Tag Archives: Nick Rhodes

Book Club: Mad World (The Normal, Kajagoogoo, and Thomas Dolby)

Week 6 of our latest book club is here!  We are moving along in the book, Mad World:  An Oral History of New Wave Artists and Songs that Defined the 1980s.  This week, we tackle the following chapters and artists:  The Normal, Kajagoogoo and Thomas Dolby!  Read those chapters and share your thoughts with us!

The Normal:

Amanda’s thoughts:

I have adored this song for quite awhile now.  Maybe it is when it was featured on Only After Dark, a compilation by Nick Rhodes and John Taylor that came out in 2006.  Maybe, it was when I realized the connection between this song and bands like Depeche Mode.  I suspect, though, that the liking of this song became stronger after seeing Duran include it in their electro set on Broadway in November 2007.  I remember how the audience seemed perplexed, at first, then seemed to grasp the coolness.  Here is a clip of that:

Right away, author, Jonathan Bernstein, sums up what made this track so cool, so unusual and so important, the machines and Daniel Miller’s “detached delivery”.  Exactly.  I hear so much of that machinery in music that followed.  Likewise, that detached delivery can be heard in many, many songs to follow.  It along with other songs like it definitely was a trend setter and would work to change music.

Daniel Miller talked a lot about electronic music and synthesizers in this chapter.  One idea that really grabbed my attention is how electronic music was pure punk with the do-it-yourself attitude.  He differentiates this with punk rock, which has a similar philosophy but, obviously, sounds differently.  I can definitely see his point.  Anyone can pick up a synthesizer and play with various sounds without any training needed.  There is no need for expensive lessons.    Then, of course, he worked to spread that electronic music by starting Mute Records and helping others express themselves through that electronic music.

Rhonda:

So the reality is that for a good many years, I danced to this, well perhaps dance is the wrong word…but I was out on that floor and surely I did something akin to bobbing around, for many years before I really knew what the song was or who it was by.  It was an anthem of sorts, and anyone who was anyone in the club I went to (Fashions – Redondo Beach Pier, Redondo Beach, CA. If there had been a frequent club-goer card, mine would have been gold. Or black. Probably black.) put their drink down, stubbed out the last of the clove cigarette they had in hand, and got out on that floor. Lori Majewski said it best.  “…it was our new wave rave’s version of Kool and the Gang’s ‘Celebration’, inviting even those not outfitted in skin-tight PVC to join…the car crash set.” (page 132)  Perfect. 

I particularly liked reading that Daniel Miller didn’t enjoy Anglo-American music, because that’s really how I felt as a teenager. 99% of the music I loved most was from the UK or elsewhere in Europe, and the more obscure the better. Granted, he’d already rejected most of it by 1970 – the year I was born – but hey, I’m finding out that I wasn’t really quite as alone as I may have thought. Thank goodness for New Wave. I’ll go to my grave saying that. It kept me alive through some of the darker periods of my teen years.

I went around for years saying that I really didn’t like electronica. I hated beat-boxes and a lot of the synthetic, heartless feeling that went into a lot of “today’s” music…specifically the crap (including auto-tune) that you find on a top 40 station. That’s totally unfair of me though, because you don’t have to look very long to find music in my collection that fits that label. I think my problem with a lot of the electronic music out there is that for all the creativity allowed through that medium – a lot of it sounds ridiculously familiar.  Not so with New Wave, and certainly not with “Warm Leatherette”. I loved the detached delivery, and a lot of my favorite songs that followed had that same sort of vocals to them. I think I liked the unfeeling, robotic nature – it provided a texture we didn’t have before, and I completely embraced that.

The Normal was the “parent” EDM of my generation (but far, far more creative than what you hear today, in my humble opinion!) I know from reading Mad World that Daniel Miller hates that term – but without The Normal, there wouldn’t have been a Mute Records, and without Mute, Depeche Mode, Erasure, Goldfrapp might not have happened.  For that alone I owe a huge thank you to Daniel Miller. 

Kajagoogoo:

Amanda:

This song and band always makes me laugh.  I can’t help it.  Maybe it is their look or the name.  Perhaps, it is the fact that Nick Rhodes produced it and got him his first number one, even before Duran.  Nonetheless, every time I hear the song or see the video, I laugh.  The introduction reinforces this as the authors mention how their success was sudden and “mocked”.  I suppose my reaction even today shows this.  It isn’t that I don’t own the song or don’t have fond memories of it because I do.  There is just something about this band that creates a certain amount of ridicule.  That said, the introduction pointed out why they are important to know, though.  They were an example of a band without a long past, who did want to shock in some way.  They did affect things, no matter that people did not take them seriously.

Lead singer, Limahl’s, story about how much he loved music and wanted to use it as an escape from the no-future mining life is not a unique one.  Yet, unlike some, he actually went for his dream.  He mentioned how being young helped both him and his band mates.  Being young meant that they weren’t as worried about everything and just went for it.  I admire that.  When I was young, I did everything to become safe and secure when I should have just taken some risks.

