This morning I went through my normal morning detail: getting my kids off to school, and then rushing back home to read through the websites and facebook before blogging. A lot of times I will wake up knowing what I’m going to blog about, but today was not one of them. I had a tough time deciding what I wanted to tackle in my writing, and so sometimes reading the message board forums helps.
Over the course of the last few weeks, several tidbits of information regarding the next album has come out – including the title. Mark Ronson has done some interviews, having acted as producer on the album, and naturally – the band has done some as well. One would think that the information would cause near-hysteria on the boards, since many of us have been hungry for ANY information at this point. Oddly though, most of the boards that I have visited have had very little to say on the subject. A thread here or there, but there’s not nearly as much discussion as I would have imagined a few years back.
If that weren’t enough of an anomaly, the threads themselves have quite a difference in them. At one point not that long ago, the majority of Duranies would have responded with enthusiastic glee. A few might have expressed concern over one thing or another, but the enthusiasm would have been infectious. That really isn’t the case today. There are far more people questioning the choices of the band than I’ve ever noticed before. If Mark Ronson does an interview and gushes about the band – the fans can’t stand it and say he’s not being genuine (don’t even get them started on the interview where he says he kind of “forgot” he wasn’t in Duran Duran…). If John says the album is better than the last one, people are virtually rolling their eyes and saying they’ll believe it when they see it. (on a personal note – I don’t see how it could NOT be better, but that’s just me!) If Roger says the album will be out in January, at least one fan will comment somewhere that they won’t hold their breath. It’s as though the majority of fans have completely lost their faith in the band – but they haven’t left the community yet, as though they just can’t help themselves.
I’ve always felt that for the majority, Duranies can be a cynical bunch. Let someone post a rumor somewhere – if only for discussion purposes – there will be responses from several others calling the poster everything from a liar, to other names I won’t even bother to post. You all know what I’m talking about. If someone posts direct information that they themselves have been told by someone “in the know”, someone else will say the infamous words “I won’t believe it until someone in the band or their management comes forward and posts it on the official website.” This temperament is oddly juxtaposed from the band themselves, or at least the way in which they write their songs – in that the band has always been kind of stood for optimism and joy. Optimistic is not a word that I would use to describe the majority of their fan base right now.
Then there are the folks who are not only completely cynical, but they also insist for the band to explain their every decision and move – or else they don’t believe what they’ve read, and they get very annoyed with those of us who can recall what we’ve read/heard in interviews etc. They will say we’re just regurgitating what has been assumed in other posts…or better yet, that we’re making assumptions. For example, we all know their album Reportage was shelved. The band hasn’t ever really come out and given a full, complete statement as to why that album never saw the light of day. They’ve alluded to reasons in several interviews, and Andy has given his version of the events in his book Wild Boy, but that’s as close as I believe we’ll ever come to knowing what happened. I’m not “assuming” I know what happened when I recall what Andy wrote in his book, or what Simon, John, Nick & Roger have said in their interviews on the subject, but yet that’s not enough. I run into fans all the time that will post and insist that the band come forward and tell us exactly what happened. My response to that is always one of amazement. At what point did we stop being fans, and start feeling as though we own the band, or that we are the bosses? The band is not our possession, regardless of how long we have been fans.
The fact is, they write the music. They perform the songs. Each of us then makes a choice to buy what they have made, and attend the concerts and appearances. That’s pretty much all we are entitled to as fans. It makes no difference to the band HOW long we’ve been fans – we still do not own them, and really – that’s the way it should be.
So I throw it back to you, dear readers. Why so cynical these days? I have my own guesses – but I would love to read what you’re thinking. Is it because of band history? Is it because we’ve grown older ourselves and with that comes cynicism? Is it because of other fans?? Post away and let us know!
Six years ago today, Astronaut was released, and the band was playing on Good Morning America. I remember waking up that morning, completely red and bleary-eyed, then rushing to get my son off to school so that I could get back in time to see the band play. I was a very excited and tired Duranie that morning….
The night before, I stood in a line with hundreds of other people outside of Virgin Megastore in Hollywood on Sunset Blvd. We were all waiting patiently for midnight, when we would be allowed to buy Astronaut. The reason why there were hundreds of us outside waiting was obvious – we were clearly insane. 🙂
You see, the band had agreed to do an album signing, and all you needed to do was buy the album and get a wristband to come back a couple of days later for the actual signing. The key being the store had a set number of wristbands, and so naturally the closer in line you were, the better chance of getting the wristband. We waited in line diligently that night, agonizing over the length of the line, but hopeful we too would have our opportunity for a wristband.
