It is that time again! Every month, it seems as though I’ll notice that a Kafé should be coming up, then let the thought slip from my mind, and suddenly I’m reading on Twitter that it’s up and ready.
This month, Katy welcomes Nick Rhodes to the Kafé…and even prior to it being posted on duranduranmusic.com, we are told (via Katy’s twitter) that she was given an album title! So, as soon as possible, I scrambled over to DDM to listen. As always, I am going to go through the highlights. This is by no means word for word, and if you want to hear the entire Kafe (all 35 minutes worth, which was wonderful!), I highly encourage you to get your membership to duranduranmusic.com. With a new album coming next year, this is a perfect time to join and get involved!
Nick reports that the album is almost complete. He must have heard me verbalize, “FINALLY”…because he says that he was not surprised it has taken this much time to come to this point. Nick says that he realized that some songs come very quickly, then they start to rewrite and notice that some are better than others, and then the original songs don’t stack up as well.
“It’s just the process”
He admires other bands that are able to release more, but on the same token Nick believes that in many cases, the quality of the work isn’t always better. Perhaps taking more time with less songs and getting them right is for the best. In the time that they’ve been writing and recording, they initially have enough material for 3 or 4 albums, but whittle the songs down to one album-worth. Nick says similar has occurred with each album they’ve recorded over the years.
Even so, Nick states several times, rather emphatically, that the album is almost finished. It is currently being mixed with Spike Stent – including the work from Mr. Hudson, Mark Ronson and Nile. (to be clear, no mention was made of the work that John Frusciante did for the album, but he was not a producer – as were Mark, Nile and Mr. Hudson)
“By the second week in December, most of the album will be finished.”
All but 2-3 songs will be completed with mixing by the third week in December. One of the songs is in the process of having a lyric completed, and the other two are still on the “workbench”. Nick says they already have more than enough for one album. He suspects that they will be completely finished in January.
So what about all of those producers? How did it feel working with each of them? Nile and Mark have different sorts of great energy. They most recently worked with Nile on Astronaut. It is important to note that originally, they had several songs that they’d worked on with Nile for Astronaut, but in the process of narrowing down the final choices for the album – it ended up being significantly less. Nile IS playing on the album – two of the songs will definitely make the album and the other is one of the songs that is still on the workbench. Mark, on the other hand brings a modern hand to everything they do. Nile and Mark play off of one another with a sort of Old School/New School feel. Mr. Hudson brought more to this project than anyone else. Nick says he’s an enormous talent, and open minded. Mr. Hudson does not try to produce the same album over and over again, which we should all applaud!
“One of them sounds like 70’s California driving music.”
Nick points to the diversity on the album, and admittedly as he’s talking about the different sounds, I am groaning because I want to hear them for myself! He describes one of them as 70’s California driving music (this is important for later….remember that description!), another as early Talking Heads, and still another that has Hip Hop as a base in the track, but the melody is much more “classical” in nature, saying it’s “really different”.
Josh Blair is the engineer behind the album, working with the band since the beginning days of recording. There is no album title as of yet, confirming that the title they’d discussed earlier is no longer on the table and he is taking suggestions. (I kind of doubt that…but just in case, I’m thinking they could probably stick with #DD14 at this point…it’s what we’ve all been calling it for years now!)
On Austin Gran Prix/Formula-One Fan Fest
Katy points out (as I make a very sad face), that this is the only public performance of 2014, and is likely to be the last time they have a setlist that does not include songs from the new album.
“When you are in the studio for a long time, the desire to play live grows.”
The live show is a whole different discipline from recording in the studio. For the Austin show, they kept the set list traditional and missed playing songs off of a new album. He expands on this idea by explaining that it used to be that they would try out the new material on audiences. (I am certain that many remember this from shows prior to Red Carpet Massacre as well as Astronaut) Nowadays though, it’s just not sensible due to piracy. Those live versions tend to exist forever, even if they aren’t “quite right” or need reworked. Katy asks the question I’m wondering though, “Could you have played songs from the new album though, if you’d wanted?” Nick responds emphatically, “Yes. More than ten, actually.” He insists that those songs are completely finished. Done.
