Tag Archives: Mr. Hudson

Spirit rose a meter and stepped aside: Celebrating David Bowie

Just one year ago today, David Bowie left us.

I’m nearly incredulous that it has already been a year in one moment, and in the next, I’m shocked that it hasn’t been longer…because it certainly feels that way.

I still read and hear pain when the band speaks of their loss in interviews I’ve seen and read. In one sense, I can imagine how they feel. I don’t know what that day will feel like, and I don’t want to know.  Nearly all of them have mentioned grappling with the mere notion that David Bowie is no longer with us.

I can remember going online that day, and seeing the heart wrenching tweets from friends and people I admire. The loss was palatable, and the space David left will never be filled.

We’ve had a year of Duran Duran touring and incorporating Space Oddity into their shows, celebrating David Bowie. My own daughter (my youngest) thinks that it’s a Duran Duran song because she saw them play it live at her first concert this summer. There is still a sense of melancholy, and great love and respect when they segue from Planet Earth to Space Oddity during the show, with David Bowie, “bigger than life” looking  on behind them. As strange as it might seem, I’ve enjoyed Duran doing the song – sharing their love and influence with the rest of us, letting us in to help in some small way, shoulder their loss. Our loss, really.

This past weekend, Simon took part in a very special show at Brixton Academy in London, on what would have been David’s 70th birthday.  “Celebrating David Bowie with Gary Oldman and Friends” was a show featuring David’s band, along with a myriad of special guests, including Simon, members of Spandau Ballet, Joe Elliott of Def Leppard, and Mr. Hudson. For Simon’s part, he performed “Let’s Dance”.

I didn’t watch all the videos for the show, but you BET I watched Simon’s. If you want to catch any of them, check out NME’s wonderful article and collection of videos, including the entire setlist.  Rest assured, Simon sounded fantastic and strong. While I watched him perform, he seemed so proud to be up there, maybe even reverent. Even from here, I was proud to see him knock that song out of the park.  I thought about how music heals, and how much deep love and respect these musicians have for David Bowie.

People often say that these people never completely leave us, that the music stays with us forever, and it is their gift.  Sometimes that thought comforts and other times, it feels like a huge cliché. I’m not going to lie, the thought does very little to quell my own fear of loss. I learned early on in my life to make sure that the people I love most know how I feel – which is really hard to do when it is a band like Duran Duran. The complexity of the “fan” thing tends to get in the way as much as it brought me to them to begin with. However,  we all do love and treasure them, in very much the same way as they do Bowie. We can only hope they know.

During a year where many of us have lost idols and artists we love and respect, seeing Simon—and all of Duran Duran, really—pay respect to their own idol, has taught me a lot about grace, love and celebrating one’s idols.

-R

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.

October 2016 Katy Kafe with Simon!

I sat down to listen to the October 2016 Katy Kafe with Simon this morning. Four days later than I’d liked, but at least I listened!  As always, I took notes and will provide the highlights. My disclaimer is that, once again, these are ONLY the highlights, and while I try to do the Kafe justice, if you really want the best experience, you are better off paying your membership fee ($35.00 a year) and hearing it for yourself.

Coffee

It seems to me that every time Simon is in the Kafe, the discussion begins on the topic of coffee. This time was no exception as Simon mentions that he is drinking an Americano black coffee with no sugar. He explains that on his current two pots of coffee per day habit (hey, it was once four-pots, so he’s improving!) he is able to keep the weight down.

makes note to up coffee intake

MTV EMA’s

They spoke briefly about the MTV EMA voting (if you haven’t voted or need to vote today, and you do…check out our blog here for a link).  Simon explained that the environment had everything to do with how special the show in the Piazza Duomo was, and Katy also reminded him that Mark Ronson also joined them on stage that night.

End of US Tour in Colorado

They played a festival to end their tour in the US, and they talked about meeting Stevie Wonder. I hadn’t heard this, but apparently Stevie had called out for the band to join him onstage that final night, and because the band was tired – no one was there to join him (but they did meet).

Is it just me or does it seem like the tour ended months and months ago??? It feels like forever ago that I was packing and unpacking, and then continuing to write about other shows along the way.

Simon also commented that, on orders from his family not to come back (home) until he was no longer an egotistical rock star (and I had to laugh at that…I suppose this is similar to military debriefing!), he decided to do some sailing after the tour. He joined two regattas, one being the Panerai Regatta and another in St. Tropez.  Those apparently did the trick as he is now back at home, settling in, and getting ready to do some work next week with Mr. (Ben) Hudson.  WHAT?