The best part of this story for me is that in my infinite parental wisdom – I wanted to share the moment with my then 7 year old daughter. She came with me that night while we waited in line, and she was really a trooper. Never once did she complain about being tired, even when it was very obvious she was ready for bed. I don’t know how special the night was for her – I mean let’s face it, she was 7 and much more into Hilary Duff than Duran Duran at the time, and I knew that. I just wanted her to see that even parents have lives outside of just being parents, and I suppose I wanted her to have a small glimpse into who her Mom really was as a person. I know that over the years, I’d always wondered what “fun” things my mom did when she was a teenager. I really didn’t know much about my mom’s childhood other than she didn’t get along with her father and didn’t have money. I want my daughter(s) to know who I was, who I am…and even whom I aspire to be. I want them to know that I have had fun in life, and I also want to be able to share some of my “secret fun times” with them. I suppose in a sense I want to share this part of my life with them because I want them to see that there is more to life than just being a mom, just being a wife…and just being a woman. It’s OK to step out of those gender roles, and it’s also OK to embrace them. All of it, the mom, the wife, the friend, the student and even the “groupie” (so to speak) encompass who I am. I am proud of all of it, and both of my daughters should be proud of who they become and what they love as well. I couldn’t really ask for anything else as a mom.
Finally, the doors opened at midnight, and the line – which had grown considerably as we stood there and was a few blocks down Sunset by then – wove through the store. As we walked into the store, Astronaut was playing and they even had the DVD that came with the deluxe edition playing on the TV’s throughout the store. The line didn’t take long, and we emerged triumphantly with our CD, the deluxe CD set, the vinyl and our two wristbands to return for the signing. My daughter was very excited because her mom was very excited, and off we went for our hours drive back home. I think we got home at about 2am.
The next day, I woke her up in time to come and see the band we had gotten wristbands to go and meet perform on GMA. Yes, I kept her out of school that next day – perhaps not the most responsible parenting thing to do, but one I will never regret. Sometimes the real learning doesn’t take place in a classroom, but in life. I don’t know how much she appreciated that wake up call (mmm…probably not much!), but she sat patiently with me and watched the band play. She giggled as her mom squealed in delight at seeing people she knew on TV – and I don’t mean the band – I mean the people in attendance that morning, and then of course she laughed as I continued to squeak out comments to the band as they played, as though they could really hear me. I would guess that she saw just a tiny bit of the inner 12 year old in me that day, as well as the evening before – and most certainly a few days later when we went for the signing.
Overall, that experience: the line, the waiting and actually meeting all five of my idols for the first time, was made infinitely more special because my daughter was with me. I really believe it somehow bonded us, and as she’s grown older (13 now, which is truly a frightening age. FRIGHTENING!) I think that night opened the door for a certain amount of honesty and trust between the two of us. While that might not necessarily have trained her to become a Duranie (try as I might!), I believe it paved the way towards a continued healthy relationship, even now that she’s a teenager.
I have been following and posting on a thread over on DDM entitled “Antics”. Basically, the original post asked fans to describe some of their craziest behavior in regards to the band. This topic always can be a dangerous one when brought up either publicly or privately. If this type of question is asked in public with non-Duranies, there is a good chance that people will be judging you and determining that you might actually be crazy, that you take this fan thing too far, that you don’t have a life, or something else that is equally negative. Yet, I do not understand how these people can’t relate. After all, it is a Sunday afternoon in the fall and I’m willing to bet that countless Americans have their TV tuned to the football game of their choice. I might think it is weird that they feel these games are so important that they schedule them into their Sunday activities (I don’t actually but I could). So how are Duranies so different from football fans? How are they different than people who religiously watch every episode of a specific television show? Someone explain to me how we are so different than people who go to the first showing of their favorite movie sequel when it comes out? I don’t think we are all that different.
Yes, fans do things that may seem a bit overboard to outsiders but it is generally all in fun. Of course, it seems to me that most Duranies’ antics are usually done with other people. For example, Rhonda and I do most of our fan activities together and yes, some of those things might be deemed a bit extreme to the outside world. For example, in the fall of 2008, we did drive over 800 miles in a weekend to see three shows and we would do it again. I suspect other Duranies would, too. We did not drive all that way or go to those shows as a way of proving how big of fans we were/are but because it was fun! First, we were able to be together. In that way, “touring” is a celebration of our friendship. Second, we were able to experience and enjoy this thing we have in common, which is Duran and their music. Lastly, we spent time in cities and states that we don’t get the chance to and meet people whom we wouldn’t have met otherwise. While some people may say it is extreme, I say it is all in good fun. Of course, I don’t think it is any “crazier” than the Green Bay Packers fans that I see going to games in extreme cold or any “crazier” than those Twilight fans who stand outside in line to get tickets to the latest movie.
