Do you ever read the written interviews on Duran Duran Music? If you don’t know what the heck I’m talking about, these are interviews with people who can give a little behind-the-scenes info. They are connected to the band in some way and the interviews often shed light on both the person and the band, in some way. In the past, they have featured people like John Warwicker who was involved in various designs including the one for the Live from the Budokan album that came out on Record Store Day this year, or DJ and author, Richard Blade. Now, I admit that I don’t necessarily read each and every one. While sometimes it is due to a lack of time, a lot of the times the person does not catch my attention. (I know. I suck. I’m a bad fan. I just cannot do it all.)
The most recent interview definitely peaked my curiosity as it features one Patty Palazzo. If you do not know who Patty is, DDM introduces her in the following way: “She’s helped design a lot of awesome DD things you’ve seen around for oh, maybe the last 15 years! She worked with John early on with B5, and on Juicy Mens etc etc AND she launched her own totally amazing tee shirt line, Punk Masters.” Even though, I know Patty and am lucky enough to call her my friend, I was anxious to read more. What more could I learn about her, her friendship with John Taylor, her art, etc., I wondered.
As I read about the various topics, including Patty’s love of t-shirts, how she got involved in designing t-shirts and how John supported her work, it made me think. At first, I thought about my mom. As many of you know, my mom is a fiber artist. What this means is that she uses fabric as opposed to watercolors or oil paints to create her art. She didn’t always use that medium. When I was a kid, she used more traditional oil paints in her work but she always enjoyed sewing and the use of fabric. It made sense that her art would go in that direction. I feel extremely fortunate that I have been able to see the journey my mom has taken as an artist. I think this interview of Patty does a nice job knowing her journey as well from loving t-shirts as a kid to designing shirts for John’s side project, Neurotic Outsiders to working with Juicy to creating her own line. It seems to me that all great artists do this. Patty has. My mom did, too. Duran certainly has. They all experience a real journey.
The other fun of the interview for me was learning little tidbits that I didn’t know. For example, I love the story about how Patty picked the name, Punk Masters, or how she has come up with various ideas. I don’t know about the rest of you but I appreciate things more when I know the backstory, including how it was created and why. Right now, my mom, for instance, is working on a piece for my classroom. I asked her to create something to capture what I try to do for my Women’s Studies class. I love that she is not only walking me through her thought process but how she is bringing various elements in. I’m sure I will treasure the heck out of this piece and I suspect that my students will, too. As I read the rest of this interview, I felt good about owning some of Patty’s shirts and will gladly continue to support her in the future, not just because she is a friend but also because I applaud what she has done with her work.
So, what about the rest of you? Own any Punk Masters t-shirts? If so, which ones? How did you decide on the one(s) you did? Which ones would you like to get next? My suggestion. Go read the interview on DDM here then head over to Punk Masters and do a little shopping!
First of all, I made a small, yet significant error in yesterday’s post. Apparently, Duran Goes Dutch is not a bootleg, exactly. Unless of course the copy you have in your collection is in fact a bootleg. Got it?
Yeah, me neither. Apparently, there are two different versions of Duran Goes Dutch. One is apparently an official version, made to look like a bootleg (Why?!?), and another is actually a bootleg. (Again I ask, why?!?) I have no idea which is which, nor do I know if mine is a bootleg or not because it is currently packed somewhere. Ask me again in six months.
Punkmasters Does it Again!
Patty Palazzo has more creativity in her pinky finger than I do in my entire body. To prove it (not that she needed!), she released a few designs as an advance, certain-to-whet-the-appetite sneak peek into her new collection, due out on June 24. Get your credit cards ready, Duranies. I bought three! I only stopped there because, well, Retirement 2.0…. and I figured I’d save some for all of you. Besides, June 24th is coming….
Check out the video Patty shared on Facebook, and turn up the volume while you do it, because I hear a certain John Taylor was responsible for the awesome soundtrack.
If creating soundtracks for Punkmasters wasn’t enough…
John spoke today at an event I would have easily given both of my eye teeth to be at, the Brilliant Minds Symposium in Stockholm. He gave a keynote speech that I am hoping will miraculously show up on YouTube. What is the Brilliant Minds Symposium about, you ask? According to dd.com, it is a new thought and leadership forum debating the convergence of humanity & technology. I love this stuff! Let’s face it, if Duran Duran doesn’t break my bank, I could easily get the job done by traveling the planet in search of these sorts of events. I’m doomed. DDHQ posted just a couple of photos of John’s keynote presentation, and I was especially drawn to the words behind him. In one photo the words “Here and Now” were in the background, and in the next “Gatecrash Intimacy”. Now I’m really curious! No matter, it is indeed exciting to hear about John’s involvement, and I’m hopeful that we hear more about the experience in the weeks ahead. (hint, hint!)