I was hoping to learn more about the name.  They named their band to shock people and there was some connection to the  movie, The Mirror Crack’d, according to this chapter, but, as someone who hasn’t seen the movie, I’m at a bit of a loss.  Can someone explain it?

Of course, I loved the story about how Limahl met Nick at the Embassy Club.  How brave of Limahl to just try to get Nick a copy of their demo tape.  Then, Nick loved it and got EMI to sign them!  Amazing!!  If we could all be so lucky!  He is right that Duranies were interested because Nick produced them.  Many of us are like that even today in that if there is a connection to a member of Duran, there is likelihood that some/most/all of us will check it out.

Speaking of fans, I thought it was interesting that as a gay man, he didn’t want to talk about his sexual orientation when they had a lot of teenage females fans despite his belief that teenage fans don’t/didn’t actually want to have sex with the rock star.  I often wonder that.  Would rock stars who are gay get the same level of attention?  Respect?  Intensity of fans?  I would like to believe that things are better now, but, in 1983, I don’t blame Limahl for keeping it quiet.

Rhonda:

It didn’t take Nick Rhodes to get me to love “Too Shy”. In fact, I don’t think that I realized Nick had anything to do with them until later. I just didn’t know. If I remember correctly, I heard them on the radio, made a note of their name – and found them on a cover of a magazine, of course.  Sure, Limahl was pretty, and once I did realize that Nick was involved, I wanted to see what they were all about. So yes, in that sense I suppose Nick did drive me to buy their album.

What I remember most though, was how my friends gave them almost zero time. None of my friends felt they had staying power, and a good many of them thought they were TRYING to be Duran Duran. Fair assessment?  I’m not sure. They didn’t last long enough for me to decide. I think that ultimately, they really weren’t a lot more than a pop band trying to make a splash with what they had. They hit fast and hard, and were gone within a blink of an eye.  Not many gave them much credence beyond (or including) “Too Shy” – if I ever thought the critics were hard on Duran Duran, all I had to do was see what they had to say about Kajagoogoo before realizing DD had it easy in comparison. They’d written this band off before it even got started. 

Limahl  says something in this chapter that really gets my “fan” blood percolating a bit, though. He mentions that the Duran Duran fans were interested in what Nick was doing with Kajagoogoo. True statement. It’s the one immediately following though that I think is incredibly rude and unfair: “You know how fans are in that obsessive way.”(page 141) To begin with: that “obsessive way” probably made you some cash over the years Limahl, so you’re welcome. Secondly, that sort of thing is really called “MARKETING”. When you are a fan of a band, or someone in a band that works on a new project – it doesn’t mean you’re obsessive to check that new project out. It means you’re curious, and that curiosity paid off a bit for Kajagoogoo. So while I would agree with Amanda that yes, that sort of thing still happens even to this day, it’s not necessarily out of some sort of crazy obsession.  If that were the case, what happened with John’s solo material, or even better – The Devils?  Fans don’t know much about either of those things unless they were very interested, and from what I’ve been able to tell – not many were. So that’s where I take issue with Limahl and his ego.

This was a band that reunited for the sole purpose of making money, that much is clear. A lot of bands do it, but some just can’t figure it out to make it work for the long term. This one is on that list. Nick Beggs, who is incredibly talented in his own right, said it best, “It’s not a great song, it’s just a reasonable pop tune”  He’s right, and it’s OK to have an iconic song from that time period under your belt.  A lot of these bands have them, and sure – if you look hard enough, you can certainly see the debris field they left behind. It’s called “my life”….. and just as Nick Beggs says, “…music can transport us across the years to where we once stood.”  Absolutely. 

Thomas Dolby:

Here is a little story for you.  Every time I mention Science at work (I teach in a middle school), I say, “Science as in she blinded me with.”  The kids, of course, have no idea what I’m talking about but it doesn’t stop me.  I can’t help it.

I found his songwriting process fascinating.  First, he had to come up with an image and he adopted the professor look as he had family in education and because he knew he couldn’t be a “pin-up”.  Then, he wrote a storyboard for a video to go along with a song title he had.  He didn’t know what the song would sound like but he had the title.  This, of course, is the exact opposite of how Duran works with music first then lyrics, with the title being towards the end.

I love that he got Dr. Magnus Pyke to be in the video and that the video became his claim to fame rather than his scientific work.  (In case you didn’t know, Dr. Pyke was a British scientist.)

Of course, after Dolby experienced commercial success, the record label wanted him to make more songs with the same formula.  Like the young Limahl in the previous chapter, he decided not to go the safe route and told them no.  He makes an interesting point.  He says that people think that the music is “fake” if an artist changes styles or genres.  Does the music industry really put artists into a box?  Has Duran felt that way or felt like they had to keep to a certain formula?    On the other side of the coin could be artists trying to be or sound like something they are not?  You can’t blame fans for not wanting that, either.