Therefore, a thread like this on a private, fan-only message board should be one where the fans can come and embrace the silly but entertaining moments of the past all in the name of being a fan. Unfortunately, that is not always the case as fans will often judge other fans and their behaviors. Some behaviors can be seen as crossing a line even with other fans. I think most people would agree that committing a crime to get to the band would be over the line. Another example might be that it is not okay to physically stalk a band member or his family. Yet, where do you draw the line when it comes to finding out where a member lives? What about going up to them in public places? Is this acceptable? Unacceptable? What about giving and sending gifts to them? Crazy or cool? I don’t actually know. I know what I might think is going too far but others may disagree with me. Nonetheless, posters on this thread have enjoyed a positive atmosphere and pleasant response for now and I hope it continues that way so that we can embrace our fandom together. I wouldn’t be surprised, though, if someone doesn’t come in and call someone a “Durantard” at some point for some action. It seems to me that negative statements and reactions like that is a way for a fan to distance herself/himself from other fans. It is an attempt to say, “I’m a fan but I’m not a CRAZY fan.” In that way, fans can become just like the general public with judgemental thoughts and statements.
Recently, Roger Taylor’s interview from South African radio surfaced. (Thanks to Gimme A Wristband for providing it for all of us!) During that interview, Roger said that the album would be out in January, which is different than what John said in his interview as he said it would be released at the end of the year. This declaration of a specific month has prompted some discussion among fans about which month would be better to release the album and first single. This discussion implies that this album and the singles, if there are any released, would have the goal of being commercially successful. What does this even mean? Is that even possible for Duran Duran in 2010/2011?
Obviously, Duran has had periods of incredible commercial success, including the early ’80s and the early ’90s. At those times, they sold many copies of their albums and had chart success for both albums and singles. It is worth noting that the chart success was on the Top 40 charts as opposed to the dance chart or adult contemporary. The sale of the albums released in those times resulted in gold and platinum records for the band. Can the band achieve that again?
Some fans clearly believe that they can have that success again, if they are arguing about which month is better for an album to be released. They are not discussing this in order for themselves to have the money to purchase it but in order to get the most notice from the general public. This public includes Duranies, casual fans and non-fans alike. Most, if not all, of the Duranies will purchase the album, no matter the quality of work. Goodness, many bought copies of Red Carpet Massacre (RCM) even knowing that they were not wild about it. Yet, most fans are extremely loyal to a band that they have admired for years/decades. They always want to support them and give any music by them a chance. Duran did not seem to sell many copies of RCM beyond those loyal fans and they didn’t get into the mainstream charts. One can then argue that this is because the music wasn’t solid. That’s fair but Astronaut did not achieve commercial success, either, except for a few specific countries. Most Duranies bought more than one copy of Astronaut because it clearly felt like the Duran that we know and love and many casual fans purchased it as they, too, were excited by the reunion of the original five. Perhaps, even some non-fans gave it a shot. Despite that, they didn’t sell enough copies to turn even gold and their chart success was limited and short-lived. Why?
I’m sure that every Duranie is going to have an answer as to why they didn’t achieve “success” with Astronaut and RCM. Some will focus on the fact that their record label at the time (Sony) didn’t promote them or the albums well. Others will focus on what they perceive were poor choices for singles. Those things may be true but even with more publicity and different songs for singles, could they have had success? I actually suspect that they didn’t have that then and probably won’t have it now. While those decisions about singles and promotion may have an impact, but they don’t tell the whole story. The quality music could also be part of it. I’m sure it may be all of those things combined but I also think that age plays a role. Obviously, Duranies still think the band has got it, but will those people who decide who or what should be played on the radio? I will never forget how the Killers kept being played on Top 40 radio and Sunrise wasn’t, during the fall of 2004. What made the songs so different? The bands have a similar style and feel. Heck, the Killers even claim Duran as an influence. Yet, one was acceptable and one wasn’t to much of mainstream coverage. The difference between the two isn’t sounds or even looks. It is age.
