Tag Archives: John Taylor

You Can Put Me Straight

It’s a Tuesday sort of catch-up on the blog today. There have been a few newsy items that have gotten my attention lately, so I decided to gather them together and bring them to you in one blog. Let’s hope I don’t leave anything out!

Found at the intersection of Incubus and JT

So, I don’t know about anyone else, but any time a band happens to mention their love for a member of Duran Duran (or the entire band for that matter), it catches my eye!

Incubus released “Into the Summer” last week, a tune that they’ve apparently bounced around for four or five years now, but finally gelled. Most notably for Duran Duran fans, their bassist Ben Kenney calls the song his “ode to John Taylor”. He describes “Into the Summer” as being very 80s retro and fun. That was enough for me to decide to give the single a fair listen.

One doesn’t have to wait long to hear the similarities – the bass line is definitely John Taylor circa Rio, and refreshingly, the whole song has that sort of joy and fun vibe I connect with Sunrise, Rio and many others. There’s a sort of 80’s power vibe feel that intersects with Rio, and somewhat surprisingly to me, it works. And yeah, I’d almost think John was playing. Even more surprising, I like the tune enough to buy it. Who knew I’d ever own an Incubus song??

You can find “Into the Summer” on Spotify, Apple iTunes, or even a snippet can be heard here at Billboard.com.

Simon sails away

Most any Duranie knows of Simon’s fondness for sailing, but did you know that he recently took to the seas along with a group of inner-city teenagers as part of his ambassadorship with Tall Ships Youth Trust? The youth onboard were responsible for all duties onboard, from cleaning to steering and everything in between. The journey was the final leg of a Round UK Challenge, funded through crowdsourcing by the Tall Ships Youth Trust.

The opportunity empowers the youth, giving them the chance to see that they too have control over their lives. The Tall Ships Youth Trust is a wonderful charity, and it is especially fantastic that Simon is able and willing to give his time.

Andy’s solo show SOLD OUT!

Andy Taylor’s first solo headlining gig in 30 years on November 27 at the London 100 Club has sold out! The capacity of the club is incredibly small at 350, which mean any of you holding tickets to the gig is incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to be there! I know many people, including myself, who are envious of your good fortune. Can’t wait to hear all about it!

As an aside, I can’t help but notice the poster design for the show. It appears to be….a wolf??? Check it out below:

If it’s really a wolf, then of course it is. I mean, why not? (Actually, I can think of ten thousand reasons why, but that’s just me) If it isn’t a wolf, then forgive me, my eyesight is obviously failing.

Moving on…

DB3 gig

What’s DB3, you say? It’s Dom’s band featuring Phil Spalding on bass and Ian Thomas on drums. They were starting to play shows a year or so ago, and then canceled a couple of dates, but it seems they’re ready to get back out and start playing live again. They will be appearing at The Rec Room in Horsham (West Sussex) on November 30th. (To be honest, it may as well be happening on the moon for all I know about the UK…but I’m just here to relay the news!) Tix are available on the website for the The Rec Room for £8.33. If you happen to find yourself with a ticket, please consider writing up a little something to share with your friends at The Daily Duranie – we’d love to host your review!

That’s all for now! Jason will be back tomorrow with another fantastic post – enjoy and I’ll catch you Thursday!

-R

Happy 22, Medazzaland!

Medazzaland is 22, today. For some reason, that number doesn’t bother me nearly as much as hearing, for instance, that Astronaut is 15…or that I’m about to turn 49 in a few weeks. Let’s just not talk about any of that, though.

They’ll say we’ll get over it

As I waxed nostalgic earlier to a friend, I can remember when Duran Duran appeared on the Rosie O’Donnell show in 1997. They were promoting Medazzaland, and I was folding laundry while my oldest was bouncing away in her little chair. I can remember hoping she’d stay quiet long enough for me to listen to the interview and see them perform!

I hadn’t bought Medazzaland yet. In fact, I don’t think I even knew they had an album coming out until I watched the show that day, which, when I think back on it – is pretty alarming. It also explains my headspace at the time. I was definitely in the full throes of postpartum depression. Motherhood was proving to be a far bigger challenge than just diapers, laundry and bottles.

Why do we still face the music?

Seeing Simon, Nick and Warren that day made me smile for what might have been the first time in months, but I also felt pretty wistful. Admittedly, they didn’t feel like the Duran Duran I’d known. It was kind of like running into people at your high school reunion. Everyone wears these name tags with their maiden names on them, along with senior pictures to remind everyone of what they once looked like – but you don’t really recognize them. You don’t KNOW them anymore. That’s kind of how I felt with Duran Duran back then. I mean, by the time Medazzaland was released in 1997, Rio had already been out for fifteen years. So yes, I guess I did struggle with that a little bit.

I’d never heard “Electric Barbarella” until that day on the show, and I can remember thinking that the tune was catchy, so I decided that I’d go get the CD when I had a chance. As different as they were, there were still hints of sounds I recognized. (No, it wasn’t all about Simon)

Not long after the Rosie appearance, I bought the CD. I can remember running into the music store and buying it while my husband and Heather happily waited in the car. It was a shock to hear Medazzaland for the first time, as my husband scanned through the songs – only hearing the first 30 seconds or so of each before moving on. I just didn’t know this band anymore, and I think that was a real shock to my system. I’m not writing this as a topic of argument, I’m just explaining how it felt to me at the time, in 1997. Things change.

Now and then you’ll get the strangest notion

There are a good many people out there who claim to love Medazzaland now, 22 years after it’s initial release, but I can remember talking to many of those same people online in the year 2002-2003 or so. There were not nearly as many well-wishers then. Music has a tendency to grow on your ears and your heart, I suppose. I’m still not sure that I love the album as much as I love others, but I recognize its importance in the overall catalog.

Medazzaland kind of allowed Nick, Simon and even Warren to spread their wings and experiment with their sound as a trio for the first time. John was gone. Andy and Roger had been gone for quite a while by then. This trio was the new Duran Duran (or Duranduran if you prefer), and they were making a-go of it. In a lot of ways, this was a brand-new band. I would imagine that it was on this album that Warren really grew more comfortable because he’d already had the success of Ordinary World and Come Undone, and John wasn’t around to side with Simon. So he and Nick grew closer, worked together far more extensively, and the music evolved as result.