I was curious that Katy didn’t ask for any details on that – Simon mentioned this work twice, and I’m curious about what he’s working on. Perhaps we’ll know at a later date…

More shows?

As we now know, Duran Duran has sent out the official announcement that they will be doing two shows just outside of Washington DC for New Years Eve and New Years Day.  This of course, follows up the show they’re already doing in Cancun.  Simon says he’s very excited about the show in Cancun because he’s never been there, but at the time they taped this Kafe, they hadn’t announced the National Harbor shows yet. So, two more shows for the US this year…and hopefully, something will be announced for other parts of the world soon, although Simon nor Katy made mention of anything during the Kafe.

You say it’s your birthday

Simon turns 58 on October 27th. I’m still wrapping my head around that one. Age is but a number, but that one just doesn’t sound right. Simon says he’s not doing much for his birthday except working with Mr. Hudson, and Yasmin’s birthday is just a couple of days later.

Overall, it was a lighthearted Kafe. Simon sounded lively, properly caffeinated…and ready to tease Katy at a moment’s notice. I’ll note that he didn’t sound at all tired as I might have expected after a tour, but I suppose he’s had a few weeks to readjust!

-R

 

 

Somebody Else Took His Place and Cried, “I’m a blackstar!”

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???

Interesting.

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.

-R

Duran Duran at Jimmy Kimmel!

I’ll let you in on a little secret, Duran Duran fans: never wear skinny jeans to a show in 90 degree + heat.  Just a tip.

The time in the dreaded GA for the Jimmy Kimmel backlot concert (but “preferred GA of course, thanks to MasterCard) line went fast, although there were a couple of points where I felt like I needed to sit just because of the heat…and I live in Southern California! (albeit farther south and much closer to the coast!) My fellow line-dwellers and I passed the time talking about the band, of course, and musing about the shows to come.  We saw the band arrive in their customary black SUV (hope I’m not giving much away there), and was treated to sound check, where we soon realized we were going to hear “You Kill Me With Silence” later on. Our line was formed outside of the fence to the backlot, and chain link on the fence was mostly blocked by plastic, but in between sections there were gaps that worked beautifully for catching glimpses. We were able to see that Mr. Hudson was going to join the band onstage, for instance…and then there was that moment that we saw Simon strip off his t-shirt.

So, back to the line…

At about 5:30 (an hour later than we’d been told), we were allowed onto the backlot and found spaces by the stage. My choice in spots is still the topic of discussion amongst friends today because rather than make a beeline for Dom’s area of the stage, which I wholeheartedly admit is my typical first choice, I took a spot at about third “row” directly in front of Simon. I don’t know why I did that, except that I wasn’t with Amanda, I figured I’d get the whole scene that way, and honestly – there seemed to be more room in front of Simon’s microphone.  Go figure. After waiting for what felt like forever (I had forgotten how much my lower back hurts while waiting in GA!), we had some dude from the show come out and try to warm up the crowd and explain how it all was going to go.

Not long after that, the show started. And as always, this is where things start to get fuzzy for me. I blame John Taylor for that, because he came out to the front of the stage and genuinely smiled. Like anyone who has ever seen John up close, I was convinced he smiled at me. Yes, there were 500 people in the crowd. No, don’t try to talk sense into me. I write a blog, remember?  Good sense left my body a LONG time ago.

Rather than attempt to write my way through the show, I’m going to try to cover this by bullet point summary:

The Band:

They all looked great. I will applaud the rhinestoned jacket on John, the mouth shirt and black/white leather jacket on Simon, and yes, Dom’s polka dot shirt (that collar had to have been hot though,  it was fully buttoned!)  I won’t lie, I can’t remember what Nick or Roger wore. My excuse is that they are only out front for a very short period of time, and let’s face it, I stood there for several minutes just coming to terms with the idea that I was there, they were in front of me, and I was about to hear some Duran.

Set list:

The band played six songs: Pressure Off, Last Night in the City, You Kill Me With Silence, Hungry Like the Wolf, Save a Prayer and Sunrise. They went back and did several of them more than once to account for lyrical cough, cough errors and whatever else the band felt they needed to correct.