Will Duran reach commercial success with this new album, I still doubt it as they are not getting any younger (dang it!). I suspect that Top 40 radio stations will to continue to overlook them no matter how good the music is. Should I even be rooting for them to achieve this? I don’t know as having that kind of success brings a lot of problems with it. What I hope for is that Duran has made an album that they can be proud of and one that the fans will love, no matter what happens to it, chart wise.
Good Thursday morning! I spent a few minutes listening to the interview that John Taylor did for a South African radio station, and I need to send a shout out to Gimme A Wristband for posting it so quickly. If you haven’t already checked out her blog – you should. It’s honestly to the point where I check that site BEFORE I go to either DD.com or DDM . We’re a family in this community, and I want to give credit where credit is absolutely due.
In any case, it was a thrill to hear a decent interview from John – it’s been a while since they’ve really done press, so it was great to hear him. It’s funny, I’ve been a fan now for a long time, and I suppose in that time I feel as though I have at least some small amount of knowledge with regards to who each of the band members really is. I don’t mean musically, and I don’t mean the surface crap (What’s your favorite color John…and that sort of thing). I mean who they really ARE. That said, I only know what I read, what I’ve witnessed personally, and what I’ve heard them say. In any case, I suppose I always felt that while John seems like a nice enough guy – I didn’t think we really had too much in common. That’s not a bad thing, and it never made me like him less, I just didn’t think I’d have much to say to him (that sounded good anyway), if and when I ever had the chance to talk to him. (keep dreaming, Rhonda…) So, when I listened to the interview, I was surprised when I found myself nodding and laughing in agreement.
I’m sure most Duranies (all Duranies??) know John has a daughter named Atlanta. Now, this blog is about the band, not their children – but because of the fact I too have a daughter (who believes she’s 18, but to the best of my knowledge is really 13), I listened to what he had to say about her music. I fully expected that because of the fact John’s a rockstar, he’d have far more tolerance for her music than I do for my own daughters’. HA! As it turns out, he doesn’t enjoy it anymore than I do! I suppose though that if I tried to show that to my 13 year old as some sort of proof that she needs to buck up on her musical taste, she’d scoff and say something like “Well, it’s because you both are too old to appreciate good music!” (my apologies to John for the “old” comment. I suspect he’d understand though.) My response to that would be – “I’m old enough to appreciate REAL music.” So is John. He has the same complaint as I, in that he prefers to hear real instruments. I could make a sideways comment here about a certain bands last album….but I’ll refrain. For now.
My husband and I have a real affection for vinyl. Currently, our vinyl collection is about 5,000 albums strong, and while I love vinyl – in particular 80’s vinyl (I’m sure you’re all shocked); my husband’s collection is taking over our garage and is threatening to invade the living room soon. So, I’ve developed kind of a love/hate relationship for our collection. Kind of the way I feel about wine at times. (especially after a long night out!) We collect that as well, and it’s funny how I don’t seem to mind that invading our living room…but I digress. The thing is, John commented that listening to vinyl is a lot like savoring a vintage wine. It’s not something you want to do everyday, but on occasion, it’s great. I totally and completely agree. I would assert here that there is NOTHING better than listening to Rio on vinyl. Nothing. There is a warmth that no CD can ever bring – I don’t care what anyone says about the sound quality, when you have a record on the turntable that is in very good condition and a great needle on the player – you can’t beat the sound. Vinyl and wine – two of my favorite things.
Interestingly enough, while I would choose to listen to Rio on vinyl over CD any day of the week – I cannot say the same for other DD albums, such as Red Carpet Massacre. That album was never meant for vinyl. Too electronic, too synthetic, in my mind. John revealed something that I have been saying since the very day I first heard Night Runner, and judging from other fans’ reaction to the album in general – I know I’m not the only one.
Before I get started here – I have to apologize. I had promised an FAQ list for message boards today…that blog has been pre-empted and will be posted at a later date.
Just prior to writing today, I went to our Daily Duranie twitter account and noticed that Nile Rodgers had posted a video of the last show with Bernard Edwards. This video is short 2 minute clip of the song Wild Boys – Simon LeBon is singing and it is at the Budokan in April of 1996. Here is a link to that video on Nile’s site. Bernard had pneumonia and refused to cancel the gig. He did play the show, but had to be helped with oxygen at times. (Nile describes the situation best on the site) That was his last show. There is also video of Notorious from that same night, during that song Bernard was behind the drum riser getting oxygen – and apparently continuing to play.