We finally get a song title. It is like drinking fresh water after a long hike! Nick was sure he’d given us one last time, but after Katy coaxes, he gives us the title of the song with a 1970’s California driving-song vibe. This is one I’m anxious to hear. (Let’s be honest: I want to hear them all. Not in seven more months from now, either…but I suspect we’ll be waiting at least that long…)
Pronounced “Gene-you”, this is a skincare/cosmetic care company that uses your DNA in order to match the correct products with your skin. There is a brick and mortar store in London on New Bond street, and eventually there will also be online (transactional) presence. Nick brought in John Warwicker to work on graphics, and Nick has done artwork and design for the store. Antony Price designed the uniforms that the staff will wear (in-store). Before even getting to market, Geneu has won several awards, including the microchip that determines the DNA matching and the packaging for Best Packaging design in Britain. Nick states that it has been a very different experience…and it is absolutely no surprise when he says that he loves product packaging design (anyone who has ever loved the time and attention to detail that Duran Duran puts into their albums, CD’s, videos, etc. should thank Nick Rhodes).
On Frieze Masters Art Fair
Recently Nick curated an exhibit for the Frieze Masters Art Fair in London, using work from the Parisian Gallerie 1900-2000, which specializes in Surrealist/Dada art. Nick enjoyed curating and spending time choosing pieces by Man Ray, Hans Bellmer and other iconic artists of the period.
“If I had been good at painting I might have gone into that instead of music.”
Thankfully, Nick stuck with music…although it is easy to hear how much enjoyment he received out of curating the exhibit. Katy asked Nick if he would do another, and Nick responds saying that he would, as long as he liked the genre.
On Bei Incubai, the book
Nick has a book coming out through Vinyl Factory that is a book based on the exhibit done last year. He has been working with Rory McCartney on the design, and is trying to get it all printed and available for purchase for the Christmas season. This however, is not just a photo book, as it includes silk-screens and even a vinyl record with tracks Nick has written. This project is not tied to TV Mania, although the premise is a movie that was never made. Interested? You might have to move quickly to purchase this one, as Nick stated that they only planned to print about 300 copies! My guess is that this book will not be available for the “faint of wallet”.
On Careless Memories – the Denis O’Regan photo book
This book has admittedly taken much longer to complete than the band originally planned, but Nick tells us that they are now printed, and in the process of being sent to those who painstakingly ordered them last year. Nick mentions that the book is a time capsule of 1984, and that one can really learn from the images…the clothes, the haircuts, the cars, the furniture… Thirty years beyond the photos gave fresh perspective to the band as they commented on quotes that they had made during that time period, all of which are contained in the book.
“The hysteria at the time was intense.”
Nick talks about how claustrophobic the environment really was for the band at the time, and as I listen I get the feeling that no matter how much I think I understand about that period of time – I will never have an accurate sense of what it must have been like. No matter what I think, it was likely far worse. Katy mentions current bands like One Direction (of which Nick has very little knowledge), and then gives another example that Nick has personally witnessed: Justin Bieber.
Nick and Justin were at an event – not together mind you – but at the same event, and apparently people continually came up to Justin literally every five minutes wanting something from him. He was never just left alone, and Nick commented that he felt sorry for him. These weren’t even fans, but grown people who should have known to leave him. I can’t even begin to describe it the way that Nick did – to hear his reaction, in his own voice is worth the price of membership to DDM. If you have ever thought about approaching a member of the band while they ate dinner or were with family…I think hearing Nick is worth a listen.
“I’m glad we didn’t have internet”
Nick continues, commenting that having the internet during that same period of time in the 80s would have been even worse. This is no surprise, and many fans, including myself, have said similar over the years. I cannot even begin to imagine what it would have been like for the band at the time. As it was, the hysteria was out of control, and to add the lack of privacy to it all?? Oh no. I’m glad too, Nick. Katy interjects that for people like Justin, who have simply grown up that way, it’s all he knows. I’m sure that’s true – but can you imagine having your self-image completely and totally tied up with your public persona? Some might say this is no different than DD, but it is. First of all, Justin was much younger than Duran Duran when he became a media-sensation. He is 20 years old, and I highly doubt he even has a clear idea of who he is without the public persona. There’s no dividing line between public and private person, not to mention that the frontal lobe of his brain hasn’t even fully developed yet – that doesn’t even happen until the mid-20’s. Katy is absolutely right, he knows nothing else, and he has no idea who he is outside of being “Justin Bieber”. Nick says that “everyone needs privacy. Everyone needs some of that.”
Next year is going to be very exciting. There will be a single out, an album…“certainly some shows”. Nick says that they are looking for different ways to approach the project (I can think of some ways to get the fans really involved if they’d care to check their inbox…just saying.) They do not have a label just yet, they are hoping to get that decided within the next couple of months, because Nick would like to plan the release of this project carefully. He says that they did as much with All You Need is Now, but of course you can only plan so much – and then the universe decides from there!
We will hear more from Nick in the year end Kafés!!