Tag Archives: Andy Taylor

John Taylor on Let There Be Talk Podcast

I’m late, I’m late…I know… My tardy excuse today is that I was listening to the “Let There Be Talk” podcast with Dean Delray as he interviewed John Taylor. Yesterday, I scanned through it, picking up on bits and pieces, but today I forced myself to sit down and listen to the entire thing (at over an hour and a half – it’s a monster).

If you haven’t listened, or feel like you need a fairly comprehensive (but elementary) education on Duran Duran’s history, this may be the podcast for you. Likewise, if you are more of an auditory learner, give it a good listen. Make sure to have beverages and other sustenance available because it is hella-long. Here’s the link: Let There Be Talk featuring John Taylor.

Hard rock, The Viper Room, and plenty of gushing

Here’s the real deal: Dean Delray is very obviously someone who comes from more of a rock background, and by “rock”, I mean hard rock. Van Halen. Black Sabbath (whom he mentioned during the first MINUTE John was on the podcast), Guns ’n’ Roses… you get the idea. He has a voice that sounds like he smoked for 40 years and hung out at the Viper Room as a regular for at least 10, but who really knows.

He is what I would call a man’s man (more on that in a bit), and although he does a fair job of gushing (and yes, I do mean gushing) over Duran Duran and John Taylor (not that they don’t deserve it)…I would venture to guess the guy has spent next to no time ever really listening to their albums, or reading about their history. He knows the highlights, which to be fair is more than I can say about MANY of the people who have interviewed the band over the years. The problem is that Dean was going to attempt to chat with John for 90 minutes. Where does one go, conversationally, when you only know a smidgeon of what they’ve done??? That said…let’s just get on with the highlights before I get into more trouble.

I appreciated that the conversation opens with a discussion of the post-punk era. That lasted for approximately 15 precious seconds, when the conversation takes a strange turn. Delray brings up Black Sabbath – which caused my eyes to nearly roll back into my head. Is there really any other band that sums up the antithesis of what Duran Duran really IS at their core, than Black Sabbath? Obviously Delray was reaching for something to connect with John because Sabbath is also from the Midlands. I get it, but I don’t like where he was trying to go.

If you had to name one band that was DD’s polar opposite…

And hey, were John and Nick ever fans of Black Sabbath? I nearly spat coffee at my screen as John commented that no, he was never really into Sabbath, but he and Nick went to a show where they were playing, and knew to get out while they could. Again I ask, is there really any other band that is quite the polar opposite of Duran Duran? Probably not. I mean, Duran Duran is light, love, joy. Black Sabbath (and yes I actually *do* know their music well, thankyouverymuch) is more darkness, anger, and some control issues mixed in for good measure.

Rest assured, the train was brought back onto the right track as they continued to discuss where Duran Duran fit into this post-punk movement. John discussed how he switched from guitar to bass, and why he aspired to the sounds from black American bands like Chic. He talked about the funky power trio being at their core and how those rhythm sounds (as well as the bass) spoke to him. John also said that time really belonged to rhythm sections, as opposed to punk which belonged to guitar.

Delray then mentioned that in the 80s, Duran Duran were everywhere. DJ’s would play them, then follow with Van Halen and Prince. The common thread was that the 80s were a dance scene – bands wanted to be able to crossover and create songs that could be danced to, like “Jump” from Van Halen.

Dance, dance, dance

Funny, I just had this same conversation with my youngest as she prepares to go to her very first school dance on Friday. She’s only in 6th grade (she’s 11), and the dance is being billed as a dance/social with a carnival theme. Rather than just music and kids dancing – nowadays parents try to add in other activities. I talked about how at my middle school dances, girls (primarily, but not always) formed circles on the dance floor while we danced to the popular music of the day. She asked me what was popular then, and with profound joy (seriously, way too much joy, I think…) I pointed at our car stereo, which was tuned to SiriusXM 1stWave. “Anything they play on this channel is what Mom would dance to, including Duran Duran.” As we talked further, we agreed that kids don’t seem to have a lot of bands to dance to. It’s EDM, or like where we live – country. It’s not the same now. They have to play carnival games instead, I guess.

“What we lacked in know-how, we made up for in cajones.” – John, on “Let There Be Talk”

Simon, before…and after

They spend some time chatting about life before Simon. (Seems like that could be a fitting title for an autobiography) John gave a rudimentary timeline of the singers who held the mic before Simon came gliding in with his suave attitude, pink leopard pants, and book of lyrics. Sometimes, I wonder if the book of lyrics wasn’t more of a driving force behind Simon’s induction into Duran Duran than anyone wants to say….hmm…(thank goodness he’s still there though, am I right??) He mentionedTin-Tin Duffy and his band the Lilac Time, then talked a little more about Andy Wickett, and explained the course of events that brought him into Duran Duran. He said that Andy was a phenomenal singer, but that it just didn’t work out for him as a front man.

Simon joined the group by listening to what became Sound of Thunder a couple of times, flipping though that now infamous book of lyrics, and settling upon words that fit the music. The uniqueness of Duran Duran maintains that basic approach to this day, but back then it was John, Nick, Roger and Andy who wrote the music. Simon wrote the lyrics. All five members were equal.

Doesn’t it suck to be a boyband?

Just the topic is enough to set me off. Dean Delray doesn’t realize the minefield he stepped into as he asks the next question.

