The inexplicable decision to record Thank You in the wake of a commercial resurgence continues to perplex me whenever I revisit it. Duran Duran have a few solid covers to their name but few of them made it onto Thank You. If they had either released a covers album on par with David Bowie’s Pin Ups (a tall order for any artist) or put out a new studio album with a few hit singles to maintain their momentum, the 1990s might have gone much differently for the band. What should have Thank You sounded like? That is a question I plan to address in part two of this essay. For now, I am more excited about the idea of younger bands wearing their Duranie influence on their sleeves.
The recent cover of “Hungry Like the Wolf” by Muse is far more significant than has been noted. The 2014 tribute album Making Patterns Rhyme was a beautiful collection of ethereal covers but apart from Warpaint (and veteran Moby), the artist list was more underground and obscure. Muse are playing sold-out arenas right now. They are one of the few rock-n-roll bands who can do that in today’s industry. And they covered “Hungry Like the Wolf” without a hint of hipster irony. If you haven’t heard this slice of sonic gold, check it out here:
Muse joins The Deftones, and Eagles of Death Metal, as contemporary bands willing to fly the Duran Duran flag with sharp covers. The influence of the band can be traced through almost every sub-genre of popular music today and popular culture’s retro fetish has again made Duran Duran fashionable. It gets me excited for what happens tomorrow. Here is my list of twelve dream covers of Duran Duran songs.
1. Peaches – “Girls On Film”
The current live version of the song by Duran is what I’m imagining with a Peaches cover. Her ability to deconstruct gender roles makes this a lyrical feast for her to dine on. Check out how she balances guitars and electronics on “Boys Wanna Be Her” and you hear some of Duran’s DNA percolating beneath its surface.
2. Gerard Way (My Chemical Romance) – “First Impression”
OK, we have to get MCR to reunite for this to work but I can see that happening in the not too distant future. Regardless, Gerard Way’s solid solo album would have been a good home for this cover as well. Slathering the lyrics in some teenage angst would give it a stronger narrative punch. I can see the band playing a goth prom with young kids “turning on the animal” and knocking over the lockers as they run out into the night.
3. The Killers – “Planet Earth”
This seems so obvious it may have already happened and I missed it. The vocal line suits Brandon Flowers perfectly and the rhythm track would be a rollicking fun ride with Ronnie Vanucci Jr. pounding the skins. The influence of Duran Duran is all over Hot Fuss and it’s not like The Killers are making interesting music at this point (Wonderful Wonderful? Umm, no and no.).
4. Kacey Musgraves – “Lonely In Your Nightmare”
She would own this! Strip it back to an acoustic ballad with a little steel guitar playing behind her. As a country artist, she has confounded expectations at every turn and a Duran Duran cover would be another unexpected move. She could probably sing any Duran song and make it work but these lyrics seem to best suit her style.
5. Let’s Eat Grandma – “Come Undone”
When Let’s Eat Grandma take the stage at Coachella in April, they will convert even more listeners to their unique alchemy of glitchy synths and soaring pop. Covering this song demands a complete re-invention because it is hard to top the original. Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth were born long after the song was a hit so they could shatter it and re-arrange the shards into a beautiful new prism.
6. Sunflower Bean – “Do You Believe In Shame?”
Julia Cumming’s voice and bass tone are in this song’s sweet spot. Sunflower Bean can shift from Blondie disco-punk to Fleetwood Mac balladry in seconds so they could take this in a few interesting directions. One of Duran Duran’s most beautiful songs, it really deserves to be revived and shared with new listeners.
7. The 1975 – “New Moon On Monday”
I don’t know why but I can see this video already with Matty Healy looking mysterious on crowded London streets. The nonsensical lyrics (A lizard mixture? Help us out, Simon.) are no problem for Healy. He could sing anything and teenagers would go crazy. The 1975 already borrow a lot of their aesthetic from the 1980s so this wouldn’t be a creative leap for them to tackle.
8. Robyn – “Electric Barbarella”
Nobody makes dance music like Robyn and this song would be the perfect companion to her classic “Dancing With Myself”. Sprinkle a little Swedish electro-pop fairy dust on the song to give it a stronger kick drum that shakes the walls and you have a hit song. Hearing Robyn whisper “princess of my dreams” would leave us begging for more.
9. IDLES – “Wild Boys”
Last year’s Joy As An Act of Resistance won IDLES critical acclaim and a legion of positive-minded punk fans who are ready to kick toxic masculinity in the face. Never an easy vocal for Simon LeBon, IDLES could reimagine it as a working-class anthem for young men trying to do right by this world.
10. Garbage – “Pop Trash Movie”
OK, Garbage probably don’t need to cover Duran Duran but their recent version of Bowie’s “Starman” was a sheer delight. The only band on this list to have also done a Bond cover, Shirley Manson would bring this song to life. Manson would sell the narrative, too. She knows exactly what this song is trying to say and she could deliver it with more force than Duran Duran.
11. St. Vincent – “Too Much Information”
Annie Clark’s immense guitar skills and anti-establishment attitude would suit this better than Duran Duran. No soda company will ever sponsor a St. Vincent tour. She would turn it inside out with a less linear version, I believe. Her and Dua Lipa covering this at this year’s Grammy Awards would have been a joy to see.
