Tag Archives: Paper Gods

Classic Pop Special Edition: Paper Cuts and Extraordinary World

Ignoring the question of are there shows or aren’t they for now, I will  share my thoughts about the final two articles in Classic Pop’s Special Edition for Duran’s 40th Anniversary:  Paper Cuts and Extraordinary World.  Obviously, the first articles focused in on the Paper Gods album and Extraordinary World dealt with winning an award in 2016.  Of course, I will give my overall thoughts about the magazine as a whole at the end as well.

Paper Cuts:

This article starts out on an interesting, more somber note.  The author states that it took Duran a long time to craft the Paper Gods album but quickly points out that Duran won’t be making many more albums.  They quote John, “We’re not going to make many more albums.  We have to make the most of it when we do…”  Ouch.  While I’m not stupid and recognize that none of us are getting younger, I still don’t like thinking or imagining a time when Duran no longer exists as the band does now.  Emotionally, I cannot handle that thought.

The beginning of the article discussed how long the album took.  One quote that grabbed my attention came from Simon, “At this point, if we make anything that’s at all less than our previous records, it would signal the beginning of the end.”  Wow.  If I had read that quote before, I didn’t pay it enough attention.  I can see why he would say that or why they would feel that way.  At the time, I was so anxious for more Duran Duran that I just wanted the album done.  Now, I can recognize the need for quality.  It is hard to rush art.  John provided the counterargument indicating that he didn’t want to just tinker with the music for little to no reason.  That’s a fair point, too.  I’m sure it is a delicate balance.

While there is a lot of interesting information in this article, the part that drew my attention focused on the band’s history regarding female fans.  The author describes their music as unisex, appealing to both men and women.  Simon stated, “We had our noses absolutely rubbed in it that Duran was ‘music for girl’.  But there’s something in our music that speaks of compassion, which insecure teenagers do need.  I think our teenage audience picked up on that.  A lot of bands at the time excluded women, by trying to a lads’ band.”  Nick continued with, “We’re not frightened of our fragility and sensitivity, which a lot of rock artists are.”  I completely appreciate this about them.  Even as a kid I knew that I would be safe with Duran Duran.  They were not looking to use me or other women in the way that I felt from other bands.

There was some discussion about the back catalog, especially since Duran had signed with Warner.  The band indicated that they would like to release their old material “properly” while at the same time avoiding bad deals like having Hungry Like the Wolf used in all food commercials.  There was mention of Reportage, the album recorded with Andy but never released.  They seemed to think it would be possible if mixing was done and with Andy’s permission.  I bet fans would be excited about that!

Extraordinary World

This article originally came out in 2016 when Duran received the ASCAP Golden Note Award for songwriting at a London ceremony.  This particular award is given to artists who have achieved significant career milestones.  Some other winners include Elton John, Tom Petty, Stevie Wonder and more.  That’s pretty cool!  I don’t remember hearing about this award before.

The author then gave credit to everything Duran has accomplished in their careers.  Interestingly enough, Nick commented about how these days there is little “mystique” to pop music as artists and albums seem to be on some sort of assembly line in order to get released quickly.  Needless to say, he is not a fan.  As much as I would love to have new Duran music all the time, I recognize that I value things more when I have to wait and anticipate them.  If I went to Duran concerts every day, I would probably cease to be excited about them and that would be super sad.

This article ended with a discussion about Duran playing festivals.  Simon’s argument was that festivals are the real test.  It is one thing to play to fans but to play at a festival, you have to be really good.  That’s fair from their perspective.  I can understand that.  From a fan’s perspective, I hate festivals.  Enough said.

Overall:

I really think that this magazine was well put together.  Clearly, there was a lot of attention to detail with little extras included frequently.  Visually, it is very Duran with a lot of images, cool graphics, logos and more.  In my opinion, it was well worth the money.  What did the rest of you think?

-A

Were you at the Greek Theatre at UC Berkeley in 2015?