“There was a time when of course you become the teen idols. You’re fucking everywhere…Teen BeatTiger BeatDream Magazine (is that even a thing?)….any kinds of those. But at the same time it was really helping you, it was cursing you maybe in a legitimate music world. People thinking they’re just a boy band, even back then because we have boy bands all the way to now. Uh…did you feel that way, like ‘fuck this is great but it sucks at the same time’?”

John kind of pauses, which I appreciated…and I’m going to assume that he needed to collect his thoughts before answering. I know I needed to collect my jaw as it hit the ground while I was listening. He then says “uhhhh….I don’t remember thinking it sucks.”

For me, that was all that was needed. However, for the people in the back, or for those who, like Delray, believe it was a double-edged sword…John continues to explain that he didn’t mind being the pinup and in fact points out that his fans had his poster pinned up in their room to Gela (this made me chuckle) whenever possible. Amusing. If I were his wife, I’d probably put up with that exactly one time before throttling him. (typed with a grin)

“Life is foreplay for when the lights go down.” – JT


Videos

Like most who interview Duran Duran, Dean Delray doesn’t really get the videos. He knows they’re works of art “They’re 35mm films, dude, not videos!”, but he also thinks they cost millions. “Planet Earth cost about $10,000 US”, John corrects.

John gives Dean the quick rundown on why Duran Duran relied on videos, explaining that Rio was charting in Australia, about as far away as one could get from the UK, and yet they couldn’t affordably travel there to play, so their managers suggested they make videos. He described going into the studio to make Planet Earth and meeting Russel Mulcahey, and then talking about how it wasn’t until the mid-80s that videos became a multi-million dollar business. It remained pretty clear that Delray just didn’t get it as he finished the conversation on videos by saying “That thing you did on the yacht was great!” He expanded by talking about how they looked rich, living the good life and trails off just as John says that they were really “just goofballs” on the video.

Exactly. Sure, it took place on a yacht, but the moral of that video is that you can put the goofballs in nice clothes, allow them to drink champagne, and let them sail on a yacht…but they’re still going to fall all over themselves in front of a girl and throw the guitarist overboard!

They speak briefly of Sing Blue Silver, and it is just about at this point when I begin to wonder if John knew he was going to be teaching Duran Duran 101 before doing the podcast. His reward for providing that knowledge is Delray’s reply “That thing is so great!”

Oh come on….you know you’re thinking the same thing I am. Did he really know what Sing Blue Silver was?

Power Station and an evolving Duran Duran

So here’s the thing, John gives a full narrative on how Power Station came to be. The two main highlights here are:

Had Robert Palmer agreed to tour with Power Station, John feels (in hindsight, mind you), that they would have continued on, but they wouldn’t have been as important as Duran Duran.

John has so much respect for Nile, it is truly inspiring. They talk about Nile and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Chic has been nominated eleven times. ELEVEN…and even then, only Nile has been honored with an award of excellence as a guitarist. John says he (Rodgers) wears that (the knowledge) very well, that if it were him, he’d be bitter.

As many probably recognize, it was during this period that Duran Duran really evolved from a five piece to a three piece band. Dean asks about the money and the fame. Rather than succumb to discussing what had been lost along the way, John turns it around.

“A run like that, sooner or later, has to end. The momentum of what you’ve done carries you. Objectivity of your work, it has it’s place.” He continues by saying, “Treat audiences and your band mates with respect, and you can have a career.”

Delray asked about Neurotic Outsiders, a project that – out of everything – he seemed the most familiar with. He cites the Viper Room and knows the people in the band. John explains that it was a good space for him to work through the burnout he’d had (for him, it was the second time he experienced burnout with Duran Duran), and to work on staying sober and being a decent parent. This was a way for him to still have fun, by playing a residency on Monday’s at the Viper Room.

New album and closing thoughts

They closed with a bit of news on the coming album – which I shared yesterday. I also took special note of a date that John mentioned while talking about Simon’s history with the band. As they chatted about the band’s beginnings, John commented that on July 1, 2020 – it will be the 40th anniversary for the current lineup. I know this has always been a sticking point for fans, many of whom claim that the band has somehow “missed” their own anniversary in 2018.

I’m the last person to tell Duran Duran what date should be celebrated, or how they should do so. My job is to applaud it. In the case of the date though, it would appear that they want to celebrate the time when Simon was in fact part of the band. This makes sense. After all, the Duran Duran we all tend to think of actually involves Simon! So, stop with the “they forgot to celebrate their anniversary” nonsense. They didn’t. Sure, they celebrated the inception of the band back when they did the 78-03 tour. That’s called “marketing”. It’s a thing, and it isn’t an affront to anyone. It also isn’t “confusing”….it was about selling tickets and hyping up their reunion as the original five. They came up with a slick way to make it all seem a lot less contrived than saying “Hey, we need to hit the road to see if anyone will even buy tickets to come see us.” There’s nothing wrong with that.

This band isn’t one for looking back – listen to any interview over the years, and they’ll tell you that themselves. We fans have made far more out of this 40th anniversary than anyone else likely intended, including the band and management. The sights are set incredibly high, and the expectations are out of this world. No matter what the band does at this point, it may not be enough to pacify. This is unfortunate. Listen to the podcast. The one thing John says that is key for Duranies in resetting their expectations, is that the band talked a lot about what to do (if anything) about the 40th anniversary. The one thing they agreed upon, was that the best way to celebrate their career next year was with new music.

Sounds great to me, John!