12. Pale Waves – “Night Boat”
Pale Waves straddle the border between dark pop and dreamy gothic atmosphere which makes “New Religion” the perfect tune for them. They would slow it down to a glacial pace, perhaps, and take it from Birmingham to Manchester where the heavy clouds of Joy Division could strip it of any color. Pale Waves are finding success injecting irresistible pop songs with darker, more artistic tones. Sound familiar?
Jason Lent (Velvet Rebel Music) discovered Duran Duran on MTV in 1983 and a lifelong musical love affair was born. In 2010, he left a job in Hawaii to tour with Cowboy Junkies as a music writer and his work has appeared in various online music outlets. He currently resides in Las Vegas managing a music venue while trying to learn John Taylor’s bass line from Rio.
Has anyone seen the petition going around to stop Kanye West from recording a David Bowie tribute album?
I’ve seen the petition circulating, and while I admit I chuckled at the very idea, I also didn’t consider signing, even for a short second.
Let’s consider what music really is, to begin. Music is a performing or performance art. Whether one is writing the music, performing it, or doing both – art is being created. So then, what’s art? Merriam-Webster says it’s something that is created with imagination and skill; and that is beautiful or that expresses important ideas or feelings. Herein the struggle lies, and why music and art critics (and appraisers and/or valuation experts) have jobs…who decides what counts as imaginative, or skillful? How about beauty? It’s all pure opinion. Nothing more, nothing less. Sure, there are certain foundations of art that have been (mostly) agreed upon by the masses over the years, even so, it still comes down to basic opinion…and oddly, that opinion can change over time!
Before I continue, let me be forthright: I am not a fan of Kanye West. Unlike many, I don’t find his art to be particularly…well….good. It doesn’t bother me that all members of Duran Duran like him, or that Mr. Hudson worked with him in the past and apparently uttered the words, “Kanye-approved” at least a few times during the recording of Paper Gods. I’m gonna let that go for now. The point is, his work isn’t of my interest, and as someone pointed out last night, he’s gotten along just fine without me to this point…and I him, I might add. That said, like it or not, it’s still art…and my opinion of him is just that. He still has the right to create.
Which leads me to this: who are we to decide what IS or is NOT worthy of being created? That is a very different thing from deciding not to support one artist or another…we are talking about a petition that is saying someone doesn’t even (or shouldn’t even) have the right to create. Who is to say it wouldn’t be another artist or band next…because once that floodgate is opened….who is really going to be able to shut it?
I have no doubt that the person who created this petition didn’t really think it through. In fact, I’d love to find them and interview them for Daily Duranie because I think there’s much to be learned from a short, colorful trip through that person’s head. I’m sure that person, likely a huge fan of David Bowie’s, stood back, shook his head at the idea of Kanye recording a tribute, using David Bowie’s music, and said, “No way.” I can understand at least that much. After all, I lived through the comments from fans about a certain Duran Duran tribute album last year as I promoted the work here on the blog. People seem to get their knickers in a twist when art they love is reimagined into something entirely different. The trouble is, who are we really to decide what and/or who is worthy to reimagine or become a part of the conversation?? And…if that alone doesn’t grab you, let me stir the pot in another way: What if it were Duran Duran? Just imagine a scenario where someone decided they were sick of Duran Duran, and didn’t want them to ever cover another David Bowie song, and started a petition? Here’s the thing: once we allow a petition like this to happen for one artist, it could happen for anyone, anywhere. There would be petitions popping up everywhere limiting who or what could be created or recreated, and instead of art being organically sculpted by the imagination in one’s head – the opposite would be happening. Organizations would be deciding what might be more pleasing to the masses and encouraging that kind of art and perhaps not allowing others. Fascinating. Doesn’t that sound vaguely familiar to what labels already do???
One more thought – what about David Bowie himself? After all, it is his work we’re talking about, isn’t it? Would David Bowie want a petition to decide who and when his work could be used as inspiration? I doubt it. I highly, highly doubt it. After all, above all else, David Bowie was an artist. A creator. For much of his career, his own work was criticized and known to shock. That’s what art DOES. It provokes a profoundly deep, emotional response. This petition is effectively saying that after his death, we agree to put his work on a pedestal and not allow anyone else to enter into that narrative unless agreed upon by the masses. That, my friends, is the opposite of art.
This just isn’t a bus I’m getting on. At the precise moment we as a society decide that we have the right to tell someone what kind of art they can create, we’ve completely lost the full definition of what art really IS. If one really wants their voice heard, don’t buy the album – should it really happen, don’t support Kanye West as an artist if one so chooses…but don’t stop someone from being creative, and certainly not in the name of David Bowie.
‘Tis the season. I woke up this morning to lots of beautiful, peaceful, white snow on the ground. It reminded me that the holiday season is just around the corner. This means vacation, family time, good food, and more. This year, the holiday season (no matter your holiday of choice) feels like a good time to appreciate what you have and embrace your loved ones. For me, this embrace will still include gift giving. Why? I like to give gifts and like to make my family and friends happy. Perhaps, you feel the same or, maybe, your family and friends are trying to figure out some items that they might buy you, the Duranie in their lives! Here are some suggestions!!
Duran Duran Official Store
During this time of year, I always recommend checking out what is available in the official Duran Duran store. Usually, there are some new goodies as well as some classics to buy. Here are the items that have caught my attention!
Holiday Bauble Set
These are due out on Monday!! I love that they are hand decorated glass and come in a wooden display box. Super cute!!!