Wild ambition can you really blame us

This is why they took the cover of Rio and “redesigned” it. It wasn’t just happenstance they chose that image to graffiti for the cover. They were making a statement that this was a new era. This was not the band who created Rio, this was new. They wanted to be known for who they were at that moment, not for the Fab Five, Rio, or Sing Blue Silver. There is no clearer proof than on the album closer, “Undergoing Treatment”. Read the lyrics. In fact, read them all. The story is right there, laid out in the words, and playing in the music. The problem, of course, is that you can try to outrun it….but you can’t hide from your past. It tends to follow.

Like it, love it, or something else entirely, Medazzaland was a tidal change for Duran Duran. Creatively, they pushed the envelope and broke out of boxes that critics and, yes, even fans, had insisted they stay in. Funny thing about time, too. It softens the hard edges, makes the black and white seem a bit less so. I listen to the album today, and much of it feels and sounds very much like the band I know. Call it wisdom, call it old age, even. Pop Trash, Astronaut, Red Carpet Massacre, All You Need is Now and Paper Gods all came later, and on each album there are the remnants and evolutions of sounds from Medazzaland. That’s success in my book.

Can you give a little more?

The defiance the band found in Medazzaland is still present in their music today. It gives their sound this fiery edge that I’ll hear every once in a while, which I appreciate. The difference, at least one that I hear, is along with that defiance, there is also pride. Shouldn’t they be, though? After all, they’ve been in this business for forty years. They’ve undergone enough personnel changes to have created four or even five different bands. They’ve come full circle, and then some.

Happy anniversary, Medazzaland!

-R

John Taylor on Let There Be Talk Podcast

I’m late, I’m late…I know… My tardy excuse today is that I was listening to the “Let There Be Talk” podcast with Dean Delray as he interviewed John Taylor. Yesterday, I scanned through it, picking up on bits and pieces, but today I forced myself to sit down and listen to the entire thing (at over an hour and a half – it’s a monster).

If you haven’t listened, or feel like you need a fairly comprehensive (but elementary) education on Duran Duran’s history, this may be the podcast for you. Likewise, if you are more of an auditory learner, give it a good listen. Make sure to have beverages and other sustenance available because it is hella-long. Here’s the link: Let There Be Talk featuring John Taylor.

Hard rock, The Viper Room, and plenty of gushing

Here’s the real deal: Dean Delray is very obviously someone who comes from more of a rock background, and by “rock”, I mean hard rock. Van Halen. Black Sabbath (whom he mentioned during the first MINUTE John was on the podcast), Guns ’n’ Roses… you get the idea. He has a voice that sounds like he smoked for 40 years and hung out at the Viper Room as a regular for at least 10, but who really knows.

He is what I would call a man’s man (more on that in a bit), and although he does a fair job of gushing (and yes, I do mean gushing) over Duran Duran and John Taylor (not that they don’t deserve it)…I would venture to guess the guy has spent next to no time ever really listening to their albums, or reading about their history. He knows the highlights, which to be fair is more than I can say about MANY of the people who have interviewed the band over the years. The problem is that Dean was going to attempt to chat with John for 90 minutes. Where does one go, conversationally, when you only know a smidgeon of what they’ve done??? That said…let’s just get on with the highlights before I get into more trouble.

I appreciated that the conversation opens with a discussion of the post-punk era. That lasted for approximately 15 precious seconds, when the conversation takes a strange turn. Delray brings up Black Sabbath – which caused my eyes to nearly roll back into my head. Is there really any other band that sums up the antithesis of what Duran Duran really IS at their core, than Black Sabbath? Obviously Delray was reaching for something to connect with John because Sabbath is also from the Midlands. I get it, but I don’t like where he was trying to go.

If you had to name one band that was DD’s polar opposite…

And hey, were John and Nick ever fans of Black Sabbath? I nearly spat coffee at my screen as John commented that no, he was never really into Sabbath, but he and Nick went to a show where they were playing, and knew to get out while they could. Again I ask, is there really any other band that is quite the polar opposite of Duran Duran? Probably not. I mean, Duran Duran is light, love, joy. Black Sabbath (and yes I actually *do* know their music well, thankyouverymuch) is more darkness, anger, and some control issues mixed in for good measure.

Rest assured, the train was brought back onto the right track as they continued to discuss where Duran Duran fit into this post-punk movement. John discussed how he switched from guitar to bass, and why he aspired to the sounds from black American bands like Chic. He talked about the funky power trio being at their core and how those rhythm sounds (as well as the bass) spoke to him. John also said that time really belonged to rhythm sections, as opposed to punk which belonged to guitar.

Delray then mentioned that in the 80s, Duran Duran were everywhere. DJ’s would play them, then follow with Van Halen and Prince. The common thread was that the 80s were a dance scene – bands wanted to be able to crossover and create songs that could be danced to, like “Jump” from Van Halen.

Dance, dance, dance

Funny, I just had this same conversation with my youngest as she prepares to go to her very first school dance on Friday. She’s only in 6th grade (she’s 11), and the dance is being billed as a dance/social with a carnival theme. Rather than just music and kids dancing – nowadays parents try to add in other activities. I talked about how at my middle school dances, girls (primarily, but not always) formed circles on the dance floor while we danced to the popular music of the day. She asked me what was popular then, and with profound joy (seriously, way too much joy, I think…) I pointed at our car stereo, which was tuned to SiriusXM 1stWave. “Anything they play on this channel is what Mom would dance to, including Duran Duran.” As we talked further, we agreed that kids don’t seem to have a lot of bands to dance to. It’s EDM, or like where we live – country. It’s not the same now. They have to play carnival games instead, I guess.

“What we lacked in know-how, we made up for in cajones.” – John, on “Let There Be Talk”

Simon, before…and after

They spend some time chatting about life before Simon. (Seems like that could be a fitting title for an autobiography) John gave a rudimentary timeline of the singers who held the mic before Simon came gliding in with his suave attitude, pink leopard pants, and book of lyrics. Sometimes, I wonder if the book of lyrics wasn’t more of a driving force behind Simon’s induction into Duran Duran than anyone wants to say….hmm…(thank goodness he’s still there though, am I right??) He mentionedTin-Tin Duffy and his band the Lilac Time, then talked a little more about Andy Wickett, and explained the course of events that brought him into Duran Duran. He said that Andy was a phenomenal singer, but that it just didn’t work out for him as a front man.

