Yesterday’s winner: Picture JJ
I’m not going to review it yet…but I wanted to make sure to get the link out to everyone who might want some new music on this lovely Thursday.
It is exactly as Simon described earlier – a fairy tale with a touch of darkness, and that darkness really IS legend. Check it out. You’ll be glad you did.
Thank goodness for new music.
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.
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)
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!
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!)
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.
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).
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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!!
On today’s date in 1989, Decade was released.
I have a funny story about Decade, actually. Well, it wasn’t funny to me at the time, nor is it really now that I’m thinking about it again, but I’ll share anyway. When the album came out, I bought it on cassette so that I could play it in my car. I had a Suzuki Samurai at the time, and the stereo was super cheap – so all I had was a cassette player, no CD. I kept that cassette for several years, even after getting rid of my Suzuki, which for me was miraculous because most of my tapes met “untimely” deaths due to being eaten by whatever tape deck I was using at the time. Fast forward to the year 1992, when I drove to Vegas with my then boyfriend, now husband to Comdex – which was a trade show for the computer/technology industry held in Las Vegas each November. We were on the 15 freeway in fairly heavy traffic headed out there, and there were a few of his coworkers also driving. At some point fairly early into the trip, we had finished listening to Decade (which at the time was my favorite album because it had a little of everything on it) and while standing still in this heavy traffic Walt’s coworker’s car caught up with ours and they rolled down their window to ask if he had any good music they could listen to. Walt, in a fit of brilliance, decides to TOSS my perfectly good copy of Decade out of his driver’s side window to them, assuming that they’d catch it.
Well of course they didn’t. Just as traffic began to move, quite rapidly I might add, the guy in the car fumbled my cassette, hitting the side of the car, tumbling a few times onto the roadway, and unceremoniously coming to a rest just in time for one of the vehicles behind us to run it over.
I can still hear me saying, “Noooooooooo” in slow motion as it sailed through the air.
Yes, I’m surprised I married him too.
There are some anniversaries that just seem monumental, and this is indeed one of them. Thirty years ago today, Arena was released. We won’t talk about how old (or young) I may have been at the time, but I have distinct memories of Arena’s release. To begin with, I’d heard Wild Boys on the radio. If there was ever a quintessential “Duran Duran sounding” song of that period, Wild Boys surely met the mark. Little did I realize that it would be the last song the “Fab Five” recorded together until the days of Astronaut, but isn’t that always the way it is? You don’t realize something is really over until it just IS. There’s rarely a huge sign waved at you to pay attention and not miss anything – you only see those signs in hindsight as you wonder what could have happened and where everyone went. Laughingly, I remember getting the album and being a little disappointed that it was just live versions aside from Wild Boys – I was young and didn’t quite get it, I suppose. Additionally, I remember reading that the album was recorded “around the world 1984”, and I knew that meant it was recorded on their Sing Blue Silver tour…the tour I had missed due to some overprotective parents and a budget I couldn’t quite understand at the time.
For me, these products: the Arena album, the Sing Blue Silver VHS tape (and now DVD), Into the Arena (board game, which I never owned but had on my Christmas list…), As the Lights Go Down, the Duran Duran video album and of course the Arena movie were all symbolic for me. They represented the (then) unattainable dream of getting to see Duran Duran. The band was on a completely different playing field in a completely different stratosphere than I was as a young teen growing up in Covina, California. I didn’t think I had a hope in the world of ever seeing them in concert, much less ever standing in front of them, face to face, having an album signed or being able to tell Roger Taylor that he was in fact, my favorite. I look upon that time and space – the Sing Blue Silver tour – with a great deal of reverence. I built that time up to be so much more in my head. For many years I remained at least partially convinced that had I been to any show on that tour, I may have actually met the band, been invited backstage, and become instant friends. I would have followed through with my own dreams of becoming an orchestra conductor and being principle clarinetist for the LA Philharmonic. All of my hopes and dreams would have been realized had my parents simply bought me a ticket to a show, dammit.
In the decades since, I think I’ve been nearly rehabilitated. I’m at least fifty percent convinced, for instance, that even if I’d gone to the show and stood near my seat (most likely up in nosebleed because I know that at the time my parents had very little “extra” money to speak of), I still wouldn’t have met any of the band members. I doubt my life would have changed much, but there’s still that lingering “What If”.
That “What if” is probably one thing that has continued to drive my fandom for all of the years since Sing Blue Silver. I know that when the original band ceased to exist, and as we went through Warren, Steve, Sterling, Wes…etc… I never once felt that sense of closure or contentment. I felt like I’d missed my chance. A chance at what? I have no idea. I just knew I’d missed out on something amazing. Let’s face it: seeing your favorite band live is something that everyone needs to do at least once (and some of us need it 30,40, 50 times!!). By the time my opportunity arrived in 1989, I couldn’t help but feel like I was getting the consolation prize. Sure, it was great seeing Duran Duran live…but it wasn’t really Duran Duran unless all five of them were there.
When the reunion was announced, I made sure that I wasn’t going to miss out again. I know from reading message boards, Facebook and meeting countless of you along the way – the things I’m writing and sharing today are not new. There were many of us who missed out in the 80’s that have had their chance since. That lack of closure we once had is probably gone now, but we’re still emotionally driven. For many, the band helped to usher in adolescence or the teen years. We were at least as emotional about the band as we were about life. The screaming teenager we thought we’d left behind still shows up every once in a while. None of us want to miss the next show, next appearance, or next meet and greet. Those emotions drive our fandom.
In the thirteen years post-reunion (announcement, in 2001), I’ve been in front of the band long enough to have an album signed AND had nerve enough to tell Roger Taylor that he was always my favorite, and I was really glad he came back. (He responded by saying “That is really sweet, thank you.” with a huge grin….some things you just never forget) I’ve seen quite a few shows, and I’ve been overseas to places I honestly and truly never even dared dream I’d go. I still believe Duran Duran is on a completely different playing field in a stratosphere far, far away from me. Even with social media, they still seem incredibly unattainable or unreachable, and let’s face it – given some of our emotional behavior, that’s probably for the best. I continually marvel at the people who do whatever it takes to get near them, whether it’s getting to know the right people, standing in enough lines, or paying enough money. I can barely manage to get myself to the shows I do without trying to show up every single time there is a possible appearance somewhere, so I applaud those who can make the extra effort. Sing Blue Silver, Into the Arena, As the Lights Go Down, the Duran Duran video album, the Arena movie and naturally the Arena album are still somewhat enigmatic to me. They still manage to collectively represent a period of time when much of the world (as well as the band) was a complete mystery. They symbolize a lot of my adolescent hopes and dreams. The memories that come along with Duran Duran, Arena, Sing Blue Silver and other things continue to drive my fandom. I’m not chasing after childhood (or rainbows, as they say…), but I revel in those memories as much as I thoroughly and completely enjoy everything that has come along since. Happy Birthday, Arena.
On today’s date in 1983, Duran Duran played the National Indoor Sports Centre in Canberra, Australia. This was the opening date of the Sing Blue Silver tour. I don’t know about the rest of you reading, but it seems nearly impossible that this was 31 years ago today. I know *I* haven’t aged that many years….
On today’s date in 1982, Duran Duran played City Hall in Newcastle.
As an aside, do you realize that FOUR years ago today, Duran Duran announced that All You Need is Now will be available for download as a single on iTunes?? Time just continues to fly right by…