A couple of weeks ago, the question of the day focus shifted from interviews to comparing b-sides and bonus tracks. We moved away from interviews because there were not many people who were voting. When I questioned why, the overwhelming response I got was that people enjoyed the interviews but simply did not have time to watch them and vote within the day. I could appreciate that myself as time is not always something I have. That said, I wanted to honor those people who mentioned how they were often seeing interviews for the very first time and enjoying them. How do I keep that part alive while engaging more of the fanbase? The simple answer is that I moved on in terms of questions of the day but figured that I could occasionally focus on a blog post on an interview. Today’s blog does just that. In this case, let’s watch an interview from 1981. Then, I’ll dive into what I thought about it!
Now, I have seen a lot of Duran Duran interviews in my life but that one was *new* to me. How many of you had seen that before? Some of the topics that the interviewer focused on included studio use, the New Romantic label, fashion and more. Studio use was the first topic but one that we missed the beginning of the discussion for. It sounded like the band was asked about which studio they would use for the next album. I love that Nick just declared they were looking at some place in France. Do people even ask that question of them anymore? Would they even answer? Does that matter much? I’m sure that it would be important to them but to the average listener or viewer? It doesn’t to me unless I had a chance to be anywhere near it. I just thought it was an odd question.
The second big topic was the New Romantic label. This, of course, interested me a lot more. It also shows that this interview was indeed from the early 1980s as now people mention that label but it doesn’t mean anything. I’m sure in 1981 people thought this label might be around for a long, long time. In hindsight, we know that it doesn’t. Other labels, like New Wave, Post-Punk, etc. from the time lasted much longer and mattered a lot more to the general public as well as the music industry, I think. The band’s response was exactly what I expected. They clearly wanted to shake off the label. Perhaps, they thought the New Romantic label would stifle them or limit their potential audience. I could get that. I also saw their point about it being about how they looked as opposed to music. Maybe, if they didn’t have a line in Planet Earth about new romantics, they wouldn’t have been asked that as much (even though I like that lyric). Now, almost forty years later, the term just makes me smile. I wonder how present day Duran would respond now.
The rest of the interview was far less interesting to me. While I understand people’s interest in fashion, it isn’t something I know very much about. It is a world that I have never had any connection to. This, of course, is even more removed from current day fashion as they were talking about places and designers of the early 1980s in the UK. Nonetheless, it does provide a little time capsule of that period.
While I cannot say that I learned a ton from this interview, I enjoyed it nonetheless. I liked seeing how they held themselves then, how they interacted with each other and what they had to say. What did the rest of you think? On another note, when I do these interview focused blogs, would you all like to rate the interviews like we were doing for the question of the day? Do you have any interview that you think I should watch and discuss on here?
There are mornings that I sit down to this laptop and don’t really know where to begin. I’m feeling that way right now. Beginnings are simply just a starting point. It is what happens after that decision to begin that matters most. Sometimes, those auspicious beginnings aren’t even noticed at the time. The notice comes much later.
Today, very much in hindsight, we celebrate one of those beginnings, although I’m not sure we should really call it a beginning. On this day in 1980, Duran Duran opened for a band named Fashion at the Rum Runner in Birmingham.
There does seem to be some confusion on social media about what this day actually represents. It was not the first gig Duran Duran played with the classic lineup, for example. That came a bit later, in July of 1980. (see the timeline on duranduran.com)
This was also not the first gig Duran Duran played. Their first show was nearly a year earlier, at Birmingham Polytechnic, on April 5, 1979. The band formed during the year prior – in 1978 – although as we all know, it was not yet with the lineup we all recognize.
What this day does represent, however; was the first Duran Duran gig at the Rum Runner, at least to the best knowledge of those who painstakingly compiled the full Duran Duran tour list on dd.com. We know that John, Nick and Roger were there that night, along with Jeff Thomas singing (Simon didn’t audition until May), and Alan Curtis on guitar (Andy didn’t answer the Melody Maker ad until April). They opened for Fashion, a band we don’t often hear about, who also rehearsed at the Rum Runner. It’s kind of wild to think that at one point, Duran Duran was opening for other club bands. Yet as time wore on, Duran Duran became the band to be remembered.
