Tag Archives: Duran Duran

Book Club: Mad World (Gary Numan, DD and New Order)

Welcome to week 2 of our little book club on the book, Mad World!  Last week, we discussed the foreword, introduction and the first artist, Adam and the Ants.  This week, we move on to the next three, which are Gary Numan, Duran Duran and New Order.  Like last week, both of us will give our thoughts and would love to hear yours!

Gary Numan:

Amanda’s response: This is definitely one of those chapters that really shed light on how this song was made, the story behind the song.  I knew that Gary Numan had a history in punk until he discovered the synthesizer in the studio.  Yet, even his decision to try it and redo his work to be more electronic seems very punk to me.  After all, one of the messages of punk was that you didn’t need to be a musician in order to form/join a band.  Anyone could do it!  Gary, obviously, took that idea to heart with using synthesizers.  I had to laugh that he would make up answers when asked about synthesizers by the press since he really didn’t know much about them!  I also appreciated learning that the song was written so quickly and on a bass, no less!  How funny is that considering that it is such an electronic song?!  In many ways, as was pointed out, he was lucky to have success with this song since it really didn’t fit the typical radio format, especially by being almost an instrumental and being about a road rage episode, of all things. The other part to the Gary Numan story caught my attention was the interaction with the record label when he shifted his songs from punk to more electronic punk.  I wasn’t surprised that the label wasn’t happy.  I had to laugh that they couldn’t afford to send him back to the studio so they had to go with that.  I suspect that things might be very different now with record labels.

Rhonda:  I read that Lori Majewski didn’t know much about Bowie in 1980…Ziggy Stardust could have been just about anything back then and it wouldn’t have made a difference to her.  I completely agree. I’m actually surprised I stumbled onto Duran Duran, given my own sphere of influence. (My parents were Elvis and The Beach Boys fans. It’s a miracle I heard anything else while growing up) So when I heard “Cars” on the radio – like Lori, it seemed really far-out there, and totally original. However, I can honestly say Gary Numan was never one of my favorites, although I do love this particular song. For me, “Cars” is synonymous with 1980.  

Like Amanda, I chuckle at the idea that his label wasn’t necessarily in favor of the new musical direction he chose (like at all!), but because the label had no money – they had to go with what he’d completed. I don’t know for sure what a label would do now, but I suspect the album would end up shelved…and a new producer would be “suggested” for them to work with. *coughs*  

One thing Gary says that I find both telling and interesting is that he comments …”suddenly you’re doing TV shows with people you’ve loved and admired for years, and now you’re one oft hem, but you don’t feel like you’re one of them – you feel like an intruder that snuck in the back door.”   I really liked that sentence, because I can imagine how weird that must feel to go from being a fan –like any of us — to suddenly being included with those people as a group.  I wonder how many other bands and artists out there recognize that feeling? 

According to Gary Numan, “Cars” took him 10 minutes to write the instrumentals, and another 20 to write the lyrics.  That’s working mighty fast. I know that sometimes, the very best writing I do is what just flows out. It’s not always that way of course, but when it is – it goes really fast.

The other point of interest is that “Cars” was written completely on a bass.  I would have never, ever guessed that. Here we are, reading about one of the most recognizable pieces of electronic music out there – and it wasn’t even written that way.  I must applaud that.

Lastly, his description of what the song means to him really spoke to me.  “I used to think that the car was a tank for the civilian. You could sit inside your car, lock your doors, and it would keep you safe. It puts you in a little protective bubble. You can maneuver through the world, but you don’t really have to engage.”  I think he was really visionary with the way he saw such a simple thing. Many might say that the vehicle just takes you from place to place, and perhaps that’s true…but it is very much how he describes it here. I live in Southern California, not terribly far from LA. We LOVE our cars here – many of us spend hours upon hours a day in them. I always found the idea of taking trains and buses to be strange (as I was growing up), because you’d be forced in such a small area with so many people you really didn’t know.  I’ve probably evolved a little bit since that early thinking – but my car is still my haven. It’s where I blast my music (when I can), and it’s where I do much of my thinking. I don’t have to engage there, which for me is like a vacation at times! 