On this date in 2015, Duran Duran played the Greek Theatre on the campus of UC Berkeley. I drove to this show with Amanda and our friend Heather. We left right after the concert ended at the Hollywood Bowl the night before, and stopped at a hotel (I use that term rather loosely here) along the way.

I don’t remember much about the trip that night.  I remember a few  texts and emails that Amanda read to me, while I focused on driving safely. My eyes got so tired that they hurt, which I hadn’t expected. I figured I’d ride the adrenaline high from the show, but it didn’t last long. I vaguely remember something about a giant bug in the bathtub of the aforementioned “hotel” that night. I let Heather and Amanda fight that one as I let myself fall into a deep sleep!

The next day, we got ourselves up and out the door so that we could get to our next hotel, and then finish the drive to Berkeley. We got there super early, and walked down to have dinner with friends before the concert. Months earlier during the pre-sale, we’d pulled front row seats. Our joy lasted for about five minutes, until someone mentioned that they would absolutely hate having front row seats at this venue. The person explained that the stage is very tall, and it would be difficult to see.

At the time, Amanda and I were quickly coming down off the high from winning the pre-sale “jackpot”. In one breath we were yelling, “Front row!  Finally!!” and in the next, “Wait, what??” Both of us tried to ignore the possibility that perhaps even when we “won”, we’d lost. I mean, who complains about front row?!? We decided that we were not going to be those people!  Even so, the little niggling worry in my head would not subside. As I climbed the steps to the venue, I just hoped it would work out.

Yes, the stage was very tall. I’d also say that the sides of the venue were fairly steep. The height of the stage was probably necessary for the shape of the venue. Front row wasn’t terrible though. There was plenty of room between our seats and the stage, and I had no trouble seeing the band that night, nor did they have trouble seeing us! I definitely didn’t hate having front row in Berkeley!

The most puzzling part of the evening came after the band had taken their final bows and had left the stage. We were making our way out of the venue and had stopped to say hello to a friend. A small skirmish involving two fans and one of the set lists that had been taped to the stage floor caught our attention. Two women were about to come to blows over an unsigned, untouched-by-any-band-member setlist. I watched, completely incredulous that someone was likely to get a black-eye purely because they didn’t want to give up a piece of paper.

Since then, I’ve noticed that one of the techs usually walks around with a stack of set lists after the show.  They throw them out to whomever wants one. I’ve also experienced the joy of someone choosing to crawl right over the top of Amanda and I while we were up against the stage. They climbed right up as though we were a step-ladder, taking no care to not hurt us in the process. All for a piece of paper. Those memories are pretty indicative of the fandom, in many ways.

After the show, we met friends for a quick drink (I had water!) before getting back on the road to our hotel for the night. The following day we had a massive drive ahead of us as we headed from Berkeley to the final stop for that road trip: Agua Caliente.

-R

How do we really feel about Autumn Albums?

I think we can all agree it’s been pretty quiet recently. I can appreciate friends who post topics to get a conversation started, particularly when it comes to Duran Duran.  Personally, I love surveys and polls. They’re fun little “litmus” tests for the fan community, and they’re fun to look back on from year to year to see if there’s been any changes.

One of my Twitter friends, @BoysMakeNoise (you should follow him!) likes putting together surveys. This week, there was a survey on Autumn albums. Each of the albums that Duran Duran has released in Autumn months was given a star rating of 1 to 5, and then that information was compiled to find out what album was most liked.  He ran the same survey last year at about the same time, and now we’d have a comparison.

2017 Results  (average rating)

  1. Red Carpet Massacre  (2.95)

  2. Medazzaland (3.06)

  3. Astronaut (3.73)

  4. Big Thing (3.78)

  5. Paper Gods (3.96)

  6. Notorious (4.00)

  1. Seven and the Ragged Tiger (4.07)

2018 Results (average rating)

  1. Red Carpet Massacre (2.99)

  2. Medazzaland (3.06)

  3. Astronaut (3.63)

  4. Big Thing (3.74)

  5. Seven and the Ragged Tiger (3.86)

  6. Notorious (4.06)

  1. Paper Gods (4.28)

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that I like to extrapolate information from results like these.  There were 100 participants in the survey. The number isn’t enormous, but I think it is fairly representative. Chances are, the people who participated are not simply “fair-weather fans”. These are people who know the band’s catalog, and know it well-enough to debate the components.