Wow, after that post, I need a break! Good thing today is my “Friday” for blogging! Happy Weekend, everyone!

-R

Back to the Sugar Shack: Liberty Turns 29

Another Duraniversary popped up this week on the socials. Has it really been twenty-nine years since Liberty arrived, somewhat uncomfortably, in our lives? Often dismissed as the band’s worst album, it was a difficult album for me to grasp upon its release. The 80s were over, that much was clear and where the new decade was headed remained unclear. Caught between decades, Duran Duran’s Liberty remains an important piece of the band’s history, and might even be a more consistent listen than the commercial juggernaut that followed it.

As far as album openers go, Duran Duran has done far worse than “Violence of Summer (Love’s Taking Over)”, and it made for an effervescent first single. The 12” single was a wonderful introduction to the band’s new direction. The artwork and the video clicked for me, and I was excited about the album. Ultimately, it never wormed its way into my bloodstream like previous albums had. Some of this was the new decade and exciting new bands arriving on the scene. However, Duran Duran also bears some responsibility for putting forth an album where insecurity and over-confidence lock horns.

Overconfidence or insecurity?

The over-confidence comes through in the guitars of Warren Cuccurullo and the lyrics of Simon LeBon. Playing against the melody, as if to prove a point, Cuccurullo’s work disrupts the otherwise perfectly pleasant “Liberty” while LeBon’s socially charged lyrics on “Hothead” are all a bit silly coming from a band that capitalized on the decade of excess better than most. While the band revisits that sentiment a bit on “Too Much Information”, the song rocks so hard that I give them the benefit of the doubt. A cola company is sponsoring the war? Well, they also sponsored your biggest tour. We are winking at each other, right? 

The insecurity comes through whenever LeBon tries to sing about sex. Unless your Prince, rhyming jism and catechism sounds creepy and desperate. “Take Me To Your Water” doesn’t exactly conjure pastoral images of an English countryside and “Read My Lips” unfolds like a drunken come-on by a once cool geezer in a once trendy club. Listening almost three decades later, I hear a writer trying to recapture his mojo by becoming edgier. While it worked in 1990 for Madonna with “Justify My Love”, LeBon’s poetry was never meant to be so direct and explicit.

Liberty and The Wedding Album, side-by-side

It isn’t hard to pick “Serious” and “My Antartica” out of this album as the crown jewels of Liberty. I’d trade “Ordinary World” for “My Antartica” in a set list each and every show. It is more “Duran” than “Ordinary World” even if it didn’t re-ignite their commercial fortunes. The sophisticated “Serious” ranks up there with some of the best music on Notorious and still sounds like a hit single to me. Having hung my heart on the importance of Andy Taylor’s guitar, the rock-n-roll stomp of “First Impression” remains an absolute high point even if the song is, ahem, a bit like this Lords Of the New Church song (https://open.spotify.com/track/3Em6rJJUdozR2qj6jnAZ5u). If nothing else, it finally gave Sterling Campbell’s youthful energy room to move.

But, really, is Liberty a more consistent listen than the wedding album as I hypothesized earlier? Side by side, I find about six songs on each that I am excited to hear more than a few times a year. The production of Liberty is, even by the band’s own admission, dreadful. The rumor of demos being out there on a bootleg sounds tantalizing (someone hook me up!). Much like the fabled Reportage, a different production might have yielded a far different result for the album and the Duran Duran story could be totally different. However, the wedding album has some filler on it and the cover of “Femme Fatale” should have been enough to sink the whole idea of a covers album. 

For your reconsideration

Without Liberty, the band would not have been forced to reconsider everything. Commercial flops have a way of doing that. Returning with a hit single in “Ordinary World”, the confidence of a band rejuvenated was enough to sell us on an album that wasn’t a huge artistic leap from Liberty. If anything, revisiting Liberty on its 29th anniversary makes me appreciate how important it was in shaking up the band. We learned that Campbell was not a good fit, that LeBon’s lyrics were best when shrouded in metaphors, and that the band could write sophisticated pop songs when they didn’t push too hard to fit into the foreign landscape of a new decade. For their so-called worst album, that is a pretty fabulous outcome! 

He’s back!!

As I type, I’m fairly certain that most everyone who reads this will already have heard that a Mr. Andy Taylor has found his way back to social media via Instagram.

That’s right, Andy is back, sharing pictures and memories! If you haven’t found him yet, he’s AndyTaylorOfficial on Instagram. Now is a great time to find and follow him! He’s planning to drop a new album soon under the BMG label, and apparently hopes to do shows in 2020. Great news!

One thing I love about Andy, is that he’s unafraid to engage with fans. It is nothing to see Andy respond directly to a comment on one of his photos. While I think he’s only had to see the question, “What can we do to get you back with DD, Andy – they desperately need you?!” about 50,000 times during the short period he’s been on Instagram, I can appreciate how sick he must be of having to answer. If you’re really an Andy fan – just be thankful he’s back in the game, even if not directly with Duran Duran. He’s obviously not talking about Duran Duran because he’s doing his own thing, and happy about being around to do it. Sure, you can miss him in the band. I miss him, for that matter!

So what has Andy been up to since we last saw him? He has a six-year old grandson that Andy says is “the apple of my eye”, and even prior to his surprise appearance at Glastonbury with Reef, he has been doing some “light training and many sweaty rehearsals – ‘if you want to Rock n Roll’ & play even better than before the drugs.’ Good on you, Andy.