Paper Gods Products
Both of these t-shirts were available on tour and super cute in person. The rhinestone one, in particular, is very cute! The things I really like about the current t-shirts is that they fit really well and are super soft!!!!
Of course, there are more Paper Gods products in the store! I know that the coffee mugs caught my attention, including the one below:
Classics in the Store:
I also love, love, love that there are items with various logos representing various Duran Duran eras.
Even if these products don’t suit your fancy, there is plenty more Duran Duran related items to buy this year. One item that I might recommend is:
Paper Gods Vinyl
I know it is available at Amazon and I just read that it is available at Barnes and Noble in the US as well! To me, vinyl really makes me appreciate the music more and this one is no exception! Speaking of this musical format, Amazon also has Notorious and Big Thing available on vinyl, too!!
Unstaged on DVD
My copy of this just arrived! Be on the look out for a review of it soon!!!
Perhaps, your interest in Duran Duran covers has been renewed or ignited after hearing and buying your copy of Eagles of Death Metal’s version of Save a Prayer. If so, here are some cover albums that you might want to check out!
Perhaps, you are interested in adding some books to your library that have a Duran connection. For recommendations, please check out some of the ones we like right on our homepage. 🙂
What else am I missing? Ah…yes. Maybe, some might opt to give money for touring. After all, concerts aren’t free! Perhaps, you all need a reminder of how good Duran Duran is. If so, I recommend watching this brand new clip of their performance on the Graham Norton show:
On that note, happy shopping for the Duranie(s) in you/your life!
What has happened, officially, in the Duran Duran universe; what is the latest Duran Duran news from the last week? Read on to find out!
Nick, Fashion and Musical Artists
Did you read Nick’s note over on duranduran.com? He attended a fashion show in London and was able to hear/see some musical artists that he really likes. I always enjoy hearing what the band members are up to!
Dom Brown Music Playing a Fundraiser
Dom Brown’s band outside of Duran Duran is playing a fundraiser on January 23rd in Swindon to support the Swindon Arts Centre. Details here!
Fretless Bass Reviews John’s In the Pleasure Groove
Have you read this review of John’s autobiography? It is a good review, which captures the book well. My only question is: What took them so long?!?
War Child Gig
Interested in trying for tickets to see Duran Duran play for the War Child UK benefit? Here is some of the latest information, posted on the band’s official Facebook page.
Making Patterns Rhyme: A Tribute to Duran Duran
This tribute album, which features 22 covers of Duran Duran songs and artwork by Patty Palazzo is now available on CD for purchase! Get your copy here!
It is Sunday! It is time to recap the week! As always, please let me know if I missed anything!
“Lorde’s ‘Hunger Games’ Soundtrack featuring “Kingdom” with Simon Le Bon and Charli XCX
Lorde has curated the soundtrack for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Pt. 1. This soundtrack will feature none other than Duran’s very own Simon Le Bon. Simon has teamed up with Charli XCX to do a song called “Kingdom”. This soundtrack is due out on November 17th. For all the details, check out the press release and this blog post. You can also read an article on billboard.com.
October Collector’s Corner
This month on dd.com, the collector’s corner focuses on Simon and all of his different projects outside of Duran Duran. If you are someone who is a big Simon fan or someone who wants to know the complete history of the band, I recommend checking it out here.
Live from London
Can you believe that it has been 9 years since Live from London was released? I was very lucky to be able to go see this live concert in the movie theater, which I wrote about here.
Apparently, Unstaged is now available on DVD in Australia. Has anyone in Australia purchased it? I would love a review!
Apparently, Roger did a little DJ gig at a charity event for the Duke of Edinburgh in London. This organization focuses on young people from 14 to 24 to help them gain the necessary skills for work and life. I would head to Duran’s Facebook page to see a picture of Roger at work!
Have you checked out the Ask Katy questions on dd.com lately? See what was asked about songs from Seven and the Ragged Tiger being played live and the band’s response here.
Making Patterns Rhyme: a tribute to Duran Duran
Did you see that the entire 22 track album is available for pre-order on iTunes? It is available October 28th!
John Taylor Supporting Henley Recovery Cafe
John was in the news this week for supporting the recovery and peer support program of the Henley Recovery Cafe as he visited and shared his experiences in recovery.
Yasmin’s Birthday Surprise
Check out the band’s Facebook page to see a picture of Simon and Yasmin at Yasmin’s Surprise Birthday Party! We wish her a happy one!
Next week should be a busy one with the release of the tribute album and Duran Duran in Austin! Until then…
If anyone would have told me four years ago that not only would I still be writing Daily Duranie, but that I would interview the owner of a record label, I would have told them they were crazy. Life has a funny way of working out, and there aren’t many better examples than that of Paul Beahan, self-proclaimed fan of Duran Duran, and the man behind Manimal Records.
After listening to most of the released cuts from ‘Making Patterns Rhyme’ over the past several months, I really wanted to interview Paul for the blog. I worked up enough nerve to ask, and was lucky enough to have him enthusiastically agree. I had done some research prior to the interview, and one thing became crystal clear almost immediately: I am not cool enough to be interviewing Paul. I bit my nails and worried as I punched the numbers to dial him for our chat by phone a few weeks ago. In hindsight, if every interview could be as comfortable and easy as this one, I would probably stop being so nervous.