Rhonda:

Amanda, you should really play your students the video at the end of each school year or something so that way they better understand your psychotic ramblings.  (I can say that because we’re friends…and because I’m 2000 miles away from her right now.)

I remember watching Video One (or MV3 as it was called even earlier on)  during the week with Richard Blade, and invariably he’d play “She Blinded Me With Science” or “Hyperactive”…both of which I loved.  I think just from watching the videos and listening to the music, even as a kid, I sensed he was a genius. I liked that he didn’t seem like just an everyday rock star. I mean, sure…Simon LeBon is great and all, but there is something equally intriguing to me about Thomas Dolby because he wasn’t afraid to push boundaries and he’s willing to try something completely new. I stand fascinated by his marketing of “A Map of the Floating City” because rather than just continually blame the demise of the industry, it’s like Thomas Dolby sees it as a challenge, so he comes up with a damn video game for it. Who does that?! Thomas Dolby…because he’s a genius!!

I also found his comments about the music industry pretty true-to-life. I think that once a band or artist found their niche – even to this day to a large extent – it’s tough to break out of that. Part of it, in my opinion, is that record labels are freaking lazy. They don’t want to have to try to sell something different once they’ve figured out how to market a band. While I think it’s pathetic that bands weren’t given the leeway to discover themselves in a lot of ways, I can also see the business-end. Look at how fans have reacted to what Duran Duran have done over the years. It’s not always a bed of roses, even though we all say (and we do all say this) that we admire the band for taking risks. And we do. As long as they adhere to the sound we’re used to.  I’m guilty of this as much as anyone.  So, for a label, where it all comes down to dollars and cents through image and sound – once that’s all been hammered out and proven successful, they don’t want to change that formula.  We’ve read that again and again. The trouble is, I don’t know many bands, particularly from this era – that were willing to keep remaking the same album over and over again. That formula works far better today than it ever did in the 80s. 

What’s up for next week you ask?  Psychedelic Furs, Depeche Mode, and Yaz!  We’d love to see some comments on the discussion, but until then – we’ll just keep talking!!

Today in Duran History – Nick’s Birthday!

On this date in 1962, Nick Rhodes was born.  It seems that the online world today is filled with pictures, messages, and well wishes to our favorite keyboard player.  Nick, of course, has sent a message to thank everyone for their well-wishes, which you can hear here.  So, how should I celebrate Nick and his birth?  Simple.  Let’s watch some videos!!  I picked some that represented the best of Nick and his work.

Is There Something I Should Know?  (I loved his look here!)

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xct4pn_duran-duran-is-there-something-i-sh_music

Nick’s Stolen Moments:

Girl Panic:

Arcadia:

The Devils:

TV Mania:

Simon introducing Nick!

What are your favorite videos with Nick?  What would you include in a celebration birthday post?

-A

May Katy Kafé with Nick Rhodes!

I have been waiting with trepidation since Katy Krassner excitedly tweeted yesterday that she was able to get Nick to give ONE incredible possible song title for this month’s Kafe.  This is huge, huge news that comes in the middle of a desert of very, very little in the past year or so.  We hear things every once in a bit, but this…this is solid, exciting news for #DD14.

As always, I took copious notes and gave the Kafe my rapt attention amongst getting my youngest ready for school, giving attention to my son – who is in the middle of major school projects and so forth. That said, I am pretty sure I missed things, and this is by no means going to be a word-for-word reiteration of the Kafe. I always, always recommend that you go straight to DDM to hear it for yourself, as these are just the highlights.

Album News:

Nick is in the studio today, working with Mr. Hudson.  They have already done two songs, and this would be the third.  As Nick put it – they finally “cracked the lyric on a ballad” (that is going to be central to this album) that they’d had on their plates for a year.  That should really tell all of us something – they are working HARD on this album.  He says that Mr. Hudson comes to them with great energy, lots of ideas, and that he has a great musical ear.  He is very diverse (as I’ve mentioned in an earlier blog that you can read here.) and he reminds me a bit of Mark.

Speaking of Mark, and I know plenty of you out there ARE wondering about his involvement on this album – he was with the band in the very beginning and then came back to the studio a couple of weeks ago to see how things were going. He did not, however, actually do any producing for them at the time – Nick was very careful to articulate that they WANT to work with him again, and are hoping to carve time out in July.  Mark is a busy guy though, and it’s tough to get on his schedule.  Katy asked Nick if anything from that initial work with Mark (at the beginning of the album process) has survived. Nick said that two songs have survived, and one of them is a piece that Mark worked on.  Again, this says they’ve really scrapped most of that early work entirely.  The process is an evolution, certainly. They went into this project wanting to reinvent a bit, reinvigorate…and that process took longer than usual.