It is somewhat apropos that a picture of Roger visiting the site was posted and tweeted recently. It is difficult to think about that area of Birmingham and not smile. I’m sure that has got to be the same reaction that many of you have, and I’m thankful we can all share those kinds of “memories”, even if we weren’t all there in person. I think of the Rum Runner as a special place in my own history, yet I really didn’t know anything of it other than what I read until much later in life.
When I think about places I wished I’d experienced, the Rum Runner comes to mind every time. Yeah, I would have loved being in that club and part of that scene (although I think in reality we all know just from looking at me that I’d have never quite fit in). I would have loved every second of watching the band grow and come into their own. Of course, I write that full-well knowing that the appreciation of such things only comes with hindsight. Even so, I find myself wishing I could have been there to have been a part of it all from the start.
Was this show really a beginning? I’m not really sure. As I’m writing this, I can certainly see why the band hasn’t announced an exact date of anniversary to celebrate DD40. Do they celebrate the moment John and Nick decided to start a band? What about the first gig – and if they do, is it really the “beginning” when more than half of the members weren’t even a part of it yet? What about the first gig at the Rum Runner? How about the first gig that the classic lineup we all know and recognize played together? It is all very vague, yet—at least in my opinion—all worthy of celebration.
Then again, maybe I’m just in the mood for a party.
To me, this date marks the beginning of the Rum Runner era for Duran Duran, and provides a perfectly good reason to post this video of Planet Earth filmed at the Rum Runner. I love this video because up until the DVD for Greatest was released, I’d never seen it – so it was a complete surprise (and an Easter Egg on the DVD)! I don’t think I had seen many pictures of what the Rum Runner looked like on the inside before I saw this, so when I watch the video, I really try to absorb the vibe. In a weird way, it is a little reminiscent of the club I used to go to on the Redondo Beach pier while I was in college, called Fashions. I love it!
I’m sure most Duranies have seen this video by now, but it’s still one of my favorites. I love the idea of watching the video, imagining what it was like in the club on any given night while the band played. I don’t know very many fans who were Rum Runner regulars back in the day, but can you imagine being one of them, watching Duran Duran skyrocket to fame? If you haven’t seen the video, what better day to watch?!?
It is Lyric Day Friday! My shuffle resulted in the song, Love Voodoo. Like many Duran songs, when I looked at the lyrics, many, many lines could have been chosen for the inspiration of the blog post. Before I got overwhelmed, I decided to focus in on the first one that caught my attention. The line, of course, is “You caught me in your web of youth.” It immediately reminded me of fandom, my Duran Duran fandom, to be specific, despite my lack of youth and the band’s lack of youth. Still, I became a fan as a kid when the band members were really young, themselves.
Whenever my students find out that I’m a Duran Duran fan, they want to know right away how old they are and if they were any good. Yes, they use the past tense. It makes me crazy. I immediately correct that assumption and explain that the band still creates music to this day. As for their second question, I have tried to explain that they were the most popular band when I was a kid. Each time I tell that, I feel inadequate in convincing them of the truth of my statement. I try to reassure myself that no matter what I say, they cannot really get it. They weren’t around then. After that, the next common questions are, “Why do you like them? Have you liked them for a long time?” Again, I try my best to answer but never feel like I capture their appeal.
I cannot remember the first time I heard or saw Duran Duran. As a kid, in the early 80s, I do remember listening to B96, Chicago’s Top 40 radio station. I recall turning the dial on the TV to MTV or staying up “late” to tune into Friday Night Videos. I’m certain that the first place I saw/heard Duran was on one of those sources. I doubt it was anything from the first album. I simply was too young and wouldn’t have tuned in then. It could be something off of Rio. I’m not sure what exactly. The first songs I remember really connecting with are the first couple of singles from Seven and the Ragged Tiger. One memory that stands out in my head is hearing New Moon on Monday on the radio at my then best friend’s house. If my memory is accurate, I was staying there overnight while the rest of my family was out of town, trying to look for a house for us to move to, which would bring us closer to my dad’s new job. I distinctly remember laying in my friend’s bedroom, trying to go to sleep while the radio played softly, when that song came on. While I liked the song, it wasn’t until their videos that the band really caught my attention.