I’m happy to see Andy is back and seemingly more committed than ever. “…you got to give a fcck about something these days.” The last time I “saw” Andy (online, of course) he had his own AndyTaylor.TV website.

Here’s the thing about Andy. He gave me a chance and let me write for his website. I’ll never forget that. He was just a normal guy, and he gave me the opportunity to use his platform to get my voice out there. Say what you might about Andy, but he never once seemed afraid to consider my opinion, or suggested that I must be insane because I’m a fan. It is more than I can say for a lot of people in lesser “public” forums. In fact, he treated me with nothing but kindness and decency, all the while being the “Andy Taylor” I expected. Yes, he is a former member of my favorite band. He’s also a great guy with a big heart. He’s 100% real with all the good, bad and ugly as anybody else. I admired that then, and I still do now.

I’m looking forward to hearing what Andy has been working on, and cheering him on however possible. I’m still a huge fan! It is great news to see he’s back out there rocking away, and we’ll be supporting him the whole way.

-R

Still In My Heart: Remembering Live Aid & The Power Station

By Jason Lent

Another Live Aid comes and goes and, as always, people have their annual chuckle about Simon LeBon missing a note during Duran Duran’s indifferent performance on the momentous day. For me, Live Aid arrived only four days after my first rock-n-roll concert and my ears were still ringing. As much as I wanted to see Duran Duran, it was The Power Station that had me glued to the television. A few nights earlier, my father took me to the outskirts of Florida civilization to witness John and Andy’s side-project at the infamous Hollywood Sportatorium. The excitement of seeing The Power Station certainly made it easier to accept the splintering mess that Duran Duran had become.


Duran Duran had played the Hollywood Sportatorium, affectionately called the Vomitorium for its lawless behavior, a year prior in March of 1984. Being a school night, I wasn’t able to convince my parents that it was the most important night of my life and I had to be there. They chalked it up to being a music crazed eleven year-old but I was serious. I knew Duran Duran were at their peak and I’ve always regretted missing that tour. My dad came through in 1985 and we stood in line for tickets as soon as the unexpected Power Station tour was announced. 


The videos for “Some Like It Hot” and “Get It On (Bang A Gong)” were colorful, sexy, and rocking. The album was an instant favorite for me whereas Arcadia’s album has taken years to fully win me over (and it has). For a first concert, I could do far worse than The Power Station and my excitement built and built as we drove down a one lane highway towards to Florida Everglades in the middle of empty fields. While South Florida eventually paved its way west into the Everglades, in 1985 the Sportatorium sat alone on the edge of civilization. We were on an adventure in my 12 year-old mind!


The decrepit arena lived up to its reputation. A few weeks earlier, a Robert Plant concert was postponed due to rain which wouldn’t be that odd except the Sportatorium was actually indoors! The crumbing ceiling was a sieve. Upon arrival, we climbed up the side of the concrete box to section 117 after a stop at the merch table to buy a concert program which I still have to this day. The scheduled support act Spandau Ballet had pulled out due to someone blowing out a knee and, I think, The Bongos might have opened the show. Can anyone confirm that? I just learned they had a song called “Barbarella” so there’s that. Regardless, I don’t remember the support act and the arena’s acoustics were a sound engineer’s nightmare so it could have been Poison and I wouldn’t have noticed.


Thinking back on concerts in the 1980s, I really miss the way they started. The excitement of the first song felt bigger back then from Jon Bon Jovi shooting from under the stage to Howard Jones’ mime winding up an audience. The opening riff of “Murderess” is still burned into my memory. As the curtains pulled back, Andy Taylor’s guitar sliced through the clouds of pot smoke and enveloped my entire being. This was rock-n-roll! I was hooked for life.  


The setlist was a mix of somewhat odd covers and the entire debut album. One of the biggest memories of the night was Miami Vice star Don Johnson joining the band on stage for a cover of  Rod Stewart’s “Some Guys Have All the Luck”. One of the most interesting songs would have been The Velvet Underground classic “White Light/White Heat” but I don’t remember it and I wouldn’t have known the VU back then. The Animotion cover of “Obsession” that DesBarres cowrote was a bigger deal to me on that night. Looking back at the setlist, I’m surprised that there were only two Duran Duran songs played (“The Reflex” and “Hungry Like the Wolf”) but I was so overwhelmed by the concert that I left on a high. 


A few days later, I spent a Saturday shifting from the living room couch to the front lawn to kick a soccer ball around awaiting the Duran Duran and The Power Station slots at Live Aid. The Power Station came out swinging at Live Aid, perhaps trying a little too hard. DesBarres runs all over the place while John and Andy play everything a little too fast. Tony Thompson, always a massive hitter, fills the stadium with ease but he was certainly thinking ahead to his set with Led Zeppelin a few hours later.


Next up was Duran Duran and it was quickly apparent that there was trouble in paradise. Roger Taylor looks completely sick of being in Duran Duran and the other four are clearly operating from two different camps. Andy Taylor sounds like he wants to bury Simon and Nick under a wall of distortion and John looks a bit ragged from his lifestyle. This is not a healthy band and Andy’s disgusted look to the stars when Simon misses the infamous note was a portent of what was to come. The fallout of Live Aid changed Duran Duran, and me, forever.


