Tag Archives: Mark Ronson

Happy Birthday Ask Katy, Mark Ronson & Google!

Happy Monday!  So many birthdays in Duranland, beginning with Katy Krassner!  That’s right, Duran Duran’s own Ask Katy is celebrating her special day today, and considering all of the hard work she does for the band as well as keeping the fans feeling connected and up to date – we hope she has a wonderful and restful day! We appreciate everything she does for the band, and it helps to make this world a little friendlier and nicer.

Sharing this date with Katy is also Mark Ronson! (I did not know that!) Mark has done fantastic work with Duran Duran over the years, and I personally thank him for keeping the band true to themselves, but also giving them space to continue exploring new sounds.  It is a delicate balance, and I can certainly appreciate the time and tenacity involved all around. Happy birthday Mark!

Lastly, a little less “connected” to Duran Duran, but vital in every single way – Google turns 19 today. Do you remember life before Google??

It’s funny because just yesterday my husband Walt and I were talking about the web, circa 1995-ish. I can remember working for a company who had just started developing a web page, and the owner tried to explain to me what the web was all about and how it would work. Fast forward about two years, and we had America Online (AOL) at home as our ISP (Internet Service Provider). I can remember the cumbersome method of using the modem to dial in and then hoping I’d get a good connection and keep it!  I think the dial-up modem noise, along with the AOL “Welcome!” greeting, are almost Pavlov’s Bells to anyone from my generation, as a result. Anything I needed was found within the AOL platform though, and as Walt continued rebuilding and upgrading our computer (it seemed like he was constantly doing that!), everything grew faster and faster. Then, around 1998, things started moving from AOL platform to the internet itself. I couldn’t just get on AOL and find the message boards I wanted anymore. At that point, I was dialing into AOL, and then from there I clicked on internet explorer to be able to search for websites. And at that point – there was Google, ready to be used.  And not much later, no one needed AOL as the go-between, we could simply have our own internet connection directly from our computers – and no more dial up modem noise.

Google was just one search engine of many at that point. Yahoo, Alta Vista, WebCrawler, infoseek and Lycos are a few that I remember, along with of course, Google.  Over the years since, many of those first search engines are either gone or they’ve completely changed their business model. Google, on the other hand, expanded. They’ve bought (and sold) companies, and they continue to grow their business model to suit the ever-changing world.  Google is a permanent part of our vocabulary (“google it!”) in the same way that if you’re from the US, a bandage is a “Band-Aid”. It would seem they are here to stay, and it will not be long before most people don’t even realize there WAS an internet before Google, and that once upon a time, all Google did was search for terms!

Google is important to Duran Duran’s history because I’m betting that many of us used it right about the time the reunion of the original five members was announced. We searched the web, looking for information, looking for groups, message boards, websites, and anything we could find – at least I know I sure did! To this very moment, I don’t think a single day goes by when I don’t use Google to find one thing or another, and yeah—a lot of the time it has something to do with Duran Duran. The internet (and Google) has changed our world, both as Duranies and as people.

Makes me wonder what the next nineteen years will bring.

Happy Birthday, Katy Krassner, Mark Ronson and yes, Google!

-R

 

August 2017 Katy Kafe with Simon!

I took some time this morning to listen to the August 2017 Katy Kafe with Simon.  It was a very different sort of Kafe from any other I’ve listened to over the years in some respects, and I would encourage any other Duranie to take a listen. If you really want to know who Simon is – not the guy who just performs on stage and looks great in the photos – but SIMON himself, now his your chance. As always, these are the highlights, but if you want to hear the Kafe for yourself, you should get a DDM membership.

Simon’s Mom

There is just no way to get past the deep sense of loss in this Kafe. The Simon we hear is not the bright, happy, caffeinated or energized Simon that normally shows up. He is dealing with one hell of a loss, and as he correctly says, “I will never get over it, I just have to get used to it.”  That is absolutely, 100% correct. There are still days,  nine years after we said our goodbyes, when I desperately need to talk to my dad, and I can’t. The pain is still ridiculously present, and sometimes – particularly in those moments (like yesterday afternoon) when I really needed him – the pain rises right back to the surface. It is very hard, and he is right, there’s no way to prepare for it. I don’t know if Simon’s mom was ill like my dad was, but even though I knew what the inevitable end would bring, the finality is just unbearable.  It’s permanent.  This is not a club that anyone wants to join, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, either. It’s inevitable, but nobody wants to be here.

It’s very hard (and yet easy at the same time) to pretend I’m reaching out to Simon somehow on this blog – I mean, the audacity of me to assume he reads, right? I would just want him to know that I get it. Many fans do. And I still think he was incredibly brave to stand up on stage and sing Ordinary World. I could not have done it. I have a hard enough time baring my soul through my typed words, much less showing them live, in person. I couldn’t even look at him while he sang – too painful.

I also felt that while Katy was sympathetic, she was uncomfortable and wanted to move on to easier subjects. I’m sure she wanted to protect Simon’s feelings, and let’s face it – Duran Duran is supposed to be a party band and it’s hard to portray that when the lead singer sounds depressed.  The balance between real life and stage, I guess.

360 Videos

Did anyone see the videos the band posted for Duran Duran Appreciation Day?

Paper Gods 360

Hungry Like the Wolf 360

They are worth watching, but unless you have a VR headset, your best bet for watching is your phone. Pull up the videos, put them on full screen and watch with your phone horizontally.  Can I just say that it’s kind of cool to be able to see yourself in the audience? It’s like having an out-of-body experience!

I actually have access to a VR headset (special shout out to Gavin for letting mom borrow his!), and watched the videos. Gavin’s headset is  an early version, so it’s a bit wonky, but I got the general idea.  Normally I would have almost zero interest in that sort of thing, but it’s Duran Duran, and how often am I really going to be able to be IN one of their videos?  Definitely worth watching!

Simon, on the other hand, is not really into VR. He prefers not to worry about cameras when they are filming, because he sees his job, every single night, as playing for the people who paid to see them. He feels strongly that when the band films, the cameras have to fit in with that environment, and not the other way around. The rapport has to be with the audience, and not the camera.

Work with Nick Wood

Early this summer, Simon went with Nick Wood to Cannes for a conference/film festival for commercial music.  They gave a talk, and  filmed a video for Closer to my Bed. Syn also won an Emmy for a spot they did on CNN.  Not bad work for a Duran Duran “break”!!

Coming to the end of Paper Gods

There are seven more dates, including Croatia, Ireland, Italy, Singapore and Japan, and then the Paper Gods album cycle and touring will be complete. Simon sounds bittersweet as he describes this album as being the most exciting in years, and certainly “the best since Rio”.  He talks about the huge success they had with it in the US, but that he is sad they are not taking the tour to Australia. (according to Simon the dates just never worked out)

Katy asks Simon how he closes out a project, whether or not he reflects or looks to what is coming next.  Simon responds by saying that something isn’t “done” until it is done, and then whatever is coming down the road isn’t here until it gets here. He says it is important for him to have clear lines, and I think staying completely present in the moment he is in must be what guides him, as well.

So what IS going to be next for the band?  Well, they have some time blocked out to be in the studio “quite soon” after touring. Of course in one breath Simon says that, in the next Katy says that she is “sworn to secrecy” about that studio time – and Simon tries to back up saying “they MIGHT” go in the studio. Sounds to me as though they’re going in the studio for sure, but that no one really knows what, if anything, might happen when they’re in there.

