Tag Archives: China Chow

2015 Year End Katy Kafe with Nick Rhodes!

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.)

2015 Highlights

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.

2016

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.  🙂

-R

 

Cherry Ice Cream Smile: Paper Gods Album Cover

So how about that Paper Gods album cover?

For months now (actually it’s been YEARS…but we won’t bring that up again right now), I’ve wondered what they would do for a cover and a title. Would it be something artsy like All You Need is Now? Would it be a photo of the band? Would they use the black and gold or black and silver DD logo?  And what would they call this thing? I was starting to think they’d go with Pressure Off only because they hash tagged it everywhere; but my heart was with DD14 because, well…duh.  It’s what we’ve all called it since about September of 2013. Maybe it can be the treasured nickname, only used by friends and family.

Overthinking again. Right….anyway…

And…as is very indicative of my “relationship” and communicative abilities with this band, I was so, so wrong. In a lot of ways, I’m glad I couldn’t read their minds (actually, in MOST ways I’m glad I can’t read their minds). After all, when the day comes that I can pinpoint what they’re going to do, I will need to probably take a giant step back from the keyboard and find a new hobby. I mean, if there are no surprises, what is truly the point? In my point of view, some surprises can be good.

Admittedly, I am still trying to come to terms with the album cover, if not also the name. This is not meant as an insult, it’s that we’re all in that awkward phase where we’re introducing ourselves to someone (something) we’ve not really met yet. I’ll give a personal example and pray that my youngest never reads the blog. When I had my youngest, back in 2008 – we were pretty set on her first name. (That name came from a stuffed dog that my oldest owned, oddly enough…we are very careful to say that we didn’t name her after the dog of course, only that it gave us the idea!) Anyway, her middle name was tougher. We’ve named our kids after various family members, and I wanted to continue the tradition but I also wanted to give her the middle name of Marie (a name which belongs to no one in our family). Instead of doing so, I went with Renee, a middle name she shares with my sister. For the first few months, she didn’t look at all like her name to me. I was still getting used to her, finding her personality.  I would even occasionally slip and call her the name I’d originally chose rather than the one on her birth certificate. Now? I couldn’t imagine her having any other name. It fits perfectly.

I’m trying to remember back to All You Need is Now. Remember the cigarette burn on the cover?  I believe some of you out there even called it a sperm…isn’t that lovely? I’ve never seen so much criticism given to a cover of an album we’d yet to have heard. Funny, I hear nothing about that cover these days. We got used to it, and the album of course grew on most of us, too….and now we’ve moved on to Paper Gods.

Let me briefly comment on the name since I didn’t have a chance last week. I don’t even know when the news of the name hit – was it Friday? I didn’t really come up for air until Sunday afternoon, so the name doesn’t quite roll off my tongue (or my fingers) with ease just yet. I think the name is one of those things that will explain itself in time, and then I’ll wonder why I even thought twice about it…because that’s what albums are really supposed to do. If I had the chance to ask the band about this album, I’d ask them if they feel like it’s a complete “statement” in the same vein as albums back in our day were done (Ziggy Stardust comes to mind), or if it was put together the way so many are today, where they’re meant for quicker consumption. There’s no wrong answer there, albums are written so much differently today, thanks to iTunes and similar. People buy songs, not albums – so there isn’t as much of a motivation for a band to create an album that tells a whole story, or gives a statement. I’ve just been curious as to how they feel about it, especially now that it’s finished. In any case, as I ramble on here, I am hoping that once I really listen to the album, the name and it’s meaning will unfold in the very same way that all of their albums have done.  I think back to not just All You Need is Now (although perfectly named), but Red Carpet Massacre, Astronaut,  Pop Trash and even Medazzaland.  When you stand back and look at those albums as a whole – the meanings are clear and the names are perfect. I can’t wait to hash this one over.

Then there’s the cover, as I mentioned earlier. At some point over the last several days, I saw the new logo and the blurred background image. I love the logo by Brian Roettinger. I really do. I love the way the Duran kind of sits on top of and blends into the other Duran. I actually like the colors, too. I was able to make out the ice cream cone and even the telephone and tiger (actually at one point I had thought the cover looked similar to the one they did for the single of Perfect Day), and that’s when I realized that those images of the ice cream cone, telephone and tiger were meant to remind us of what came before. I dug that…because they were blurred. They were sort of enigmatic in their own way. We knew they were there, we knew what had come, but we weren’t meant to focus on them. The colors were complementary, they’ve had pinks and blues around them for as long as I can remember, and I like them.  At the time, I didn’t realize that the intention wasn’t for the cover to remain blurred.
duran-duran-paper-gods-cover

The cover was reveled just yesterday (I believe??), with the caveat that the artwork is not final (Warner store website). The images are no longer blurred, and they kind of look like stickers. Someone else said (very accurately) that they reminded him of Colorforms from back in, well…OUR day.

The cover artist is LA-based Alex Israel and was done as a collaboration with the band, overseen by China Chow. Alex’s work is very large scale and much of it might remind you of gorgeous soft sunsets across a blue sky, although he has a multitude of other work as well. What tickles me with a cover such as this, where it might be easy to discard it as just pop -whether pop art or pop culture or even pop music – Alex Israel puts those images right on a reproduction of one of his very fine art pieces. Those images are somewhat styled to look like stickers or Colorforms if you remember them, very much icons of pop culture, if you will. But, if you bother to look beyond the surface, you’ll also find real art.

If that doesn’t describe this band; well, you’re not looking hard enough. Yes, Duran Duran are a part of pop culture. Yes, they’ve been pin-ups and have not been taken seriously, very much like this cover is being taken by FANS right now, but if you look hard enough, if you really pay attention, you just might find something far more valuable underneath.  I think it’s genius, and I love that Duran Duran makes comment on the (supposed) paradox of their career in such a unique and subtle way.

I’ve seen many, many negative comments regarding the cover. There was even one or two comments suggesting that fans put together a sort of online petition so that the band reconsiders. Really?! Really??? First of all, the obvious: it is THEIR cover. The band can call the album whatever they want, put whatever they want on the cover, and the rest of us have to respect their choice. That’s the way this all works. This is the boundary between being a fan and being the band. It’s a slippery slope at times, and yes – there are moments when we have that sense of ownership, but this cannot be one of those times. We have not commissioned the band to go into the studio and make the album we want.  They wrote the music THEY wanted, created the package and message they wished to convey.  I’m as guilty as the next person, but enough is enough. Secondly, how about putting a little thought into the cover before condemnation?  Dig a little deeper and see what you might find.

Lastly…anyone ready to take some Pressure Off?!?  I sure am!  I can’t wait to hear that single!!!

-R