Astonishingly, the real movement here was between Paper Gods and Seven and the Ragged Tiger – one of the “Holy Trinity” albums. (First album, Rio and SATRT). Rarely do I ever see any of the initial three knocked out of the top three of any survey ever taken. They tend to be considered Holy Grail, virtually untouchable. The rest of the results stayed within a reasonable range of last year’s survey results, but most did vary.  Medazzaland, pinpointed at an average rating of 3.06 stars each year, was the only album with stagnate results.

Nostalgia at Work

It is rare to see any of the first three albums removed from the top of any “favorites” list. There are a number of reasons for this. The album was released in 1983, there was a reasonably huge tour to support it, and it came out at the height of their popularity. This album marked the end of the initial “Fab Five” era, and for that reason alone, even post-1980’s fans hold it close to their hearts. The nostalgia for this album is enormous, and that alone keeps it afloat.

Over the years I’ve been participating in social media, I’ve been involved in more than one discussion about Seven and the Ragged Tiger. It is a difficult album for me, because I remember how much I adored it when it was released. The funny thing is that even in 1983, I don’t think I really “got” it. I can remember thinking how strange it sounded compared to anything else out at the time—and I liked it that way. Even today, I’m astounded by just how much is going on in every single song. There are no “empty spaces”.  There are layers upon layers of music and background effect. The question, is whether or not it was overdone, and that’s always up for debate.

I can see the first three albums in a definite progression. The first album was pretty raw and natural. In my opinion, that album remains the most uniquely untouched “Duran”. No egos, no fame, no fortune to muddy the picture. Rio, has far more finesse. A little more ego, but not too much. After all, they didn’t “hit” in the USA until much of Rio was remixed (Kershenbaum) and re-released here in the states. They were UK stars, but America was another challenge. Next was SATRT, and they pulled out all of the stops for this one. There’s a lot going on, and I don’t just mean musically. The band clearly had an ego by this time, and they felt like they had something to prove, with all the resources in the world to do it. I can hear the inner tug-of-war going on within the band, and if you listen closely – you can hear Simon tell you all about the struggles of fame, too.

The trouble is, at least in my opinion, as much as I loved this period of time – the album has its challenges. In hindsight, Seven and the Ragged Tiger is representative of the band’s excesses on nearly every level. Even so, I can’t quit it, and likely – neither can you.

What about Paper Gods?

In the other hand lies Paper Gods. Upon first glance, you might not even recognize that it’s the same band, particularly if you’re not a diehard fan. As I bow to my fellow nostalgia-nerds out there, I can’t help but say that Paper Gods is the better album. The quality of construction is there. It has all of the finesse of Rio, with the same quality of ingenuity that created Seven and the Ragged Tiger. On the same token, Paper Gods is not a one-listen album. In order to fully appreciate the music, it takes time. Once again, if you listen closely, you’ll even hear Simon tell you everything you need to know about their career. Paper Gods is truly a survey of their career, and a hallmark album. I believe these to be the reasons for the growth in the survey results for Autumn albums over last year.

In other words, it is not so much that Seven and the Ragged Tiger has lost a huge amount of favor with fans as it is that Paper Gods is becoming more beloved. I don’t think there will ever be a time when a significant number of fans won’t include SATRT in their top three or four list of favorite DD albums, much less Autumn album. The nostalgia for the time, paired with the album’s historic status (it was the last album with the original five until 2004) continue to keep it balanced on a narrow pedestal. Perhaps though, Paper Gods will occupy its own nearby pinnacle. Time will tell.

-R

Where Forever and Yesterday Collide

Where forever and yesterday collide…

I think those words, which I am borrowing from my friend @BoysMakeNoise, sum up the emotion of this day.