Katy asked about working with collaborators, like Mark Ronson, Ben Hudson and even Nile again. Simon sounded like he was enthusiastic to work with Ben and Mark for sure, but as we all know – it’s the beginning of who-knows-what. Chances are, everything will change and turn completely on its head before it is all said and done, so I caution: nothing is in stone until you’re holding whatever will come next in your hands. Consider all possibilities, but hold the band to none.  🙂

Let’s face it, Duranies, we’re at the very end of what we know. Going forward from here, it’s like winter. We don’t know how long it might be, but we should probably get used to the quiet.  At first, we’ll all enjoy the novelty of peace.  Maybe staying in won’t be so bad.  But then January hits, and the cold really sets in. We start to get tired of looking outside and seeing the snow drifts only growing higher.  From previous experience we know that when spring arrives, it will probably be glorious and colorful, but it’s now March and there’s no sign of green grass yet. How long is this winter really going to take??

Yeah, I hate this part too. It makes writing tough. I get impatient, but this time, I’ve sworn not to push. I’m going to just enjoy the ride and let the rest work itself out.

-R

 

I’m Making a Break

Today is one of those days.  It is a day in which I just find myself sitting in my living room, unable to write anything on a blog post.  This does not happen to me much.  I always have something to write about, right?  In fact, I have a list of blog topics that I keep around.  I have been doing a lot of reading surrounding female fandom lately, which is bringing up a ton of topics to write about.  Yet, none of the topics on my list are motivating me right now.  I’m just not in a mood to think that much.  Call me exhausted and needing a break, I guess.

What am I going to do with blog then?  I’m not sure.  I thought I might do a little YouTube cruising and see if any Duran clips catch my attention.  Perhaps, I find some ones that I haven’t seen before that I can share with all of you.

I started out by checking out the videos “recommended” to me!  Sure enough, right away, I saw this clip, one I had never seen before:

This clip made me laugh!  As you see here, Simon and John certainly were laughing during this interview.  John tells a story about his dad pointing out that he is “thinking a lot more now” and Simon addresses the sexual nature of the song, “Big Thing.”  The interviewer says that parents must be super concerned about this “rougher” Duran Duran.  My reaction.  Huh?  The album, Big Thing, was rough?  Bad boy like?  Really?  Of course, the interviewer’s concern about parents says to me that she is making a big assumption that the band’s fans are all kids.  Now, I was a kid still in 1988 but a lot of Duranies were grown people.  Annoying.

Then, I found this gem:

First of all, they are babies.  Babies.  So young.  What is interesting to me is the focus, still, on their looks over the music.  People, even then, seemed to think that all they (and/or their fans) cared about were the band’s looks.  Beyond that, I was entertained by the kids and all of the various things they were doing behind John and Simon’s backs.  I wonder what those kids thought of themselves years later.  Funny watch!

Here is another 1981 clip:

Here’s what I really want to know.  Perhaps, someone from the UK can explain all of the shows with little kids present with rock stars or famous people in the early 1980s.  It is so weird to see the band so young.

Then, I found this clip:

I almost turned this off until I saw the dancing.  Oh, for the dancing.  Seriously, watch until at least 1:45.  Simon has some moves.

While I feel like I see most interviews/clips that come out these days, I love when I find that I missed one.  Here is a clip of the band winning a lifetime achievement award in 2015.

Simon’s speech is touching but I really related to Mark Ronson talking about being a kid and hearing the Reflex.  “And that’s what I want to listen to for the rest of my life.”  That’s my life.  Exactly.

Clearly, I could go on and on and on and on.  Yet, I think that awards clip is the perfect place to end my search, my viewing, this blog post.  Watching these clips was exactly what I needed today.

-A

Notorious & Wild Boys by Steve Malins

Do you like to read books about Duran Duran?  It is probably not shocking that I do and always have.  Looking back at my childhood, I remember reading and rereading and rereading paperbacks about Duran, such as Bop Magazine’s 700+ facts.  These days, the books and magazines surrounding the band are a little more sophisticated.  Obviously, fans who like to read have been lucky enough to enjoy both Andy and John’s autobiographies in recent years.  On top of that, in 2005, an unauthorized biography called Notorious by Steve Malins was published.

As I’m sure you are not surprised, I read that book as soon as I purchased it and have even read it more than once since then.  Rhonda and I have had a few conversations about the book.  In general, I think the book is stronger in the beginning, about the band members’ childhoods and the early days of the band.  As the book moved closer to current day, the sources were clearly all secondary sources, meaning that the information came from published articles, etc. as opposed to any real life individual.  This, of course, is common with unauthorized biographies.  The band did not share or get interviewed for the project.  I would say that in many cases the information in the book is common knowledge for many Duranies.

That said, when I saw that there was an updated version out, I had to pick it up.  The updated version, called Wild Boys, contains an additional chapter, surrounding both the Red Carpet Massacre era and the All You Need Is Now cycle.  What did I hope to learn from this additional chapter?  I won’t lie.  I hoped to gain some insight about Andy’s departure as well as behind the scenes for Red Carpet Massacre as I suspect that there is a lot more that went on that fans have been in the dark about.  What did I find out?

Andy’s Departure:

Interestingly enough, the book dedicated about two paragraphs to Andy’s departure.  Literally, it mentioned that the album, Reportage (the one Duran wrote and recorded after Astronaut but shelved), was stalled by “legal issues with Taylor”.  I’m not sure what the source of that was.  The author describes reports about the album that claim that the album was “edgy and contemporary”  (Malins 283).

Then, in the next paragraph, Andy’s departure was summarized by describing the official press release on the band’s website as well as how Andy described it in his book.  According to this book, the band claimed that there was ‘an unworkable gulf’ and Andy suggested that there was tension between him and management.  Clearly, I was hoping for a lot more as I knew both of those statements already.  I read the official announcement when it was posted in 2006 and read Andy’s book as quickly as it came out as well.  Now, I realize that an unauthorized biography will not have as much insight as an authorized one where the author is getting the scoop from the celebrity him/herself.  That said, I am surprised that there was not even any speculation on the author’s part on how this major personnel change would affect the band.  Instead, there was no analysis, just those statements.

Despite the lack of analysis on Andy, the author does mention Dom Brown a number of times.  The first time was right after talking about Andy’s departure.  Here the author says, “Duran Duran soldiered on by installing Dom Brown, who had toured with them before, as their new guitarist.  He has remained with them ever since, playing an increasingly valuable role”  (Malins 283).  Later in the chapter, Dom’s contribution is described during the writing and recording for All You Need Is Now, stating how he co-write most of the songs on that album.  What I found fascinating by this is that if I didn’t know better, I would read this chapter and assume that Dom is a permanent band member.  Yet, that is not the case.  He is in some weird limbo between a touring guitarist and a band member.  Malins does not explain that at all.  Likewise, there is no explanation of when and why Dom toured with the band before RCM.

Red Carpet Massacre:

As for the album created following Andy’s departure, Malins chose to focus on an article/interview from The Quietus that came out, not during the RCM cycle but afterwards during AYNIN.  According to that interview, Nick stated how they knew that RCM would be a risk with the fans.  Simon followed by stating that the fans left “no doubt” about how they felt about the album (Malins 293).  Again, though, outside of the quotes from the band, there is little explanation about why the fans might not like RCM.  On top of that, as someone in the fandom at the time, those brief statements don’t really explain what was really going on with the fans at that time.  It is and was far more complicated than that as many fans actually liked it, creating a wide division within the fan base.