Duran Duran:

Amanda’s reaction: Right away, during the introduction to this chapter, I find something that pops out at me.   The quote on page 35 that catches my attention, “They saw it as their duty to live out the lifestyle they depicted in their wildly overproduced videos.”  Duran is described on the same page as “bathed in decadence and debauchery”.  Hmm…  Were Duran’s videos overproduced?  Sure.  Did Duran seem to have a jet set lifestyle filled with “decadence and debauchery”?  Absolutely.  Did they see it as their “duty” to live like the videos showed them to live?  Duty is the word that sticks with me.  Duty represents to me an obligation, a requirement.  I’m not sure I agree that they thought this was their duty.  I’m not saying that they didn’t present a lifestyle, a fantasy.  I just don’t know that they thought it was their “duty” to do so.  I could see a means of promotion.  Of course, as I type this, I start laughing.  Here I am…criticizing one word just like people often do with this blog overlooking the entire point.  Moving on…

I thoroughly enjoyed Lori’s comments about how Duran chose her.  I could completely relate, especially when she said, “I have lived for them, lied for them and questioned my own sanity over them.”  Yes.  Yes, I most definitely relate.

I knew the history of the song, Girls on Film, and have even heard the demo featuring Andy Wickett, assuming the demo heard here is legitimate: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76qS-tEJvZQ

I also knew that Simon wrote the song with exploitation of women and models in mind.  I like that he said how he wanted the song to be fun, but filled with substance.  Of course, there is some sexuality in there, too.  I think that is the thing that drew me to Duran—fun with substance.  It isn’t mindless.

I found it really interesting that John Taylor found himself self-conscious about his bass playing as time went on, resulting in what John described as his “playing practically disappearing”.  I love that Mark Ronson was the one  who could convince John to play like he used to.  I am thankful, for sure.  On a similar note, I found it interesting that Roger wanted to sound like Chad Smith, the drummer for the Red Hot Chili Peppers when he came back, but that John pointed out that he couldn’t play with Chad Smith.  This is fascinating in light of the news that Duran will be playing with the former guitarist of RHCP.

Rhonda: I love reading what the band thinks of their own music. I mean let’s face it: I have a blog and I will openly tell anyone what *I* think of their music on any given day: both good and bad; but the band doesn’t always have that same luxury. That said, I did laugh when I read John’s opening statement (in the book) about the band. While I would agree that the critics didn’t always know what to do with them – I can’t truly say it’s because the band was perfect. I think it was because the band was too damn pretty for critics to actually listen to the music and take the words seriously.  Perfect?  Probably not.

Simon says that he wanted the band to be edgy, not too soft – and fans know that whenever Simon is asked about lyrics, particularly lyrics from earlier in their career such as those from GOF, they are about sex.  Well, Simon doesn’t disappoint here, does he?  I’d never given some of the lines from this song much thought. I knew the song was about the modeling industry and much of it being the clichés that Nick describes, but it’s not a song I really mull over much – given the video and all, it seems pretty well cut and dried in that respect.  It wasn’t too terribly long ago that someone responded to one of our posts here – the subject of the post was the image of the band and how at times, that has put them in a very odd juxtaposition for their fans (and themselves).  The person who responded reminded me that the their branding, at least initially was basically sex. The band were branded as sex objects. (probably another reason why critics have had such an issue)  The teen magazines, the videos, even the songs and the explanation of lyrics at times have made them to be  unattainable, untouchable, sex objects. I suppose that worked, and probably backfired at times for them as well.  My “problem” as a fan is that I see so much more than that in the band. It was and is great hook I suppose, but just as Simon’s lyrics ALWAYS cry out to be understood beneath what you see on the surface, I feel the band themselves are very much the same. 

I’d also like to comment that just as Nick sees that the band is in their fourth decade as “absurd”…so do we. Where did that time go…and how is it that only now in my forties am I seriously writing a fan blog?!?  We can all be absurd together, Nick. 