Simon joined the group by listening to what became Sound of Thunder a couple of times, flipping though that now infamous book of lyrics, and settling upon words that fit the music. The uniqueness of Duran Duran maintains that basic approach to this day, but back then it was John, Nick, Roger and Andy who wrote the music. Simon wrote the lyrics. All five members were equal.

Doesn’t it suck to be a boyband?

Just the topic is enough to set me off. Dean Delray doesn’t realize the minefield he stepped into as he asks the next question.

“There was a time when of course you become the teen idols. You’re fucking everywhere…Teen BeatTiger BeatDream Magazine (is that even a thing?)….any kinds of those. But at the same time it was really helping you, it was cursing you maybe in a legitimate music world. People thinking they’re just a boy band, even back then because we have boy bands all the way to now. Uh…did you feel that way, like ‘fuck this is great but it sucks at the same time’?”

John kind of pauses, which I appreciated…and I’m going to assume that he needed to collect his thoughts before answering. I know I needed to collect my jaw as it hit the ground while I was listening. He then says “uhhhh….I don’t remember thinking it sucks.”

For me, that was all that was needed. However, for the people in the back, or for those who, like Delray, believe it was a double-edged sword…John continues to explain that he didn’t mind being the pinup and in fact points out that his fans had his poster pinned up in their room to Gela (this made me chuckle) whenever possible. Amusing. If I were his wife, I’d probably put up with that exactly one time before throttling him. (typed with a grin)

“Life is foreplay for when the lights go down.” – JT


Videos

Like most who interview Duran Duran, Dean Delray doesn’t really get the videos. He knows they’re works of art “They’re 35mm films, dude, not videos!”, but he also thinks they cost millions. “Planet Earth cost about $10,000 US”, John corrects.

John gives Dean the quick rundown on why Duran Duran relied on videos, explaining that Rio was charting in Australia, about as far away as one could get from the UK, and yet they couldn’t affordably travel there to play, so their managers suggested they make videos. He described going into the studio to make Planet Earth and meeting Russel Mulcahey, and then talking about how it wasn’t until the mid-80s that videos became a multi-million dollar business. It remained pretty clear that Delray just didn’t get it as he finished the conversation on videos by saying “That thing you did on the yacht was great!” He expanded by talking about how they looked rich, living the good life and trails off just as John says that they were really “just goofballs” on the video.

Exactly. Sure, it took place on a yacht, but the moral of that video is that you can put the goofballs in nice clothes, allow them to drink champagne, and let them sail on a yacht…but they’re still going to fall all over themselves in front of a girl and throw the guitarist overboard!

They speak briefly of Sing Blue Silver, and it is just about at this point when I begin to wonder if John knew he was going to be teaching Duran Duran 101 before doing the podcast. His reward for providing that knowledge is Delray’s reply “That thing is so great!”

Oh come on….you know you’re thinking the same thing I am. Did he really know what Sing Blue Silver was?

Power Station and an evolving Duran Duran

So here’s the thing, John gives a full narrative on how Power Station came to be. The two main highlights here are:

Had Robert Palmer agreed to tour with Power Station, John feels (in hindsight, mind you), that they would have continued on, but they wouldn’t have been as important as Duran Duran.

John has so much respect for Nile, it is truly inspiring. They talk about Nile and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Chic has been nominated eleven times. ELEVEN…and even then, only Nile has been honored with an award of excellence as a guitarist. John says he (Rodgers) wears that (the knowledge) very well, that if it were him, he’d be bitter.

As many probably recognize, it was during this period that Duran Duran really evolved from a five piece to a three piece band. Dean asks about the money and the fame. Rather than succumb to discussing what had been lost along the way, John turns it around.

“A run like that, sooner or later, has to end. The momentum of what you’ve done carries you. Objectivity of your work, it has it’s place.” He continues by saying, “Treat audiences and your band mates with respect, and you can have a career.”

Delray asked about Neurotic Outsiders, a project that – out of everything – he seemed the most familiar with. He cites the Viper Room and knows the people in the band. John explains that it was a good space for him to work through the burnout he’d had (for him, it was the second time he experienced burnout with Duran Duran), and to work on staying sober and being a decent parent. This was a way for him to still have fun, by playing a residency on Monday’s at the Viper Room.

New album and closing thoughts

They closed with a bit of news on the coming album – which I shared yesterday. I also took special note of a date that John mentioned while talking about Simon’s history with the band. As they chatted about the band’s beginnings, John commented that on July 1, 2020 – it will be the 40th anniversary for the current lineup. I know this has always been a sticking point for fans, many of whom claim that the band has somehow “missed” their own anniversary in 2018.

I’m the last person to tell Duran Duran what date should be celebrated, or how they should do so. My job is to applaud it. In the case of the date though, it would appear that they want to celebrate the time when Simon was in fact part of the band. This makes sense. After all, the Duran Duran we all tend to think of actually involves Simon! So, stop with the “they forgot to celebrate their anniversary” nonsense. They didn’t. Sure, they celebrated the inception of the band back when they did the 78-03 tour. That’s called “marketing”. It’s a thing, and it isn’t an affront to anyone. It also isn’t “confusing”….it was about selling tickets and hyping up their reunion as the original five. They came up with a slick way to make it all seem a lot less contrived than saying “Hey, we need to hit the road to see if anyone will even buy tickets to come see us.” There’s nothing wrong with that.

This band isn’t one for looking back – listen to any interview over the years, and they’ll tell you that themselves. We fans have made far more out of this 40th anniversary than anyone else likely intended, including the band and management. The sights are set incredibly high, and the expectations are out of this world. No matter what the band does at this point, it may not be enough to pacify. This is unfortunate. Listen to the podcast. The one thing John says that is key for Duranies in resetting their expectations, is that the band talked a lot about what to do (if anything) about the 40th anniversary. The one thing they agreed upon, was that the best way to celebrate their career next year was with new music.

Sounds great to me, John!

Wow, after that post, I need a break! Good thing today is my “Friday” for blogging! Happy Weekend, everyone!