All You Need Is Now:

The focus of the All You Need Is Now discussion surrounded Mark Ronson’s vision for the album and the Girl Panic video.  On one hand, I always appreciate reading and hearing about how Mark is a fan and pushed the band to really try to embrace their true selves and to occupy their rightful place in the music industry.  On the other hand, I am not really sure why there was so much focus on the Girl Panic video.  While I get that they used models who were pretending to be the band, I still found the discussion about it superficial.  Why did they use models?  I don’t know.  Why did they show fame in the way they did with luxury hotel living, fans surrounding them, bottles of champagne, etc?  I don’t know.

This, of course, is the argument I make about the entire project.  I want more of an in-depth, behind the scenes sort of analysis.  Perhaps, my frustration is unfounded.  I already know a lot about the band so I didn’t learn anything.  Others reading this book might learn a lot.  For them, maybe, the book serves the perfect function.  It does give a rough outline about the band’s history from formation through All You Need Is Now.

Has anyone else read this book?  What did you think about it?

-A

Malins, Steve.  Notorious.  London:  Andre Deutsch, 2005.

Malins, Steve.  Wild Boys.  London:  Andre Deutsch, 2013.

Bow to the Paper Gods: Their Final Encore?

Every once in a while, a fan will reach out with a profound idea that should be shared with the community-at-large. Amanda and I strive for Daily Duranie to be a safe place for fans to share their ideas. While not everyone may always agree with the message being shared, we think it is important for fans to have a peaceful space to say what they want to say. In that spirit, we have a guest blogger today that is ready to share some of his own thoughts and feelings. I hope his blog provokes thoughtful conversation.  -R

By, Jeff Bistline

I recently tweeted some thoughts on Twitter concerning my thoughts on the current state of Duran Duran.  I changed my mind several times, reached out to friends, changed my mind again.  I re-edited my writing (several times), and decided I still needed to communicate some of my thoughts, for my own sanity.  The following is my “edited version”, or “PG version” which is far less speculative, but still contains quite a few opinions.

I have not lost faith in the band, I think they are at a crossroads, and we all know it has to happen sooner or later.  So here it goes…

On Twitter, I recently “called my shot”, and proclaimed that I believe that Paper Gods is the last proper album and tour cycle for the band.  The reason for my tweets were not to cause drama, gain followers, or throw shade at the band or management. I care very passionately for this band and its music.  It has been a part of my life on a daily basis since 1984, and always will be.  Above all, and most importantly, I know that we will always have the music of Duran Duran.  In addition to following every note, lyric, and news item, I closely follow the music industry in great detail.  I have made many observations that have been building in my head for over a year now, and I feel the need to share those observations in great detail.

These observations are heavily based on my opinion.  I have no inside information directly from the band.  I honestly don’t want the band the stop recording and touring, but I think the band, management, close confidants (Ronson/Rodgers, and perhaps Mr. Hudson), and Warner mapped out an a long-term exit plan a few years ago and they are in the middle of that process.

First of all, I love the Paper Gods album.  I think “Pressure Off” was the best single since “Come Undone”. “Planet Roaring” is one of my favorite Duran tracks of all time.  I think the entire band put EVERYTHING into the making of this album.  They did their research, started writing, consulted Nile Rodgers and Mark Ronson, and returned to the studio to complete the recording while bringing in Mr. Hudson to add some current and fresh perspective, which has been a long-standing trait of every Duran Duran record.  Fan reaction has been mixed.  The band has stated that everyone loves the album, new fans are coming on board etc., but I have a hard time believing these statements.  It is not their best work, but it is not their worst either. Overall, I think the Paper Gods album is a success, both on the charts and from an artistic viewpoint, given where the band is in this screwed up age in the music industry.  However, I don’t think the band wants to go through this cycle again without much to show for it in terms of physical units sold, or chart success (outside of the initial debut of the album on charts which basically lasted one week).  Simon stating that “Pressure Off” was their most successful single in two decades is pure management spin.  It didn’t make a dent on significant sales or radio airplay charts.  In contrast, even “Leave A Light On” charted on radio playlists in the U.S.

The Paper Gods tour has been a huge success to date.  The strategy that was implemented to tour Paper Gods had been brilliant up until July 2016.  The band, management, record label, and promoters put together a billing that was amazing considering that Duran Duran has not been a full size arena/stadium level touring band since perhaps the reunion and Astronaut era in 2003-2006.  Having Nile Rodgers and Chic on tour made sense, and the billing produced some fantastic shows and crowds.  Most shows I saw ranged between 7,000 to 15,000 people.  Extraordinary support for a legacy band, in my opinion.

A pivotal turning point came in July 2016 when it was announced that Nick Rhodes would be leaving the tour for a short period.  There has been nonstop speculation as to the reasons for Nick’s leave of absence, and nothing has been released or leaked relating to his situation.  First and foremost, I hope Nick (and/or his family) are physically and mentally well.  I prefer to focus on the collective unit/band Duran Duran, but Nick is truly the cornerstone and visionary of Duran Duran, and always has been.  Nick and Simon have been the two constants over the past 36 years.  I cannot imagine Duran Duran existing without either of these two individuals.  I don’t know if there is strife in the band.  I thought maybe there was when I was doing some research on this, but I listened to a few interviews, read some articles, and I honestly think things are fine between the band members.  However, Nick’s absence has certainly had a ripple effect in the fan community.  I don’t think Nick enjoys touring as much as Simon and John.  I think Roger still enjoys both recording and touring.

Here are some observations I have collected (in one place) that have bothered me over the past 14 months (and years in some instances).  These are things that just seem “out of place” compared to previous album and tour cycles.  I originally planned to speak on each one of these points at great length…Perhaps this community can discuss these points in greater detail.  Obviously some of these thoughts are not my own, but have come from threads posted on message boards, Twitter, Facebook, and other sources.

Paper Gods Album

Several fans wondered if the lyrics in the “The Universe Alone” was a goodbye statement.  “Planet Roaring” can also be viewed as an exit song, but more on the celebratory side.  There could also be some lyrical clues in “Pressure Off”, and perhaps the most debated song on the album “Last Night in the City”.

Paper Gods Artwork

The symbols are obviously self-referencing, but why on a new album of new, modern music?  I think the band said it was a conglomeration of images that have collectively “gotten us to this point of time”, but it could also certainly be seen as a final package.

Paper Gods Ancillary Releases

First of all, as a collector…WTF?  We were told we would get a deluxe package.  I’m still waiting.  I’ve exhausted this avenue several times online.  I have two additional comments to make.  DJ’s are celebrities these days, both in the clubs and on the charts.  They demand huge dollars these days.  The unreleased Night Version of “Pressure Off” was probably done in-house (Spike Stent, Josh Blair maybe?).  The “Last Night in the City” mixes were done by lessor known DJ’s.  I’m sure the band and management is unwilling to invest much into remixes and ultimately additional single releases at this point in their career as the return is probably pretty small these days since people are buying less and less physical releases.

Paper Gods Music Videos

There was such a delay in releasing both of these from when the initial single was released, etc.  The “Last Night in the City” video was filmed 6 months before it was finally released.  Director Nick Egan even commented on a fan’s Facebook page that he was not pleased with the process and the end result.

