album, shows strong songwriting and their classic desire to combine different musical genres.  Of course, even with the right choice, it may not help sell more records or provide them with more chart success.  Nonetheless, I like that it helps us, the fans, engaged and it could help them, commercially.

I was thinking the other day, when I was discussing this with my writing partner, that moves like this have helped their success in the past.  Did releasing Wild Boys as a single without a new album help?  Yes.  What about releasing Hungry Like the Wolf multiple times?  Yes.  Could this song help?  It could.  I know that it can’t hurt.  I know that I would like to see lots of action in the Duran camp in order to help me pass my time before the physical album comes out and before touring happens.  Is it too soon after releasing AYNIN, as a single?  I don’t know.  Maybe.  Maybe, the plan is to release as many songs as possible for singles.  Maybe this won’t come out as a single for another month.  Who knows?  Will there be an official announcement?  I don’t know.  I would assume so.  Until then, we are left with lots of speculation as usual.

-A

Political Opinions

Twitter has been the center of a great deal of activity in the Duran Duran fandom lately and has been since both John and Simon have decided to grace us mere fans with their presence over there.  In most cases, the topics discussed or brought up are usually light-hearted.  Just tonight, for example, John was over on twitter answering questions from fans.  Some of these questions regarded what tv shows he likes, what book he is reading, his opinion on giving fans hugs, etc.  Yet, in the last week, we have all seen more serious discussions take place as well.

It all started last week, when John decided to retweet a statement from Jane Fonda regarding last weekend’s terrible shooting in Arizona.  While John didn’t add to the retweet, his opinion on a certain politician was clear by his choice in sharing this statement with his thousands of followers.  Well, that did not go over very well among some people from what I saw.  These people claimed that John shouldn’t have done that and that he should stay out of politics.  John attempted to have a discussion and the people who disagreed did give him reasons that he should keep his mouth closed when it comes to issues like this.  Then, John disappeared off of twitter for a couple of days until he returned with a related question regarding gun control.  This time, instead of retweeting a strong opinion, he asked for people’s opinions about this issue.  This time, at least, publicly, there seemed to be less people all upset.  Did his approach make all the difference?  I don’t know.  To me, it doesn’t matter.  He should have the right to say what he thinks about politics or whatever, really.

John Taylor, like any person, should have the right to voice his opinions.  While I can understand people’s desire to keep things like politics and music separate and I think that, too, sometimes, they have to understand that there is John, the bass player for Duran Duran, and John, the person.  He didn’t come out and say that “Duran Duran believes so and so is guilty of blah.”  He didn’t say that.  He gave HIS personal opinion.  Now, of course, there are many people who might disagree with his thoughts on the matter.  That’s everyone’s right, too.  They could have told him that, respectfully.  It seems to me based on his discussion on gun control that he is perfectly willing and even interested in having those types of discussions.  Yet, instead I heard about insults directed at John or written about him.  Horribly offensive insults.  Is that anyway to be respectful of someone you supposedly like and respect?  I don’t think so.

Now, some people might just think that this is easy for me to say since I completely agree with him on both his original retweet and on his opinion on gun control.  Yes, I admit that it feels good to know that someone I have admired for a long time thinks like me, at least on these issues, especially since I’m pretty involved, politically, outside of my job and this job—I mean this fandom!  Nonetheless, there are other things that I could have issues with.  I’ll give an example.  I’m a vegetarian and have been for almost 17 years.  Yet, to the best of my knowledge, most members of the band eat meat, wear leather, wear fur, etc.  Does this upset me?  Not really.  I wish that they wouldn’t but I feel strongly that I need to let others live how they want to unless it is hurting me or others.  Thus, there are a few things that they could do that would upset me so much that I wouldn’t be able to be a fan anymore, like if I found out that one of them beat his wife or girlfriend, for instance.  Beyond those few things, they should be allowed to do what they want, have their own thoughts and be able to voice them.  The answer for the people annoyed with John Taylor’s decision to say what he thinks is to stop following him.  Stop reading what he writes.  Stop paying attention.  After all, you can’t really control someone else but you can control yourself even as a fan.

-A

Late March

Today, a news article in Variety magazine was released with some updated news about the band and their upcoming tour.  You can read the article here.

Once again, Durantime rears it’s head, complete with bed-head hair and the remnants of last night’s makeup underneath it’s eyes.  Clearly, it’s been a wild-ride thus far.  In reading the news, it’s impossible to overlook the fact that in December, the plan was to release early February, then mid-to late February, then March…and now late March.  I’m sure that there are many reasons behind the release date that someone like me, someone who is just a fan, would not even begin to understand. That said, the point of our blog is to examine the news from the point of view of the fan.  Sometimes, that’s a good thing.  Like it or not, the fans are the lifeblood to the longevity of the band.  If we’re excited about something, that certainly isn’t a bad thing.  The converse also holds true, however.  If the fans aren’t on board – it’s tough to make headway.  I’m not trying to make the fans appear to be an unstoppable force (although one glimpse of us at a show and perhaps that would seem to be the case!), but I am saying that we’re a team with the band.  It truly is teamwork that keeps the band going, and really – that keeps US going as fans.  So, with that in mind, I forge ahead.