Today, we commemorate 9/11.  I had a friend lose a daughter that day, not a single Patriot’s Day goes by without my thinking about Lisa Frost or her family. I don’t take the date or the memory lightly, nor does anyone else I know, whether they are here in the LA area or in the east. My thoughts are with those who lost friends and family that day. We will never be the same, we will never forget, but we are learning how to go on.

September 11th has also become a day to remember something else in addition to the day our lives changed forever. We were given a cause to smile, if not quite celebrate. Paper Gods was released on this date in 2015.

My feelings about Paper Gods has almost certainly evolved over time. This single album is responsible for teaching me so much about myself, I am forever indebted. When I think back on where I sat three years ago, I assuredly see and feel personal growth. It wasn’t that I sat in a chair, hit “play” and felt an epiphany. If only.

No, when I first heard the entire album, I was aghast with some of the choices. I can’t say I fell in love immediately. In fact, I struggled. Rather than keeping quiet about it, I shared my tug-o-war. Probably not the smartest blogging decision I’ve ever made. People I deeply respect and very much care about had put their blood, sweat, tears into the making of the album, and yet I panned a major portion of it.

I still carry a fair amount of guilt about that. When I say I’ve learned from those mistakes, believe it. I sat with friends I admire and look up to, and did a lot of listening and soul-searching. I own my feelings about the album, but I wish that I had given myself more time to fully digest it all. Blogging for eight years has been a constant challenge and source of education for me, and that’s not an exaggeration. I’m definitely not the same person I was in 2010, and I have this blog to thank for much of that growth and adaptation.

Paper Gods isn’t an easy album. It is deep and complex, possibly in reflection of the band’s career. I sense the struggle in writing and recording it, and even the moments of anxiety and despair mixed with joy and satisfaction. It took me an incredibly long time to find my own way with Paper Gods. Great music can be that way, and I didn’t account for any of that when I gave it a knee jerk review. The pressure to be first outweighed the concern for being right or fair, which ended up being altogether wrong – at least for me. I’ll never do it again, that is for sure.

People tease me occasionally about my review of “You Kill Me With Silence”, a song that took me months to come to terms with. I loved the verse, but it was the chorus that bothered me. I liked the painstakingly slow and torturous melodic structure, but the chorus felt so bright and almost happy, it made me mad. It took me months to realize that the music perfectly described an emotionally abusive relationship, just as did the words. When that light bulb finally turned on for me, I embraced the song on a deeply personal level.

I also grappled with “The Universe Alone”.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the song. It is likely one of the most brilliant pieces of music the band has ever written. At the time though, I felt like the song was carrying me into a whirlpool, threatening to take me down into an emotional abyss I wanted no part. I may have taken the meaning of the song far too literally. If it was to be Duran’s end, I wasn’t going down quietly. Silly? Probably. I just wasn’t ready to even think about the end. But you know, in the three years since first hearing the song, I have a different understanding. For the band, each “last song on the album” is really kind of the end. It’s a new world on the other side, and this band never knows where they’re going next. Do any of us?  How will I feel when it really IS the end?  I’ll grieve and feel like there can’t possibly be a tomorrow, but the sun will defiantly come up again anyway. It always does, and we will all have to learn how to go on.

Then there’s “Danceophobia”. I have found reason to smile and even laugh with this one. Doesn’t it make good sense it was included on Paper Gods? On an album filled with seriously deep and complex feelings that appropriately seem to cover the entirety of their career up to this point, shouldn’t laughter and silliness be one of them?

I still have Paper Gods in my car, three years later. It is an album that I almost always play from start to finish, and I let myself listen and be carried by the current through all of the sentiments the music evokes. Lately, it has been exactly the therapy I’ve craved. The idea that it can sit side by side with their debut album, Rio, and even All You Need is Now and completely hold its own is worth celebrating.