Record Store Day

The vinyl industry has had a huge resurgence in the past 2 years.  Why hasn’t Duran been participating in this event for 3-4 years now?  Again, this probably relates to production costs, ROI (Return On Investment), and effort.

Duran Duran Appreciation Day

We previously received some unreleased music for this day.  Now, we get a video performance of something that pretty much existed already.  Again, few resources are being spent to deliver a unique remix, live set, etc.

Paper Gods Tour

I live in the United States.  I’ve been very happy that I have seen the band on four legs of tours since the album released (counting the upcoming New Years Eve shows).  The band or management has decided to only tour the three largest Duran fan base territories:  U.S., U.K, and Italy.  Europe was told they would get a tour, but Nick’s situation may have delayed or shelved that tour.  There were rumors of a billing with Pet Shop Boys for Australia this fall.  There have been mumblings of a tour for South America for 2017. No dates have been released.  I listened to John’s Katy Kafe from July…I sincerely feel that he wants to further the Paper Gods tour into next year and different markets.  Nick’s situation, or management, may have delayed or shelved these plans as well, since tours are announced several months in advance.

New Year’s Eve Shows

Who wouldn’t want to spend New Year’s Eve with Duran Duran?  I’m going, but there is no denying it…these are two $$$Payday$$$ shows.  Big bucks at a fancy new casino resort.  I believe the fans deserve to know if Nick is playing or not.  In July, we were told his absence was going to be “short”.  This has caused a firestorm within the community.  Again, I have no idea what is going on, and I hope he is well, but I think fans deserve at least a heads up on his presence for these über-expensive shows.  The 1/1/2017 date doesn’t appear to be selling that well.  You can view available tickets on Ticketmaster.  There are also several seats available for 12/31/2016. I think both of these are sell outs if Nick’s presence is confirmed.  I think fans are very skeptical on these shows at the moment.

Fan Access

Access to the band has been very limited during this album cycle.  There are no longer meet and greets as part of the VIP packages.  John has left social media, and I don’t blame him based on the horrific berating his accounts received.  I wonder if this incident alone has reduced the opportunity for meet and greets, etc.  We rarely get Ask Katy questions on the website, and they don’t seem as interesting as they did during and between previous album cycles.The Move to Warner

I think Duran like the status of being on a big label.  They were on big labels during their heyday.  I have no idea how much Warner plays into the decisions of releases, touring, the band, and management.  I’m sure they wanted access to the back catalog more than anything.  At the time of the press release, John stated “We are also excited that this deal means we will be reunited with our catalogue after years apart – and in that sense it really feels a little like coming home.”

Concert Setlists

This has been debated to death.  I do think the band could put some more effort into this. The current stage production doesn’t allow for a lot of flexibility.  I believe this current setlist was developed with the casual fan in mind.  It was a high energy setlist, set to the backbone of their greatest hits.  I enjoyed every show that I went to, but would have preferred a few changes here and there.  I think the band has settled into this formula to keep the most people happy, again tailored towards the casual fan.

Ask Katy

She certainly has caused a divide within the fan base.  Specifically, some people did not care for her using the “askkaty” moniker on her personal twitter.  It finally got changed and it appears to be 100% personal now.  I believe this should have happened a lot sooner, and I don’t think Simon needed to interject, but again, there is a divide there.

Current Management/Magus Entertainment

I have no problem with the band wanting to bank some buck. Don’t we all?  However, the hard-core fan and collector is not being treated like we deserve, many of those points I highlighted already above.  The current management is on a mission to maximize earning potential, and give the casual fan a great night of entertainment.  The bundling of the Paper Gods CD with the tickets was an artificial attempt to bloat album sales numbers (it actually reentered the charts in the U.S.) and get the album into the hands of the casual fan.  I have an extra ten copies of the standard album, and I’m sure other fans can say the same thing.  This bundling practice also increases the concert tickets as I believe that some document has to be filed/exist for these units to count towards album sales and charts.

What is Nick doing?

Is he working on anything Duran related?  That’s the million dollar question at this point.  Are the other band members upset while they are still out on the road?  We all know Nick loves art, curating, cataloging, organizing, making lists.  Some friends have been wondering if he is working on some anthology type project, something that he probably couldn’t do from the road.  Hmmmm.  Seems very possible to me.  I’m sure he’s doing some work while on break.

SOOOOO, where does this leave us?

I think Paper Gods is the last album.  I think that touring Paper Gods will be completed with the Cancun, and New Year’s shows.  Heck, they may have already turned in the equipment, video screens, etc. to the lighting and video companies and plan on showing up to these shows with basic equipment from local companies.  2018 will mark the 40th anniversary of the start of the band.  I think we will see a large-scale, worldwide greatest hits/farewell tour, and a greatest hits package or anthology type project to commemorate their fabulous career.  After that, who knows?  Whatever, it seems like a great stopping point to me if I were in the band.

I’ll be supporting Duran Duran until I die, whatever happens, I’m in it until the end.  It’s time for me to go back to enjoying Duran Duran for the reason I started listening to them in the first place.  The music.

Cheers y’all, and Duran On!

Jeff and his dog

Jeff Bistline has been a dedicated Duranie since 1984. His passions in life are his Duran Duran collection, college basketball, and his boxer dog, Vivi. He is an accountant and lives in Nebraska.

Year End Katy Kafe with Roger Taylor

Yesterday, at work, I logged into DuranDuranMusic to hear the first of the year end Katy Kafes.  This one featured our favorite drummer, Mr. Roger Taylor!  Just like Rhonda when she blogs about a “Kafe”, I was armed with pen and paper in order to take notes.  That said, I’ll be giving my thoughts about some of the highlights, which may be incomplete at that since I was at work and had many interruptions!  Therefore, as always, I recommend you log into DDM yourself to hear the entire thing!

2015 was a BIG year!

After a brief discussion about the Christmas holiday, Katy opened the more official part of the Kafe with a question about Roger’s personal highlights during a year of much activity, including the release of the band’s latest album, promotion for the album, and tours in the U.S. and in the UK.  Roger focused much of his answer on the album, Paper Gods.  He talked a lot about how this album required more effort because they were co-producing it, which required their presence in the studio daily for 8 hours a day for 2 years.  (I had to sort of laugh at this–as it sounds like a normal daily job that most of us get to experience all the time!)  He furthered stated that it was a challenge to break through the perception that a “mature” (his word!) band has had their best work in the past, but that the live shows helped many get how good it is.  I have to concur on this.  Even when we ask fans about favorite songs, albums, etc., more than likely, they will choose something from Rio or the first album.

The Tours

From there, the discussion easily moved to focus on the tours in the US and in the UK.  Roger stated that he found the UK tour, in particular, to be “incredible” and one of the best tours ever.  He mentioned the show at the O2 Arena in London as an amazing show as “everything had fallen into place”.  Everything just seemed to work at that show and that it helps that everyone on stage is really relaxed with each other.  (Now, I really wished that I could have attended that one!  It sounds like it was an awesome show!)

Roger mentioned how long the shows were, especially in the UK and how well the new songs fit.  Last Night in the City is a favorite of his to play and that he thought that Pressure Off worked better live than some of the old songs!  He also mentioned how they were able to replicate the sampling and what not that was done in the studio for the live show.