The one point that Katy made is that we fans always think the albums come in Durantime (very true!)…but one thing that the band hasn’t really articulated before is that they try to let the album develop…develop it’s own personality, and sometimes that just takes time.  This is a band, as we well know, that wants to constantly cover new ground “sonically”. They don’t want to rehash the same thing over and over again.  Nick makes the point later in the Kafe that they never wanted the music to become cliché or do something completely formulaic.  In fact, the band’s “formula”, so to speak, is to smash it all and rebuild with each new album.  They try to keep some of the same elements that make up the “Duran Duran Sound” (Simon’s voice, for instance), but it’s a fine balance.  He continues by saying that back in the 80s, that they really didn’t have the luxury to sit back and allow the albums to develop themselves in the same way they did with this one – there was no time to just sit and think.  However, even though they take the time to explore and record more thoroughly nowadays, they also have to know when they’ve found what they’re looking for.  Since they’ve been working now for over thirty years, it is more of a challenge to find that unchartered territory – the areas that they want to explore.  They have to dig a little deeper to find it.  As Nick said, “more things have been said now”.  He uses synthesizers as an example.  Back then, synthesizers hadn’t been used all that often – so there was a ton of new real estate to seek out, but nowadays, there are entire albums written with just synthesizers and rhythm units.  Nick seemed very proud to say though that they’ve “seen the light” and that they seem to be through the tough part of the process, which is great to hear.  He also said that there are a couple things on this album that the band has never done before, which is very exciting to hear.

Basically, the very things that we love about this band – the risk taking, the fact that no two albums ever sound exactly the same, the innovation – those are the reasons why this album has taken so long, and in fairness to Nick (and the rest of the band), he openly admits it’s taken longer this time.  But I suppose we can forgive that, right??

So about that possible song title… Katy asked him if he’d throw us one, and at first Nick hedged, saying that he could get into trouble.  Katy reminded him that none of them listen to the Katy Kafés, and Nick said “Well, there is one early one…Valentine’s Stone.”

I’m just waiting for you all to catch your breath on that one.  Are we all good? Still with me here??

Nick says he’s not sure if that one will even be on the album – but it’s a title.  Naturally the first thing *I* thought of when hearing it was The Reflex.  Can’t help it, my head went there. You know…”dancing on the Valentine…”

I was so excited about getting that darn title yesterday. I’ve been chomping at the proverbial bit for months, hoping to get a teensy tidbit. Now we’ve got one, and I’m sitting here trying to think of something witty and thoughtful to say.  It’s just great to hear that we’re at the stage where we’re getting something of substance from that studio!

Diamond in the Mind Vinyl:

Nick is very proud of this vinyl. Like me, he feels that music is best heard on vinyl, and so they’ve wanted to put as much out on a vinyl version as possible.  This is the first live album they’ve produced on vinyl since Arena.  He is particularly proud of the artwork, which includes a diamond dusted cover.  This is very exciting and sounds like it is going to be stunning! They worked with Rory McCartney on this project, and I hear that there is soon to be a Fan Community (DDM) Q&A from Rory on the website soon…she said it was very creative!

Careless Memories photo book:

While the exhibit for this took place WAYYYYY back in November of last year, the book itself has taken longer than they’d hoped to complete.  Nick apologized to anyone who had ordered an advance copy, but the good news is that the finished product is being printed any day now and will be ready to ship SOON. They worked with John Warwicker, who was also the Creative Director for Astronaut – and the completed product is a sight to behold, according to Nick.  There are quotes from the band in the book, and MOST importantly (in my opinion), is that Andy IS included in the book.  He was included in the quotes, and I’m thrilled to be able to pass on that tidbit to all of you.  From the first moment of reading about this book coming to fruition, I felt that Andy should absolutely be involved. He was in the band at the time, and it would have been a mistake to not include him.  It’s great news that his memories are also to be found within the pages.

Birthdays and DD Appreciation day in August:

Nick’s birthday is June 8th, which falls on a Sunday this year. Apparently his idea of celebrating this year is going for a walk! He’s looking forward to a low key birthday this year…and even though Katy prompted him to “maybe get a twitter” for next year’s birthday, Nick said he was “Not going to promise that one, sorry!”  (I think we’ve got a ways to go before ever seeing Nick on Twitter, folks…)

Before parting ways, Katy commented that we’d hear from Nick in August for Duran Duran Appreciation Day and Nick mentioned that they had an offering for that special day.  Hmmm….talk about creating speculation, I wonder what THAT might be???

-R

Today in Duran History – Uruguay

On todays date in 1993, Duran Duran played in Montevideo, Uruguay.  Not a country I hear about them hitting on tour very often, I must say.

And since I’m a little bored this morning….I will share a scenario here that was posted on our FB page by Miss Amanda over the weekend.  If you care to reply (and you should), please send us a comment!

You are stuck in an elevator with a rock star.  Who would you want it to be??

