Pixelated Lives

Just when I was pondering what to blog about today, an interview pops up!  This time, it is an interview with Nick featured on the Huffington Post and can be found here.  This is a rather lengthy article in which Nick talks about a variety of topics with many surrounding the upcoming release of TV Mania.  Overall, I enjoyed the article and loved all the different topics that were asked.  I was pleasantly surprised that the questions seemed more intellectual and thought provoking than what a member of Duran usually gets.  While I encourage all of you to read the article, I did want to comment on parts of the interview.

The article discusses how the TV Mania album really represents modern life even though it was recorded in the mid-90s.  The topics of prescription drug use and the internet are still very prevalent in today’s society and might even be more so than was the case almost 20 years ago.  This, of course, fascinates me.  After all, one of the questions many of us have had about the project is will it sound outdated.  This article says the opposite.  That certainly might be the case.  If so, I definitely give Nick and Warren credit for having a clue about which elements of culture would live on and even grew stronger.  That cannot be an easy thing to figure out.  For example, I’m sure that there might have been many songs written about MySpace when it was in its heyday as most people then did not think that any social networking site could overtake it.  Yet, a song about that would seem totally outdated now.  I think it is very dangerous to focus in on something so current.  The topics might seem to be the best thing to talk about do not always last and quickly get to be old news.  Perhaps, one way to not fall into this trap is to surround the current subject of interest around a larger, more universal concept.  It seemed to work with the discussion on New Romantics in Planet Earth, for example.  No one hears that song and thinks, “They talked about a very short-lived musical/fashion era.”  Anyway, Nick referred to the TV Mania album as a “bizarre time capsule”.  It sounds like that truly might be the best description I have heard yet.

Of course, Nick discussed how the project was originally designed to be a musical on Broadway with virtual reality sets.  (By the way, virtual reality is one fad that never seemed to catch on and would seem outdated today.)  This, obviously, didn’t happen but what a concept.  To me, this reminded me that Duran really wasn’t just a band in the usual play music sense.  They always were into the visuals right from the start, including when John had a slideshow of his geography field trip during an early gig.  They are a band that has been and continues to be influenced by art, photography, theater, film, fashion and more.  Part of me definitely wishes that the concept had come to life because it would have been a fascinating show, especially with the plot being scientists performing some sort of study on pharmaceuticals, reality TV and the internet.  Again, those topics remain completely relevant.  Technology has definitely changed our daily lives as this points out.  It has also changed songwriting and music.

One quote of Nick’s that really caught my attention was this one:  “I think the quality of songwriting is what we miss through the convenience of technology.”  This quote came in the same paragraph in which Nick discusses how quickly a song can be written, produced and ready for airplay these days.  His point is that these quickly made songs aren’t inventing anything new and don’t necessarily stand up to time.  While my gut says that Nick is right, I also recognize that I am biased.  I’m not a child of this era.  I grew up in a different time when popular music was written and recorded in a different fashion.  It is possible that I’m just assuming that what is different is bad.  I guess we will all know in 20 years time or so.  

Another part that caught my attention was when Nick commented about how their audiences don’t seem as engaged during their shows anymore due to being concerned about filming it.  Rhonda and I have talked about that very thing on this blog.  One of our favorite shows was one that we actually forgot the cameras in the car.  Was that because our only focus was the show?  Truly, that might be the case.  I know that I don’t take nearly as many pictures as I used to and that my general rule is to take them during specific songs that I don’t want/need to be as focused (coughComeUndonecough) or at moments that I know that I want to capture something specific (usually some crazed new dance move of LeBon’s).  It is interesting that the band, or at least Nick, has noticed a shift in the audience, though.  Does it affect their performance, I wonder?

The last part that caught my attention was the discussion about how anyone can really make an album and release it as opposed to how it was before in which bands/artists had to proof their worth to get an album made.  According to Nick, this makes it more difficult to truly tell the great ones.  I suppose that is true.  It also made me think about John’s comments on the Katy Kafe about how they would like to look for a label for their upcoming album.  Is this part of the mindset?  That it is a way to show that they are greater than the majority of artists out there?  I don’t know. 

