Tag Archives: Nick Wood

August 2017 Katy Kafe with Simon!

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

Simon’s Mom

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

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

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

360 Videos

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

Paper Gods 360

Hungry Like the Wolf 360

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

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

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

Work with Nick Wood

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

Coming to the end of Paper Gods

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

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

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

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

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

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

-R

 

If You Haven’t Heard It, It’s New to You: Pretty Queen

Today’s blog is the direct result of quiet time in Duranland, when all good Duranies go looking for something, anything, that will keep spirits up and the natives happy.

While most of the world worked yesterday, I spent much of my day wrestling with my new “work” laptop. I’m a dedicated Mac user, the laptop is a Lenovo ThinkPad, and let’s just say I need to properly bond with the machine. Just as I was coming to the end of my day (and the end of my wits), I saw a Facebook post and a Tweet mentioning the discovery, or unearthing, of a song by Simon Le Bon and Nick Wood called “Pretty Queen”.

I was game. It wasn’t a song I immediately remembered (but my memory is terrible), and truthfully, in days where there any news is precious, I took the bait hungrily. I’m not saying I need new Duran music, but I love it when we find new music!

Pretty Queen opens with some pretty hard, crunchy guitar, and I wasn’t expecting it, which was a lot of fun!  I like the feel of the song, although it seems pretty short to me. I saw someone say that it reminds them of the Medazzaland era. I guess in some ways I can hear that, but what I feel the most is some sort of grungy-punkish thing going on . The brightness of Simon’s voice is in direct contrast, and I love the texture it creates.  It was a good find to break up the day!

I googled Pretty Queen because I wanted to know the timeframe it had been written. Someone had told me the song had been used in a commercial, and so my interest was piqued. Simon co-wrote the song with Nick Wood and Miwa,  and it was produced by Nick Wood.  It was released by the Japanese band Zwei (German word for two) on October 14 2004, and this version is in Japanese, save for the title – and sounds quite a bit different from the original version.

In no way would I ever be so bold as to assume I’d heard and knew all there was to know about Duran Duran, or Simon or any of the members for that matter, so when something new to me comes across the wires, I am ready to consume!

Along those same lines, if you look at the other music on that Syn World link, you might see Rio(Pass the Baton) by CSS featuring Simon and John. Again, I’m not sure I’ve heard it before—and I have to think that I would have remembered it if I had. It’s a very jazzed up version of the song we all know and love, and in some sections reminds me of Muzak (sorry but it’s true). Check it out.

Whether from the mid-90’s or not, it was fun to hear something new to me for a change and learn a little something in the process.  Pretty Queen is pretty cool gem to find in the archives, and it leads me to think there’s got to be a lot more.  I’d love to spend just one day listening to some of the stuff they’ve got to have lying around…. Much better than say, spending the entire day getting my computer to play nicely with my work email server….

-R

 

Eiffel Tower – New Song from Simon!

While on vacation, I noticed DDHQ post a link to a song on Soundcloud with a very familiar vocalist. The song is titled “Eiffel Tower” and the singer is none other than Simon Le Bon, of course. I had almost no data connection, so I had to wait to listen.

The lack of data didn’t stop me from seeing the comments, and nearly everyone had something positive to say. I couldn’t wait to hear it myself! I made a mental note to listen as soon as I could and thought about it throughout the week(s).

(On a side note: if you’re obsessing over a song you haven’t heard yet by a member of the band, not even the band as a whole – I kind of think that might make you a Duranie. Only another hard-core fan would understand the kind of obsession that drives us!)

So today, I promised to sit down and listen. I found the link, clicked on it, and almost immediately felt the familiar chills and goosebumps on my arms. Simon’s voice is like silk, and the music is like a favorite blanket. Lush and soft – its gorgeous. The guitar is beautiful!  The track is full of emotion and it doesn’t overpower the rest of the music. I can even hear strings in the background, and they lead the listener further into the music.

Layered songs with many different tracks like this one can sometimes get very messy and end up sounding like background noise to vocals, but not here. The production is done extremely well. At the end, there’s a gorgeous, beautiful guitar solo that I have heard is Warren, and it is done masterfully.  The guitar doesn’t overpower, it simply led me back out of the song in the same way that the strings held my hand and drew me in.  Brilliant.

But back to Simon’s voice. It blows my mind into pieces. I don’t know if he is responsible for the lyrics, but even if he didn’t write them, he delivers them like poetry.  I’d forgotten his velvety voice when he is relaxed and not trying to reach a crowd of 20,000.  Absolutely stunning in every single way.

The song ended, and I caught my breath. I realized I’d been holding it for quite some time while I listened.  This was a song that was going to stay with me, and I love when that happens. This single piece took me on a journey, and not many pieces of music do that for me these days.

And then, another song began. The instrumental version. I almost couldn’t take it. I was already completely sold on the song, but somehow, this piece took everything I loved about the first one, stood it on its head, and made it even better. 

I’m a sucker for a full orchestra. I won’t lie. Let’s face it: I spent much of my childhood playing in an orchestra, so it makes sense, really. But this is different. It’s kind of like hearing the orchestral version of A View To a Kill, but even better.  Again, I get the chills going up my arm and the hair on the back of my neck stands on end.  I was already on a high from the first version, but the orchestral version took my feelings up a notch.  My eyes welled up, and the emotion I’ve had bottled up for the past six weeks spilled over. I won’t be able to forget this song for a very, very long time.

Which is exactly how I like it.

Take a listen for yourself and see what you think.

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower (Orchestral Version) 

-R

Duran Duran History: Tetsuya Komuro’s Album

Today’s Duran Duran history takes us back to 2013 when the artist, Tetsuya Komuro released an album entitled Digitalian Is Easting Breakfast 3 (DEBF3).  I’m sure that all of you are wondering the same thing.  Who and how does this relate to Duran Duran?

Tetsuya Komuro is a Japanese musician, singer-songwriter.  He is a successful record producer and is heavily involved in the dance music scene in Japan.  The album released in 2013 has two Duran connections.  First, it was co-produced by Nick Wood.  If you are a Simon fan, you know that Nick Wood is a British musician, singer, songwriter and producer and friend of Simon’s.  He also formed his SYN Production studios in Tokyo with Simon.  The second connection is that this album also features Saffron Le Bon, Simon’s daughter.

Here is a sample with Simon’s daughter:

-A