Like many of us, Paul grew up as a DD fan. He openly admits that his older sister, Shelly, was the driving force behind his fandom as it began in San Diego, California. We at Daily Duranie (since we’re totally in favor of converting siblings, husband, children, and so on), applaud her success. I picture a young Shelly quizzing an even younger Paul on the band members or playing the first album for him back when they were practically babies… who knew it would all end up like this??
For the uninitiated, Paul Beahan might not be a household name just yet. Having already made a name for himself in the fashion world as a stylist, he’s taking on music with his indie-label Manimal. I had to ask how he got involved in fashion, and subsequently the music industry.
He begins, “…I went from playing music to going to school and living in LA from San Diego, and kind of out of desperation, I just started getting work. I was working at high-end designer retail stores when I was in my late teens and early twenties just to try to kind of help pay my way through school. I became friendly with Rachel Zoe in my early, early twenties. I was basically desperate to escape the retail world, so I just hit her up and said, ‘Hey, if you need an assistant, call me.’ I started assisting her and a few other stylists, and after a year or so I kind of realized I could do it on my own. I kind of was just able to play that character [a stylist]. It’s really funny…as a child of the 80s, Duran Duran were a big part of that inspiration…they basically taught me about fashion as a kid. I wouldn’t have known who Vivienne Westwood was without them.”
This last comment of course, makes sense to me, because let’s face it, I still really don’t know Vivienne Westwood. I know that I probably should, and I do at least recognize the name, but otherwise? I fail miserably as a student of Taylor, Taylor, LeBon, Rhodes when it comes to fashion. Pondering, I decide that this is probably not something I should share with Paul. As these thoughts roll through my subconscious, Paul continues. “So, kind of out of desperation, that’s kind of how I got involved being in fashion – I was able to play a character for a really long time. That was like, ‘The Stylist’, and I had a very lucrative and successful career. By about 2006, I got a little bit…I knew I needed something to keep my sanity going, which was back to my original passion of music, and I had enough money at the time to self-fund a record label, and I did that in 2006 and got really lucky. The second record we put out was Bat for Lashes’ first album and it was a massive success. It sold a quarter of a million copies.”
Talk about hard work and luck. If I learn nothing else from this and the other interviews I’ve done lately, it’s that hard work and passion count for nearly everything. I mention this to Paul, and wonder aloud if being a stylist is as hard as I think it must.
He formulates an answer rather quickly, “To anyone who works a labor job, those guys know hard work, but from a mental stress level…I guess that phrase ‘there’s too many cooks in the kitchen’? I feel like, obviously that comes from the culinary world, but I feel like in the fashion world it applies too. As a stylist you’re not just trying to please the photographer or the client, you’re trying to please the art director, the producer…the photographer and their crew. You’re like the first one to show up and the last one to leave, and if anything goes wrong, even if it doesn’t involve clothing, you’re kind of the one that still gets the blame for it? It’s what I call a ‘headfuck’.” He chuckles, “I did it for eleven years and got out of it…it was a big sacrifice having to give up that money. To just solely focus on Manimal, I had to turn [it] into more than just a record label. That’s kind of what we are now, we’re a full-service music company now.”
Work ethic matters, and Paul seems to be the type of person that always has to be moving and challenged. Owning your own record label definitely has the potential to be an overachiever in those areas, so I ask about the size of Manimal and how many artists they have currently have on their roster.
“Currently active artists…we have about twelve…it definitely keeps us busy. I mean, our PR roster, which are artists that other companies have hired us to do publicity for them, I mean, that’s about 30-40 extra artists, but as far as the label goes, it’s a good blow to have about twelve. We’ve released almost 60 records over the last almost eight years, and you know, it just depends on if the artist is active or not. Some artists just put out these great records and we just try to get them out there and get attention; but there are very few artists that actually go out there and tour and are constantly and consistently making videos and doing cool stuff. Those are the ones that require more attention, or deserve the most attention…I would say you can figure if you do the math, that of twelve active artists you are lucky if you have three [that are really active]. So twelve sounds like more than it actually is.”
This launches us into a deeper discussion of work ethic. I mention that I’ve done some limited work with newer bands, and the whole “work ethic” thing tends to be a little lacking. I’ve seen bands…I won’t even bother naming them because they’re no longer around, sit back and say, “Ok, I opened for Duran Duran and so I’m done now. Where are my fans?” It just doesn’t work that way. That’s just the beginning. Paul agrees, chuckling, “Yeah, it’s [work ethic] rarely ever there. The reason why Duran Duran are who they are, and U2 are who they are, is because of work ethic. They worked their asses off. Duran Duran had to work their asses off for about five years before they ever probably got a decent check. U2 as well. Five or six years before they ever got that first six-digit check to go buy whatever they want.”
So about that crazy band we all know and love…how did Paul get them on board with the tribute album? Paul recalls, “Well, he [John Taylor] first got involved with Manimal when we were doing the David Bowie tribute, which Duran Duran did ‘Boys Keep Swinging’. That was our first involvement. We’d kind of known each other through the fashion world, through his wife. Then I’d say we started working on the Bowie tribute together and we curated the John Frusciante record, called , which John Taylor played bass on. That was…the second thing we’d done together. And then I’d thrown out to him a couple of times over back in 2011 that one day we’re going to do a Duran Duran tribute record, and he kind of shrugged it off without thinking that I was serious.”