-R

Still In My Heart: Remembering Live Aid & The Power Station

By Jason Lent

Another Live Aid comes and goes and, as always, people have their annual chuckle about Simon LeBon missing a note during Duran Duran’s indifferent performance on the momentous day. For me, Live Aid arrived only four days after my first rock-n-roll concert and my ears were still ringing. As much as I wanted to see Duran Duran, it was The Power Station that had me glued to the television. A few nights earlier, my father took me to the outskirts of Florida civilization to witness John and Andy’s side-project at the infamous Hollywood Sportatorium. The excitement of seeing The Power Station certainly made it easier to accept the splintering mess that Duran Duran had become.


Duran Duran had played the Hollywood Sportatorium, affectionately called the Vomitorium for its lawless behavior, a year prior in March of 1984. Being a school night, I wasn’t able to convince my parents that it was the most important night of my life and I had to be there. They chalked it up to being a music crazed eleven year-old but I was serious. I knew Duran Duran were at their peak and I’ve always regretted missing that tour. My dad came through in 1985 and we stood in line for tickets as soon as the unexpected Power Station tour was announced. 


The videos for “Some Like It Hot” and “Get It On (Bang A Gong)” were colorful, sexy, and rocking. The album was an instant favorite for me whereas Arcadia’s album has taken years to fully win me over (and it has). For a first concert, I could do far worse than The Power Station and my excitement built and built as we drove down a one lane highway towards to Florida Everglades in the middle of empty fields. While South Florida eventually paved its way west into the Everglades, in 1985 the Sportatorium sat alone on the edge of civilization. We were on an adventure in my 12 year-old mind!


The decrepit arena lived up to its reputation. A few weeks earlier, a Robert Plant concert was postponed due to rain which wouldn’t be that odd except the Sportatorium was actually indoors! The crumbing ceiling was a sieve. Upon arrival, we climbed up the side of the concrete box to section 117 after a stop at the merch table to buy a concert program which I still have to this day. The scheduled support act Spandau Ballet had pulled out due to someone blowing out a knee and, I think, The Bongos might have opened the show. Can anyone confirm that? I just learned they had a song called “Barbarella” so there’s that. Regardless, I don’t remember the support act and the arena’s acoustics were a sound engineer’s nightmare so it could have been Poison and I wouldn’t have noticed.


Thinking back on concerts in the 1980s, I really miss the way they started. The excitement of the first song felt bigger back then from Jon Bon Jovi shooting from under the stage to Howard Jones’ mime winding up an audience. The opening riff of “Murderess” is still burned into my memory. As the curtains pulled back, Andy Taylor’s guitar sliced through the clouds of pot smoke and enveloped my entire being. This was rock-n-roll! I was hooked for life.  


The setlist was a mix of somewhat odd covers and the entire debut album. One of the biggest memories of the night was Miami Vice star Don Johnson joining the band on stage for a cover of  Rod Stewart’s “Some Guys Have All the Luck”. One of the most interesting songs would have been The Velvet Underground classic “White Light/White Heat” but I don’t remember it and I wouldn’t have known the VU back then. The Animotion cover of “Obsession” that DesBarres cowrote was a bigger deal to me on that night. Looking back at the setlist, I’m surprised that there were only two Duran Duran songs played (“The Reflex” and “Hungry Like the Wolf”) but I was so overwhelmed by the concert that I left on a high. 


A few days later, I spent a Saturday shifting from the living room couch to the front lawn to kick a soccer ball around awaiting the Duran Duran and The Power Station slots at Live Aid. The Power Station came out swinging at Live Aid, perhaps trying a little too hard. DesBarres runs all over the place while John and Andy play everything a little too fast. Tony Thompson, always a massive hitter, fills the stadium with ease but he was certainly thinking ahead to his set with Led Zeppelin a few hours later.


Next up was Duran Duran and it was quickly apparent that there was trouble in paradise. Roger Taylor looks completely sick of being in Duran Duran and the other four are clearly operating from two different camps. Andy Taylor sounds like he wants to bury Simon and Nick under a wall of distortion and John looks a bit ragged from his lifestyle. This is not a healthy band and Andy’s disgusted look to the stars when Simon misses the infamous note was a portent of what was to come. The fallout of Live Aid changed Duran Duran, and me, forever.


What happened after Live Aid comes back to me in pieces. I definitely didn’t buy Andy Taylor’s Thunder out of loyalty to Duran Duran but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the singles. The Power Station concert had opened my ears to dirtier guitars just in time for the rise of glam metal on MTV. When Notorious arrived, it was such a break from where Duran Duran had left off that it pushed me deeper into the world of Whitesnake and David Lee Roth, both of whom I saw at the Hollywood Sportatorium before it was torn down to the disappointment of absolutely no one. 


I finally saw Duran Duran in 1989 at the Miami Arena, which replaced the Sportatorium for us in South Florida. Empty seats and a lack of energy is what little I remember from the night. It was a difficult time to love Duran Duran but a lot of the songs on Big Thing and Notorious have aged better than Seven & the Ragged Tiger for me. Maybe The Power Station saved Duran Duran from themselves. It gave Andy an exit strategy, it finally forced them to address the divide that formed between the five men, and it forced Duran Duran to find a new sound in the aftermath. The Power Station also lit a fire in my soul for rock-n-roll that burns to this day. Other people have “cooler” first concerts to brag about but I wouldn’t trade that night in 1985 for any of them. 

Jason’s Power Station ticket from 1985!

I’ve Got My Own Way

I am a John Taylor fan.  He is my favorite.  I’m wiling to bet that you probably don’t even know that.  I’m not one to shout it from the rooftop or anywhere else.  Why is that?  I suspect it has to do with something Rhonda mentioned last week on the blog.  There are a lot of John fans out there.  I’m one of a million.  Rhonda implied that the competition over John is a fierce one and one that she is glad that she is not a part of.  I get that.  I think it is part of the reason that I’m rather shy when it comes to my admiration of the Bass God.  