To the kid version of me, every video I saw seemed so cool. First of all, I was drawn to the way they looked. At this point in my life, I was living in a Chicago suburb, a working class suburb, no less. People in my neighborhood, in my suburb did not dress up. They tended to work in blue collar jobs, in factories. Even my dad, who was a manufacturing manager, did not really dress up to go to work as he worked in an office within a factory. He wore steel-toed shoes for protection and never wore his wedding ring, in case he used the machinery. The only time I remember my parents, extended family or neighbors really dress up was for something like a wedding, a very special occasion. On top of all of that, even their dress clothes weren’t fancy or anything fashion-forward. No, they all dressed rather conservatively and all people stuck to their assigned gender role. Women wore dresses with pantyhose and short heels while the men picked a suit jacket and button down top.
This, of course, is the exact opposite of Duran Duran. They wore colorful clothing that was unique and fashion forward. I remember thinking to myself that I would love to dress like them, but that my family could never afford style like that and that I wouldn’t even know where to go to get clothes like that! Their fashion choices included things like fancy belts, leather pants, and fedoras. They looked nothing like the men and boys I knew. Heck, I also adored that they didn’t stick to their gender. I never questioned the make-up. I just knew that I liked what I saw. Overall, they oozed cool.
If that was not enough, the videos and concert footage showed a group of friends who had so much fun. Goodness, just writing this brings up scenes from Sing Blue Silver where the band is laughing and having fun together. While I didn’t need to see them having fun or being with a group of friends to think they were amazing, these images added to the coolness to create a package that I had no choice, but to fall hard for. As a young kid and preteen, I wanted to be them. I longed for my upcoming teenage and young adulthood to be the cool that my childhood was far from. The fantasy I focused on then wasn’t about becoming one of their wives but about being as cool as they were. That was more important to my geeky self.
By the time 1985 rolled around, I was definitely caught in their web of youth. They showed me that everyone does not have to be like those around me. No, there was a whole colorful, cool world out there. As a kid, it gave me something to look towards to determine what to do, how to dress, etc. Obviously, this web that they created is a strong one as I’m still here, over 35 years later.
Today marks the official end to my summer. It isn’t that the calendar states September whatever to indicate the beginning of fall or that my students arrive in my classroom tomorrow. It is, for me, though the last day before I go into that classroom and prepare it for students. Yes, kids, this teacher is going back to work tomorrow. (Please note…the utter enthusiasm…HA!) Before I do that, I want to take one last, long look back to my summer and, more specifically, the summer tour! Following in our touring tradition, I give you all our summer tour by the numbers!
Miles Driven: 2348
We drove a LOT. I mean A LOT. For the first leg, I drove from Madison, Wisconsin, to Toronto and back. During the second leg, Rhonda drove from her place in Orange County to Paso Robles to Vegas to Chula Vista back to Orange County. It is definitely the most we drove for any “tour”. I can speak for Rhonda when I say that we are SO thankful that we have days and breaks in between driving.
8 Shows: (1 extra for each of us)
During this summer leg, we saw 8 shows together and one extra separately as Rhonda went to the LA show in May and I drove up to Minneapolis. I know that some might think this is excessive. My response to that is simple. We did just as many shows during the All You Need Is Now Tour. They were just split up more. (Logical response, right?!)
We stayed in 7 different hotels in the following places: Chicago, Kalamazoo, Detroit, Toronto, Tinley Park, Paso Robles and Vegas. I generally like staying in hotels but they are a killer on the pocketbook!
Like the hotels, we were in 7 different states or provinces: Wisconsin (just me) Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ontario, California and Nevada. Those places remain standing. As for their vodka supply…perhaps, not so much!
Those Damn Pants:
If you were reading our blog while we were on tour, you might
have seen a mention or two (hundred) about John Taylor’s pants. I won’t go into detail other than to say that they were not my favorite and I saw him wear them for 5 shows (Chicago night 1, Detroit, Paso Robles, Vegas and Irvine). Call this acknowledgement closure on my end. I promise. They will never be mentioned again.
Holy Confetti Batman!
Our summer tour began without the confetti at the two Chicago
shows. We missed it terribly. The other 6 shows more than made up for it!
Average Number of Drinks:
Uh…I thought about doing this one as just a straight up number but I figured that it might scare people (or me!). Let’s just put it this way. We had quite a few vodka tonics. Maybe we had more than a few. Some might say we had a lot. So, I think we averaged between 4-5 per day. I think. Maybe. We apologize to all of those cities that had to replace the vodka after we left.