On a lighter note, I think about all of the fun I had while the band toured this album. I can’t help but be filled with gratitude. Once again, the band was the backdrop for some of the best moments of my life. I can hardly wait to do it all again…and then some. I miss Amanda, Lori and Suzie terribly.  I can’t wait to watch Nick laugh at us, share knowing grins with Simon, maybe even scream for Dom. (Maybe??!) I look forward to seeing friends again and meeting new ones. The band might not be ready just yet, and we may have quite a while to go, but I’ll be ready when the time comes. Will you?

-R

Today in DD History: San Antonio

Some days, there’s not much to say…this is one of those days. I’ve got an orientation to be at in under an hour, packing to do, and a house to clean. It’s a busy day.

On this date in 2016, Duran Duran played in San Antonio at the Tobin Center for Performing Arts. This date was included on the Paper Gods tour.  Who was there?

My favorite thing about the Paper Gods tour had to be the confetti. I know that sounds like a corny thing to say, but it made the shows into parties, and who doesn’t want to party with Duran Duran???  To this day, when I think back on the tour, I think about the confetti cannons and how beautiful the venues would be as I’d take a second to peel my eyes away from the stage long enough to see the clouds of confetti billow in the sky and then gradually float down onto the crowd. I remember watching it all and thinking of the juxtaposition. Confetti calmly drifting down upon a frenzy of jumping, screaming bodies. What a scene, and I loved every minute.

On the other hand, not quite sure I miss being pelted by giant beach balls. There I’d be, watching Rio, trying to sing along, and if I wasn’t alert, a beach ball would come out of nowhere and bonk me on the head. That said, I did rather enjoy hitting the ball hard enough to send it back onstage…..

Such fun. Those memories will get me through my tenuous morning as we get back into the school spirit here.  Have a lovely Thursday, everyone!

-R

When the Title of Your Album is Crowned Upon Thy Heads – Paper Gods

Are they really Paper Gods?

So many times now, I’ll see fans refer to Duran Duran as the Paper Gods.  In theory, I know what they mean. I had their posters as my wallpaper too, and yeah, I definitely worshipped them. They were the Kings of Everything to me. I hadn’t met them, knew nothing of substance about them except their music, and yet, they were everything that mattered. Sound familiar?

Here we are now, some thirty-five or even forty years later, and they’ve been graced with the moniker from one of their own albums – The Paper Gods. Fans hear, “bow to the Paper Gods” and assume it must mean the band. I can certainly see how that happened. If you listen to the song, it isn’t hard to draw the conclusion that they must be referring to themselves in the lyrics. I’d argue that the entire album, from Paper Gods to The Universe Alone, is a reasonable snapshot of their full career, at least until present day.

Bow to the Paper Gods

in a world that is paper-thin.

The fools in town, are ruling now.

Bleeding from paper cuts

money from headshots

Fools leading

who needs it

On one hand, the point is that paper is thin. It’s fairly destructible by being crumpled, burned, torn, etc. At the end of it all – paper means extremely little. Nick describes it like an origami butterfly that is able to fly away at any point. Butterflies aren’t known for being strong. Their wings are fragile. It’s like fame in that sense. Besides, even the thickest origami butterfly can also fall from the sky by being shot down or burned at a moment’s notice (I’m feeling violent today I guess?) That hero status is delicate and fragile.

In another way, when you’re a God of Paper – what does that really mean? Are you part of a throwaway culture? Is it really a good thing to consider anything a Paper God?

Or, is the point really that by calling Duran Duran our Paper Gods, by embracing the very thing that the band has tried running from all these years, we’re laughing in the face of the critics?  It is an interesting thought. Is it derogatory to refer to them that way?

I don’t think the words I’m about to share are any different from what most fans feel. This band is far deeper than the words on any lyric sheet. They are geniuses when it comes to communicating subtle points through music and lyric (and even the occasional interview!) – their sardonic, sarcastic and dry senses of humor come through even when most people miss it. Simon intentionally writes things that most see as fairly obvious, when in fact it may mean anything but. It is creative, smart, and quite honestly has kept me intrigued for nearly forty years, along with many other people.