Favorites

Katy asked Roger about some of his favorites from the past year, including album, movie, moment.  Roger’s responses weren’t that surprising.  For example, he chose Mark Ronson’s album along with the movie, Amy (about Amy Winehouse), which really was “intense” and showed what the industry requires of people.  (Note to self:  See the movie, Amy, when I can!)  His favorite moment of 2015?  It was playing at the O2 when “all the work they had done came to fruition”.  He also had a lot of family and friends in the audience.  In fact, he was able to spot his son, Julian, in the crowd, which is a really sweet story and well worth the time to listen to the entire Kafe!  He also enjoyed playing at the Hollywood Bowl and at Red Rocks.  Lastly, Roger was asked which word would describe 2015.  His answer:  Satisfaction.

Next Year

2016 will see a lot more touring for Duran Duran, which Roger is looking forward to since the live show has gotten better, according to him, with better lights and screens as well as more confidence with the new songs.  The US dates are already out there but he hopes to be able to add Italy, South America and Australia.  In fact, he expects that they will be touring pretty much the entire 2016.  I suspect that gives a lot of Duranies something to look forward to!

Holiday Greetings

As with any year end Kafe, Roger did send his holiday greetings to everyone.  I had to laugh when he said that Duran has the “most patient fans in the world”.  You could say that again, Roger!  😉  I would say that most fans are like Roger, though, in feeling pretty satisfied with how 2015 turned out for Duran Duran.

-A

2015 Grammy Awards: Ink Spot on A Plastic Spoon

As nice as it would have been to see, Paper Gods was not included in the list of 2015 Grammy awards nominees released this morning.

For many within the fan community, this does not come as a shock, nor does it threaten to take the wind out of the sails. It is par for the course this band was set on since their first album was released. Is it frustrating? Possibly to some. Is it disappointing? I suppose it could be if we let it. For the band? Chances are – they’ve not given it more than a thought or two (if any).  This isn’t a band that has hung their hats, so to speak, on awards, nominations or even lifetime achievements – although they have certainly had some of each. This isn’t a band that has openly given credence to critics, and I can certainly appreciate that.

As a fan, I’ll admit it would have been nice to see them nominated.  Yes, this is purely MY opinion. I certainly said as much in a previous blog I’d written on this very subject. Duran Duran’s absence on the list of Grammy nominees is noticeable, but not terribly surprising. When I look at the field – names like Mark Ronson (Not that I can complain much about that one), Bruno Mars, Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar and Ed Sheeran fly off the page. As John himself mentioned in a recent Katy Kafe – the band has a difficult time competing on that level, with kids who are easily 25 years their junior (in some cases). I don’t know that any band truly worthy of Duran’s salt could really be in that same category (Pop) and expect to be successful in the sense of being nominated and winning awards or even being played on top 40, “pop” radio stations.

What does that really mean for Duran Duran? Do they just hang it up and quit, realizing that they’re being expected to compete in a category that is likely impossible for a band in their mid-50s? Absolutely not. I don’t know who decides how an album (or a band) should be categorized in sales for places such as iTunes – that’s probably a great question for Katy Krassner, but obviously at least John Taylor feels like Paper Gods wasn’t given it’s just due in that regard, and perhaps he’s right.  I really don’t know and don’t profess otherwise. Even so, and even if it was only for a short time – Paper Gods hit the top 10. This is their 14th studio album and instead of just phoning it in or releasing one “greatest hits” album after another, they decided to take it up a notch. Duran Duran has succeeded in not only challenging their fan base to expand the proverbial music “box” where the band resides in their hearts, they’ve also dared critics to accept that they’re not just aging pinups – that they have serious musical chops and deserve much overdo respect. Paper Gods is already a huge win.

Seeing Duran Duran passed up time and time again for a Grammy can be frustrating to some fans, and I can understand that.  In some ways it’s a double-edged sword. On one hand, I laugh at award shows like the Grammy’s, the MTV awards, and the American Music Awards. The artists and bands who are typically celebrated on those shows aren’t even on my radar much of the time – how could I possibly even want Duran included among those masses?? On the other hand, I’m a fan. I like seeing the band I love getting their moment(s) in the sun. Sure. I’d be kidding myself if I didn’t admit that I’d hoped for the best. I’m not ashamed of my positivity, because if we don’t have that – what do we really have? What’s the point of being a fan if we can’t extol the band’s triumphs?

I know many are reading and shaking their heads, thinking to themselves my opinion doesn’t matter, the blog is pointless, or that the Grammy’s are a joke and I’ve wasted my time. Some are likely thinking, told you so. Again I ask – why even bother being a fan if we can’t celebrate success? I love Duran Duran. I’m proud of them, whether there are zero nominations or fifty. I am never going to apologize for my pride, even if I’m the only fan left standing.

-R

Billboard Cover Boys!

This weekend, my timeline and news feed has been filled with pictures, articles and videos from Billboard.com!  What was the big occasion?  Duran Duran, not only appeared in the latest edition, but they were on the cover!!!  Obviously, fans were excited by this as they love seeing Duran Duran get the attention they deserve.  Of course, many fans expressed the idea that Duran Duran should ALWAYS be featured in the musically focused press!  We definitely agree!  So, how was this coverage?  What specifically was shared and what were the reactions to it?

Before I dive into the meat of what billboard.com shared, let me make a couple of comments.  First, I am concerned that I missed some things because there were so many different clips and links that it was hard (for me!) to follow.  Second, after I saw that they were featured in the latest edition, I did what I normally do.  I went to go find it in the store so that I could buy a real, hard copy for my collection.  No luck.  The places I thought I would find it didn’t actually stock Billboard Magazine.  Apparently, you can buy it online here, though!

Behind-the-Scenes with the Team

One of the links, which you can see here, that was posted by Billboard was a video clip focusing on the team who worked on the song, Pressure Off.  Now, I admit that I adore video clips.  I really do.  I generally wish that they were a lot, lot, lot longer and this one is no exception.  This one, in particular focused on Nile Rodgers and Mark Ronson and how they worked together for the first time here with Duran.  By watching the video clip included in the link above, I am reminded of two things very, very quickly.  Mark Ronson truly is a Duran Duran fan.  He is a Duranie and every time I hear him talk about Duran or working with Duran, I am reminded of that and it always makes me feel confident in what kind of music will come to be as a result.  Likewise, Nile’s positive spirit and great joy over making music, especially music with Duran comes through so very clearly in this clip.  His enthusiasm is impossible to miss and I love how Nick phrased it when he said there was “electricity” in the room when everyone got together.  I could totally see it and really makes me wish I was a fly on the wall.  I truly hope that there is more video footage of this time in the studio.  I’m sure that every Duranie would love it!  If that wasn’t enough, I found myself loving Pressure Off even more from watching that!

JoSi Knowledge

Another one of the videos posted by Billboard, which you can see here, focused on how well John and Simon know each other.  I have no doubt that 99% of Duranies responded to the question before hitting play on the video with a resounding, “Very well!”  After all, they have been colleagues and good friends for over 30 years!  That said, I still couldn’t hit the play button fast enough!  The idea behind this video was to see if they could answer questions about each other.  I won’t give it away but I will say it is clear that they have great camaraderie with each other, no matter if they are talking football or past appearances.  I desperately wish that we got to see more of this!