New Order:

Amanda’s thoughts: I adore how Jonathan Bernstein described the song, Blue Monday.  The idea of it being a “black cloud hanging over the dance floor” is so very fitting to me.  In my younger days, I used to spend quite a bit of time dancing the night away in “goth” like clubs and this song would always come on.  It didn’t matter if it was retro night or not, it would get played.  As soon as the first note would start, I always wondered why the DJ would play something so upbeat sounding.  Yet, as soon as those lyrics started, I remembered.  It isn’t happy.  Not at all.  It is like misery decided to dance.

Again, this seems very fitting to me for a band that used to be Joy Division and sang songs like “Love Will Tear Us Apart” with a lead singer who died from suicide.  Then, the last piece of the puzzle to understanding this song is added when I read that this song was the band’s response to the negative criticism that they were receiving after Ian Curtis’s death.  Truly, it all makes sense now. I thought it was interesting when Peter Hook mentioned how people were either Joy Division fans OR New Order fans.  They were not both.  I haven’t found that, in my experience.  I would say that I’m a fan of both.  Granted, I choose to listen to one over the other, depending on my mood.  I wouldn’t choose to listen to them both at the same time or mix them up like I could with Duran Duran and Arcadia.

I found the relationship between Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook fascinating.  Clearly, these two did not see eye-to-eye and had both a personality conflict and a musical one as well.  Peter claimed that Bernard wanted to turn down the bass.  Yet, the claim that is made is that this conflict is what helped to produce quality music.  Hmm…this sounds a little familiar.  After all, Duranies know that there was always tension between guitar and keyboards in Duran.  Many of us might say that tension is what made those first few albums so great for Duran.  This leads me to wonder how many other bands have the same sort of tension.

Rhonda: As Peter Hook mentions – there are Joy Division fans and New Order fans.  I am truly a New Order fan.  I knew almost nothing about Joy Division except that Ian Curtis was originally in the group and committed suicide, a fact that seems to define the band(s), unfortunately. In my case, I knew about New Order and fell in love with “Bizarre Love Triangle” before I ever even knew who Ian Curtis was.  Sure, I was probably just very uninformed, but I also think it allowed me to just enjoy the music. No judgment. No pretenses. Freedom.  I never knew of the internal struggles. The grief, or lack thereof.  I didn’t know Bernard Sumner OR Peter Hook, and I think that in a lot of ways – the saying “Ignorance is bliss” probably applies, and I embrace that, because I just enjoy the music. Period.

I can’t even THINK about New Wave in the 80s without Blue Monday or Bizarre Love Triangle coming to mind. For me, these songs are part of the framework of ME, so I’m thankful they were included in this book.  

As I read through this chapter, admittedly I had difficulty keeping it all straight. Peter Hook calls New Order “New Odor” (which feels so incredibly sophomoric), and yet I get his frustration, so I don’t want to say he’s being immature. I think he describes where it all resides in his head and heart brilliantly.  “Because of the group that I loved and put 32 years into, I’m fighting them tooth and nail. This is a divorce.”  I think that as a fan, the only real thing I can focus on IS the music here.  Hook says it best when he talks about “the largeness of this thing we’ve created” and how it’s being ruined with the petty squabbles. On the outside, I can see that. If I were in the middle of it all though, I’d imagine I’d see it quite differently.  The only thing I can really do is love what they created, and think about the fact that nearly every band I’ve ever loved has had this crazy internal struggle—there’s got to be something to that, hasn’t there?

While we have absolutely no problem chatting amongst ourselves, we really hope that some of you will join in – many opinions are way better than just two! -A & R

Question of the Day: Monday, May 12, 2014

Yesterday’s winner:  Picture K

JT-K

You Look Like You’re the Best

Sometimes, this blog really tells me a lot about Duranies, about our fan community.  Recently, we finished asking about which picture of Roger Taylor from the 1980s fans preferred.  Then, we moved on to John Taylor pictures from the 1980s.  We decided to break up the Roger pictures into decades (1980s and 2000s) simply because there were a LOT of Roger pictures submitted and some people, though clearly not all, were growing tired of looking at the pictures of Roger.  The very last thing we want to have happen is to have people get sick of what we are doing here.  Thus, we moved on to John Taylor.  It seemed relatively simple.  No big deal.  I didn’t think anything of it as I organized the pictures of John that people sent us. I didn’t think anything of it as I started to post them.