Paul continues, “Then by the end of 2012, I said, ‘Hey, by the way, make me a list of all the artists you’d like to hear cover your songs, and try to get the band to send me over the same thing too.’ Paul explains. “So he sent me over an email that had the band’s choices, it was definitely an air of ‘Go big or go home’,” Paul pauses and chuckles. “Which is amazing. John’s seemed to get the concept. He was more like, ‘How about talking to Lykke Li,or talking to Moby?’ or ‘the bands you’ve already been involved with like Warpaint’… So, since he is a friend and he’s been more involved with Manimal, he gets where I’m coming from on a musical level. So yeah, I would say that’s how it all started coming together. It hasn’t been day-to-day involvement but he’s definitely heard some of the tracks and gave me his feedback, which I would say 90% was all positive.”
As much as it is plain to see that Paul wanted the band to be involved on some level and approve, fans should appreciate that he still has a “devil may care” attitude when necessary. This is no puppet for Duran Duran. He is a fan of this band, and he cares about what the band thinks, but ultimately Manimal is his business. It’s no secret that many fans do not hold a terribly high appreciation for some of the musical choices on Manimal’s tribute album, but the album isn’t about attracting old fans to songs they’ve already heard. This is about attracting new fans to music that is popular to the Indie-music loving crowd amongst the current generation. Fans should not fault Manimal for trying to bring a new generation a little closer to music written by a band from our own.
Paul assures that John Taylor was definitely involved on a creative level, but that the final decisions rest with him. “…I mean, like everything that the public is hearing is something that had to get at least half of a thumbs up from him. The thing was going to happen regardless, even if the band said no. I was going to do it regardless. I made it very clear, saying ‘I’m doing this anyway, whether I have your involvement or not’…
I smile as I envision the conversation, but it’s very clear even from just looking at Duran Duran’s website or their Facebook and Twitter over the past several months that they fully support the project, which is nice to see.
We talk more about the tribute album and how it all came together. Why did Paul choose Duran Duran after doing successful tribute albums for Madonna and David Bowie? Paul begins, “Well, I was reluctant at first because you know, the few Duran Duran tributes I’d heard in the past I thought were a bit cartoonish. So it took me a couple of years to brainstorm and start thinking of artists who would do the songs justice, but would also keep their own signature on the songs and get down to the bare musicality of the track. A great example – the last thing I wanted to hear or have on that record would be like some guy or girl doing a sassy, sexy acoustic cover of ‘Hungry Like the Wolf’. That was what I did not want it to be because that’s what a lot of people think about a Duran Duran tribute. That may be the first thing that comes to mind. …A lot of these artists didn’t even hear any of these tracks. Like, the Canadian electronic group, Austra, were only familiar with the hits, but the idea for me was like these guys would be perfect to do ‘American Science’. You know, most people don’t know that track. So I sent it over to them. I sent them over that, plus a couple of other choices, but I was really pushing for American Science. The idea was to basically not have the hits covered. So, it took me a couple of years to get the idea, to get the manifesto written, so that I could approach these individual artists with this idea. Of course, to run it by the band, run it by their management just to make sure that they get the idea. The last thing I want it to be is snarky, or cheesy, or cartoony. I want it to be moody and dark.”
Paul has no difficulty explaining the process, “I think the first emails I started sending out to artists about this record was exactly two years ago. I guess we started sending out the manifesto two years ago, we started getting some feedback about a year and a half ago, and then we’ve been compiling the recordings and getting the recording sessions done, that started one year ago. I think that was actually the summer of 2013 is when we got Warpaint’s track and Belief’s track and you know of course everything had to be mixed and mastered and coordinated, curated, put into a track list…I mean the track listing is still like coming together right now.” Manimal has been leaking songs online using Twitter since last May, but I ask what else they might plan to do for promotion. Unfortunately, there’s no way to really get the entire band and even some of the artists on the album together for any sort of a release party, but Manimal plans to do press and do some giveaways with the physical releases, coming a little later down the line.
Our conversation steers back towards Duran, more specifically the new album. I asked about John Frusciante and his involvement on the album. How did that happen? Lucky for me, Paul Beahan was just the person to ask, since he was instrumental in bringing the two (John Frusciante and Duran Duran) together.
“So Swahili Blonde, which is John Frusciante and his wife’s project. It’s straight-up spaced-out disco funk. When we were working together, coordinating the Bowie tribute at the time, I’d mentioned to John Frusciante’s wife that Duran Duran had just confirmed the Bowie tribute. Nicole Frusciante kind of mentioned it to her husband in the background. I heard Frusciante in the background going, ‘No fucking way!’ and he kind of grabbed the phone from her and he was like ‘I love Duran Duran and Rio is one of my favorite records. Do you know John? He’s like my favorite bass player.’ and I said, ‘Yeah’. He was like, ‘Rio is so amazing!’ and went completely off the hook about it. I said [To John Frusciante] ‘I should put you two in touch, maybe you could collaborate on something.’ The next day Nicole called me and said, ‘Hey do you know if John Taylor would be down for playing bass on that track on the Swahili Blonde record?’ and I said, ‘Let me put you guys in touch.’ The next day he [JT] came down to their home studio and recorded ‘Tigeress Ritual’. That was way back in 2010. Funny enough, fast forward to November 2013 and I was hanging out in London with John Taylor. We’re catching up, and he kind of brings up that thing. [Swahili Blonde] ‘Hey, um, I think maybe Frusciante…maybe he can play guitar on a track, can you put us back in touch?’ So I did, and literally a week later John Taylor calls me and says, ‘Hey, this is what John Frusciante has done so far.’ He plays me some stuff over the phone that was completely tripped out. So good. Unlike anything that has ever come off of a Duran Duran record in the past. So there’s obviously a lot of musical admiration between the two. It was supposed to be a big secret, and then Frusciante did an interview with a Japanese guitar magazine and just basically let the cat out of the bag.”