Like many Duranies out there, I became a John girl in the 1980s.  In fact, I would point out that it was the video for the Reflex that did it.  At the time, I was super young.  Like nine.  Less than a decade old.  My best friend at the time also decided that John was the one for her.  I have later learned that we were weird, super unusual.  Why?  I guess that most friend groups in the 80s were such that no two friends could have the same favorite.  It was like there was an unwritten rule based on the idea that we would all grow up to marry this man of our dreams.  Since that was the case, there could only be one Mrs. Nick Rhodes.  You cannot have two Mrs. John Taylors.  So, people had to pick a unique choice.  Now, I’m uncertain how friend groups decided who gets what band member as their favorite.  Loudest friend got the first choice?  Most popular?  First person to pick?  No clue.  Anyway, my friend and I did not do that.  If I had to guess why, I think we were just too young.  While we learned that we should be thinking about the man we were going to marry, we didn’t learn that we should compete over that guy, if necessary.  So, it was cool to us to both like the same guy.  In fact, I might even say that it was reassuring to me to like the same guy as my friend. It meant that my taste was “right” or “good”.

Now, though, I’m no longer 9 years old.  I am well aware that women are subtly taught to compete for men.  I could argue that the reason that I don’t shout about my favorite is because I don’t want to compete against other women.  While part of that is true, for sure, there is more to it.  It has more to do with me.  I really don’t compete because I believe that I will lose so the best plan is not to play at all.  I think this belief of mine plays a pretty big role in how I express my fandom beyond not shouting about being a John. It definitely affects how I express my fandom on social media.

So what do I mean by “cannot win”?  What does winning look like on social media amongst Duranies?  Good question.  I don’t have a good answer but one could say that winning would be being well liked.  How do fans become well-liked?  I, at one point, thought it was that you knew a lot.  I don’t think that does it unless what you know proves you know a lot about the music (to the fans that really dig this aspect of Duranland) or it is that you have insider info or can give news alerts.  I do know a lot about Duran history but I cannot tell you details about who produced what track or what different remixes are out there.  I have no insider connections and don’t have time to give every little piece of news.  How else could people become well-liked on social media?  From my observation, another means is to be witty, funny or make cool Duran references.  Sometimes, I am okay at that but usually I have to be really comfortable with the crowd around me first.  Social media isn’t going to cut it.  I am assume that I don’t have anything super interesting to say so I don’t say much at all.  

Does this attitude include responding to “official” people’s posts including DDHQ? I sometimes think about responding and then literally the next thought is, “What would I post that would offer something of interest or substance?”  Then, I realize that I would just be repeating others and not in any cool way so I don’t.  This feeling was ten times worse when John Taylor was on twitter.  What the hell would he care what I have to say?  Though, it is funny that I don’t have the same concerns when I post about things that I feel very competent in (history, politics, education).  In those settings, I rarely shut up.  But for whatever reason I hold myself back when it comes to fandom and the subtle competition that exists.  (I know…some will deny that social hierarchy exists.  Those comments only reinforce what I know about fandom and social hierarchy.)

Two questions emerge.  First, does this make my fandom or love for Duran and John any less?  Second, do I wish to change this situation?  As for the first question, my fandom is not any less than any others even though I don’t show it in the way that many others do.  I do write this blog after all.  They must matter a lot to me.  My love for John Taylor hasn’t really varied since my 9 year old self fell for him more than 3 decades ago.  Do I wish to change this?  In some ways, yes, and in others…I’m okay.  Do I wish that there was less competition in fandom?  Absolutely. Would that make me feel more comfortable? 100%.  It is part of the reason that I blog, plan events, etc.  The more fans come together, the less competition exists.  I definitely wish that there was less judgement.  In saying all that, I acknowledge that I’m not perfect in those areas and must work on them myself.  Do I wish that I responded differently and be less worried about being accepted or liked?  Sure and I can work on changing some of that, too, while I push to make Duranland a happier place.

-A

Ah, That Die-Hard Fan Thing

Please, please tell me now

Last week, a friend of mine asked if I thought one could even be considered a die hard fan if they weren’t upset about John leaving the band back in the late 1990s.

Granted, the comment, or rather, the question, was said in jest. At the time, I said I wouldn’t touch the subject with a ten-foot pole.

Maybe what I should have said was that I wouldn’t touch the subject unless I were planning on writing a blog in advance, knowing I wouldn’t be around to manage the aftermath!!

Is there something I should know?

Seriously though – in answering that question, I think one has to have an idea of what “die-hard” even means. Funnily enough, I think we all have an image of what that might entail in our own heads. Maybe you think a die-hard is someone who doesn’t miss a tour. Perhaps you believe a die-hard fan travels to all the shows, or maybe they’re someone that many within the fan community know and recognize.

Truth be told, I don’t think there’s one set definition, and as I explained last week – I’m definitely not going to be the person to start defining it. At the very least…… I won’t be doing that while I’m sober! We all have our own ideas of what a die hard fan is. Chances are, we either think we fit that definition and are proud of it, or we work very hard to tell ourselves that we’re not…THAT kind of fan.

For many fans, the day John left the band was one of the saddest days of their lives. Others felt that way when it was Roger, or Andy…either time. For still many others though, they didn’t notice the absence all that much. Maybe John wasn’t a favorite, or maybe their attitude was simply that as long as Simon is singing, it’s Duran Duran. I can remember going to see Duran Duran at the House of Blues in 2001. I purposefully kept my eyes on Simon and Nick, willing myself to believe I was seeing all five original members, ignoring Warren and the others onstage. It was utterly ridiculous now that I think back on it, but I was a young(er) pup then. What about you?

People stare and cross the road from me

Opinions and loyalties are often the spark applied to the powder keg of arguments when it comes to fandom. None of us are unbiased. If we were, chances are, we wouldn’t be fans at all – much less hold that super special, “die-hard” label. My own personal opinion is that if you’re a fan of Duran Duran – then you’re a fan of the band. Die-hard, casual fan, or blogger! It shouldn’t matter whether or not you were upset that John left. Others might believe that only the die-hardest (that’s a word, right?!?) of them all would feel as though John’s absence was like missing part of your heart.

Quite frankly, it is all pretty dramatic for me on a Monday (because that’s when I’m writing this) afternoon. It isn’t even wine-o’clock yet!

Someday, when I least expect it, someone will hand me many vodka tonics and then ask the fateful question, “What is the definition of a die-hard fan, Rhonda?”

That’s liable to be a rough one.

-R

Like a Birthday or a Pretty View

There’s nothing quite like a weekend to make you forget your work troubles….until, of course, your writing partner texts you on a Saturday morning to tell you the site isn’t working.

Not only was the site down, but my son moved back home. Special thanks goes to my husband who drove to Riverside, picked up the boy and his belongings, then drove back up to the central coast all in one day). Then yesterday, I was shocked to find that one of my chickens laid an egg – the first of the flock!