I keep stumbling on the fact that it was Bernard’s last show. No one in the audience knew that would be the case. I can’t possibly know what Nile was thinking, and I can’t imagine that Simon recognized that Bernard would never play again either. The fact is, I don’t think you ever really know when this time is going to be the last time. I just believe that you have to enjoy every moment as though it could be.
Switch ahead to what I believe is still the working title to Duran Duran’s new album – All We Need is Now, and it hits me like a brick.
While I’m sure that I won’t ever forget walking up to all 5 of the original band members at Virgin Megastore in Hollywood back in October of 2004 (goodness knows I’ll never forget speaking to Roger Taylor – sure, I’m a blogger – but I’m also a HUGE fan!!), what I know to be true is that my biggest memories in this whole fan experience will be attending the shows with my friends. Squeezing Amanda’s arm (or wait – maybe it’s been MY arm that’s been squeezed) every single time there is a JoSi moment, rocking out with Dom Brown (no, really – we had our moment!) when he was just the stand-in guitarist and no one else gave him the time of day, clapping along with John during Red Carpet Massacre, and laughing til we cried while we watched Simon dance. Those are the show moments I’ll remember best. I probably won’t remember trying to figure out where everyone was going after the show because no one wants to say (what if the band shows up, then they’d have to share them! *gasp*); I doubt I’ll remember having to assume the GA “stance” so that other fans couldn’t suddenly decide that they needed to be directly in front of me – even though I’d been there for hours already. I really don’t think I’ll remember that another fan (who was much taller than I) decided to jump up and grab the drumstick that Roger had tried to throw me in New Orleans. (well….no, I’ll probably remember that – but only because of the smile Roger flashed me and my sign before throwing it my way.) I definitely won’t think twice of how vicious fellow fans can be on the message boards simply because someone complains over the cost of VIP tickets, or because someone asks if anyone has any ideas of where the band is staying. In the end, none of that is going to really matter!
As much as I might curse the band at times, I feel so incredibly lucky. Duran Duran has been the soundtrack to my life. (and probably yours…) Yes, people in my life tend to give me a rough time over how much time I’ll spend on Duran Duran, and while part of me can laugh in spite of myself – there’s a growing part of me that almost feels sorry for them. They have NO idea the gift I’ve been given.
We are lucky fans, indeed. Enjoy the moment!
As promised yesterday on Twitter, I’m revisiting the subject of our fan community today in the blog. Ok, so the reality is that there’s no breaking Duran news for me to report….I admit it. 😉 In all seriousness though, is it just me or does anyone else out there in Duranland (Duranverse? Durankingdom??) notice how cutthroat the community can be at times?
I have no frame of reference for other fan communities, as I only have enough time and energy for one truly favorite band! I just know that after so many years of being a Duran Duran fan and being involved in the community – it’s very hard to ignore the constant game playing that seems to take precedence over friendship whenever the band is involved. That said, why is it so important to make sure that you have the “most”? For instance, the most pictures with the band, the most drumsticks from Roger, the most meet and greets, or the most and best information with regard to where the band is staying or hanging out after a show. Are those things really that important, and do they really make someone more or less of a fan if they do or do not have them? I’m not sure I can really answer that question within the framework of our blog…so let me bring up a few thoughts to ponder:
Why is it that men don’t seem to have a problem “sharing” the band? What I mean by that is specifically – when I’m on a board, or at a show and I want to know something, whether it’s where everyone is staying before a show, where I can find a picture/unreleased song/album, etc, where everyone is going after a show, etc – if I ask just about any Duran fan that is male – they have absolutely no issue telling me.
What do we really get out of playing “the game”? Honestly. Think about that. Yeah, I suppose you could say that you’ve got a boatload of drumsticks at home, or an entire album filled with pictures of yourself with all members of the band….but really, does that REALLY get you anything else in life? Call me crazy, but if you’re willing to throw other fans, possibly other friends under the bus in order to get closer to the band…what are you really getting out of it?
Lastly for today, when does it end? Meaning – at what point do you think the band will become less of a trophy to win and more like something special that connects all of us? The band is something to be celebrated, not something that should require strategic networking, secrecy and deception. I’m not saying that we should all go to our nearest Duran Duran board and broadcast that the band is staying at such and such hotel – that’s just stupid – but on the same token, the next time someone comes up to you after a show and says “Hey, where are you guys hanging out after the show?” Maybe, just maybe….you’ll feel comfortable telling a fellow fan. After all, at this point in our lives, we should be celebrating the fact that the band still tours and plays a great show.
Tomorrow (barring any exciting news from the band…): A set of FAQ’s for any “new” fan to a message board!