Today I bring you another 2015 year-end Katy Kafe with Nick Rhodes, his being the final one this year. With tomorrow being Christmas Eve, my day has been spent baking and cooking (if you know anything about me, you know these rank among my least favorite activities) and so the blog is very late today. On the bright side, if you live in Europe or the UK, you’ll have TWO blogs to read tomorrow!
The Kafe opens with a brief discussion of the unseasonably warm weather in London and New York City – where it is forecast to hit 70 degrees fahrenheit on Christmas Eve. Here I sit in California, where it didn’t even hit 60 degrees today, and I believe it’s only supposed to reach 55 here tomorrow. El Niño happens, I guess!
Favorite Music of 2015
Nick is quick to mention the Tame Impala album, which apparently captured the interest of all members of Duran Duran this year. He then lists a few honorable mentions: Caribou, Jungle, FKA Twigs and Lana del Rey.
Favorite Exhibits of 2015
The Alexander McQueen exhibition tops Nick’s favorite art exhibits of the year, as he attended this at the V&A in London, but it is making its way around the world. He also saw Photo London at Somerset House and Frieze London.
About that album art…
We’ve all waited for an in-depth discussion of the cover to Paper Gods. Nick explains that both he and John felt the cover needed a modern art edge to it, and they wanted something that was “super pop culture.” China Chow is one of Nick’s friends and he contacted her, hoping that she might have an idea or two that he didn’t already consider. The original intention was to have about ten different artists come up with ideas that could then be made into an exhibition, an idea that Nick now sees as being a little too ambitious (although personally I would have loved seeing that come to fruition!) China Chow felt that the band should work with Alex Israel, and so after a meeting in Los Angeles, Nick really appreciated his approach to modern art and pop culture, and describes it as Alex “choosing a pattern similar to Warhol.” Alex had the idea of appropriating some of Duran Duran’s images and creating icons of them for the front cover, an idea that Nick felt had just the right amount of irony to work. When they received the proof of the artwork – to which Alex had also added a background of one of his sky pieces, it wasn’t at all what they were expecting, but the entire band felt it was special. The real challenge with the artwork, according to Nick, was that it needed to work for 12-inch vinyl, a CD cover, a postage stamp (for online thumbnails), and as billboards such as the one on Hollywood Boulevard. The first thing he and John did with the artwork was shrink it down on their computer – and they both felt the colors just popped. “He got it right”, announced Nick. Katy says that she didn’t get the artwork at first, but that the more she looked at it – she calls it “a grower” – it makes sense. (It really does. It is one of the smartest covers they’ve ever done, and it really works for this album in particular.)
Nick went on vacation!!!! He spent six days in Cuba this past year – somewhere he had never been, and apparently loved it. He spoke of Cuba’s old school grandeur, and the iconic 1950’s American cars that populate the streets. I can only imagine the photos!
One of Nick’s favorite moments of the year was presenting the GQ Award to Giorgio Moroder – someone who had a profound musical influence on Nick. He had never met him up until earlier this year when he had lunch with Mr. Moroder in Los Angeles and talked of the possibility of working with him at some point (that alone is reason enough to work on another Duran Duran album, I think!)
Releasing Paper Gods is one of the big highlights of 2015 as well as being signed to Warner Bros. They were happy to have a label with a wide, global reach. Nick describes Warner Bros as a proper record label with old school values and new school technology. He also spoke proudly of holding the vinyl in his hands for the first time and seeing the spot varnish on the album.
Some touring moments were very special as well, such as playing the Hollywood Bowl with Chic and Nile. He also cited the recent UK tour as the best UK tour they’ve ever done, with a special shout out to Vince Foster for the excellent lighting. Nick hopes to bring this production to the US for the dates next year.
2015 in a word
Tumultuous sums up the year, as Nick recalls the sadness and concern for their friends Eagles of Death Metal. Eloquently, Nick mentions that the people at that show that evening did nothing wrong. “They didn’t do anything to warrant” that attack. Particularly interesting to many Duranies, Nick had stayed that night in Paris as he’d planned to go to Paris Photo the next day – which naturally ended up being canceled, and Katy remembers not being able to reach the band immediately, but one by one she was able to speak with each member and Wendy to know that they were safe. Yes, tumultuous is a very good word to sum up the year.
Nick plans to spend January going back into the studio with the Bloom Twins, who accompanied the band on the recent UK tour. He has thoroughly enjoyed working with them to establish a sense of direction as breakthrough artists, and he hopes to finish their first album.
He made mention of the currently announced US dates, explaining that they are disorganized and off in many different directions – coming together similarly as a rubber band might as it snaps back after being extended too far – and then said that more dates would be coming. Nick didn’t indicate where in the world, these dates would be, but rest assured as soon as they’re announced we will post them here!
He plans to get together with John to continue working on the musical they’ve been writing, which he believes will take him right up to the beginning of the tour.
Additionally, Nick plans to release his photo book next year, something that he promises Katy will happen. “It’s almost done!” The book will be very limited edition (and collectible) at about 300 copies. Nick explains that it is meant to be an art piece and not something that is available commercially. (Call me crazy but I believe this is all incredibly polite code for “It’s going to cost a small fortune.” Don’t say I didn’t warn you! )
Lastly, Nick announced that he needs a cat. He’s been without one for several years, and hopes to get one after the tour dates end, explaining that he “communicates better with cats than with people.”
I so get this. 🙂