Cover Article & Video

The longest article posted by Billboard also features a video.  You can read the article and watch the video here.  The video covers a few topics, including the album title, collaboration, and length of time to create the album.  I wonder if those truly are the biggest topics surrounding this album.  If so, then, Billboard chose well.  I did like what Nick had to say about the album title and I’m truly looking forward to hearing that song!!!  As for collaborations, one thing that caught my attention is the idea that Simon shared the microphone with many people, including John.  Is he referring to backing vocals or more?  I wonder.  As for the length of time to create this album, John pointed out that it is important to take time to make it right since there aren’t that many albums in their musical lives.  Obviously, this topic (coughDurantimecough) was well-discussed here on the blog.

As for the article itself, it starts off by describing the photo shoot connected to the cover, article, etc.  While I appreciate the acknowledgement that Duran has a long history, I wasn’t necessarily thrilled with lines like, “The singer is still handsome but no longer quite a pinup; natural light can be cruel.”  I have to wonder.  Is that sentence necessary?  Why the focus on their age?  Yes, I realize that this was in context with the photo shoot, but still.  If was to show that they have experience with this, I just think there could have been a nicer way to put this.  To me, it seemed like a subtle (or not so subtle) dig on the band and Simon, in particular.  Thankfully, the article quickly transitions to the album.

The author begins the discussion on Duran Duran’s upcoming album, Paper Gods, by stating that it is a “robust affair” which is interesting considering that Duran could just sit back and enjoy their past success and tour.  Yet, according to Warner Bros. president, Dan McCarroll, the album is fabulous and clear to him that the band wanted a hit.  Sentences like that always make me pause.  I want Duran to have hits, of course.  I want them to do well and I want them to have the recognition they deserve.  Yet, there is always a part of me that worries (perhaps, unnecessarily!) that this desire overshadows the focus on quality Duran Duran music.  After all, we all know that there are songs that are hits that aren’t quality.  Nonetheless, I reassured myself that Duran Duran knows what they are doing and kept on reading.

It is no surprise that the article discusses the contributions on the album as that seems to be a frequently discussed talking point by both the band and the media.  I can understand that as it is interesting that the band used so many artists in creating this album.    What I struggle to understand is why the author spent so much time talking about the band members’ personal lives right after the discussion on collaborations.  Billboard magazine, at least in my head, focuses on the music and charts.  Literally, there are 4 sentences about the contributions and 5 sentences on their current personal lives.  It frustrates me as a fan when the focus isn’t on what they do but on who they are.  I know that has always been the case with Duran but I wish it wasn’t.  I would prefer more discussion on the quality of music that they create.  Am I asking too much?

From there, the article dives into their past, their legacy.  I was excited to read what moments in their lives would be highlighted.  I appreciated the inclusion of the Reflex remix by Nile Rodgers that the record label didn’t want to release.  I didn’t mind the brief discussion on the New Romantic era.  Yet, quickly, the article focuses on the band’s videos and how in the author’s words, they were “not particularly deep” and “advertisements for champagne-soaked decadence”.   Ugh.  In my opinion, there is a lot more to many of their videos than what is seen on the surface.  I’m sorry that the author doesn’t see that and doesn’t see the intelligence Duran used in their videos.  Interestingly enough, there are three full paragraphs about their videos.  Did I go to sleep and wake up in 1984?  Why the focus on the videos?  Again, don’t get me wrong.  I love their videos and I agree with John when he said that they were “jokey”.  Rio was exactly that, not just decadent.

I had hopes that the article would turn back to Duran’s musical history since the cover states that they are the “Last Band Standing” (which is a clever title and would have been more clever during Red Carpet Massacre days).  Unfortunately, the article tries to gives the band’s history and chronology by focusing on the usual topics of shopping, excess, drug and alcohol abuse, side projects, etc.  While clearly, research was completed, I just wish it had focused more on the music.  The article comes close to focusing on the music a couple of times like when there was discussion about how Duran rarely takes the easy way out, musically.  I wanted to know more as I thought that was an interesting angle.  I also enjoyed the discussion about the recording process and their desire to remain vital as they age.  Instead, there was more about how John was still “slender” despite not doing drugs anymore and how Nick has “slightly ghostly features”.  Do those sentences give information or add any knowledge or force readers to think differently?  I don’t think so.

I love that Duran Duran is getting press, getting attention!  I really do!  If I ran the world, they would get attention and press everyday!  (Maybe that’s why I do a daily blog about being a Duran fan?!)  I just wish that the content of the article focused on the MUSIC.  As Simon said in the article, “‘Glamorous’ and ‘shallow’ are never words you use to describe your own life. But, yes, it was fun. It was fun hanging out with Princess Margaret, Prince Charles and Diana and Warhol, too. But that’s all the press ever talked about: the parties, the models, the boats, the booze. But we did work hard.”  It is sad how true that statement of his still is and too much of this article shows this.

-A

 

Paper Gods Press Release Insights Part 2

We continue our analysis of the press releases surrounding Duran Duran’s upcoming album, Paper Gods.  In part 1, which you can read here, we discussed statements made about the album as a whole.  In this part, we look at how individual songs on the album are described.  Of course, we have yet to hear any of these with the exception being the first single, Pressure Off.  Therefore, these descriptions are just that.  They are descriptions, which we may or may not find completely accurate once we actually have the chance to hear them.  Nonetheless, we thought it would be fun to offer some thoughts and reactions to the written descriptions.

Pressure Off

As described in the press release:  “Mark, Nile and Mr Hudson co-wrote and produced, the tracks ‘Pressure Off’ and ‘Only in Dreams’. The former, which will be the album’s lead single featuring Nile Rodgers, harks back to the taut funk of Notorious, with a sensational vocal from Janelle Monáe, and a chorus that is audacious in its effortless immediacy. “If only,” laughs Nick. “The one thing it wasn’t was effortless. But the idea was to make it sound like that.”

Amanda:

In reading this, I wish I knew more about Only in Dreams, especially since I have heard Pressure Off already.  Does the combination of Mark Ronson, Mr Hudson and Nile Rodgers always produce a song like Pressure Off?  I look forward to finding out.  As for what Nick said here, I wasn’t surprised that it took effort to create the chorus in Pressure Off.  Rhonda suspects that they came up with the hook  and the chorus first and built the rest of the song around it.  I wouldn’t be surprised.  I just wonder how or what in particular they were searching for when trying to find this chorus.  Was it a certain style?  Were they trying to match certain songs?  I wish I was a fly in the studio for that!

Rhonda:

Well…mostly I just wouldn’t be surprised if they came up with the hook first and built the rest of the song around it. I have no idea what Duran typically does, but that hook is so strong it just seems like it would have come first. (I’m probably dead wrong though!) I think that the chorus does have a sort of “effortless” feel around it…it’s kind of like I’ve told my daughter Heather so many times: “It’s ok if it really ISN’T effortless or easy, it just needs to LOOK that way when you’re on stage!” That’s sort of the way the chorus to this song comes off. On the other hand, I don’t think the verses sound so easy.  I’ve been reading the opinions of many fans lately on this one, and a lot of the criticisms seem to come from the verses – people don’t feel they match up well, stylistically. My opinion is very different because while it’s true, they definitely aren’t as bright, they give the song a lot more depth, sound-wise. If every line sounded like the chorus, I am afraid the song would be making a serious slide into bubble-gum land. I also recognize that I am a far better kitchen-table blogger/armchair critic than music writer, so there’s that.