One of our touring traditions is to suggest a setlist for each show we go to. This time, we gave the band a break on the first leg since Nick was not there. By the second leg, we felt confident that MNDR knew how to bring it leading us to suggest a setlist or four. Of course, the fifth one was the one we actually got, you know…from the band, on stage!
4 Official Meet-ups:
We organized and hosted 4 official pre-show meet-ups in Chicago (both nights), Toronto and Vegas! We had a good time and were thrilled with the turn out!!!
2 Bloggers on Tour:
Sometimes, touring can be lonely.
Sometimes, touring can be tiring.
One Wristband Given:
For this tour, we had new wristbands made with the idea being that sales of them would go towards next year’s convention. Many people at our meet-ups bought one (or more than one!), which we are truly thankful for. I am forced to admit that I did give one away, but just one…to this guy below.
One Future Blogger:
The Irvine show had a special attendee. We are hoping that she will be ready to take over for us one day!
One Awesomely, Amazing, Durantastic Tour and Summer!
I have had other summers that featured touring but nothing quite like this one! I felt like I was on tour for literally most of the summer and when I wasn’t on tour, I was either getting ready or recovering from it. I’m anxious to go it again, but I doubt it will be any time soon. That said, I’m willing to plan for an East Coast show, though…
It is time for another v-log from yours truly and my partner-in-crime about yesterday’s Duran Duran show in Las Vegas. We figured that it would go faster to do a video blog on than a written one. It may even be more entertaining!
This v-log ended up being two videos due to unforeseen technical difficulties or really because Rhonda’s computer went into sleep mode. During these two little (don’t know why I said little…they are lengthy), we discuss Dom Brown’s stage presence, John Taylor’s fashion choices (go figure!), the good and bad with the Mandalay Bay Events Center as a venue, the awesomeness of our meet-up, why Duran Duran should never be done and more!
You might note that these two videos were completed last night or early this morning depending on how you look at it. We apologize for the sucky quality. On that note, we are off to back to California to hit the Irvine show! It’s a show day! (That said, I really wish I had a few more hours of sleep!)
Once in a while I do something so completely out of character that it even surprises me.
This time, I read a book.
To be sure, my reading something wasn’t very shocking. I wish I had even more time to read…and I will truly grab anything from political-based non-fiction (I just like reading things from a variety of points of view) to women’s fiction and romance. (And if it has the name “Karen Booth” on the cover I’m sold. Immediately.) However, this time, I actually read a book that at least in part, was centered on fashion. I can tell you the last time that happened. Never.
Anyone who knows me is well-aware that I am no fashion diva. I live in denim and t-shirts (along with sneakers or flip-flops). I make no apologies for that – it is who I am, and while I might not be the most edgiest dresser in the world, I’m comfortable, and that matters! I love art, I adore music, love books…but fashion just isn’t something I’ve ever cared much about. Don’t ask how I’ve stayed a fan of this band for so long…I think I’m more interested in the way they use their artwork and media to convey a message than I am about their clothes (which I realize is part of the story…so I’m not a complete loss), but don’t tell them that, OK? It’s our secret!!
So, back to that book. Believe it or not, I read The Glitter Plan, by Pam Skaist-Levy and Gela Nash-Taylor. Truthfully, I heard about the book from one of John’s tweets (so social-marketing really does work, by the way…), but to be completely honest, I probably would have read the book had I found it on my own (and I would have – I am an avid Amazon shopper!), and here’s why: these are two women – best friends besides – who started a huge, successful company on just $200. I wanted to read their story. They took their passion and did something with it, and that seems to be a common theme here on the blog this week!
I had very little idea of what to expect when I started the book, aside from perhaps a few preconceived notions on my part. The truth is that many many years ago, there was an article in my local paper (OC Register) about Juicy. The interviewer spent an afternoon with Pam and Gela, and he made them sound as though they were the type of women who were brainless, spending their afternoons mindlessly shopping and speaking in baby-talk, trying to be cute. I remember reading in this same article that Gela specifically said that they’d never make their clothes larger than a size 8 because you can’t be glamorous if you’re bigger than that. I’m not going to argue whether or not that is factual at this point (either the quote from my paper or her feelings in general about size, because I don’t know the truth and it really doesn’t matter for this blog), but I’m a size 10 and have been since I was a teenager…and I feel good about my size. No fashion designer has the right to take that away from me, and so it was something I always kept in the back of my mind. Now, maybe some of that is a good description of them in some limited ways (shopping sounds like it might be a hobby, and I can’t/won’t fault them for that), but in others?? So, I’ll just say that going in, my expectations were low, but I had hope.