I don’t know for sure what Duran Duran really intended when they wrote Paper Gods, or when they titled the album or tour that way. In some ways, it is certainly shallow of fans to just shout-out “DD is the best band ever!” whenever DDHQ posts anything at all. However, those words are also demonstrative of how the music world goes ’round. Those fans are a significant part of what keeps the band going.  They simply cannot have a league of people who critically question every last detail and get very far.

This band is so much more than just the shallow pinups I taped up on my wall as a preteen. I, along with a legion of others, have spent the better part of the last four decades peeling back the layers. We continue recognizing that through all of the smoke and mirrors, they’re actual human beings. Extremely talented humans at that. I wouldn’t dare tell anyone that they’re not Paper Gods, but to me, that’s merely where they began.

-R

Trampled but Still Breathing and Reaching for the Sunrise!

Good morning, everyone! (It’s still morning in California!)

This is going to be a crazy week, and I feel compelled to share. I don’t know what anyone else did over the weekend,  but I rebuilt part of our back patio cover, alongside my husband and son. This morning, every part of my body is loudly reminding me that I am no longer a teenager.  I’m very thankful that at the last-minute, my husband decided to hire a painting company instead of going with the original plan to do it all ourselves (a task beginning this morning, as I type).  Today it’s only the outside being washed and painted, but tomorrow they’ll be prepping inside for similar treatment. Not a single wall is to be spared, and we’re going with the popular millennial color choice of “minimalist grey” to clean and update the inside of the house. We’ve hired a realtor, and within the next couple of weeks the house will be on the market. Writing the blog continues to be my source of refuge, particularly during the insanity of this moving process!

I love some of the questions that DDHQ has posed to the community over social media lately. While some of them allow me to answer within a second or two, others challenge me to really think. Today’s question nearly has me stumped.

“Of all the FIRST and LAST songs on Duran Duran albums, which opener and closer do you think make for the most powerful combined listening experience?”

Initially, all I could think about was that I hadn’t yet had my standard cup of coffee and that this question was far too deep for a Monday morning. Or at least my Monday morning.  I also was envious, because it is a great question, and I wish I’d thought of it myself so that we could have used it for Daily Duranie!

It is generally easier for me to consider the most recent album – in this case Paper Gods – because I’ve been listening to it for the past few years. So my knee jerk reaction was to say “Paper Gods” and “Universe Alone. The thing is, if I were in charge, I’d put “Before The Rain” as the opener and “Universe Alone” as the closer.  Not that I don’t like “Paper Gods”, but I personally feel that “Before The Rain” is a stronger song (For me.  Perhaps not so for you, but for me.), and  would have been an outstanding opener for any album. Granted,  “Before the Rain” and “Universe Alone” are on two completely different albums, and “Before the Rain” wasn’t even an opener!

The best news in this case, is of course, that I’m not in charge.

So I’m back at square one. I have to go back and actually look at all of the albums now, which is both pathetic (shouldn’t I know this offhand by now?) and also diligent. (if I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it right!)

Right off the bat, there are album openers/closers that I discarded. I’m not going to say which ones, but for me, there are albums that just don’t seem to have strong openers or strong closers…or maybe an album has a strong opener but not a strong closer, or vice versa. I’ll be honest, I found this to be the case more often than not at the beginning of their career as opposed to more recently. Whether this is because I have a serious lack in good judgment (!!!) or because the band has gotten better about the song order of their albums is hard to say. (both??)

For me, the answer to this question does not have a lot to do with whether or not I “like” an album. After all, I love the albums of the 1980s, but song order never entered into that. (For me) One of my strongest contenders would be the opener “The Valley” and the closer “Last Man Standing” because I always felt that both of those songs were strong, and even conveyed where the band stood in that moment, and yet Red Carpet Massacre is not one of my more beloved Duran Duran albums.