I chuckle here because I definitely didn’t see the album going that way, but then, fans never know exactly what to expect from new Duran Duran albums. It’s always a surprise, and, in this case, fans ended up with the surprise before the band intended, thanks to the internet and Google Alerts. Paul continues, “Well, there’s a lot of parallels between the Chili Peppers and Duran Duran. There’s, I mean in my opinion there’s a lot because the Chili Peppers you know, they came out of the LA Punk scene but they were doing something really different. They were infusing it with funk.”
I’m not a huge RHCP fan by any means, but having grown up in LA, it was nearly impossible to miss their entrance into the music scene. They were homegrown, and independent/college radio stations were never afraid to play them. Something clicks in my brain as I begin to absorb what Paul is saying, and he goes on.
“…Funkadelic, or like Sly in the Family Stone funk music, set them apart from the other kind of boneheaded LA punk bands. You know a lot of their lyrics are still questionably boneheaded, especially with their early material. I always thought there was a weird parallel, especially with Flea’s bass playing, some of the guitar parts, that was a big parallel with Notorious.”
Paul finishes with a flourish, “John Taylor got to know Frusciante a bit, and Frusciante started mentioning how much of Notorious was an influence on him and his playing style. Go listen to some stuff on Notorious and maybe even some stuff on SATRT and then go listen to…I think it’s the third Chili Peppers record. I’m definitely not a Chili Peppers fan but I’m familiar with their stuff.”
At this point, I’m pretty sure I audibly gasped. I am familiar enough with Chili Peppers, and even without listening, I could hear the parallels in my head. My mind was blown by the thought. It never occurred to me that there could really BE parallels between the bands, and while I am certain I’m not the only Duranie out there that replied with shock when I read the news about John Frusciante being included on the Duran album, I was a little relieved when I considered what Paul was saying and realized that he had a point. The two bands do have a history in punk (albeit two very different forms), and both love funk – they’ve fused the two in different ways, but at the core of it all, is it really all that different? I will pass on Paul’s suggestion: Take a good listen to Uplift Mofo Party Plan alongside Notorious and see what you think. I don’t think it’s all that difficult to hear the similarities…unlike some of the more precarious pairings the band has attempted in the past. I mention as much to Paul as we talk briefly about Red Carpet Massacre.
Paul shocks me by immediately saying, “There’s, I think, there’s about four solid tracks on that record at the most.”
I smile, not so much because I agree, but because it is nice to feel understood so easily. It feels comfortable to have a conversation about the music with a fellow fan.
Elaborating, Paul says, “I thought it was a terrible mistake for them to work with Timbaland… he’s such a big signature producer that I knew that their song would be lost among his reflection. I think ‘The Valley’, and like ‘Zoom-In’…I love that track. But like some of the other songs, it just sounds like Simon’s doing guest vocals on a Timbaland song.” Paul is saying things that continue to be debated amongst fans to this day. That said, I have to wonder, how does it feel to be close to John Taylor, or to the band, and have the subject come up?
“No, I’m very vocal about it.” Paul begins. “He agrees with me usually. He was quite surprised, I mean it was funny too…because I thought that he would find it a big shock when I told him that Side B of Big Thing was genius. I said that side B of Big Thing is probably one of your brightest moments as a musician. I thought he’d be surprised when I told him that and he was like ‘No, everyone always tells me that.’ And I was like ‘Oh really?’ Paul laughs and explains further, “It’s always producers and it’s always musicians. It’s never like, that many fans. It’s always like music industry people that go, ‘Oh my God, side two is insane.’ Paul pauses as I interrupt, eager to tell him that it was only in my adulthood that I really “got” the B Side. He agrees, “Yeah. ‘Do You Believe In Shame’, ‘Palomino’ and ‘Land’. Next to each other?” Continuing, he says, “It’s one of those things that time is treating better than it was when it came out. I remember taking a bus to a record store to buy that on vinyl when it came out in November 1988, being so excited, but at the same time the cover threw me off because there was no pictures of them. It was just these Stephen Sprouse-looking letters.”
We chat a bit more about the look of Duran’s albums, agreeing that a lot of their very best work doesn’t even have the band’s photos on them, much to the dismay of many fans. I wonder though, does Paul still call himself a fan? Can one be a fan when they’re good friends with a particular band member, or even worked with band before?
With this, Paul has absolutely no issue. “Yeah, for sure. (laughs) I still…I still make Spotify mixtapes.” I make a mental note to immediately find his personal Spotify following our interview and follow him because this is a man who has great taste in music. He continues, “Yeah, I made one in chronological order of my personal favorites. I did that and it’s on Spotify, my personal account. To this day I still bug Wendy and John about when there’s going to be a cohesive box set that has all the early early early demos with the different singers.” I silently applaud him and let him keep talking. “I even went as far as to talk about what was supposed to be their fourth album before they broke up…when they were demoing tracks, you know. Some of those songs became Arcadia songs or Power Station songs. I knew there were some parallels in there.”