What happened after Live Aid comes back to me in pieces. I definitely didn’t buy Andy Taylor’s Thunder out of loyalty to Duran Duran but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the singles. The Power Station concert had opened my ears to dirtier guitars just in time for the rise of glam metal on MTV. When Notorious arrived, it was such a break from where Duran Duran had left off that it pushed me deeper into the world of Whitesnake and David Lee Roth, both of whom I saw at the Hollywood Sportatorium before it was torn down to the disappointment of absolutely no one. 


I finally saw Duran Duran in 1989 at the Miami Arena, which replaced the Sportatorium for us in South Florida. Empty seats and a lack of energy is what little I remember from the night. It was a difficult time to love Duran Duran but a lot of the songs on Big Thing and Notorious have aged better than Seven & the Ragged Tiger for me. Maybe The Power Station saved Duran Duran from themselves. It gave Andy an exit strategy, it finally forced them to address the divide that formed between the five men, and it forced Duran Duran to find a new sound in the aftermath. The Power Station also lit a fire in my soul for rock-n-roll that burns to this day. Other people have “cooler” first concerts to brag about but I wouldn’t trade that night in 1985 for any of them. 

Jason’s Power Station ticket from 1985!

Ah, That Die-Hard Fan Thing

Please, please tell me now

Last week, a friend of mine asked if I thought one could even be considered a die hard fan if they weren’t upset about John leaving the band back in the late 1990s.

Granted, the comment, or rather, the question, was said in jest. At the time, I said I wouldn’t touch the subject with a ten-foot pole.

Maybe what I should have said was that I wouldn’t touch the subject unless I were planning on writing a blog in advance, knowing I wouldn’t be around to manage the aftermath!!

Is there something I should know?

Seriously though – in answering that question, I think one has to have an idea of what “die-hard” even means. Funnily enough, I think we all have an image of what that might entail in our own heads. Maybe you think a die-hard is someone who doesn’t miss a tour. Perhaps you believe a die-hard fan travels to all the shows, or maybe they’re someone that many within the fan community know and recognize.

Truth be told, I don’t think there’s one set definition, and as I explained last week – I’m definitely not going to be the person to start defining it. At the very least…… I won’t be doing that while I’m sober! We all have our own ideas of what a die hard fan is. Chances are, we either think we fit that definition and are proud of it, or we work very hard to tell ourselves that we’re not…THAT kind of fan.

For many fans, the day John left the band was one of the saddest days of their lives. Others felt that way when it was Roger, or Andy…either time. For still many others though, they didn’t notice the absence all that much. Maybe John wasn’t a favorite, or maybe their attitude was simply that as long as Simon is singing, it’s Duran Duran. I can remember going to see Duran Duran at the House of Blues in 2001. I purposefully kept my eyes on Simon and Nick, willing myself to believe I was seeing all five original members, ignoring Warren and the others onstage. It was utterly ridiculous now that I think back on it, but I was a young(er) pup then. What about you?

People stare and cross the road from me

Opinions and loyalties are often the spark applied to the powder keg of arguments when it comes to fandom. None of us are unbiased. If we were, chances are, we wouldn’t be fans at all – much less hold that super special, “die-hard” label. My own personal opinion is that if you’re a fan of Duran Duran – then you’re a fan of the band. Die-hard, casual fan, or blogger! It shouldn’t matter whether or not you were upset that John left. Others might believe that only the die-hardest (that’s a word, right?!?) of them all would feel as though John’s absence was like missing part of your heart.

Quite frankly, it is all pretty dramatic for me on a Monday (because that’s when I’m writing this) afternoon. It isn’t even wine-o’clock yet!

Someday, when I least expect it, someone will hand me many vodka tonics and then ask the fateful question, “What is the definition of a die-hard fan, Rhonda?”

That’s liable to be a rough one.

-R

Was the Pop Trash Era Best?

Now that the beat is slow

DDHQ’s choice of the video for “Someone Else Not Me” for “Watch it Wednesday” sparks discussion of the Pop Trash era.

Admittedly, there were years from the mid-90’s until I saw the band for the Up Close & Personal tour in 2001, when I didn’t pay quite as much attention as I did in the 80’s. I was still interested, and believe me when I say my ears perked up at the mere mention of Duran Duran. Even so – my room was no longer wallpapered with posters and pinups. I grew up, and stopped needing those posters, I suppose.

I’ve spoken or traded posts and messages with a good many Duran Duran fans who proclaim the Pop Trash era to be their favorite – and if it wasn’t the music itself being mentioned, it was the live shows. Many of these fans are my personal friends within the DD community. I dare say that most of my friends in this community are die hard Duranies at heart.

Something I want to say

I only went to one Pop Trash era show—the one at the House of Blues for the Up Close & Personal tour in 2001. I will continue to scream “that single show changed my entire life” from the rooftops, but not for the same reasons that seem to come up with other fans. For me, that show re-opened up a door into my heart. I felt so much joy in being there in that room that I completely lost myself in the show. I didn’t even know the Pop Trash album that well at the time. The music between us, indeed.

Obviously, we can all make note of the hysteria present during the early 80s. Clearly that was missing by the late 90s. The era tends to ignite my curiosity not because of the fans who had left by that time, but by those who stayed connected.

Burst this bubble

So many of my friends who were truly engaged during Pop Trash speak so fondly of that time and those shows, over the years I’ve wondered what made it so. Sure, for many who loved the Pop Trash and Medazzaland albums, the answer is obvious. The music fuels the passion. For others, it was likely the proximity to the band itself. I have friends who tell me that back then, the band really seemed to embrace the fans. Rather than treating them like asylum escapees with a registered potential for violence quotient – they acted like they were old friends.