As an aside, I was treated to Hungry Like the Wolf not just once, but twice (did they know I was there or something?!?) The first time, I didn’t see it coming when Simon asked the crowd if we’d been fed, and then launched into “Is anybody hungry?” I groaned, and then, remembering that this was for TV, I cheered and sang right along with everyone else….and then did it all again.  Yay!!

Back Up Singers:

This was the first time I’d seen Jessie and Anna together live. In a lot of ways, I think it’s good for Anna to have someone to work with, because maybe it gives her a little more energy. I don’t love the current stage set up with the platforms that line the back of the stage, though. It’s very linear, and I don’t know why – but it bugs me. Jessie and Anna are off to one side, and while I was concerned that they’d be stuck back there, they do come to the front of the stage for various songs. They also have every song completely choreographed which really reminded me of the Big Thing era, and I’m not sure I like that. I tend to prefer the more natural movements of when Anna was alone with the band, overall that time felt far more organic and more like a family or team atmosphere rather than a staged production.

Mr. Hudson:

Ben was present for this show, and from what I could tell – he was there to play guitar. This puzzles me, and I’m not even going to pretend otherwise. When I realized he was there, I thought perhaps they were going to play “Paper Gods”, but that didn’t seem plausible for this show. Then he came out during You Kill Me With Silence, and took Dom’s spot on stage. That doesn’t mean Dom wasn’t still on the stage – he was, but he moved further back while Mr. Hudson played and sang on the microphone. It just seemed strange. There was absolutely no interaction between Mr. Hudson and Dom, which is completely unlike what I’ve seen with Dom and any other guest artist the band has ever had on stage with them, including Mark Ronson and Nile Rodgers – two HUGE names. To be completely honest, Dom looked bored stiff and awkward during the song. There just doesn’t SOUND like there’s enough guitar to go around, and if the band’s goal is to make sure fans understand in these moments that Dom is not a valued member of the stage band (at the very least), it’s working.  That’s unfortunate, because on any other song the band does, you can see the love and affection they seem to have for one another. I like Mr. Hudson, don’t get me wrong, but there was no chemistry, no playing off of one another, and instead it felt very much as though Dom was just some guy in the background playing back up to a producer that none of us really know.

Overall, the band played a good show at Jimmy Kimmel last night and it was a taster of what is to come. I’m looking forward to the next three shows with my partner-in-crime, as fun as last night was, it’s never the same without Amanda (even though she is threatening to make me stand alone at GA shows from now on).

Road trip!!!

-R

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

Duran Duran News: 2/16/15 to 2/21/15

What has been going on with Duran Duran?  As always, I try to summarize all of the official Duran Duran news here!  If I have forgotten something, let me know!

War Child UK Show

On Thursday, Duran Duran played their show to benefit the War Child charity in London.  The setlist was as follows, according to DuranDuranMusic:

VIEW TO A KILL*
HUNGRY LIKE THE WOLF*
REFLEX*
NOTORIOUS*
COME UNDONE*
UNION OF THE SNAKE*
ALL YOU NEED IS NOW*
IS THERE SOMETHING I SHOULD KNOW*
SAVE A PRAYER*
GIRL PANIC!*
CARELESS MEMORIES*
ORDINARY WORLD*
WHITE LINES*
SUNRISE*
WILD BOYS*
[ENCORE]GIRLS ON FILM w/ PSYCHO KILLER*
RIO*

By now, most of you have probably seen pictures and video clips.  I definitely recommend checking out Duran Duran’s Facebook page for some exclusive photos, including some VERY nice JoSi pictures, courtesy of Gaëlle Beri.  Here are a couple of clips from YouTube that made me feel a little like I was there:

If you find other videos that you liked from the show, please share!

Of course, there were also reviews of the show, too.  Here are a couple of articles:

Evening Standard

The Telegraph (This one makes a reference to John Taylor’s hat.  Does he look like an Amish farmer to you?!)

Oscar Focused Katy Kafe

This week also featured a Katy Kafe with Nick and Katy discussing films and making their Oscar picks.  You can listen to it here.  Since the Academy Awards are on tonight, perhaps, you want to listen to it first to see how accurate they are with their predictions!

Mr Hudson

Speaking of exclusive features on DuranDuranMusic, besides including the full Katy Kafe with Nick on the Oscars, they also published an interview with Mr Hudson here.  It might provide some insight into #DD14.