A few days after the John pictures started I noticed something.  Our stats seemed to be going up.  The poll numbers were higher than they had been.  At first, I thought it was just the shift from one band member to another.  Yet, the interest has remained high.  Here is an example.  The first Roger pictures had 82 votes.  The second one had 46 votes.  The third one had 32.  The fourth one had 48 votes.  So, how does this compare to the first four days of voting on pictures of JT?  The first day saw 62 votes, which is less than Roger’s first day.  Yet, the second, third and fourth days had 81, 66, and 69.  Those numbers are much higher than Roger’s (46, 32 and 48).  Will this trend continue?  Time will tell.

So, what does this tell us?  Well, if you had asked me a month ago where John’s popularity was within the Duran fan community, I would have said that he has slipped down below both Simon and Roger.  I might have mentioned that John is often not seen out after shows or that Roger has aged really, really well, according to many fans.  Yet, these numbers tell me something different.  Clearly, John still has a place in many fans’ hearts.  Perhaps, the votes are high for these pictures because they are from the 1980s when John was a fan favorite and that these pictures remind people of when they first became fans.  Again, time will really tell.  Will this trend remain when we get to pictures from more recent years?  Your guess is as good as mine.

-A

Today in Duran History – Andy and the Reunion

On this date in 2001, Andy Taylor confirmed that the band was reuniting on his website at the time, andytaylor.com.  I wish that I had been around to see that, but I was not paying a whole lot of attention to Duran Duran in 2001.  I was overwhelmed with becoming a good teacher and going to graduate school for my Master’s.

I find this particular fact in Duran history very interesting considering that I posted a poll yesterday about the Up Close and Personal Tour, which lasted from February to June of that year.  Clearly, this confirmation took place in the middle of the tour,  a tour that featured Warren on guitar.  While I knew that the reunion became known during the tour, it is another thing to see actual dates in black and white.  Then, the impact of this news is greater, more significant.

Do any of you remember seeing this and/or discussing this?  I would love to hear about how the fan community reacted to this.

-A

Question of the Day: Sunday, May 11, 2014

Yesterday’s winner:  Picture J

JT-J

How Many Shows of the Up Close and Personal Tour (February 27, 2001 — June 22, 2001) Did You See?

This is the next part of my continuing series about Duran Duran tours and fans’ participation in them.  We are moving backwards in time and are now asking about the 2001 Up Close and Personal Tour, which lasted from February to June of 2001.  It was the second tour after the release of Pop Trash.  To see the official list of dates, go to the complete tour list on dd.com here.

If you haven’t participated in the previous polls, click on the following titles to do so.  The more people who participate, the more we find out about Duran fans.

Reunion Tour

Astronaut Tour

Red Carpet Massacre Tour

All You Need Is Now Tour

How Old Were You the First Time You Saw Duran Live

Which Was Your First Duran Tour

-A

Today in Duran History – Montreux Pop Festival

On this date in 1985, Duran Duran played at the Montreux Pop Festival in  Switzerland.  This festival was part of a larger jazz festival, which is probably the best known festival in Switzerland and a big one for all of Europe.

I found a performance of them doing Wild Boys, which you can see here:

I have to wonder how things were for this performance since we now know that life in Duran Duran wasn’t all that happy for them at that time.  What do you think of their performance?  Do you see any unhappiness?  Any tension?