Were the fans just friendlier at the time? The late 90s -2000s were early days of the internet. Social media hadn’t yet hooked us with its talons. The reunion was a blip on the horizon, but no fan even suspected the possibility just yet.

Were die-hard fans during this period there more for the music than the nostalgia?

To type the words seems so judgmental. I don’t mean it quite that way, but to be fair – don’t you wonder what the ratio between die-hard and “I-heard-a-single-from-Pop-Trash-on-the-radio” potential fans were in any given audience on the Up Close & Personal tour might have been? Let’s just be blunt: there IS a certain percentage of the greater fan base that continues to show up because they’re still in love with the pinup images of John, Simon, Nick and Roger. That doesn’t mean every fan from the 80s lives in nostalgia, it simply means some still might.

Hardest thing is to let go

I can’t say whether I’ve tested my theories enough to call them law, but I have definitely noticed a certain “Where were YOU in the 90s?” attitude that has permeated over the years. If you suggest that you stuck around during that time, you’re alright. If, like me, you mention a sabbatical, however brief – one can sense the eyes upon you narrowing as they scrutinize from head to toe. Judgments are made based on how one answers the simple questions of what live shows you’ve seen, or whether or not you remained a “true” fan during the lean 1990s.

On the other hand, and most likely one attached to the body of someone who haughtily says they’re not at all nostalgic to 1980’s Duran Duran – there is the fact that during these same Up Close & Personal shows, the band played a FAR more varied set list, filled with songs from—oh yes, you guessed it—their first few albums and B-sides. Not nostalgic, you say? Please, tell me more about that. Fandom is fueled by nostalgia.

I don’t necessarily think I’ve discovered the answers to the questions on my mind, but on second thought, I’m really not sure there are black and white answers to be found. Fandom is complex. This isn’t math. There aren’t firm answers, even though people like me really might prefer that. A lot of the ground we walk on is slippery. I would know, I’ve fallen a lot. And repeatedly. Then, I’m a bit of a klutz trapped in a china shop. Save the china!!

-R

If You Want To Stay With Me

Something to let you understand the way I feel

Today is March 28. On this date back in 2001, I went to see Duran Duran in Anaheim. Granted, it probably wasn’t a monumental show to anyone but me. Regardless, every single year I think about that night, and how it completely changed me.

I know that for many of you reading – you’ve seen this story and are sick of it. I get it. The reason I take the time to write about it each year though, is because I think it illustrates just how one single show, event, etc, can change your life. (So buy the tickets!)

Had I not been in the audience at the House of Blues that night, there’s no way this blog would exist. I would have never met Amanda, Jessica, Lisa, Suzie, or Lori. Prior to that night, I’d tucked away memories of being a Duranie right along next to those marked “high school” or “middle school”. Sure, I still loved their music, but rather than having the songs be a vibrant part of my life – they were special memories.

To feel it once again

I still loved them. I mean, whenever I’d hear they were going to be on a talk show in support of an album, I’d be sure to tune in. Most of those shows were during the day, and I was a stay-at-home mom anyway so it worked well. I didn’t deliberately keep Duran Duran a secret, but I also didn’t think to talk about them much. My knowledge of them was rather limited to whatever I’d heard on the radio or read in a book or magazine. It was the kind of thing where I’d say “Yeah, I really loved them back in junior high and high school.” No more, no less.

But then Walt insisted on buying these tickets to see them at the House of Blues. I thought they were a fortune at $65.00 a piece. (Seriously? Someone slap me!) To say I wasn’t excited was an understatement. I tried to talk him out of going several times, even complaining about how we didn’t have a sitter. (Obviously we found one) But the night arrived, and my husband was hell bent that we were going.

It’s just Duran Duran…

I can remember arriving at the venue. It was in Downtown Disney at the time, and we walked up to see a line of people waiting to get in. It was only about 5pm, maybe 6 at the latest, and I was appalled.

“Waiting to get in as though it’s still 1985??? REALLY?!? There’s no way I’m waiting in that. I don’t care how far back we are. How dumb!!”

We went and had dinner at the House of Blues. We found out through our waitress that since we ate there, we’d get in early. I waved her off, laughing.

“It’s just Duran Duran!”

(Famous last words)

We finished dinner and walked right into the music hall, where I announced that we would just stand by the bar. Walt was floored.

“Really? Are you sure??” He shrugged and went to go get us drinks.

Thank you for the fine times

I stood there for a while and surveyed the scene. The floor continued to fill up steadily, but I was insistent that I didn’t need to be in that mess. I could hear them just fine from the back. My thinking was that John, Roger and Andy weren’t even in the band, and I had no idea who in the heck was even playing drums or bass these days. Simon and Nick? Warren? I shrugged to myself. They weren’t my favorites, who cares?!? I just hoped that they’d sound like what I remembered.

I’m not exactly sure when I finally made my way over to about the top of the stairs (going down to the floor), but I suspect it was because Walt insisted. I don’t remember much about him being beside me after that, either – which is pretty funny, and telling.

The band took the stage (although if I remember right, they were way late to do so), and from the second Simon opened his mouth to sing – I was lost to the rest of the world. I was there. In the same room. With Simon! Breathing the same freaking AIR.