“Big-Chorus Bankers”

The press release stated the following: “‘Face For Today’, ‘Butterfly Girl’, ‘Danceophobia’ (with a guest appearance from Lindsay Lohan as the voice of the ‘doctor’) and ‘Last Night In the City’ (which features a killer contribution from Kiesza) are among the album’s other big-chorus bankers”

Amanda:

Big-chorus bankers?! I totally get the idea of songs with big choruses. I assume that to mean choruses that stick out, that are memorable, that stick in people’s heads and make them want to keep listening and keep singing along. Duran has had many of those in their history, including some of my favorite songs. The most recent song that comes to mind with that description is Sunrise. As soon as you heard that chorus, you wanted to keep listening and you wanted to sing along with Simon. Interestingly enough, two out of the four tracks described like that featured contributions by others. Lindsay Lohan is the voice of a “doctor”.  Will this be a little like Nina Hossain in Leopard?  I’ll be very curious to hear that one!

Rhonda:

So basically it is saying that these songs were written with strong hooks? I think it has to be said (many, many times) that even Pressure Off has a ridiculously catchy chorus – probably the best I’ve heard out of this band in 25 years, if not 30.  I can’t imagine what else would be meant by a big chorus, so I’m going with that. I thought back to the last several albums. Admittedly there are very few songs with truly great big choruses. Is that really a bad thing?  I think it depends upon the intention. If you’re writing without the goal of getting on radio, then no, I don’t think it really does matter. I think it is about the artistry of what you’re writing. Does the writer really feel like they got their message across?  However, radio and chart-land does not work that way. Go listen to the radio. Songs that get played often, songs that are genuine “hits” typically have very strong choruses. VERY strong.  They get deposited in your ear, swim to your brain and hold on for dear life. That’s why they work. Listen to “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk & Nile, or Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars. Those are some huge choruses!

I suppose though, for those of us Duran-purists out there, there’s likely some nose-scrunching going on. On one hand, sure, we want the band’s music to do well because of course we want to see the band succeed. Fans typically want that, don’t we? We want to sort of be validated so that we can walk around and say “See? We TOLD you Duran Duran still had it. We TOLD you they’re fantastic!” But, and this is the crazy, insane thing about Duranies that I’ve learned from over the years, there’s also a part of us that really doesn’t want it happening that way.  We want them to write solely for themselves. We want them to laugh in the face of critics and music charts. We want them to write the really cool, obscure stuff that we first fell in love with (or maybe discovered after we were finished devouring other songs like Rio or Hungry Like the Wolf?).  We don’t necessarily WANT them to bow down to the masses and write/record so that they get played on radio. What we want is for the band to write the music they want to write without worrying about it getting played; then, if it hits big we can sit back and pat ourselves on the back for knowing they had it all along but that the masses were too silly to really get it…but we’ve stuck by the band all along.

Personally, I’m not so sure it all works that way. I think that at least for me, I’m willing to concede to the fact that perhaps the music I love most from this band isn’t going to ever get them radio play. I kind of think they’ve got the right to make music that stands half a shot of being heard by a bigger audience, if that’s what they really want. In a lot of ways I feel for the band because I think they know it’s all a pretty tall-order. Up until now it’s felt like they’re either pissing off long time fans or they’re screwing themselves out of ever getting radio play. Where’s the middle ground? IS there middle ground?? If I were in their shoes, I am not entirely sure what I’d do. Try to do it all, and hope for the best, I suppose. Maybe, just maybe, there’s enough for everyone on this album.

What Are the Chances?

From the press release:  “‘What Are the Chances?’ the song that rolls back the years to the yearning and beauty of ‘Save a Prayer’”

Amanda:

Hmm…so What Are the Chances is the ballad on the album.  It is interesting that it also features John Frusciante on guitar.

Rhonda:

I knew it would come down to the guitar player. It always does. Listen, anyone who has read this blog during the past four years knows how I feel about guitar in general. I think the band needs guitar, and yes, I think it should be someone we as fans can all count on to be there permanently. To me, it’s not Duran Duran without it. I am much less of a fan of the music where the guitar is added deep into the mix as a sort of atmospheric afterthought than I am of the songs where there’s this beautiful, lush melody and seemingly out of nowhere I hear a soaring guitar. That’s the kind of juxtaposition, duality, tension….that I know to expect from Duran Duran at SOME points in their career. I also know that right now, they have a touring guitarist, but apparently he isn’t someone that the band wants to include or name as a permanent member.  Feelings about Dom run the full spectrum: many Duranies consider him just to be the hired gun in the same way they look at the roadies – they don’t even “see” him onstage, and still many others like myself consider him to be part of the family even if the band refuses. Perhaps it is all purely a business decision. I don’t know, and it really doesn’t matter. Duran Duran is happy to be a foursome, and from what I’ve been told over the past couple of years, it doesn’t seem they included Dom as much in the writing for this album (as opposed to All You Need is Now). Instead, they sought out presumably bigger names to do the writing and recording. It’s the one issue I’ve got with the band this time around, and it’s something that I continue to come to terms with as a Duran Duran fan AND as a fan of Dom’s. I’m truly surprised (and incredibly thankful!) that Dom has stuck around….and yes, I’m well-aware my words here are harsh, and yes, I know he’ll still be on the tour. He’s been around for over ten years now. It’s time for more than that. That said, I’m curious to see just what John Frusciante brings to this record. I’m well-aware of his incredible talent and I look forward to hearing what he’s got!

You Kill Me With Silence

Press Release:  ‘You Kill Me With Silence’ may boast another huge chorus, but at heart it is a deeply unorthodox and sonically engrossing song, with a disorientating closing sequence that reinforces the band’s art-pop credentials. Simon’s verdict on it sums up the freedom and inquisitiveness that still define the band’s music-making. “What I love most about the track is that it opens like a Snoop Dogg song; you almost expect a rapper to kick off, and instead what you get is Simon Le Bon channelling Nancy Sinatra.”

Amanda:

I have to admit this one intrigues me.  Any song that opens like a Snoop Dogg song and features Nancy Sinatra like vocals is going to interest me, as in “I can’t imagine what the heck that is going to sound like!”  Then, the idea that the closing is “disorientating” and “reinforces art-pop credentials” adds to my interest and inability to really process.  Heck, even the title adds to the mystery.  Yes, this one will definitely be one I look forward to hearing simply because it sounds so unimaginable!

Rhonda:

When I read this stuff, it’s very difficult to keep an open mind and not have already formed opinions by the time the album drops. I don’t want to go in with expectations of what I’m going to like or not like, you know?  Been there, done that with previous albums, and the results (for me) were disastrous, to say the least. HOWEVER…I’m really excited by what I’m reading here! Words like “art-pop”, “unorthodox”, “sonically-engrossing”….now those are music to MY ears. The trouble is that I’m really hoping it is going to be one of those delicious Duran-obscurities that no one but the deepest of fans loves…and that is one of those HOPES I’m trying to keep clear out of my head.  No expectations!!

Paper Gods

Press Release said:  “The title track (which features Mr Hudson’s vocals alongside Simon’s) is similarly daring, its polemical lyrics set to a soundtrack of fierce originality and menace. “It’s a song about our obsession, with money, with material things,” says Simon, “and how we trivialise our lives, and humanity. It’s definitely the angriest song on the album. Usually I tend to be much less specific when it comes to lyrics, because I like it when people hear our songs and create their own stories around them. But in this case, I wanted the anger to be unambiguous: ‘The slaver in a sweatshop, putting trainers on your feet.’ It’s about the price that we pay, that everyone pays, for the world as it is now.” “That song is definitely one of the strangest things we’ve done in a long, long time,” says Nick, “in that it’s a real journey, a strong lyric – we don’t often get into social commentary with songs, but this one felt like it needed that. And I do love the fact that it’s so unpredictable.”