It’s a time of some anxiety and change for my family, and for my chickens – well, they’re nesting like crazy. We were busy finishing up the nesting boxes for the coop yesterday, and one of my chickens was bound and determined to get in there and start nesting whether we were done or not! Adding the website to the top of the list wasn’t something I had in mind.

We’d been having difficulty with the site since Friday – and as it turns out, none of it was our fault (read: Rhonda’s fault) at all. So we’re back up and running now. Thankfully.

I was concerned we’d miss out on blogging during the Iceland/Denmark shows, but it turns out we made it just in time to make a little comment on Simon’s birthday celebration this past weekend in Ibiza!

Wait, what month is this?? Simon’s birthday isn’t in June!

I can’t tell you how many times I saw those lines written over social media. It’s true, his birthday is in October. It is also true that this past weekend, there seemed to be a celebration to put an exclamation mark on all other celebrations, onboard a mega yacht in Ibiza. The weather looked glorious, the party seemed to be casual and fun-loving, just like Simon himself – and yes, John, Nick and Roger, along with their respective spouses and significant others – were there for the ride. It looked like a lot of fun was had by all.

One particular moment that made Instagram (and then reposted by Duranie after Duranie) was during what appeared to be a little speech that Simon gave at some point. He mentioned that without Duran Duran, he didn’t know where he would have ended up. Simon listed John, Nick & Roger by name, and said he was so thankful to have them in his life. It was a lovely moment.

No, I’m not part of the band in any way, which makes it all the more significant that I feel the same way. I don’t know where I would be without Duran Duran.

My life is pretty wonderful all on it’s own. I mean, I have three fantastic kids, a husband I’ve been married to for almost 25 years, I live somewhere I fall more in love with every day, a few friends I trust, and some hobbies that have given me great joy.

One of those hobbies, of course, is music. More specifically, Duran Duran. While they’re not the only band I treasure, they’re the one I follow most closely. I blog about them – or some aspect thereof – four days a week! If Duran Duran didn’t exist, I would have never met Amanda, I doubt I would have done some of the traveling I’ve been able to do, and I don’t think I would have had nearly as much fun in my adult life…not to mention surviving adolescence.

I share Simon’s sentiment about Duran Duran. I’m thankful for them. I find that each time I am able to get together with my friends these days, I spend more and more time in gratitude for still having these times to look forward to than I do worrying about what they might play. I don’t really care so much what I hear, as much I as treasure the time I’m able to spend with this special group of people. Can’t wait to do it all again in September.

-R

Happy Birthday 2019, John!

I never said that I’d marry John.

This is a true statement, and I think it’s kind of funny! I know I fantasized for years about marrying Roger, and I even thought about Nick for a time or two, but never John. (We’re not even going to talk about my fellow scorpio – Simon.)

It is John Taylor’s birthday. For many, it may as well be an international holiday, judging from the looks of my social media this morning. I had no idea that so many have been less than arms length away from the man!!

In full disclosure, I am not one of those people. I would almost say I have no business writing a happy birthday post for John. Aside from loudly announcing “The album is beautiful, John!” across a very crowded table at a signing for Astronaut, I don’t think I’ve even spoken to him…or even yelled words his way. (unless you count “Play the Fucking Bass, John” at a concert. I’m not really sure I do.)

That isn’t to say I don’t greatly admire him. Of course I do. I just never thought I was going to marry him. (and it turns out, I was 100%
correct!) Even Amanda has met and exchanged words (along with a Daily Duranie wristband!) with him before…and there was that picture as he was leaving the Ace hotel in Los Angeles. I was there for that!

Funny story – that night at the Ace hotel, I was right beside Amanda and a few others as John left the hotel with Gela (and I honestly can’t remember who else). I was standing there eating some of the worst crackers I’ve ever had, all because I’d missed dinner. I was starving though, so as lousy as those crackers might have been, I was eating them, Just as I’d shoved some in my mouth – of course – out pops John Taylor from the hotel. My mouth was completely dry at the time, and I was trying to eat these stupid crackers that seemed to make my mouth even drier with every chew. I couldn’t get them down fast enough.

So my friends were yelling for Amanda and I to run up and stand with John for a picture. He was clearly in a hurry, and his wife was not amused by our fan antics one single bit. In all fairness, I am pretty much the same way when Walt and I are leaving one of his work parties. I don’t care that so-and-so wants to get one last word in about a product they’re working on. It’s actually NOT lovely that his boss wants us to meet gorgeous wife #6, or talk to my husband about the upcoming trade show. Do it at work! Do not get in my way, people – I’m going HOME now.

Say what you will about wives buying into the dream when they marry a rock star. When it all comes down to it, at the end of the day, all wives want to do is go home, get into comfy clothes, and have their guy take out the damn trash…and maybe grab them a bowl of ice cream while they’re in the kitchen. Gela doesn’t strike me as an ice cream person, but you get the idea. Maybe she wants a nice kale salad before bed, or something, who knows?!? All I really know for sure is that a husband, is a husband, is a husband, John Taylor or not! They’re all men, and we’re all women, when it comes to life at home, people!

Anyway, as I took a quick once-over at the entire situation there in front of the hotel. John stopped long enough to allow a picture, and I saw Gela standing in front of their car, ready to go…and I was still chewing. I realized there was no way I’m was doing it. Nope. Instead, I casually took about three giant steps backward, cheered Amanda on, and congratulated myself on once again, avoiding a super awkward situation with one of my idols.

I’m so good.

<you should in fact read sarcasm, and imagine an eye roll right here>

As I stood there, I was able to really see the insanity in all of it’s glory. I was thrilled for Amanda, no doubt about it – I mean, that was her favorite, right there beside her! No part of me was jealous because that’s dumb, and I’m the one who refused to take part. As I was finally getting the last of the mouthful of crackers down my gullet, narrowly avoiding choking on them, I heard my friend Katie loudly say, “Smile, John!” He snapped into full rock star mode, breaking into a toothy grin. I would have sworn the words were like Pavlov’s Bell.