The way I see this, there are two ways to answer this question. Either you go for the knee jerk answer, in which you don’t even consider the circumstances and you say the first person to pop into your head.  I’ll bet that’s how most people would answer, and I think that’s great.  Then there’s me.  Do I actually think about what fun this could be?  No. Of course not. The very first thing I think of in this delightful fantasy situation is my anxiety.  I’m not fond of elevators. Too closed in, and the thought of being pulled up and lowered by cables kind of bothers me a bit.  Don’t get me wrong – I use them and everything, but I try not to think about it much. So the idea of being stuck in one is not at all amusing, and no, I really don’t care who it is beside me at the time (I just pray the elevator is not full).  I can just imagine getting onto an elevator only to find a band member standing there – or being in one only to have the doors open with one of them about to enter.  Awkward.  I mean, it would probably be the ONE time I’m wearing a DD t-shirt, or carrying one of my VIP bags or something.  And then to end up stuck?!?  I can just see it – I’d roll my eyes, shake my head and mumble something about it being my luck.  I’ll bet many of you would consider it good luck though.  Not me. I’d likely call those minutes among the most awkward of my life.  What would I say?  Probably nothing at first. I’d be standing there thinking about what to say.  LOL Better sound smart, Rhonda!!  You can only stand there quiet for so long though before acknowledging the situation, right??  So the question comes down to who it is beside me in that elevator.  Who would I not mind being stuck with?  Who would I most want to speak with?

Let’s just go with the knee jerk here and say Nick Rhodes.  Yeah, I know you thought I was going to say Dom.  😉

-R

Daily Duranie Book Club – Mad World (Foreword, Introduction, and Adam and the Ants)

Welcome to the first post of the book club on the book, Mad World!  As Rhonda mentioned last week, we will, generally, be discussing about 3 chapters a week.  I will give my thoughts and Rhonda will give hers.  Then, we hope that others will chime in with their thoughts!  Ideally, it would be great to get a good discussion going that lasts beyond the day of a book club post.  I love discussions like that as I learn more and see things differently from hearing points from other people.  This week, we will take it slow with the foreword, introduction and the first band, Adam and the Ants.

Foreward:

Amanda’s Take:

I suspect that the foreword might catch Duranies attention since it was written by some guy named Nick Rhodes.   As soon as I begin reading this, I’m reminded of how Duran Duran opened my world up to so many other bands, artists, genres, etc.  I was a little kid when I heard Duran for the first time and became a fan.  I knew VERY, VERY little about music.  My family wasn’t big into music.  I could tell you a lot more about visual artists or politicians than I could music.  Yet, my personality is such that when I get into something, I want to know everything.  I devour everything and anything I can find.  I was that way as a kid and I am that way as an adult.  Thus, I remember reading about Duran’s influences and wanting to check out each and every one.  I borrowed Chic’s album from the library, for example, as soon as I had heard of them.  I am so thankful for Duran for opening my eyes and EARS to so many artists, especially at a young age.  Perhaps, that very fact is why music came to be such a big deal for me.  Likewise, it seemed like music was a big deal for many of my peers, too.

Back in the early 1980s, it felt to me that everyone was listening to the same music.  We all were on the same page even if we had different favorites.  Every song was known by everyone or so it felt.  Nick mentioned about how music was important for his generation, too.  He captured what I have always felt by saying the following about music, “It was an important voice in our culture, a way for our generation to express its singularity.”  Exactly.  Music represented a generation.  For those of us who grew up in the 1980s, it was New Wave.  We all know the artists and songs.  Of course, we know some better than others or like some better than others, but it is something that unites people of my generation.  I love that Nick had the same experience, too.  I have to wonder if kids these days experience the same thing with SO many choices available at all times.

Nick dives a lot deeper in explaining how New Wave really came to be from the consequences of punk rock, the development of affordable technology, and more.  He described how New Wave developed differently in the UK and in the US.  I especially appreciated how he explained the influence of the times and current events on the formation of New Wave.  The UK of the 1970s, according to Nick, contained “political turbulence and social unrest.” As a student of social sciences, I have always believed that political happenings and current events have incredible influence on the cultural products of a place and time, especially with music.  I loved how Nick then described that bands either expressed darkness or light as a response to the state of the UK at that time.  Duran had a balance.  Ah, yes.  That idea really spoke to me.  People always claim Duran to be nothing but a feel good, optimistic, colorful band and I believe, at times, they are.  Yet, there have been moments and songs that are the exact opposite.  I love that they express the full range.

Nick goes on to describe the New Wave culture as being focused on standing out rather than fitting in.  I never really thought much about that, but I can definitely see that and like that.  Every artist or band seemed to have a slightly different sound and/or look, which isn’t the case with other genres or musical time periods, in my opinion.  I like that they did all strive to be unique.  It certainly made it more interesting and enjoyable.

Rhonda:

I highlighted a few sections of Nick’s foreword that seemed to jump out at me. 

Nick states that each of the bands in the book were “different reflections of similar views. Some chose to express the darkness, others looked towards the light”. This was exactly how I found New Wave to be — there was something for my every pubescent mood. Sometimes I needed Rio, and in others, I needed Blasphemous Rumours. I tend not to notice such wide differences in today’s music, and I’m not ignorant of the fact that much of this probably has to do with my age rather than the quality of music. As Curt Smith states much much later in this book  (I’m paraphrasing) – there was a lot of crap music to be found in the 80s. I certainly didn’t listen to top 40 radio with the same sort of enthusiasm that I might have had while listening to KROQ, that is for certain. I think that nowadays I have a much harder time finding “the good stuff”….and not nearly as much time as I need.  Anyone else?!? 