Do you remember

Not going to lie, aside from Simon introducing a song at one point by saying it was off of their Pop Trash album (I couldn’t even tell you what song it was – and I didn’t even OWN the album), I have no idea what they played that night. I just know that I was transported somewhere else. I felt like I’d stepped back in time and was reintroduced to someone I’d left behind many years back—me.

Junior high, or middle school, were tough years. Puberty, hormones, just an overall feeling that wavered between being thankful I had friends to feeling awkward and completely alone. Duran Duran had been my saving grace, then. It was the one thing that made me feel “cool” (and I definitely was not). I was included in a group of friends who loved the band as much as I did, and that’s how I managed middle school.

While I hadn’t really discovered boys yet – I discovered Duran Duran. They were safe. They couldn’t reject me, and they didn’t know I was a nerdy kid with frizzy hair that didn’t know the first thing about fashion. I could put posters all over my room, retreat into the safety and warmth of my room, and daydream about meeting them. I was convinced that Roger would fall for me, and that I’d become best friends with the rest of them. Ah, the innocence and naivety of the tween years.

Would never seem to end

High school began much of the same way. I was still a total nerd with frizzy hair, but I’d gotten into marching band. In high school, marching band became my haven (although even there, I was one of the nerdy ones). I had no idea how to flirt with the boys, was disgusted by the girls who did, and instead of learning – I did the opposite by befriending them all. One of my friends would giggle and act like an idiot at our local pizza parlor hangout, whispering about her then-boyfriend with our other friends in a corner. Me? I’d sit with him and the other guys at a table, and we’d talk like normal people. I couldn’t ever understand why the boys would always fall for girls like my friend, and never ones like me, though.

Naturally, that changed during my high school years. I had boyfriends. I suppose I finally learned how to flirt without feeling like I’d lost IQ points in the process. My hair stopped being so frizzy. While I never quite became a fashionista, I did settle into my own style and owned it. Sort of.

College was more of the same. I gained and lost friends, all the while learning who I really was. I changed a lot, and not necessarily for the better. By then, Duran Duran had been all but completely shelved. My posters gone, my childhood bedroom became someone else’s as my parents moved out of the area and I lived at school. I just don’t think I ever noticed just how much of myself I was leaving behind in the process.

To feel it once again

I didn’t recognize how different I was until I saw Duran Duran that night in 2001. I’d been functioning for so long, I didn’t see it.

That’s just it though. I functioned. Something was always missing. I lived, but not fully. I loved being a mom, but secretly I wondered if that was really all there was left for me. Rather than search or start asking questions, I just settled into what I had. This reads so pathetically as I’m typing it – but it’s exactly how I felt at the time.

Going to that show on March 28, 2001 opened up a door. In some ways, it feels a little like an escape hatch! I became reacquainted with this inner-Duranie that I thought was gone forever. I really like her, too. There’s a fierceness, a sense of bravery, and even a bit of fiery independence somewhere inside of me that peeks out every now and then, at her insistence. She’s not willing to just settle, no matter how often I try to stuff her back into the box and explain that I can’t just restart my entire adult life over again to suit her.

At your liberty

I think that’s a lot of the reason why I keep writing this blog. Sure, sometimes finding topics of interest is tough. I’ve been writing for eight years, and the words don’t always just float ever so gracefully to the surface. While this blog serves as a sort of tribute to being a fan, it also gives a little justice to the inner-Duranie each day.

…as if I could ever really forget her.

-R

Valentines Day 2019

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone. For many, this is not a favorite day. Personally, I have a “strong dislike”/love relationship with this holiday. To begin with, I don’t think we need a day set aside to tell people we love them – because we should already be doing that each and every day. Also, I don’t really enjoy setting people I know up to fail – and this holiday sort of does that for some reason. I also don’t think we need to remind single people that they’re in fact, single. They already know. This stupid day is sort of “in your face” about that, isn’t it? It’s obnoxious. However, I have children, and I have enjoyed spoiling them on occasion. I only have one at home now, and so today – she’s getting some treats.

So for the rest of us, whether you’re single, in a relationship, it’s complicated, or married (and isn’t it ALL complicated from time to time??), I figure we should treat ourselves. I mean, why not?

Last night for example, I watched Live from London. Now, that might not sound like much, but I hadn’t really watched it in years! I think Amanda and I sometimes include some of it when we do a video party online, but when that’s going on I have a hard time paying full attention to the video. So last night, I watched.

I cannot tell a lie – it was really nice seeing Andy on that stage with the band. Though I am well aware of the band’s working relationship over the years, there is just something about that guy with the music. Much of it was his. He wrote it, and he owned it. But even the music he didn’t originally write, he unabashedly made his own. (Whether people like the way he plays it or not… Andy doesn’t give a crap. He plays the way he wants.) There’s a confidence there and a sense of ownership that felt right.

Now, I realize that some of you are thinking, “But Rhonda, what about Dom?” Yeah, yeah…I know. The thing is, you can appreciate everyone who is has been involved with this band for what they bring to the stage. Andy’s swagger and “IDGAF-what-you-think” confidence, Warren’s artistry, Dom’s expertise as a studio musician and friendliness. All of it has brought us to present day. I was overjoyed, and even a little wistful, to see Andy’s larger-than-life picture onstage during the Miami show when the band played Seventh Stranger. I will be every bit as proud and excited to see Dom on stage next Friday.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching Live from London last night. Fifteen years or so gave me a little different of a perspective. I still had chills when the band walked to the front of the stage while a track of heartbeats played. I remembered how that felt when I was in third row at the AllState Arena in Chicago. I noticed how different the band looked – their hair far spikier, and sure – they were a little younger. (as was I…) I noted how some of the songs were arranged the tiniest bit differently for that tour, which was interesting to hear. It also seemed like the whole production and staging felt a lot less choreographed than the Paper Gods shows.