Rehearsal Pictures

Of course, earlier in the week, Duran Duran’s social media posted some pictures from the band’s rehearsal as they got ready for the War Child show.  Those pictures definitely made those going super excited for the show and the rest of us hoping to see our own shows soon!

I think that’s it.  If not, what did I miss?!

-A

November Katy Kafé With Nick Rhodes!

It is that time again! Every month, it seems as though I’ll notice that a Kafé should be coming up, then let the thought slip from my mind, and suddenly I’m reading on Twitter that it’s up and ready.

This month, Katy welcomes Nick Rhodes to the Kafé…and even prior to it being posted on duranduranmusic.com, we are told (via Katy’s twitter) that she was given an album title! So, as soon as possible, I scrambled over to DDM to listen. As always, I am going to go through the highlights. This is by no means word for word, and if you want to hear the entire Kafe (all 35 minutes worth, which was wonderful!), I highly encourage you to get your membership to duranduranmusic.com. With a new album coming next year, this is a perfect time to join and get involved!

On #DD14

Nick reports that the album is almost complete. He must have heard me verbalize, “FINALLY”…because he says that he was not surprised it has taken this much time to come to this point. Nick says that he realized that some songs come very quickly, then they start to rewrite and notice that some are better than others, and then the original songs don’t stack up as well.

“It’s just the process”

He admires other bands that are able to release more, but on the same token Nick believes that in many cases, the quality of the work isn’t always better. Perhaps taking more time with less songs and getting them right is for the best. In the time that they’ve been writing and recording, they initially have enough material for 3 or 4 albums, but whittle the songs down to one album-worth. Nick says similar has occurred with each album they’ve recorded over the years.

Even so, Nick states several times, rather emphatically, that the album is almost finished. It is currently being mixed with Spike Stent – including the work from Mr. Hudson, Mark Ronson and Nile. (to be clear, no mention was made of the work that John Frusciante did for the album, but he was not a producer – as were Mark, Nile and Mr. Hudson)

“By the second week in December, most of the album will be finished.”

All but 2-3 songs will be completed with mixing by the third week in December. One of the songs is in the process of having a lyric completed, and the other two are still on the “workbench”. Nick says they already have more than enough for one album.  He suspects that they will be completely finished in January.

So what about all of those producers? How did it feel working with each of them?  Nile and Mark have different sorts of great energy. They most recently worked with Nile on Astronaut. It is important to note that originally, they had several songs that they’d worked on with Nile for Astronaut, but in the process of narrowing down the final choices for the album – it ended up being significantly less. Nile IS playing on the album – two of the songs will definitely make the album and the other is one of the songs that is still on the workbench.  Mark, on the other hand brings a modern hand to everything they do. Nile and Mark play off of one another with a sort of Old School/New School feel. Mr. Hudson brought more to this project than anyone else. Nick says he’s an enormous talent, and open minded. Mr. Hudson does not try to produce the same album over and over again, which we should all applaud!

“One of them sounds like 70’s California driving music.” 

Nick points to the diversity on the album, and admittedly as he’s talking about the different sounds, I am groaning because I want to hear them for myself! He describes one of them as 70’s California driving music (this is important for later….remember that description!), another as early Talking Heads, and still another that has Hip Hop as a base in the track, but the melody is much more “classical” in nature, saying it’s “really different”.

Josh Blair is the engineer behind the album, working with the band since the beginning days of recording.  There is no album title as of yet, confirming that the title they’d discussed earlier is no longer on the table and he is taking suggestions. (I kind of doubt that…but just in case, I’m thinking they could probably stick with #DD14 at this point…it’s what we’ve all been calling it for years now!)

On Austin Gran Prix/Formula-One Fan Fest

Katy points out (as I make a very sad face), that this is the only public performance of 2014, and is likely to be the last time they have a setlist that does not include songs from the new album.

“When you are in the studio for a long time, the desire to play live grows.”

The live show is a whole different discipline from recording in the studio. For the Austin show, they kept the set list traditional and missed playing songs off of a new album. He expands on this idea by explaining that it used to be that they would try out the new material on audiences. (I am certain that many remember this from shows prior to Red Carpet Massacre as well as Astronaut) Nowadays though, it’s just not sensible due to piracy.  Those live versions tend to exist forever, even if they aren’t “quite right” or need reworked.  Katy asks the question I’m wondering though, “Could you have played songs from the new album though, if you’d wanted?”  Nick responds emphatically, “Yes. More than ten, actually.”  He insists that those songs are completely finished. Done.