We have a Glam-father!!!
After reading numerous rumors yesterday that Simon’s daughter Saffron and her partner Benjamin had welcomed a baby into this world, Simon himself posted the news several hours ago on Twitter. Saffron had a baby boy, and apparently both mom and baby are healthy. Who could ask for more than that, really? This is wonderful news for the entire Le Bon family, and of course we wish everyone all of the health and happiness in the world. It is hard to believe that we’ve not only watched as Simon and the rest of the band have had children, but now we’re seeing the children having children.
We’re really kind of lucky to have had the band around this long, you know??
Simon tweeted that we can now refer to him as the Glamfather… I love it!
Last, but certainly not least
I just wanted to chime in with my own good wishes for another happy and healthy year on this planet for Mr. Nicholas Rhodes. Yes, you are The Controller, and yes, I do believe you’re at the very least alien…and probably vampire too. (Can you be both? I say yes!) In any case, I wish you the nap you likely deserve, and as much art, good health, laughter, love and kindness as you can stand in a year. I do hope you and the band won’t stay away for too long – I miss seeing your knowing grin as you peer over the top of your keyboard rig down into the audience…particularly during Hungry Like the Wolf, but throughout the show as well. Happy Birthday Nick!
What has happened, officially, in the Duran Duran universe; what is the latest Duran Duran news from the last week? Read on to find out!
Nick, Fashion and Musical Artists
Did you read Nick’s note over on duranduran.com? He attended a fashion show in London and was able to hear/see some musical artists that he really likes. I always enjoy hearing what the band members are up to!
Dom Brown Music Playing a Fundraiser
Dom Brown’s band outside of Duran Duran is playing a fundraiser on January 23rd in Swindon to support the Swindon Arts Centre. Details here!
Fretless Bass Reviews John’s In the Pleasure Groove
Have you read this review of John’s autobiography? It is a good review, which captures the book well. My only question is: What took them so long?!?
War Child Gig
Interested in trying for tickets to see Duran Duran play for the War Child UK benefit? Here is some of the latest information, posted on the band’s official Facebook page.
Making Patterns Rhyme: A Tribute to Duran Duran
This tribute album, which features 22 covers of Duran Duran songs and artwork by Patty Palazzo is now available on CD for purchase! Get your copy here!
It has been two weeks since I posted a summary of what has been happening in Duranland. I didn’t do it last week as I was busy with some out-of-state guests. (waves at Rhonda) Anyway, I thought I would take time this weekend to catch us all up by compiling any and all Duran Duran news in one spot!
Dom Brown Anniversary
Did you know that Dom Brown has been with the band for 10 years?! 10! Duranduran.com celebrated this fabulous anniversary by posting a note from Dom himself. As a big fan of the guy, Rhonda, too, posted a little blog about this important occasion. I, for one, love the last line of his note–here is to 10 more!
November’s Collector’s Corner
This month focused on the album, Notorious. I never knew that there were subtle differences in how the album looked in various countries or what all of the remixes for this album are. Yet, you can find all of that information and more over on the duranduran.com’s post. Fascinating stuff! It definitely makes me want to be more of a collector!
A View to a Kill Extended Mix
Did you know that there was an extended mix of this song? Apparently, there is and it just recently surfaced! See the post on duranduran.com to read John’s quote about it and to click on the link to hear. After that, tell us what you think about it!
‘Tis the season for a little shopping! Duran Duran has a new calendar out this year with the focus being studio pictures. Buy it now here and read Rhonda’s thoughts about it here. Perhaps, you want to support a little blog you know (and hopefully love!) by shopping at our Cafe Press store.
If you are a paid member of DDM, I highly recommend logging in and checking out the interview with Patty Palazzo. You can learn a lot about her history on the Duran team as well as her own designs with Punk Masters! I look forward to seeing her new line, which is to be released in December! After you finishing this interview, check out Rhonda’s interview of her and Lori Majewski here!
Band Members: Out and About
Nick and his girlfriend, Nefer, attended the Guy Bourdin image maker exhibit at the Somerset House in London last week. Check out Duran’s Facebook page for a picture of them!