Nick talks a bit about reality TV and commercial radio — for me personally, these are dirty words. I can’t stand any of it (with the crazy exception for The Bachelor, because I am a melodramatic female at times, admittedly.) He comments about how these mediums have created opportunities for some and taken away from others, and that what is broadcast to the audience is more formulaic. I have to agree. I find that the “hits” of today seem to follow a fairly generic formula. Some may say that New Wave of the 80s has it’s own formula – and I’d agree. It’s called “Creativity”. Ultimately, Nick describes the public attention span as being incredibly short, and again – I have to agree. We have a thing for instantaneous gratification, and when you combine that with the near-endless array of choices available – no one sticks around for long. It really is a miracle that bands such as Duran Duran, Depeche Mode and Tears for Fears are still around and care to participate. We thank them.

Introduction:

Amanda’s Thoughts:

The introduction is straight forward.  The authors not only define the term “New Wave” but describe why they chose it and the format of the book, which is helpful as we dive into each band/artist and song.

I found it useful that they took the time to explain the connection between punk and New Wave.  While I’m pretty familiar with the history between the two, it was good to be reminded.  The explanation of why artists went towards New Wave as opposed to punk was made clear by the list they provided, including the development of  MTV (as Duranies know!), the power of the British music press, Top of the Pops and more.

While the authors admit that the 1980s was a bit ridiculous, they also point out what was good about it.  The bands/artists were not manufactured and had tons of imagination and personality.  From my stand point, this is what made the era fun.  The ridiculousness wasn’t so evident to me as a kid.  Now, I see where the criticism comes from, but it doesn’t matter that much to me.  Perhaps, those fun memories of my childhood over shadow any negative.

Rhonda: I liked the introduction, but I tend to shy away from the characterization of the artists being ridiculous. Call the bands excessive at times. Ridiculous though?  I think this lends itself to some discussion if others care to chime in.  In hindsight do you agree that some of the music, videos, images, etc. from this time were ridiculous?

I guess I just don’t see their creativity in that same way. I see the desire to be individual during a period of time when the world still tried to set and keep firm boundaries. People were beginning to push the limits, escape the stranglehold of societal labels and explore the far-reaches of originality. I feel that the artists of this period – particularly those that were discussed in this book, were indeed following that trend. I see New Wave as a response to an angry Punk. Rather than just be screaming angry, artists use the music, the visual, the imagery to explore the emotion (Thank goodness for those London Art Schools), and art begins to entangle with emerging technology. To be fair, I don’t think the point of the authors was to necessarily say that yes, the music of this era was really beyond the seriousness of critics. Instead, I think they were saying to those critics, “Listen, you might not have liked this…but you really do need to give the music it’s just due. It is still around, and it is still continuing to inspire.”  

Adam and the Ants:

Amanda’s Points:

Adam and the Ants isn’t an artist I’m super familiar with.  I blame my age for that.  I was pretty young when they had their big hit here in the States (Goody Two Shoes in 1982).  That said, a number of things really grabbed my attention while reading this chapter.  First, the music press was a significant force in the UK.  I had always heard/read/known that from Duran history, but this confirms it.  I am completely intrigued that an artist like Siouxsie and the Banshees (similar style) was accepted by the UK music press but Adam and the Ants weren’t.  I wonder why that is.  I know that Siouxsie and the Banshees became well-known during the height of punk.  Could that be it?  Could the greater association to punk equal more respect?  No matter the reason that Adam and the Ants weren’t accepted, it certainly was significant as it influenced lyrics and even their image.  I suspect that this power of the British music press will be a theme throughout the book.

Second, I always knew that punk was a really, really big deal for all artists of this era.  Yet, I really got that after reading that Adam quit his first band, Bazooka Joe, after seeing the Sex Pistols in 1975.  By 1979, punk was still influencing.  This time, they wanted the opposite of punk, which led Adam to change the band.  I loved that he then combined influences from history (Napoleon), Native American culture and art history (Futurists).  Of course, this also mixed with Adam’s frustration of the record industry.  I knew that the look of the stripe was a combination of pirate and Native American.  What I didn’t know was that it was a “declaration of war” on the record industry.  Similarly, the song, “Kings of the Wild Frontier,” was about being held back by society whether due to race or class or whatever.

The last thing that really caught my attention was how they felt that punk eventually became conformist and boring.  I wonder if this criticism was a factor when Adam decided to take off the makeup.  Is this concern about becoming boring and conformist one for all artists of this era?  Could this be part of the reason that Duran is always so concerned with updating their sound and look?

On that note, next Monday, we will move along to discuss the next 3 chapters, which include Gary Numan, some band named Duran Duran and New Order.  Happy reading!