I am hoping to get some time to watch a few more videos today. I feel like it’s time for another Sing Blue Silver viewing, but also maybe time for some YouTube searching for videos from Miami. At any rate – I hope everyone takes a little time to treat themselves today. You’re worth it!

Happy Valentines Day everyone! Have a wonderful weekend!

-R

It Was Thirty Years Ago (not Today)…

Brothers and sisters let me hear it

Last Friday, I had my own Duraniversary. Thirty years prior, I attended my very first Duran Duran concert at the Universal Amphitheater (which has since been torn down to make way for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood). I don’t normally think about that particular date, but I was flipping my personalized calendar that Amanda makes for me each year from one month to the next and saw the date listed. Wow. Thirty years has flown by.

I can still remember our seats…in the second to last row of the amphitheater. No front row or VIP back then! My outfit that night was new, complete with shoes that ended up giving me blisters. (I don’t know why I remember that so well!) My boyfriend had kindly bought the tickets and I was so excited to see Duran Duran that night. I’d been a fan since junior high, and it wasn’t until about eight years later that I finally was able to go to see them in concert. I felt very lucky to be in that audience!

So glad you came along

When the band took the stage, I felt a mixed bag of emotions. I was thrilled to see them – I could feel the butterflies churning away in my belly, but I also felt just the tiniest bit sad. Roger and Andy weren’t there, and while I still liked the Big Thing album, it didn’t have the same feeling for me as Rio or Seven and the Ragged Tiger. I mean, those albums were the collective epitome of Duran Duran back in the early 80s. That is also the period of time that occupies most of my memories of Duran Duran fandom when I was an awkward preteen.

I wavered back and forth between elation and that feeling of “oh, I just wish I’d been able to see them at the Forum on the Sing Blue Silver tour!” I distinctly remember forcing those thoughts aside that night because I didn’t want to miss out on the show happening right in front of me. There was no point in looking back. I was in college by then, living at the dorm on campus. My childhood bedroom with the yellow bedspread and “Summertime Green” painted walls peeking between Duran Duran posters were just memories by then. My parents had moved just after I graduated, and my new room at home didn’t have so much as a single pinup on the wall. So much had changed, yet my love for the band was still there…it was just…different.

This time you won’t be wrong

In a lot of ways, it is hard for me to believe that happened thirty years ago. It feels like a long time ago, but thirty years? Then again, the reunion (I’m going to age everyone here…) was announced nearly 18 years ago now. Better not blink.

Here I am now, getting ready for another couple of shows, thirty years later. I have to admit, I never thought much about whether or not Duran Duran would still be around in 2019. That’s kind of the beauty of youth. It was so easy to live precisely in that moment. I didn’t think about what was going to happen next, or if I’d see the band again. I can say that I appreciate seeing the band more now than I probably did at 18, I just wish I had that same endless energy!!

-R

Happy 14th Anniversary, Dom!

Happy Monday everyone!

Today is already proving to be a good day, I think. I was up early, baking pumpkin bread and getting ready to show my house again. I might actually have news to share in that department soon, I hope. My husband is home for the week, my youngest is off from school, and my two older kids will be arriving in the next couple of days to celebrate what I think is going to be our last Thanksgiving in this house. This year, it will be taking on a bit of a “carpet picnic” theme. Our massive dining table is in storage, as are most of my platters, china, and serving dishes, but we’ll make it work!

I didn’t immediately have something come to mind as a blogging topic, so I checked the Duran calendar we keep updated. Today is a HUGE day in Duran history. On this date in 2004, Dom Brown first performed with Duran Duran.

Each year, this date arrives and I’m a little nervous to tweet about it because the Duran Duran timeline says he started working with the band in October and didn’t play his first real large gig until December. However, if you look at the little note he wrote on his 10th anniversary with the band in 2014 – you’ll see that he recalls the date as November 19. Chances are, it was a private gig or something other than one of the massive arena dates they were playing in support of the Astronaut album. He took the stage due to Andy being ill. Little did he know that he’d still be playing with them fourteen years later!

I have to chuckle at his memories from that first performance. He hadn’t even had a chance to rehearse with Simon or Nick until soundcheck! Nick had to sing him some of the guitar intros that night (apparently he wasn’t quite the Duran Duran fan that many of us are). I can only imagine how that all must have went, but I’m still thankful he was brave enough to step in. As I’ve said to him many times, he had awfully big shoes to fill, and he’s done so with grace and humility.

Readers may have an inkling that perhaps I have a soft spot for Dom.  He has earned a lot of respect from me over the years. Not only is he a talented musician, he’s an incredibly kind person. I love watching the way he connects with the rest of the band onstage, as though he’s always been there.  I also thoroughly enjoy seeing and hearing fans react to him at shows. He’s not the brooding guitarist, and he’s not overly egotistical, either. I love that even after 14 years, he still manages to seem utterly shocked that fans scream for him.

I’m looking forward to doing more of that in February! Happy Anniversary Dom. Glad you’re still with the band, and that we haven’t driven you away just yet!

You’re family now, like it or not!

-R