Suddenly, I can’t help myself. I immediately blurt out that I wish we could hear their unreleased stuff. You know, the stuff that somehow made it down to the bottom of their “junk drawer” in the studio. I can’t help it. I want to hear it all and have the full story. Paul agrees, “We will. There’s gotta be. They’ve gotta put out those. I mean, there’s all those demos with Stephen Duffy. A lot of the songs are re-recorded as Devils, but those were tapes from early, early Duran Duran sessions.”
I’m gleefully thinking about the countless albums worth of material that have got to be hiding somewhere in Nick’s house…Oh, to be a fly on the wall… but we’ve completely gotten off topic, and thankfully one of us remembers the question that started us down this path.
Thoughtfully, Paul gives a final answer, “No, I’m definitely a fan. I can say I have to hold back sometimes when I’m around them where I have to kind of like pretend like I’m not such a fan just to kind of… so they don’t think I’m a psycho but…what’s hilarious though is that I can say that I can go toe-to-toe with the biggest, craziest Duran Duran fans. The only time I quit paying attention to them was…I mean even when I was into hardcore punk I still paid attention. I still listened to that covers album.” Paul laughs, “I’m very transparent about that. I told John my opinion on it and he stands firmly that it was a fun record to make. But like Medazzaland and Pop Trash? That’s the period of time when I stopped paying attention.”
Amanda and I are still fascinated by the answers we get to the not-so-simple question of whether or not you can still be a fan when you’re famous or know the band personally. The answers vary as much as the personalities of the people we ask. Paul though, he embraces his fandom, and it is very apparent that even today, he loves this band. This is a man who knows his DD trivia and is not afraid to use it…most of the time.
“Even when I hold back on the trivia, because sometimes he [JT] has mentioned in the past – ‘When did that record come out?’ and I’m like, ‘uh…October 30, 1983??’ (laughs) I’ll stop myself and be like, ‘I don’t know, like late 1983 or something? I don’t know…’”
Speaking of “fan” stuff, I begin the final drill sequence of our interview, beginning with favorite Duran song. He responds as I would expect…with anguish over choosing one.
“Just one song?”, he asks.
I clarify, “Yeah, just pick one. If you can’t, then give me what you…” I’m interrupted by a guttural groaning on the phone, which naturally makes me grin…because I too, know this pain of choosing one song.
“Oh Gooodddd…..of all time or just at this moment?”
I start to chuckle and answer, “Yeah, just at this moment.”
With a pause and then a sense of clarity, Paul answers, “At this moment, right now, if I could put on one Duran Duran song, I would say ‘Sound of Thunder’. I drive all my friends nuts with that song.”
We move on to favorite album. This seems easier.
“Mmmmm…the first one.”
Not able to stop with my editorial comments, I say, “Yeah, mine too. Do you have a favorite video?”
“Hmm. The Chauffeur.” Paul says definitively.
I ask, “Do you have a favorite producer that they’ve ever worked with?”
He thinks and responds thoughtfully, “….as much as I worship Nile Rodgers, I’d have to say that Colin Thurston was the man who made that sound. If anybody else would have produced those first two records, I don’t think they would have the sound that they have. …It’s funny because Alex Sadkin, he did Seven and the Ragged Tiger and the Arcadia record. I find his production on SATRT really muddy, but if you listen to the production on the Arcadia record…so big and so huge, so incredible.”
This intrigues me since Amanda and I had just finished reviewing SATRT for the blog, and the one comment we made over and over again is that the music has a lot going on – so many different layers – and it’s very difficult to discern one instrument over another. “Muddy” is a very good characterization of the sound. He continues, “Yeah, and there’s a lot going on [with] those Arcadia songs, but it’s still sparse enough where you can decipher all of the instruments, where SATRT is one big stream of sound with vocals. It’s interesting.”
I finish our interview with a final question – how many shows he has attended.
“’87 San Diego, ’89 San Diego, ’94 San Diego, ’95 or 96 San Diego, and then…and then oh God…Santa Barbara Bowl 2003, and then the Mayan Theater -the David Lynch show,” Paul recalls with perfect memory.
He hasn’t attended nearly as many as I would have guessed, but he remembers each show with clarity, much more so than I could have done myself. Perhaps there’s something to the adage of “quality, not quantity”. I thank Paul for his generosity with his time and willingness to share, and hang up the phone so that I can head to the garage in search our copy of Uplift Mofo Party Plan. I have some listening to do…
I apologize for not summarizing what took place in the world of Duran Duran last Sunday. As you all know, last Sunday was August 10th, Duran Duran Appreciation Day. We had quite a few blogs that day and, frankly, it took me a looooooong time to compile the list of what fans loved about Duran Duran. Thus, I thought I could take a week off from summarizing the news. What seemed like a good idea a week ago might not seem like a good idea now. I will do my best. As always, I look at the band’s official sites as well as social media for official news.
The official website posted three big pieces of news this week. First, on the 4th, there was an official press release about the upcoming release of Making Patterns Rhyme, a tribute to Duran Duran. Various tracks from this album have been available on the internet to give people a change to preview the album. This press release provided a full track listing and dates for release (August 26 for digital release and October for physical release). Personally, I’m looking forward to hearing it as a whole project and love that the proceeds will go to Amnesty International. To read the complete article, go here.