My first thought upon reading the news of the day is that it’s already been quite a while since the digital version was released, and as far as I can tell – our excitement has already began to simmer down.  I think that’s natural, and in this day and age with electronic media – what at one point took an entire month to cycle (as in a magazine), now takes days.  Information flows so quickly that we consume it and go on to the next thing in a blink of an eye.  This gives anyone, any band, much more of a challenge to continue to remain new, fresh and relevant;  momentum can be gained and lost overnight.  I think that’s really the energy behind Twitter and even Facebook to some extent, and if bands and artists don’t learn how to use it, well – they lose it.  This is where my concern lies with Duran Duran.  The “public” has already heard the new single.  They have a decent portion (appetizer or otherwise) of the new album.  Sure, sales were good that first week – I’m not really sure how they’re doing now but I have to imagine they’ve weakened since then, and that’s OK.  That said, now there’s a real wait on our hands until late March…and let’s be honest…it could easily be late April, as happens in Durantime.  (imagine if they had decided to withhold everything until then?  As my friend Jessica mentioned today – MUTINY!)

I have to ask – how is that going to help them?  They had real momentum in December.  It would have been very easy to continue to capitalize on that by doing a select number of shows, MANY more interviews, etc.  Instead it would seem as though there was a slight hiccup or misstep in the planning process, and now we’ve got this huge gap of time.  Make no mistake, 3 and a half or four months between the release of digital material and the actual physical CD is a LONG time.  I’ve seen artists have their work released, distributed, and sent BACK to the distributor in that amount of time. (not kidding there)  It’s a gamble, to be sure.  I know they are putting new unheard material on the physical album, the packaging is supposed to be very cool, etc etc.  It all makes me think back to (Reach up for the) Sunrise off of Astronaut.  Here was the first single from the original 5 members in over 20 years.  It was released as a single off of the Queer Eye soundtrack – a different version, yes.  Then, in what I feel was a very risky move – it was released as the single off of the bands own album in yet another version.  Did it gain attention?  Nope.  Not even from fans – we’d already heard it.  Been there, done that, so to speak.  I have some concerns that this album is going to garner the same sort of attention, or lack thereof.  Of course, there were many other issues present with Astronaut, and I’m sure one can find a myriad of reasons why the album didn’t do as well as it should have commercially – MY point is simply that once the fans have heard it and consumed it – we move on quickly.

Then there is/are the sheer lack of dates.  We’ve got what appears to be about 2 months and some before the album drops – I read tweets each day from the band saying that they’re working on bass, keys, vocals for the bonus material – and while that’s exciting, what would really fill the time between now and the album dropping are shows.  That’s right, shows.  You want to keep the fans attention?  Play some shows.  Yeah, it would require work.  Yeah, it would be a pain in the butt to get it all together, but it would keep our interest, and the band might even get some new attention from new fans too.  Of course, they could already be planning shows, I have no idea.  There are rumors of some UK dates in February (seems to me that those should already have been announced or else they’re totally behind the 8-ball…),   but otherwise, I’ve heard of nothing.

I suppose one could say that the wait increases demand.  I would say in return that you’re playing an awfully risky game.  Fans are fickle, and the last album should have proven that without a doubt.  Sorry to those of you diehard RCM fans out there, but a lot of fans simply gave up on the band after that album was released.  So now other bands are starting to announce tours for the spring/summer, and people who might have thought about going to Duran shows are starting to consider other bands – and trust me when I say that most people do not have the money to do it all.  Recession…United States…banks failing all over the world…any of that ringing a bell with anyone?  I just don’t feel that Duran Duran is in the position to play that game and win.

For all of the downer news, however – there is always some good.  For instance, the CD/vinyl will have 14 tracks (if you’re counting, that means we haven’t heard at least 4 or 5 of them, depending upon whether Mediterranea is included), and according to their management, they are looking at doing specific packaging and extras for specific retailers, which means plenty of versions to buy.  I suppose that could be deemed as bad news – but for me, I want it all and I’m not ashamed of that.   We know that they’ll eventually announce tour dates, because they are planning a tour in April (hurry up April!), and in time – all of this waiting will be a distant memory.  Heck, if they wait long enough – I’ll probably forget all about it! (memory isn’t what it used to be!)

I suppose that some will say I’m impatient (no, really?), and some will say I’m negative. (listen, even if the glass is half empty – there’s still vodka left in there, how is that not positive?!?)   That’s OK.  I’m positive most of the time, I try to see the good in the band, and there’s plenty of that to see.  It’s just very hard not to notice the missteps at times, and ANY fan should be able to recognize that.  I still love them all and really, the bottom line here is that if I didn’t care, I wouldn’t mention any of it.  For that matter, I wouldn’t blog.

-R