Have you heard the song, “Kingdom,” by Charli XCX featuring Simon Le Bon yet? If not, it has been released and getting lots of press. BostonHerald.com covered it here. The Examiner covered it, too! Empty Light House reviewed it as well! If that wasn’t enough, ABC Radio News wrote about it, too! Look for our thoughts about it soon!
Can you believe that Duran Duran and other pop stars met thirty years ago to record the song, Do They Know It’s Christmas? I try not to think about it too much as it makes me feel very old! Nonetheless, there has been lots of press about it. I recommend starting with Rhonda’s blog about it. Then, you definitely should read the behind-the-scenes article by Mad World author, Lori Majewski! After that, you can check out the article on Be80s here. Heck, even Huffington Post UK covered it here!
Duranduran.com updated the band’s gallery to feature the band’s performance for the Teenage Cancer Trust benefit.
Nick’s Beauty Side Project
Nick’s latest project, Geneu, an anti-aging product was featured in the latest issue of Wallpaper Magazine! Need a refresher about this project of Nick’s? Check out the press release on the band’s official site.
That’s all I could find on official sites. Did I miss something? I am confident that I have. If so, comment about it so that the information is included! Thanks!
On today’s date in 1996, the Neurotic Outsiders played at Incognito in Munich, Germany. Were you there? (I actually know of TWO people who were there…and if you read my interview with Patty Palazzo and Lori Majewski, you do too!)
On today’s date in 1997, John Taylor held an AOL online chat. Now, I am almost certain some of you readers had to have been present for that – so ‘fess up!
I can’t even imagine what that must have been like, both for John as well as the fans. I know from speaking with Patty Palazzo that at the time, John utilized a “grass roots” marketing approach to his solo career, which really worked. He connected with fans and used basic word of mouth to market himself – and while it’s true that a good many fans never bothered to expose themselves to his work, I’ve YET to run across a fan who was truly a part of that moment (going to shows, taking part on Trust the Process, and maybe even meeting John himself) that doesn’t look back on that time with extreme fondness. Maybe it really isn’t just about the music. Imagine that.
Just when you’re bored to death watching the inevitable slow death of Germany Brazil…in a World Cup match…along comes an incredibly powerful and wonderfully shocking cover that you can’t WAIT to review.
When I hit “play”, I immediately decided it was way too slow. I was set to dislike. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, I hear a male voice…and the song suddenly becomes interesting. Just as I settle in and start paying attention, the music changes. It becomes ever so slightly angry – but quiet. Then the strongest female voice takes over the second verse. Texture beyond words….and then we go back to the original style. Unreal. Unfucking real.
This is exactly what I’m talking about when I describe a song that has been allowed to keep it’s bones and even a piece of it’s spirit – but is changed and evolved into what the covering artist wishes to convey. At this point, it’s not a remake of a Duran Duran song, it is Come Undone BY Carina Round. Don’t be offended by that, embrace it as a fan. Be proud that our band gave someone else inspiration to use their music as a launch point. You don’t have to like the song, and you certainly don’t have to like what Carina Round chose to do with it, but you absolutely MUST applaud her courage and creativity.
And I really, really like it. Well done. Extremely well done. This one is going on my iPhone for sure.
By the way, Ms. Patty Palazzo – you are brilliant. I love this cover. This is art that speaks to me, and if I could frame it and put it on my wall, I would.
I love the days when Manimal releases a new song from the Making Patterns Rhyme album, because it’s like getting brand new music! Today is certainly no exception. I suspect that many fans will find this new single easy on the palate, and perhaps even something that they’ll add to their playlists.
When I first hit ‘play’, I won’t lie – at first I found myself the teensiest bit underwhelmed. It’s not that the song isn’t beautiful or that the vocals left me cold. I liked the sound, but I felt like they could have pushed that envelope a bit further. It sounded too much like what Duran Duran had done. I wanted more. I wanted to hear what Warpaint could really do with it on their own.
At this point – I might have shut the song off to write a short blog because I thought I’d gotten a good idea of what they’d done. This time though, I left the song playing as I went on to tackle the next morning task on my list. I’m glad I did, because as they say – “the best was yet to come”. The further it got into the song, the more that Warpaint played with the melody – not taking away from the original, but adding more to the sound. The vocals grew more haunting, more ethereal; the music more deconstructed, so to speak. They explored the sounds in a way that Duran Duran hadn’t, and I loved it! The last 30 seconds or so of the song are worth waiting for – and you’ll want to play the song over and over again because it really is that good. They took the beauty of the original and added their own color to the artistic palate. Rather than just being comfortable with letting the original melody stand on it’s own, they explored a bit with the sound combinations, and in many ways – Warpaint improved upon the original. I suspect this one sentence may get me into trouble with my fellow Duranies, but it’s the truth – and it pays the highest compliment possible to Duran Duran.