Rhonda:

One thing that I found throughout this entire book was that the chapter read much better as I listened to the song/artist in question.  As often as I might listen to music from this period, reading the book and contemplating the places from which many of the songs were written and how they’ve survived over the years allowed me to hear the music with nearly brand new ears. I’d encourage our readers to do the same – it creates a much more multi-dimensional experience!

I liked Adam and the Ants, and I loved Adam Ant. I have to admit that much of Adam’s music was among my first real foray into KROQ in the 80s. I can remember sitting at my friend Christy’s house back in about 1981(ish), just before I really got into Duran Duran.  We would whisper about his lyrics in her bedroom – because we dared not talk loudly about the things that Adam Ant made us think about – her parents would have flipped, because in all honesty, for us Adam WAS sex in 1981.  He seemed blatantly sexual, almost daring pretty young adolescents like us to think about what his songs were about (and I’ve come to decide that in most cases, we were wrong, but boy did we ever enjoy laughing and giggling as we listened). 

I found it fascinating that Adam used the Apache war stripe as his own personal declaration of war against the record industry. I found that to be an ongoing theme throughout this book, and I blame my surprise on my age at the time. Oh to be ten and not have a care in the world again….

Unfortunately, I haven’t seen Adam Ant live. He’s one artist from the 80s that I’ve kicked myself repeatedly for missing. That’s the trouble I find with many of these artists in the book – I haven’t seen them live. However, I’ve promised myself that I’m going to take the opportunity to see as many that are still touring as I can. No more waiting if I can help it. I’m happy to hear that Adam is still recording and touring, even if I missed my chance to see him here – and yes Adam, 16 years is still worth the wait, although I’m really hesitant to say that here on this blog….Duran Duran, I am looking at you.  

Looking forward to next week – please feel free to chime in with your own comments and discussion!!  

-A & R

Daily Duranie Guest Blog – Just Very

Today we’re very lucky to have a guest blog from none other than Fabiana Torras, who along with her cohorts from Argentina, were the winners of the TV Mania Franchise contest with their song “Just Very”.  Fabiana explains all about the franchise, and how they created such a brilliant entry!

By Fabiana Torras

The idea of the TV Mania franchise was to open things up for people to become TV Mania elsewhere, as explained on the TV Mania website. We figured people could be TV Mania by actually following our Manifesto and for fun, and actually adhering to certain principles that TV Mania has, like using samples of people talking along with rhythm boxes and sampled analog synthesizers, and then putting it all together.  So you just simply apply for a license to be TV Mania. So, If you´re in…Buenos Aires, and you wanna be TV Mania Buenos Aires, you have a look and then you apply and we give you an official TV Mania license. And then you can perform, send us music and video material, remixes, anything you like, and we put them up on the site. So we´re hoping that there´ll be a lot of TV Manias around the world”. – Nick Rhodes (answering my question at a TV Mania event in Second Life)

TV Mania for Daily Duranie 4 Manifesto
In case you ever wondered what that TV Mania Manifesto was really all about…

That might just be the best answer I ever received to a question  I asked. As an extra bonus, it was Nick Rhodes who answered it. On that exact day, March 2nd 2013, not only did I receive an answer to what I wanted to know on the first of the Second Life TV Mania events; I also got the name of the future franchise Gerardo, Pablo and I would apply for: TV Mania Buenos Aires.  This was not an instant thing, though. We had to wait for six months for the franchise to be up and running, but at this point we all know Durantime affects side projects as well, don´t we?

Last September, as soon as the franchise was up, we applied and got the confirmation email with our name´s approval and the download links for the “Franchise Pack”, which included samples and music of the songs Euphoria, Beautiful Clothes, Paramount and I Wanna Make Films. We were in! All we needed now was an idea and time to make it happen.

Our first meeting was set on a Friday night after we all got off work, mostly to discuss what direction our project would take. To be honest, we didn´t actually meet face to face until there was a deadline; as much as we loved the idea of “being the band” and enter a contest with absolutely fantastic prizes for any Duranie, everyday life makes you so tired that sometimes if someone doesn´t push you, you just do not move (See? Limits are good!). We had to make a song or a remix and shoot some video for it, since every song you sent was going to be uploaded to TV Mania´s official Youtube playlist. And from the first moment we started thinking about our franchise project, we all agreed it had to be something related to our local TV and the video had to show our city to the world, but in a “TV Mania” sort of way.

A list of famous phrases from Argentine TV was made and we recorded about 50 at Pablo´s home (he has a little studio of his own there), but ended up using only 9 of those. You can hear the three of us on our track, along with Pablo´s wife, Cecilia, who was very happy to help. We also wanted to include samples of Nick and Warren in our song, so we asked permission to use the audios of the Second Life events to sample the guys and we were very happy to get a green light from TV Mania. There was a precious bit of Nick we were dying to use where he said “TV Mania Buenos Aires”; I mean, we just had to have that, right?