For me, it comes down to three:

“[Reach Up for the] Sunrise” and “Still Breathing”

“Big Thing” and “Lakeshore Driving”

“The Valley” and “Last Man Standing”

Of these three, I struggle at first, thinking I must pick a favorite. In the midst of my short reverie, I realize that the question isn’t about my favorite, but what is the strongest opener and closer for an album. When I think about that, I think the choice is clear – “Sunrise” and “Still Breathing”.  Aside from maybe “Rio”, I really can’t think of a Duran Duran song written that conveys more joy.  It is a very strong opener, and in my mind, “Still Breathing” is a strong, introspective way to close an album. The song isn’t incredibly loud, but it is powerful in meaning, and even musically – I think the word I’m looking for is “stoic”.  No, it’s not world-ending in the same way that “The Universe Alone” might be, but I have to love that the band chose to end an album meant to signify the reunification of the fab five with a song titled “Still Breathing”. As they were then, as they are now. And so are we.

-R

Bell Centre, Montreal 2016

On this date in Duran history, the band played at the Bell Centre in Montreal in 2016. This was one date included along the way for their Paper Gods tour.  I know of at least one person who was there that night, too!  (A big hug and shout out to Heather!)

I don’t know about you, but right now, that date in 2016 feels like a decade ago.  Amanda and I were in the depths of writing. I can remember that we’d constantly tell one another that the road trip we would take later that summer would be the payoff for all of the hard work we were doing at the time.

I also remember getting messages from our friend Heather that night while she was in Montreal. I think it is fair to say she had a great time at the show, not that she would have ever expected otherwise. Amanda and I haven’t gotten too many opportunities to hang out with Heather in person over the years, although we’ve squeezed in a road trip and a visit since we first met her in person at our Durandemonium convention in 2013. She lives in Canada and pretty far from Montreal, as I recall. Even so, having the band perform there was like leading a bee to honey!  She drove the many miles between her house and Montreal, and I dare say she’d probably do it again if given the chance!

Whenever I think back on the Paper Gods tour, I get this wistful, far off feeling wash over me. It is the one tour that I look back on and feel like I did everything I wanted to do.  Oh, except Hawaii. Yeah, I couldn’t manage that one….dammit there’s always something! That wistful feeling, though  – the past six months have felt incredibly long. I know I just saw Duran Duran in December, but the real tour feels so long ago. So much has happened in such a short duration, and I know more is coming down the pipe in the few months ahead. The Paper Gods tour was something special. It was a time in my life I will continue to look back on with fondness, so I don’t mind these memories popping up from time to time. They remind me that life rarely stays the same for long.

-R

James Cole Winery Listening Party, 2015

Do you remember March 28, 2015?  I do. It was a day of envy, pride, joy, and jealousy.

On that date, Duran Duran appeared at a label (Warner Bros) event at James Cole Winery. It was a party designed to schmooze radio personnel and DJs by giving them a taste of Duran Duran circa 2015.  “Pressure Off” was played, and the band spent time working the room alongside label execs.

We fans were treated to a bit of hastily recorded video recorded by cell phone that was widely broadcast by any fan who got hold of the link. We marveled at the song, and wondered what the rest of it might sound like. Most of us would have given our eye teeth and then some to have been in that room.

Honestly, I just wanted to taste the wine.

Ok, not really. I mean, I like Duran Duran alongside a good Cabernet.

I mean listening to Duran Duran while sipping a good cab.

I’d best quit while I’m ahead.

Funny enough, Amanda and I had an idea for a listening party once. We actually had the audacity to think that with social media these days, what the band really needed were the fans. A good way to utilize their ever-loyal fan base these days would be to hold an intimate listening party that was truly an experience for a relatively small fans in a controlled, but very exclusive yet relaxed environment. No one listens to radio these days, and radio doesn’t play new Duran Duran anyway, we thought. They needed a different, and quite frankly better way of reaching their fans on a personal level. Why wouldn’t such an idea work? It would be fairly cheap, but mean the world to the fans, who would then be ready to shout from the rooftops about how great this album was going to be, and do whatever needed done…because that’s how an army of fans work. Look at any artist today, from Taylor Swift down to even Panic at the Disco! – they all USE their fans, and they do it by having events just like what we were thinking of. Wouldn’t it be worth a try?