In a connected note, DuranDuranMusic released a member exclusive Q&A with Paul Beahan who runs Manimal Vinyl, responsible for this upcoming tribute album. I love reading these Q&As, especially when it is clear that the interviewee is a big fan who has put one’s passion into a career and Paul is a good example of that! Very inspiring to me! If you are a member, you, too, can read it here. Members also have a chance to win a limited edition 7″ box set of the album! How cool!
While on the topic of cover songs, there was an Ask Katy question about covers that you can read here.
Beyond the upcoming tribute album, there was BIG news from the studio!!!! The band returned to the studio on Duran Duran Appreciation Day with…both Nile Rodgers and Mark Ronson! If you have been around social media at all the past week or so, I’m sure that you have seen the photos! You can go here to see the ones posted on the official website’s news section. I recommend heading over to the gallery on duranduran.com to see more studio pictures, too! While most people were excited by this news, there was a bit of controversy. (What’s new in Duranland?!) First, you had the fans wondering, “Where’s Andy?” (Clearly, those fans missed that announcement in October of 2006–almost 8 years ago!) Then, you had the question about Dom Brown. Is he on the album or not? This was made more dramatic when the pictures were posted with statements about how the gang was “all” there. Interestingly, Dom then popped on social media to comment about Nile’s funky guitar at the studio that day. Clearly, he still is involved, which we are VERY thankful for! Of course, the rest of world’s media has covered this a bunch as well, which means that there have been a ton of articles from a variety of sources about this! I do love Duran getting attention, especially for something as positive as this!
The last piece of big news posted on the band’s official site was about the Unstaged screenings across the United States on September 10th (and September 14th for some select locations). It sounds like a lot of people will be going, us included! I have heard/seen fans make plans to get together with other fans before or after, which makes us very happy! If you want to read the official announcement and want the link to buy tickets yourself, go here.
Any other news on Duran Duran’s social media? Oh, yes…
We learned that Katy will be on vacation this upcoming week. We hope she has a good vacation! More interesting is that there will a promo week coming up in September!
John Taylor appeared briefly with his daughter, Atlanta, on the show, Undone with Amanda De Cadenet. I found the show on YouTube with John’s part starting about 12 minutes in. Let us know what you think then.
BBCAmerica posted an article about 5 Duran songs that they thought are worth listening to. Read the article here and tell us what songs you would have chosen!
Speaking of Duran tracks that are loved, read about Nile’s favorite Duran tracks here! What do you think of his choices?!
So, Duranies, I ask you: What did I miss?! Let me know and I’ll add it on here!
I’m sure at least some noticed an invitation appearing on Monday morning from none other than John Taylor. He asked Duranies to join him at the Hotel Cafe in Hollywood on Tuesday night, where Halo Circus was to appear and perform.
Halo Circus is a band fronted by Alison Iraheta, their label is a subsidiary of Manimal Vinyl called Badlands Records. As you might already know from reading previous blogs – Halo Circus’ version of “Do You Believe In Shame” is included on the upcoming Making Patterns Rhyme tribute album. They also have another single, “Gone” that is worth checking out.
When John issued the invitation, I was curious as to how many Duranies might show that night. From my own observations it didn’t seem as though the “Do You Believe in Shame” cover went over well with many Duran fans, and so it was tough to gauge interest. That said, John Taylor seemed to indicate that he would be there that night, and I figured that many fans might make plans to go solely for that reason.
I was not able to be there myself, but I heard from many that John was in fact there, and I’ve seen several photos of the evening…but what I was most excited by was a video posted of Halo Circus performing “Do You Believe in Shame”. Personally I loved the album version of the cover. Alison’s voice speaks to me, telling me a completely different story of that song than I’d ever heard before. It hits me in my soul – and while yes, the original is the original, this long time Duran Duran fan actually PREFERS this cover. Halo Circus gave new life and meaning to this song for me, breathing a sense of urgency, pain and desperation that strikes me right in the gut. I love it. My question was whether or not I’d feel that same intensity in a live performance, so I was delighted to find video of this song on YouTube. Check it out!
Taking a break from vacation unpacking and laundry (yes, I’m back!!) to listen to the newest sneak peaks from the upcoming Making Patterns Rhyme album (August 2014).
Up first is Soko’s version of Girls on Film. According to Paul Beahan (Manimal), this version is “downbeat and goth-y”. I definitely get that “slightly The Cure” flavor from the very beginning, and I have to admit – the song is quickly growing on me. I like the subdued nature of the melody – it’s not quite as frenetic as the original, and my feet definitely start finding the beat during the chorus. My ears are happy. It’s different, but recognizable. I think this is liable to become one of my favorites off of the album.
Love for Girls on Film aside, I will openly admit I’m having a lot more trouble with Barbarian’s Late Bar. Here’s the real deal: the song is one of my all time favorites from the band, and I really love that the original is dark and obscure. It’s tough to hear it done more upbeat…and up to date. That said, even here, I can find things I really like, such as the middle 8 (between verses). I think the one attribute I like least is that they’ve changed the rhythm of the song. It may grow on me, but right now I just want to grab the drumsticks out of the hands of the drummer, take the microphone away…and teach them how it should be done. I’m starting to sound like an old woman yelling at the kids to stop playing ball on my lawn, which is never good. I don’t want to completely pan the work, because let’s face it – this probably has far more to do with what I’m used to as a fan than it does the song. I’m curious to hear what others think.
This is the last day to take a listen…so hurry and check it out, then shoot me a comment with your thoughts!