Once we chose the bits of Nick and Warren that were going to be used, we wrote and recorded the samples in English (it is my voice you hear, by the way), and afterwards we began to write the music, which was completely new. We decided not to use anything from the downloaded franchise pack and try to come up with something fresh and original, respecting the TV Mania essence. For the video, the plan was to film different Buenos Aires landmarks and ourselves in what we thought could be TV Mania-esque outfits and colours.  That was how “Just Very” was born.

Here’s the video link to watch for yourselves!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WLnDzsAlDE

Now, as I write and tell you all of this, I get the feeling it doesn´t seem to be that hard, does it? But there are lots of things you need to know how to do in order to make all of this happen. It´s not that easy to make and mix music, operate a camera and film proper video, edit both music and video, and I am not counting the “standing in front of a camera” process which many people may find uncomfortable (with zero budget, little time and no volunteers, it´s you and you alone doing that!). There were many things we had to use to accomplish our goal and I am glad we were such a great team, because I know that I alone could never have done what we did as a group.

Nevertheless, being more than one person doing something together means you have to find a common ground to stand on when you make decisions, and you can trust me when I say that isn´t always a simple task.  For example, when the time of sending the final song to TV Mania came some of us did not want to include the samples in Spanish and some of us did. It took us a LONG TIME to agree on that. In the end, we put it to a vote and decided to send an “Ambient Mix” of our song that didn´t have samples in Spanish. For the video of that one, we simply added some colour effects to the original one and sent both “Just Very” and “Just Very (Ambient Mix)” for approval.

A few hours later we got the news of our videos being up on the official TV Mania Franchise Playlist on Youtube, and a couple of deadlines later (the contest deadline was pushed twice extending it for 2 and a half months) we found out via TV Mania´s Twitter account that we were the TV Mania Franchise Grand Prize winners for “Just Very”.

To this day, we still think it´s a dream….which is why I’ve included this photo (a memento from the Skype session we won with Nick and Warren as result of the contest!)

IMG_0029

Just as Duran Duran likes to do for their liner notes…we’re including a list of what we used:

  • Ableton Live 8
  • Synths: Albino Vst synth/Atmosphere Vst synth/Korg M1  Vst Synth/ Korg wavestation synth/Orange vocoder
  • Electronic drums: 707 sounds/808 sounds/Ez Drummer
  • Guitar: Fx Boss GT8 / digitech rp7 valve/ Steinberger Spirit guitar
  • Adobe Premiere (video)

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Fabiana is from Buenos Aires, Argentina. She´s been a Duranie since 1988 when she was 10 and loves the band, side projects (well, duh!) and mostly all the fan-tastic people she´s met because of them. She has a major in Journalism and Communications and at the moment is finishing her Community Manager & Social Media graduate studies. She works for a private university where she manages an academic department (not as fun as seeing #Duranlive!) and is looking forward for the next Duran Duran album and tour. No need to convince an angry boyfriend to let her go see them live: he is a huge Duranie!

Today’s Date in Duran History – TV Mania!

Do you know what was released just ONE short year ago today?? TV Mania’s LONG awaited album, Bored with Prozac and the Internet?  There are times when I sit back and say “Wow, it’s been a year already?”, and this is one of those times. Where has that year gone???

For me personally, this is one of the very few albums in my lifetime that really made me sit back and take notice. Surprising (for me) in every sense. As I wrote back then, I fully expected to develop an instant dislike…or at least deep-apathy, for this album. That couldn’t be further from the truth, and as much as I enjoy listening to the album from my happy “home” (my computer, of course…as I’m still not quite bored with the internet, and Prozac just isn’t my thing), I love listening to it on vinyl even more. Even better? Warren REALLY outdid himself on this one. While I admittedly had trouble ever embracing him as a member of Duran Duran – his style of guitar just never quite worked for me – I still say his work on this album is nothing short of genius.

I still get a chuckle from the tweets sent from the @TVManiaMusic, and sometimes the tweets even give me a chance to stretch my brain a bit, which I enjoy.  I wish that Nick and/or Warren had the time/interest/compunction to communicate with fans…but I guess putting out an album that was a decade or more “in the making” was hard enough. Best not to push it. Can’t have it all, can we?

-R

Todays Date in Duran History – 1986 Grammy Awards

Hey, what were YOU doing on this date in 1986?

Nick Rhodes was presenting a Grammy Award to Sheena Easton for Song of the Year!

On this date in 1986 I was 15 years old and in the 10th grade, which meant that I was a sophomore in high school. I can remember seeing Nick give the award – I liked his hair. (An important note, right?) And that was the most exciting part of that entire evening for me….and probably a lot of you.  Little did we realize (Maybe some knew. I’ve thought about this and I don’t believe that at the time of the Grammy’s I really knew/understood that Andy & Roger weren’t coming back.)  that later that year Notorious would be released (November of 1986) and the Fab Five would really and truly be down to just three.

Now that I’ve brought you all down, you can go read Nick and Katy’s Oscar Picks to bring you back up!!