I chuckled as I leaned against a pole. All I could think about was how well-trained John was to the whole picture-taking, fan-paparazzi thing. I decided in that one millisecond that it would drive me crazy if I were famous. I glanced over at the Escalades lined up in the street. Gela was crossing her arms at this point, and my friends had the nerve to ask John to smile on top of just having him stand there. God, I love Duranies. There were people milling all over the place, and I was starting to see (and hear) other Duranies crooning for his attention as he dashed off to the car. I can only imagine what Gela must have said to John as he got to her side and into their vehicle that night. I stood there and said nothing. It all happened so fast that I could have blinked…or chewed some crackers…and missed it. Instead, those few seconds seemed to drag on, probably so that I’d be able to commit them to memory forever.

Several years later—like just this past February—I had the opportunity to ask a mutual friend if it drove John crazy to be stopped every few feet, or if they think it’s crazy to have people want 50,000 photos, or to see people practically living in their hotel lobby. She said that it doesn’t bother him most of the time, and that he gets it.

(I’m still not entirely sure I’m buying that he’s on board with the lobby situation, but whatever floats your boat.)

Of course he gets being a fan, though. I’m equal parts not surprised, and genuinely shocked at the same time. I suppose a part of me always figured that human nature would dictate annoyance. I mean, who really freaking wants to be stopped every few feet? I don’t care if you are a living rock GOD, or if you’re John Taylor and owe your success to fans like me (which I find to be a pretty repugnant statement that entitled fans like to throw out whenever they please) – you also sometimes just want to go up to your room in peace. By the same token, John has spoken about his own idols and his own fandom enough to where I realize that out of everyone in this band – if anyone does get it – it’s him.

I think that’s probably what I admire most about John…at least from afar. He is pretty normal. I mean, for somebody who has been a rock star for most of his life, anyway. Upon first glance, you look at him and think he’s got to be just about perfect. Right?!? But then, you realize he’s worn glasses that were probably thicker than yours, and you see him dance on stage, and you’re like – Oh yeah. You ARE still human! Thank goodness!!

It’s true, I’ve never met the guy. I am friends with some of his closest friends (true story!!), but I’ve never met him. Yet. (who knows??) I just know the same things that the rest of you do about him. I like that he gives back. He continues daily work on a serious, life threatening illness – addiction – and used what he has learned from it to help other people. I just don’t believe people give back in that way unless they mean it. That matters to me. He also wears what I would call high-water track pants on stage, and has a sense of fashion that quite frankly, makes me laugh. I’m thinking of that sequined jacket of Gela’s he stole for a photo in Vegas, and of course – the neon pants he (and Simon – in different colors) wore to an interview in Toronto a few years back. Awesome. I love it. Then again, I live in denim jeans. So, there you go.

Once upon a time, John was pretty active on social media. One of the things I remember most was that he had followed a couple fans (not me, but others). I remember wrangling the idea in my head because on one hand – he should be able to follow, befriend, and converse, with whomever he wants. On the other hand – it meant certain disaster. Fans compete for that sort of thing, and I felt it might get ugly. Even so, I encouraged it because I really believed (and still do believe) that fan engagement matters. One day – not long before he quit social media altogether – he tweeted something about how people can get their feelings hurt once he followed and then unfollowed them. I’d not thought about that. I’ve been followed and unfollowed thousands of times now. I don’t even pay attention anymore because it doesn’t matter to me personally. It’s just Twitter. That said, I’m pretty sure I’d notice if someone important to me followed me, and then unfollowed me. I felt awful, because he was right. I think John understood being a fan better than I even did.

John is one of the most knowledgable music people I (don’t) know. I still thoroughly enjoy hearing about his music recommendations when he is a guest in the Katy Kafe. I appreciate that he wants to learn how to paint someday, maybe. I can’t even draw much, beyond doing a pretty good freehand copy of Pikachu. (It’s a Pokemon. I did learn a few things from being a mom, I guess.) Weirdly, I like that he’ll even mention what he might want to do when he retires from Duran Duran. I guess that does sound funny, and I’m sure many fans recoil in horror at the idea. I just like the idea that in some super small way, we can get past Duran Duran and just be people. Is that strange? Probably.

I may not be normal, and I may not have ever said I was going to marry John…but I DO wish him a very happy birthday! As I said on social media: Thank you for continuing to inspire (and teach) me. See you in September!!

-R


Was the Pop Trash Era Best?

Now that the beat is slow

DDHQ’s choice of the video for “Someone Else Not Me” for “Watch it Wednesday” sparks discussion of the Pop Trash era.

Admittedly, there were years from the mid-90’s until I saw the band for the Up Close & Personal tour in 2001, when I didn’t pay quite as much attention as I did in the 80’s. I was still interested, and believe me when I say my ears perked up at the mere mention of Duran Duran. Even so – my room was no longer wallpapered with posters and pinups. I grew up, and stopped needing those posters, I suppose.

I’ve spoken or traded posts and messages with a good many Duran Duran fans who proclaim the Pop Trash era to be their favorite – and if it wasn’t the music itself being mentioned, it was the live shows. Many of these fans are my personal friends within the DD community. I dare say that most of my friends in this community are die hard Duranies at heart.

Something I want to say

I only went to one Pop Trash era show—the one at the House of Blues for the Up Close & Personal tour in 2001. I will continue to scream “that single show changed my entire life” from the rooftops, but not for the same reasons that seem to come up with other fans. For me, that show re-opened up a door into my heart. I felt so much joy in being there in that room that I completely lost myself in the show. I didn’t even know the Pop Trash album that well at the time. The music between us, indeed.

Obviously, we can all make note of the hysteria present during the early 80s. Clearly that was missing by the late 90s. The era tends to ignite my curiosity not because of the fans who had left by that time, but by those who stayed connected.

Burst this bubble

So many of my friends who were truly engaged during Pop Trash speak so fondly of that time and those shows, over the years I’ve wondered what made it so. Sure, for many who loved the Pop Trash and Medazzaland albums, the answer is obvious. The music fuels the passion. For others, it was likely the proximity to the band itself. I have friends who tell me that back then, the band really seemed to embrace the fans. Rather than treating them like asylum escapees with a registered potential for violence quotient – they acted like they were old friends.

Were the fans just friendlier at the time? The late 90s -2000s were early days of the internet. Social media hadn’t yet hooked us with its talons. The reunion was a blip on the horizon, but no fan even suspected the possibility just yet.

Were die-hard fans during this period there more for the music than the nostalgia?