“Sunset Garage”

We finally get a song title. It is like drinking fresh water after a long hike! Nick was sure he’d given us one last time, but after Katy coaxes, he gives us the title of the song with a 1970’s California driving-song vibe. This is one I’m anxious to hear. (Let’s be honest: I want to hear them all. Not in seven more months from now, either…but I suspect we’ll be waiting at least that long…)

On Geneu

Pronounced “Gene-you”, this is a skincare/cosmetic care company that uses your DNA in order to match the correct products with your skin. There is a brick and mortar store in London on New Bond street, and eventually there will also be online (transactional) presence. Nick brought in John Warwicker to work on graphics, and Nick has done artwork and design for the store. Antony Price designed the uniforms that the staff will wear (in-store). Before even getting to market, Geneu has won several awards, including the microchip that determines the DNA matching and the packaging for Best Packaging design in Britain. Nick states that it has been a very different experience…and it is absolutely no surprise when he says that he loves product packaging design (anyone who has ever loved the time and attention to detail that Duran Duran puts into their albums, CD’s, videos, etc. should thank Nick Rhodes).

On Frieze Masters Art Fair

Recently Nick curated an exhibit for the Frieze Masters Art Fair in London, using work from the Parisian Gallerie 1900-2000, which specializes in Surrealist/Dada art. Nick enjoyed curating and spending time choosing pieces by Man Ray, Hans Bellmer and other iconic artists of the period.

“If I had been good at painting I might have gone into that instead of music.” 

Thankfully, Nick stuck with music…although it is easy to hear how much enjoyment he received out of curating the exhibit. Katy asked Nick if he would do another, and Nick responds saying that he would, as long as he liked the genre.

On Bei Incubai, the book

Nick has a book coming out through Vinyl Factory that is a book based on the exhibit done last year. He has been working with Rory McCartney on the design, and is trying to get it all printed and available for purchase for the Christmas season. This however, is not just a photo book, as it includes silk-screens and even a vinyl record with tracks Nick has written. This project is not tied to TV Mania, although the premise is a movie that was never made. Interested? You might have to move quickly to purchase this one, as Nick stated that they only planned to print about 300 copies! My guess is that this book will not be available for the “faint of wallet”.

On Careless Memories – the Denis O’Regan photo book

This book has admittedly taken much longer to complete than the band originally planned, but Nick tells us that they are now printed, and in the process of being sent to those who painstakingly ordered them last year. Nick mentions that the book is a time capsule of 1984, and that one can really learn from the images…the clothes, the haircuts, the cars, the furniture… Thirty years beyond the photos gave fresh perspective to the band as they commented on quotes that they had made during that time period, all of which are contained in the book.

“The hysteria at the time was intense.”

Nick talks about how claustrophobic the environment really was for the band at the time, and as I listen I get the feeling that no matter how much I think I understand about that period of time – I will never have an accurate sense of what it must have been like.  No matter what I think, it was likely far worse. Katy mentions current bands like One Direction (of which Nick has very little knowledge), and then gives another example that Nick has personally witnessed: Justin Bieber.

Nick and Justin were at an event – not together mind you – but at the same event, and apparently people continually came up to Justin literally every five minutes wanting something from him. He was never just left alone, and Nick commented that he felt sorry for him. These weren’t even fans,  but grown people who should have known to leave him.  I can’t even begin to describe it the way that Nick did – to hear his reaction, in his own voice is worth the price of membership to DDM. If you have ever thought about approaching a member of the band while they ate dinner or were with family…I think hearing Nick is worth a listen.

“I’m glad we didn’t have internet”

Nick continues, commenting that having the internet during that same period of time in the 80s would have been even worse. This is no surprise, and many fans, including myself, have said similar over the years. I cannot even begin to imagine what it would have been like for the band at the time.  As it was, the hysteria was out of control, and to add the lack of privacy to it all?? Oh no. I’m glad too, Nick. Katy interjects that for people like Justin, who have simply grown up that way, it’s all he knows. I’m sure that’s true – but can you imagine having your self-image completely and totally tied up with your public persona? Some might say this is no different than DD, but it is. First of all, Justin was much younger than Duran Duran when he became a media-sensation.  He is 20 years old, and I highly doubt he even has a clear idea of who he is without the public persona. There’s no dividing line between public and private person, not to mention that the frontal lobe of his brain hasn’t even fully developed yet – that doesn’t even happen until the mid-20’s.  Katy is absolutely right, he knows nothing else, and he has no idea who he is outside of being “Justin Bieber”.  Nick says that “everyone needs privacy. Everyone needs some of that.” 