Amanda:

I won’t lie.  I cannot wait to hear this one.  I like angry.  I like social commentary.  I do.  It is the Social Studies teacher in me, the political activist in me.  I have ALWAYS loved when Duran has gotten close or entered the social commentary realm because they always do it so intelligently.  It isn’t preachy but clever and thought-provoking.  Thus, I can’t wait for this one.  I suspect that I will love it and I will love the album title because of it!

Rhonda:

I’m really not a fan of obvious social commentary in music. I want to escape from reality, not be transported back to it every time I listen. That said, I like angry… (I doubt that surprises anyone. I’m the one with the fiery attitude around here, I think.) and I’ve heard that this song is of incredible length for a Duran song (9 minutes, I believe??) and it’s been compared to Bowie. That’s intriguing enough for me…and I do agree with Amanda, when Duran does a social commentary, it is usually done with incredible intelligence. I’m really looking forward to hearing this one.

Collaborations

John Frusciante:
What Are the Chances?
The Universe Alone
Butterfly Girl

John Frusciante’s playing…is equally unpredictable, the former Red Hot Chili Pepper twisting the songs into new and unexpected shapes. “We’re all so in awe of what he does with the guitar, his style is completely unique,” says Simon. “As a musician, he’s fearless, and that’s incredibly inspiring.”

Mr Hudson
Vocals on Paper Gods

Lindsay Lohan
Voice of the doctor on Danceophobia

Kiesza
Last Night in the City

Nile Rodgers
Co-wrote and produced Pressure Off and Only in Dreams
Featured on Pressure Off

Janelle Monae
Vocals on Pressure Off

Amanda:

There isn’t much to say about collaborations that I haven’t said before.  Sometimes, they are awesome as is the case with Janelle Monae’s vocals on Pressure Off.  Sometimes, they are not (thinking Skin Divers here).  Yet, we really don’t know until we hear the album.  Then, I will be able to  judge properly.

Rhonda:

Here’s the thing: I love John Frusciante’s work. He is an incredible guitarist. I’m looking forward to hearing him, all of my other feelings about the band and guitar players aside. Huge fan of Janelle Monae’s work on Pressure Off, the song would be completely different without her. I really like Mr. Hudson, so I am really excited that he did vocals on Paper Gods. The only thing that really intrigues me by Lindsay Lohan’s appearance on the album is why? Overall, I think there are an awful lot of big names packed into one album. In some ways it reads like overkill, in others, perhaps not. Time will tell.

What do you think about what you read about these upcoming songs?  Which ones interest you the most and why?

-A & R

Just A Case of Early “Album” Nerves

It is coming.  Everyone in Duranland can feel it.  #DD14 is coming.  Pressure Off, the first single, is coming.  Perhaps, more show announcements are on the horizon.  Duranies knew this before this past week’s Katy Kafe but emotions surrounding the upcoming Duran happenings spiked in response.  Why?  Simple.  As part of the Kafe, Roger said that there were some surprises on the album, including a big one with a first name starting with the letter “B”.  This, of course, in typical Duranie fashion got the speculation running wild.  Who could it be?  Bowie?  Boy George?  Brandon Flowers?  Beyonce?  Bruno Mars?  While each of those guesses produced mixed reactions, an underlying feeling began to present itself.  The feeling?  A mixture of hopefulness, anticipation, and anxiety.

Why the anxiety?  Wouldn’t all big fans be excited for new Duran music?  Of course.  Fans can’t wait to hear new music.  We all can’t wait to see articles written about the band’s latest work and we so look forward to promotional activities and appearances!  That isn’t where the concern lies.  As we know, there are a ton of collaborations on this album.  Most of them are people who have been in the musical spotlight as of late.  Certainly, Mark Ronson, Nile Rodgers, Kiesza and Janelle Monae have all experienced a lot of success lately.  This leads to a myriad of thoughts and worries for many Duranies.

Why can’t Duran do an album just themselves?  Why do they need so many collaborations?  What is the goal?  Is it to make the best DURAN DURAN album or is it to make a hit?  Is commercial success the focus or is it the art?  Is it the music?   Will it feel like Duran Duran?  How will this album be marketed?  Will the focus be on getting new fans only or will hardcore fans who have been around for decades be acknowledged?  

There are just a few of the concerns I have seen, heard or even said myself.  I would guess that there might be even more out there.  Before I get the usual negative responses and comments, let me see if I could explain where these concerns are coming from, especially if you are a fan reading this that isn’t concerned.

I believe that all (or mostly all) fans want the band’s upcoming album to be one that is successful.  Of course, we do.  We want the band to experience success and we want to love what it sounds like.  This would make it more likely, I believe, for the band to continue beyond this album.  Yet, fans who have been around for a long time have seen albums not go as planned and ones that have created backlash. Goodness, just this week, I posted a poll with songs off of Medazzaland and Pop Trash and was told how those albums weren’t liked.  I won’t forget what it was like and still like whenever Red Carpet Massacre is mentioned.  There is division in the fan community about that album, like it or not.  All fans I know want to have an album that they can love and can be excited about.  There is just concern that this album won’t be one of those–that doesn’t mean it won’t be but just that there are concerns especially when there are so many others on the album and the focus seems to be on getting a “hit”.  Many fans don’t mind if the band gets a hit, obviously, but many want it to happen naturally because the band produced a Duran Duran song that just happened to get people’s attention and love.  Think Ordinary World.  As much as that song isn’t high on my list of favorites, I, too, can acknowledge that it was a genuine Duran song that just happened to find commercial success.  It wasn’t written solely for the hit.

Then, there are concerns about the marketing surrounding this new album.  Again, most fans I know are happy with Duran Duran getting new fans.  How could we not be?  We were all new fans once, right?  We all discovered them at some point, yes?  Yet, no one wants to be ignored or taken for granted.  After all, getting the diehard Duranies excited could help their cause, too.  I know that I, personally, have gotten non-Duranies to check out their music because of how much I have talked about them.  I know that I have gotten people to become fans by taking them to shows.  That happens all the time and can definitely happen with albums or singles, specifically.  Heck, it happens all the time with all sorts of fandom beyond Duran Duran.  How often do people go to a movie or check out a TV show simply because they have heard a lot of people talking about it?  How often do people check out new music for the very same reason?  It happens all the time.  In this case, Duran Duran has a built in fan promotional machine, if they just gave the fans something to work with.  If diehard Duranies got excited, REALLY got excited, we would talk up the new material in epic amounts.  The social media world wouldn’t really know what hit.  Look at how we got things like Duran Duran Appreciation Day to trend.  That was the fans doing that.  The fans could do that for this album, too, as long as we are included in the marketing package.  I’m not saying that the band and label shouldn’t try to get new fans.  What I am saying is that they should do something to have the Duranies help them sell more, too.  It would also help minimize the worries about the collaborations, too.  Fans would be too busy being excited and getting others to be excited that the concerns would simply be pushed to the back of minds.  This would reinforce Duranies’ fandom, too, ensuring that all of us stick around for a very long time, too.  To me, that matches everything I know about good marketing as well.  You want to keep the customers you have happy, while trying to get new ones.

It would be a win-win-win, for the band, for the label and for the fans.  Then, I suspect any and all worries would be wiped away.

-A