I’m going to get real here for a second. I don’t know Gela. (I also don’t know Pam, but since Gela is married to John Taylor…well, you get the point.) I’ve never met her, and while I’ve heard stories through the ever-present rumor mill – I would really like to give the benefit of the doubt to just about anyone before making my mind up rashly. Up until today I’d never even heard her voice before, believe it or not! I also know that there’s a certain faction in the Duranie community that is unhappy (I’m being as polite and PC about this as possible) with the use of fur in her clothing line. I don’t run their business, and I *do* support their choice to run their business however they so choose. Period. Additionally, I support MY choice, and YOUR choice as a consumer. But my blog isn’t the place for grandstanding and soapboxing – you all have your own Facebook and Twitter accounts to do that if you so choose. I respect your right to voice your opinions. I also appreciate your consideration and respect for how I choose to run this blog. On the other hand, I wholeheartedly welcome comments about the book. I encourage discussion on the topic at hand, always!
All of that aside, the one thing the book did do (aside from being entertaining!), was inspire. I watched an interview of Pam and Gela this morning – I think was called Good Day Book Club – that’s where I heard them speak for the first time. Gela made a point near the end of the interview to say that one of the reasons they wrote the book was to inspire. She felt that if they could do it, others could as well. It takes passion and drive, and there’s plenty of that on example in the book.
While it’s true that when they’d start really talking about fashion a lot of the names and things they were saying went over my head (who is brainless now?!?), I couldn’t help but be impressed with the mere fact that they were so impassioned by what they wanted to do that they just went with it. Once again it’s a case where some people are just dreamers, and some are doers…and the ones who take the risk are the ones who succeed. Pam and Gela didn’t really have safety nets; they didn’t have irons thrown in the fire in three different spots – they went after the one thing they wanted most. That makes sense to me. If you’re really that passionate about something you do, or if you really want something that badly, you do whatever you have to do in order to make it work. I think that a lot of my life has been spent thinking “What if” instead of “what can I do to make it happen?”…and maybe I’m finally getting to the point where I’m starting to think about what can really be done.
I was surprised when I came to the end of the book. These didn’t seem like women who were hell-bent on making “less-than-petite” women like me feel bad about themselves. They didn’t seem like they were brainless, either. (Uh, hardly.) There was one passage in the book when they talked about going to Taco Bell, and truthfully – I nearly fell over when I read that, and I did have a moment or several when I murmured “They’re just like us. Huh. Who knew?” In fact, there were a lot of times while reading that I thought they sounded very similar to Amanda and I (words I never really expected to type). I kept thinking how maverick they were about the whole thing – they had no idea what they were doing a lot of the time, and they basically just tried to break as many rules as possible. This sounds remarkably similar!
Whatever preconceived notions I may have had of Juicy, of Pam, and especially of Gela, went out the window after reading the book. These two women seem incredibly smart, business-savvy, and fearless. The book was a really fun read, I learned quite a bit, and maybe…just maybe…I’ll pay a little bit more attention to their clothing line as a result, even though at this point, it is way out of my price range unless I decide to never attend another DD show ever again in favor of buying clothing instead.
Let’s not go THAT far….
To buy The Glitter Plan, and I highly recommend that you do…click on the picture!
On today’s date in 1980…yes, WAYYY back then…Duran Duran opened for the band Fashion at the Rum Runner. That’s right, Duran Duran opened for Fashion, not the other way around.
Isn’t it weird the way fame and circumstance work? You’re on top one day, and then somehow – the band that opens for you ends up hitting it huge while you’re struggling to make ends meet as you’re hammering it out night after night. Just one choice, one decision, may have made all the difference in the careers of both Fashion and Duran Duran. You just never quite know what’s going to happen in this world – despite the best possible intentions and planning.
I suppose it’s true for all of us. We never really know what change in direction, what one simple, easily cast decision, is going to do for us. It could be as neat and trim as the decision to walk to work one day rather than taking the bus. It could possibly be the agonizingly difficult decision of what university to attend. We just never know.
Think about it.
An outspoken examination and celebration of fandom!