So we sent off a proposal to the powers that be. It was the first proposal we’d ever written for something like this, and I’m sure we left things out – like how it would profit the label. We were extremely foolish and naive when I think back on it. (In all honesty – nobody at a label cares about fans.  Our feelings about a band or a record do not equate dollar sign…except they really do…but what do I know? I can say this for sure: labels care about money. That’s it. You and I and anyone else who buys a record is purely a dollar sign. They don’t even care about your legs being attached to you unless you use them to buy another song or album!) We should have run a study to show how each person that went to an event like that translates into a certain number of dollars earned for the label. Dollars matter. Fans and loyalty? Who cares!

In my head, that’s the part that everyone in the entire industry is missing…but I digress. The past is the past, and I still have a story to tell.

You can imagine what happened next, but I’ll share it anyway. Our answer to our proposal? Dead silence, from label to management…not even a note of “Gee thanks, but go back to your silly little blog and leave the tough stuff to us.”  Months went by, and then….an announcement of a listening party for radio DJs and music industry people. It sounded far too familiar, even if it wasn’t. Yes, it stung, even if it was purely coincidental.

I’m not accusing anyone of anything here – because it isn’t as though Amanda and I cornered the market on good ideas, or even so-so ideas.  However, I am saying whatever party they had sure didn’t seem to work well.

Out of curiosity, how many times did you hear radio play “Pressure Off” where you live?

My own answer? None. Not even one time, even on radio stations where the band had been interviewed. Invariably they’d have the interview and play an older DD song instead. It was less-than-helpful, or so it seemed. Even the NFL played “Pressure Off” in what I hope was a hefty licensing deal for the band, but not a single radio station in my area ever played it. But does anyone really even listen to radio anymore anyway? My kids tell me no, that they listen to Spotify. (This explains more than I care to know, or explain to my husband about our data usage…)

Granted, maybe having those folks actually play “Pressure Off” on their stations wasn’t the goal. I really don’t know. It would just seem to me that the whole reason for having such an event would be so that they’d be more enticed to play the song, even if the party was more about relationship building than selling an upcoming album. I could be wrong. Admittedly, I’m a layperson. What do I know anyway?

So yes, I remember this date. I remember hearing “Pressure Off” for the first time. I also remember how much pride and joy my heart felt that day, and those feelings mean a lot more than an unanswered idea for a listening party. Live and learn.

-R

 

Label comings and goings

I don’t know what it is about March 27th, but Duran Duran has announced a record deal ending, as well as one starting on this date in the past.

In 2009, Simon Le Bon wrote about their deal ending with Sony on duranduran.com.  It was also on this date in 2015 that Warner Bros. announced their deal with Duran Duran.  Two sides of the same coin, perhaps?

I can remember thinking that it was wonderful that Duran Duran was getting out from under Sony Records, particularly after Red Carpet Massacre. I don’t know what Sony had expected for the album, but I know that at the time, the album seemed to be underperforming. That isn’t a critique of the band, it is a critique of Sony, in my opinion. I felt that the label allowed the album to fall flat after its release. (Yes, I expected the label to move mountains rather than expect it to move under its own steam, I suppose.) Context is everything though, and during this time period, labels all over the country were redefining and consolidating themselves. It was, and still is, a very difficult time to be a musician.

On the same token, or the other side of the coin, there is Warner Bros.  Duran Duran released Paper Gods with Warner, and while yes, the album spent a small period of time in the top ten – did it really do well? I am really not sure. I don’t mean that I’m skeptical of its success…I mean I’m really not sure what DEFINES success these days. Is it sales? Is it tickets to live shows? What ever happened to videos? Do they matters? What about streaming – where does that fit into the equation? Does ANYONE, aside from the execs along with the Adeles, Justin Timberlakes, Taylor Swifts and Beyonces in this world, anyway, make money at this business in 2018?

I guess that really is the question, isn’t it?

-R