While I have commented on quite a bit from this interview, there was a lot more to it.  There were questions about sports, MTV, Duran’s upcoming album and more that I didn’t even mention.  Truly, the interview definitely should be read as it is a solid interview with thought-provoking questions and answers.  I give the interviewer credit.  In general, the questions were well-thought out and not like the usual ones that Duran gets.  There was a maturity and a level of respect that I don’t often see.  I know that I appreciated it.


11 thoughts on “Pixelated Lives”

  1. Heather @EasternViolet here!

    I read the interview and as you may or may not know, I like to have fun with the TVMania twitter feed. I really love the bizarre content, but also scratch my head at the intended message (or unintended)– of it being just a one-way communication (are they trying to mimic TV here? Is there a message? Am I reading too deeply into things?) I digress. I think TVM's presence on twitter is very interesting and promotes the album in a new and unique way. Believe it or not, I learned about John Baldassari through some of their posts… and I LOVE when music connects me to something new. (Nick mentioned in the article too) (Back in the Bop and Teen Beat days, I would run out and read the books Duran said they loved and watched a lot of Bond… Once John said his favorite book was King Rat… I tried and tried but never made it very far LOL)

    Anyway… I guess I am disappointed that Twitter was never mentioned as a tool used to promote the album. Maybe he did not want to feed any more rumours about who is making the posts. (I don't care personally. They are cool no matter who it is, and whether it is Nick, Warren or someone else, I will still think that)

    Sorry this got so long! I guess I had a lot to say about the matter! 😀

  2. Prior to say that Nick is class, I have to admit that making and releasing albums is easier because it’s no longer a huge stress to bring the demos recorded to the managers and PRs that had to decide whether it is worth signing a contract. When a breakthrough act is left alone he has to work harder to sound very appealing on people and to keep their support on his side.
    It’s a little loss, because in the 80s the performers of my generation “dared”, were brave and luckily were used to find the support of the record companies.
    If the guys are thinking to look for a record deal, I hope they would remember the highs and lows with EMI-Sony they have just come thru.

  3. I liked this interview as well, i prefer reading and i appreciate the effort of Nick taking time to sit down and answer questions.

    As far as the live shows go, i have never taken a camera and i never will. I enjoy being there just for the show and listening to the music, taking videos and pictures only distract that!

    Hope to see them this year! 🙂

  4. Loved the it reminded me of why I've always thought of Nick as the intellectual one. Though I do use modern technology, to be honest I am something of a technophobe. Most of my friends are older than me, and also happen to be tech-nerds, so they are usually more up to date on current technology than I am, and I know I drive them batty with my devotion to hard copy. Nick was right about how we have traded sound quality for convenience. I still listen to my records, and cassettes, even though I have a sizable CD collection. But after hearing music on an MP3 player once, you can bet your life that I will never own an MP3 player, or an Ipod, you couldn't pay me enough to own one of those abominations ( the music sounds so cold). I also agree with him about the loss of our music stores, I miss the very same things he mentioned in the interview. I enjoyed my habitual pilgrimage to my favorite music store, getting to see the albums on display like precious gems, the feel of thumbing through them in search of new music, or an old favorite yet to be acquired, talking with store staff, as well as my fellow customers about our favorite artists. Yes technology does have it's uses, and it's place in our daily lives, but I will always be a firm believer in hard copy. I mean like, how do you get an album signed if all of your music is digitized on an Ipod? And what happens to all of the music you've down loaded, not if but when your computer crashes, or is infected by a virus, you've lost that's what happens, but not if you have a hard copy of it.
    I also noticed at the concert I attended last year, what Nick mentioned about the audience being rather preoccupied with their cell phone recording, instead of giving the band their full attention. Me, I had my cell phone with me, but did I take a single photo? No way, for I believe the same as Nick, I want to experience the concert, and be able to relive it in my memory at afterwards, plus it makes those memories just that much more special to me. And when those people who took photos, and footage want to share their concert experience with their friends, yes they can show them pics, and video and share the concert it's- self, and usually complain about how this shot was bad, or how someone blocked their shot at a crucial point, but they are not really sharing how good, or bad the performance really was, or just how much they enjoyed it on a personal level. The night of the concert is a memory that I will cherish till the day I die, I boogied my but off that night, but would not have had nearly as much fun as I did if I had been to busy taking photos, and when I tell my friends about that concert, I can tell that they get a sense of just how excited I was, as well as how much I enjoyed myself.
    So all in all I think Nick, and I could agree that technology can be good, and it does have it's place, but sometimes doing thing a bit old school is still better.