On 2015

Next year is going to be very exciting. There will be a single out, an album…“certainly some shows”.  Nick says that they are looking for different ways to approach the project (I can think of some ways to get the fans really involved if they’d care to check their inbox…just saying.) They do not have a label just yet, they are hoping to get that decided within the next couple of months, because Nick would like to plan the release of this project carefully. He says that they did as much with All You Need is Now, but of course you can only plan so much – and then the universe decides from there!

We will hear more from Nick in the year end Kafés!!

-R

 

 

You Ease the Lost Cause Out of Me

It has been a long time since I wrote a blog that is personal, in any way, shape or form.  There is no big reason for this.  I just have been so busy that I haven’t been thinking a lot lately, I guess.  This week, in particular, has been insane.  I have been dealing with a leak in my window, which means sending multiple emails to my condo association.  (On a side note:  Can I just say that I really don’t understand why people can’t just email you back even if they have nothing to offer you?  Is it too much to ask for people to be courteous and respectful in that way?)  Beyond the condo, I have also been busy at work.  To catch everyone up, I am teaching at a new school this year with a new position.  While I’m much happier in this new position, it has been taking a lot of my time.  One of the reasons it is so time consuming is that the curriculum planning is done in a group as all the teachers of U.S. History meet to plan.

Teamwork like that takes time.  It takes lots of time.  After all, we all have opinions, which can lead to disagreements.  Heck, one meeting we had was entirely about how to phrase the final essay question for a unit.  An hour spent solely on a sentence.  People were strongly reacting to other people’s ideas.  No one was willing to just agree with the team chair or the most experienced member or the newbie.  We were willing to have the debate.  We were also willing to put ideas down on the table and were prepared to have them criticized.  In fact, we have all gotten criticized by the other, at some point or another.  We aren’t a group of “yes people”.  We don’t think our purpose is  just to praise one person or another.  No, we are willing to be tough, to ask the hard questions, to find faults in lessons or delivery of lessons. Why?  The answer is simple.  We want to be the best teachers we can be.  Teamwork like this forces us to think about our plans, our methods, our teaching.  It also allows us to take the best ideas from everyone in order to come up with great lessons and methods to delivery them to our students.  While, sometimes, I’m frustrated by the time-consuming process or how vulnerable I feel during it, I know it is worth all of the negatives.  I am a better teacher now in comparison to last year when I didn’t have anyone giving me any feedback about anything.

Frankly, this is how Rhonda and I work as well.  Sometimes, we have to confront each other about something we are working on.  This happens a lot when we are writing.  One person writes something and sends it to the other person.  The author might think it was the best thing ever and then finds out from the other that it really wasn’t that good or that clear.  It doesn’t feel good to hear something like that, but the finished product is always so much better for having worked through the, sometimes, uncomfortable but necessary process.  Heck, we are to the point where I might start a piece of writing for a specific purpose.  Rhonda might get it and tell me exactly what she liked about it and exactly what needed to be changed.  Sometimes, she might try taking the skeleton writing I sent and change and add to it.  Then, it comes back to me and I do the same and back and forth until we get it right.  Isn’t that the most important thing?  That we get it right?  I think so.  We both know that  any criticism isn’t done out of spite or anger.  It is done because our work needs to be quality.  We want to be proud of our finished products, no matter if they are blogs, chapters, or events.  I wouldn’t want her to just be nice about everything I do when it comes to our work and she wouldn’t either.  We want to be the best that we can be.

As I have been appreciating my teamwork situations, both at work and at the Daily Duranie, I started thinking about how I hope for the same for the band.  I hope that they, too, are willing to have some tough conversations.  These conversations, of course, wouldn’t be meant to make anyone angry but to push people to be the best.  In Duran’s case, it could push them to be the best musicians.  It seems to me that is what Mark did with the last album.  He pushed them.  He wasn’t willing to just accept “okay”.  He wasn’t just going to say something was great, if it wasn’t.  Now, I don’t know that for sure, but that is the sense that I got from All You Need Is Now.  I hope that is the case now, at least, for Mark, for Nile, for Mr. Hudson and anyone else that they work with.  Heck, I hope that is the case for everyone that Duran works with, everyone that DDHQ works with .  I want them to be pushed to be the best that they can be.  Sometimes, that might be uncomfortable to be questioned, to be criticized, but it seems to me that it is worth it.  I remembered that this year with my teaching.  I thought now that I have been teaching for as long as I have that I didn’t need criticism anymore, that I had grown as much as I could.  Wrong.  I was wrong.  I think everyone, no matter who they are need people to keep asking the not-so-easy questions, to put them in the hot seat.  This is where true growth happens, I believe, no matter if you are a writer, a teacher, an event planner or a rock star.