-A

Question of the Day: Saturday, May 10, 2014

Yesterday’s winner:  Picture G

JT-G

Try Much Harder Until the Truth is Drawn

Recently, I have been trying to describe what is this website is, what we do here and why.  Perhaps, you could explain it far easier than I could when I tried.  I can describe what it is NOT well.  Yes, it is a blog, but it is also more than that.  How do you define “blog”?  The definition I found was something about a personal website in which someone records an opinion on a regular basis.  Well, we certainly do record our opinions on a regular basis, a VERY regular basis.  I’m sure, at times, people wish that we didn’t record our opinions so much.  Yet, we have had and still have a lot to say about being a Duranie, about being a fan, about fandom, about Duran Duran and more.  Thus, this place definitely fits the definition of “blog”.  Yet, if you have taken any time at all to look around, you see that there are other pages.  These pages discuss our book and the various fan events that we have organized.  Our book, I promise you, showcases years of research, both in the written word type research and in the observation type research.  The fan events show that we have planned events.  Why?  What is the point of all this and how do we think we are doing with it?

I have thought a lot about WHY we do all of this.   Our book came first.  When we first thought of writing a book, it was probably more focused on just life as a Duranie.  It led to broader questions.  What is fandom?  What is being part of a fandom like?  Are all fandoms alike?  Are there negatives?  If so, what are they?  Why do people join fandoms?  Why do they leave them and why do they stay?  To summarize, we decided that fandom was fascinating.  We wanted to understand it and those people in fandom.  We wanted to understand OURSELVES.  Our book is all about curiosity and understandings.  Yet, of course, you can see a lot of that within our posts here, too.  We research and write to seek answers and understandings.  The blog came next, in order to continue this process.

Beyond expanding the process we had with the book, this place has also provided a place to discuss what is happening.  We have lots of thoughts when it comes to Duran Duran and being Duranies.  Over time, we had lost our place to discuss such things.  We needed a home.  Soon, we realized that others might, too, need a place to discuss the same things.  We have always welcomed others who want to discuss.  (Of course, the key word there is “discuss”.  There is a big difference between discussion and attempting to tear others’ down.)  Thus, this “place” came to be not only somewhere where Rhonda and I could process our thoughts regarding research on fandom and discuss all things Duran, but I would like to think it is also a “place” for others to do the same.  I, for one, love thinking critically about these topics and know that having discussions make me do that.  Hopefully, we help others to do the same.

One of the themes that we have come back to over and over, both in our research and here on the blog, is the importance of connections, when it comes to fandom.  Connections and friendships are really what matters.  This led us to create meet ups and the convention, Durandemonium.  There is nothing that makes me happier than seeing Duranies connect with each other.  I remember right after the convention seeing all the attendees friending or following each other on social networking sites.  Many of those connections are still alive and well, too.  I also believe that these connections work to keep the fandom alive during lulls and intensify the fandom during periods of excitement.

What do you think?  Does that describe what we are all about here?  All of that said, there are many things that we are not.  This is not the place to get unreleased Duran Duran news.  Why?  That is simple.  First, we don’t know anything before any of the rest of you.  While like many of you, we hear “rumors”.  We would never post those as facts.  We aren’t comfortable doing that, no matter how strong a rumor is.  To us, it is more respectful to the band to wait until something is official.  Does this stop us from being more “popular” in the fan community?  I’m sure.  A lot of people want to read about inside scoops.  I can understand that, but it won’t be us sharing them.  We are also not a place to share a lot of pictures of the band, gush about the band or post information about the band’s private lives.  Like the inside scoops, we don’t have access to the band.  Even if we did, that isn’t what this place is all about.  Likewise, while we are most definitely fans, we want to dive a bit deeper beyond how fabulous they are.  We want to think a bit more critical.  Again, that probably doesn’t make us super popular.

We aren’t here to be popular or to prove ourselves to be bigger/better fans.  On the contrary, we would like to get rid of the idea of bigger/better fans.  In fact, that kind of idea works against fandom, we believe.  It works to destroy fan communities and people’s enjoyment within fandom.  Our reason for being here is simple.  We are here to understand fandom, to discuss Duran Duran and being Duranies and to encourage fans to connect with each other.  I’m not sure we have achieved that goal but I am proud that we try.  I am proud of what we have done so far.  That means far more to me that my/our social status within the fan community.

-A