  5. You bring up a good point. The interview didn't ask about the internet or social networking much. It certainly didn't ask about promotion. I would like to think that Nick might have commented on twitter then.


  6. You bring up a couple of parts of the interview that I didn't mention but could have. Those are the quality of music products (from vinyl to cd to mp3) and the loss of record stores. Nick is absolutely right on both of those fronts.


  7. I have to first say that this is 1 of only a rare few interviews Nick has done that I have read from start to finish. Usually, in my opinion, Nick reads like a guy who purposefully and faithfully studies a thesaurus front to back before doing an interview so he comes off sounding like an interpretive Andy Warhol painting in progress. I also rarely like listening to most of the band interview as well including Simon and John because they end up being received by me as if they are talking at me, not to me.

    With that said, the interviewer obviously took care when chosing what it was he wanted to know and I commend him for doing so. As for Nick's responses, they were fluent and human. Not his usual obscure and cryptic self, which is something I also appreciated. Most of the information was superfluous to me as I've already been informed by other avenues on those subjects. Filler for me.

    What caught MY eye, the quality of digital music vs. analog and his thoughts on song/album writing/production of today's music as compared to yesterday's. Some of Nick's contradiction showed here as he's called mp3's “the junk food of the internet” in the past yet they released “for the fan thank you” mixes of some AYNIN tunes on the website in mp3 instead of a solid quality that didn't compromise the music on any level which here he says is what he prefers. It also begs the question of “Why then no response to the EMI Remaster issue if he prefers integrity?”.

    Also mentioned was that Nick has been digitizing music from the “archive” when he came across the TV Mania. Considering the “digital media” section of the website is so barren and disappointing at best, this could mean (no gospel truth to this, just conjecture) that maybe he's finally started actual work on what the fans have been asking for, for what seems to be ages now, to have available to them in a proper release. It makes me hesitant, but a bit excited, about what might be ahead for the longtime fans.

    In the end, there are a few gems of insight & hope for those fans that have been waiting forever for the band to finally stop missing opportunities which are right in front of them. Here's to hoping that I am NOT wrong.


  8. I agree with you, Shawn. Typically – I skim the interviews. Usually there is very little of interest and I can skim and pick out the one or two interesting sentences, which is sad. This one, I read the whole way through. It was great.

    You bring up some great questions – if we ever have the chance to sit down with anyone else in the band, I would love to ask them about some of this (and trust me, I would definitely bring up the digital media section of their website because it could use serious updating and work.) I'd also talk about the EMI remasters, but my guess is that they are hoping the next label to get them (since EMI is no longer around) will rework the entire series again. Maybe. It's the ONE thing I do agree with the band about – I think it's very important to have the entire catalog under one label – if it's possible.

    The band never ceases to amaze, for a variety of reasons – so here is hoping for some good months ahead. 🙂 -R

  9. For the record … ALL of this is conjecture/supposition …

    I have my own ideas about some of these “mysteries” and I don't think the band will ever be forthcoming with anything related to their recent run with EMI. I sincerely believe there was (maybe still is) a gag order in the contract and they probably got paid decently to sign it. They were gearing up for AYNIN at the time and the deal with EMI probably gave the band enough asset to ease Nick's contribution worries and to help keep the AYNIN project in motion and moving forward. The band may have also gotten a small chunk of each Deluxe Remastered Release making it easier or more prudent for them to stretch out the album sessions and comply with (possible, if any) “discreet legal” EMI requests.

    In life, most everything comes down to the bottom line and I suspect that the Duran Duran brand is no different at this point. It has probably been this way for awhile now, we as fans just aren't privvy to such details.


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