-A

October Katy Kafé with Simon LeBon!

It’s that time again! Today I listened to the October edition of the Katy Kafé with the birthday boy this month – none other than Simon Le Bon.  I took notes, shook my head several times, and came up with some highlights to share.

Now for the disclaimer: this is not going to be even remotely close to word-for-word. I picked out what *I* wanted to comment on and share, and if you’re looking for something a little more inclusive, I strongly recommend getting your membership to DDM.

VENICE:  The band went to Venice last week for a private party – it was actually the party of Simon’s friend and it sounds as though a good time was had by all. I guess if you’ve got to play a private gig, I can think of worse places to have to play. If you follow Dom on Twitter or Facebook, you can see a photo from the water “taxi” that took him from the airport to the hotel. Yes, I can definitely think of worse places to have to go for work.

NILE: Katy asked Simon about working with Nile on the album. Simon said that Nile seemed very happy to reconnect with Duran Duran, and that the process of working with Nile is very easy. Nile loves music and he stays current. Given Nile’s current popularity, I would say that the band was lucky to have him work on the album. The man is incredibly busy!!

Simon also said that currently, it appears that Nile and Mark are on two or three tracks for DD14, and that he hopes that they “make it onto the album”.  Between these tracks and the potential of what John Frusciante worked on, I have absolutely no sense of what the finished product will sound like, and I’m sure I’m not alone.

MR. HUDSON:  He has been the main drive with the album and has become a good friend of Simon’s, helping him with “getting the lyrics right”. Mr. Hudson (Ben) is currently working with Spike Stent to mix the album. (Rhonda asks, does this mean it’s really finished being written and recorded?!)

which leads to….

WHEN WILL THE ALBUM BE READY?: Simon begins with this song and dance about how he’s a great writer, lyricist, etc…but he’s not a businessman, he doesn’t manage his own career, and so therefore he hasn’t a “fucking clue” when this album will be done. He says that HE thinks it should be ready in a month, but that he’s also the optimist. They still have to find a label, and labels want a six month lead time. (Six months?!? This waiting thing is just going to go on and on, isn’t it??) Then he goes on to say that he has been going around playing the album for anyone who will listen. (That’s funny, I don’t remember anyone asking ME….) Katy mentions that she wants to listen, and that launches Simon into a short discussion of how nobody gets sent roughs anymore. “No digital files”. It’s too risky. Yeah, you know why it’s risky?? Because fans are productive and downright sneaky. We get hold of things and the next thing you know, everyone in the community has it. Anyone remember Astronaut??

THE BIRTHDAY: Simon will be 56 this year, for those who have lost count. There was a lot of talk about cake and some innuendo about the shape of the tiers of the cake…but if you want that, you can go listen to the file yourself. I just shook my head and willed the topic to change. Simon is going to spend the day with his dad, which he does every year, since they share a birthday,

FASHION ROCKS: Simon said this was a fun show and that he met Gene Simmons, who declared (more than once) that Simon would be popular with the guys in jail.  Good to know….

FORMULA-ONE FAN EVENT IN AUSTIN: For those who only read our blog for the Kafés, the band is playing November 1st at the ACL/Formula-One FanFest in Austin, Texas. They play at the Moody Theater in Austin, which is an intimate venue, and it should be a fantastic show as long as you’re comfortable parting with the $325-575 per ticket price. Simon made sure to say that this is the only public show for 2014. (unless of course you want to go see them at Dell World…which is STILL kind of a public performance, even though the show is at an industry trade event.  The general public, like you and I, can purchase tickets, so check out the details on the blog link above.)

LASTLY: Check out the October 2014 Vanity Fair if you haven’t already. Simon has a photo spread from the deck of the boat we know from “Rio” (Eilean) and an article in the magazine.

Til next time!

-R