To type the words seems so judgmental. I don’t mean it quite that way, but to be fair – don’t you wonder what the ratio between die-hard and “I-heard-a-single-from-Pop-Trash-on-the-radio” potential fans were in any given audience on the Up Close & Personal tour might have been? Let’s just be blunt: there IS a certain percentage of the greater fan base that continues to show up because they’re still in love with the pinup images of John, Simon, Nick and Roger. That doesn’t mean every fan from the 80s lives in nostalgia, it simply means some still might.

Hardest thing is to let go

I can’t say whether I’ve tested my theories enough to call them law, but I have definitely noticed a certain “Where were YOU in the 90s?” attitude that has permeated over the years. If you suggest that you stuck around during that time, you’re alright. If, like me, you mention a sabbatical, however brief – one can sense the eyes upon you narrowing as they scrutinize from head to toe. Judgments are made based on how one answers the simple questions of what live shows you’ve seen, or whether or not you remained a “true” fan during the lean 1990s.

On the other hand, and most likely one attached to the body of someone who haughtily says they’re not at all nostalgic to 1980’s Duran Duran – there is the fact that during these same Up Close & Personal shows, the band played a FAR more varied set list, filled with songs from—oh yes, you guessed it—their first few albums and B-sides. Not nostalgic, you say? Please, tell me more about that. Fandom is fueled by nostalgia.

I don’t necessarily think I’ve discovered the answers to the questions on my mind, but on second thought, I’m really not sure there are black and white answers to be found. Fandom is complex. This isn’t math. There aren’t firm answers, even though people like me really might prefer that. A lot of the ground we walk on is slippery. I would know, I’ve fallen a lot. And repeatedly. Then, I’m a bit of a klutz trapped in a china shop. Save the china!!

-R

I’ve Been Waiting For You

It’ll take a little time

I apologize for my tardiness today. I’m currently taking a break from a morning filled with online car shopping to write a few words here. My poor Lexus died a sudden death last week, despite my insistence that it could be fixed. (actually, it *can* be fixed…but it will cost me more than the car is worth. *sigh*) So, onward and upward, right?

The funny, and probably very sad, thing about me and that car is that we were pretty attached. Or I was to IT…rather. It was my dream car, and I fell in love with her (yes, it’s a she) immediately. I thought she was perfect, and I can honestly say I enjoyed every single minute of the thirteen years (nearly to the day) that she ran. That car was the most reliable vehicle I have ever had. In fact, the current oil leak and transmission issue (or death, rather) are the ONLY two problems the car has ever had that weren’t entirely man-made. (I did crack the oil pan once in a smallish accident that we won’t go into here.) No joke – Lexus makes a reliable car, and if they want to give me a new one, I’ll gladly take it as payment for my remarks. <wink, wink>

Stay wilder than the wind

Out with the old and in with the new, I guess. That’s kind of the way it is, isn’t it? I’ve had my Lexus long enough to where I am familiar with every subtle nuance, but it wasn’t always that way. For example, when I first got the car, on Mothers Day in 2006, I spent the first year or two marveling over the idea that I was driving my dream car. Fangirl mode, anyone? I knew next to nothing about the car at the time, but I knew I liked it.

However, as the years went by, I stopped being starry-eyed over driving a new car. I learned when things didn’t sound quite right, or when it was time for an oil change. I knew something cataclysmic was happening well before my husband ever listened to my worries. I’d poke at him when we’d be driving and say “Do you hear that little hum? That’s not right.” He’d listen and say “It’s FINE, Rhonda.” I’d sit back in my seat, full-well knowing the end was nigh. As much as I loved that “new car” feeling, there is something very satisfying about knowing my vehicle well. Good, and bad.

Words, playing me deja vu

Oddly, I think the same holds true with Duran Duran. I’ve been a fan of this band since the early 80s, and I was probably ten or maybe eleven when I first heard them. Very quickly after that, they became my obsession. I definitely fawned over photos, pretended to pass out when they’d come on the television. My bedroom walls, along with my school locker and folders for class, were decorated, and I absolutely had a favorite band member (Hello, Roger….I say in my most sultry voice…which isn’t sultry at all. *sigh*). I was absolutely a fan girl in every sense. Theband could do no wrong. It didn’t even occur to me that they could have opinions I wouldn’t like! The idea of not agreeing with them on one thing or another never even crossed my mind.

The weird thing is I’m 48 now. I don’t want to count the years – but there’s been a quite a few since those first days of staring deeply into Roger Taylor’s eyes….on the pinup pages of my Tiger Beat magazine! I doubt I know everything there is to know about Duran Duran, although I’ve certainly tried. Their history is well-known – I’ve studied them so long now, it feels like my story too. Their songs, music and videos have been the soundtrack for most of my life. I think I know the band itself rather well now. But do I know the people?

Is it something real

Definitely not. Sure, I can pick them out of a lineup, but I don’t know them as a true friend might, and that’s OK (and not the point I’m trying to make here at all). I appreciate the Katy Kafe’s that go beyond the surface “Duran Duran” stuff. Finding out a little bit about them as people, such as listening to John explain his interest in visual art, or what photography exhibits Nick has been to lately makes them seem a lot less enigmatic. I actually enjoyed hearing what Simon thought of our presidential elections, or even what type of food Roger likes to eat. While I recognize it’s not even remotely possible for them to have reciprocal relationships with 99% of the fans out there, I do like hearing and learning more about them as people. I’d have to imagine that while they realize talking and selling the brand is important – they probably like discussing something other than what they’re working on in studio too. (Not gonna lie here, if I were them, I’d be sick of it by now. I can almost hear them stiffen or shift position in their chairs just before Katy asks about the studio!)

The chances of getting to know John, Roger, Nick or Simon to the point when I can immediately recognize when something is “off” is highly unlikely for me, or most fans, I am sure. Even so, I appreciate having the chance to get even the tiniest of peeks into their “real lives”. I don’t feel slighted when I hear that one of them doesn’t like the same sort of food I do, for example. I’m not offended that maybe John has a real interest in politics. I love that he’s different from me in exactly the same way that I adore Amanda. Thank goodness there are people who are unlike me and have different joys! For me, learning about the band as actual, real, people isn’t about validating my own self though their likes and dislikes. I appreciate our differences, smile at the similarities, and today— I’m particularly grateful they don’t have failing transmissions!

-R