Additionally, I’m taking a second to gush over the artwork that our very own Patty Palazzo has created for the project. In each case, she has taken an image from the original song (most from videos, with the obvious exceptions of the songs that did not have videos) and updated it as the artwork for the cover version. It’s kind of like taking a bit of the old to send off the new, and I love that simple, yet effective theme. I really like the specific images Patty has chosen – they ‘re iconic for us, and explanative of the cover version as well.
My history with Duranie friends is rather short. While I have been a die-hard fan of this band since the moment I first heard Planet Earth, I didn’t really get involved beyond my love affair with the music until much later in life. Sure, I went to a few shows and had a few schoolyard friends that, for a short time liked to talk about Duran Duran at lunch and break with me, but I didn’t get to know many of you until rather recently. I’m happy to say though, that for many others, their friendship truly goes back decades. Many of you likely met your best pals while standing in line for a show, or at a signing, or maybe even while waiting at the studio. For Lori Majewski and Patty Palazzo, that’s about where their friendship began, and it is the memory of seeing the two of them together, animatedly chatting over history with the band, their two very different yet very similar paths in life, and even the love they very clearly have for one another, that will likely bring smiles to my face for the foreseeable future.
Patty and Lori are people that I admire and look up to in this community. That’s not hard to envision: let’s face it (and I’m going to be blunt) Patty has worked for fucking John Taylor. Never mind that Patty is incredibly talented (she is), and that I can’t even scribble nicely with a crayon (I can’t) – I just stand in admiration that she took her talents and made a dream career out of it. Yes, I’m enamored. Lori’s story is equally inspiring. Unlike many of you, I was completely unaware of fanzines until recently. That’s right, I lived a shockingly shallow and sad life as a kid. I just didn’t know. So, hearing that Lori sat down at a relatively young age and asked herself, “What job can I do that will allow me to interview Duran Duran?”…and then not only meet that goal but basically smack it out of the ballpark by working for many of the magazines I once read as a kid (Sassy, Teen People, Entertainment Weekly to name a few)…well, I really wanted to talk with them and finally got brave enough to ask. We met at a coffee shop in Hollywood, I got out my iPad and started recording.
The one thing that came across in the interview was friendship. There is so much love, respect and friendship between Lori and Patty – I hope I always remember that about that day. In doing the research for our own manuscript and through writing for the blog each day, we recognized that the relationships we have between one another keep us coming back as fans…as much as the music does. I wondered if at this point, they’d even still call themselves fans of Duran Duran, much less Duranies. Quivering a bit from nerves, I asked if they still referred to themselves that way.
Then Lori said something that made me think twice about what I might really be asking.
“Why wouldn’t she, is more the point.”
To which Patty immediately replied, “Well yeah, of course I am.” Patty continues, “I mean, it’s more about being a fan of their music.”
I would have let Patty slide on that, but Lori is a seasoned journalist, and she pressed on. “Well, what do you mean? I mean, there’s one definition. Do you love them”, Lori questions.
Patty agrees. “I mean, it’s different when you’re closer to the band. There’s a difference, but the bottom line, being a fan of the music, I don’t think that changes. ”
So they’re both still fans. Both still Duranies at heart. Check! What about their favorites? Do they have favorite songs?
After giving it some thought Lori responds, “…I would have to say New Religion because it’s so funky and so different, you know what I mean? It’s unlike any song by anyone, and unlike any song they have too, which is pretty amazing. But I’d also have to say that like from modern day Duran, I’d have to say The (Man Who Stole A) Leopard, because it’s one of the best songs they’ve ever done…The Valley…and I’d also say Careless Memories.”
Patty chimes in with her own favorites, “New Religion…Skin Trade…I was obsessed with that song,” stretching out the word ‘obsessed’ for emphasis. She continues, “that whole album actually…and The Valley from modern day.”
I tepidly step on the path leading to Red Carpet Massacre, which is an album that seemed to resonate with Lori.
“They don’t repeat what they’ve done before, and I will be the first one to tell you that I love Red Carpet Massacre. I feel like the fans unfairly judged it, and I feel like there are some of my favorite songs on that record,” says Lori. “I love it back to front, and front to back. I’m glad they worked with Timbaland, and I’m glad they worked with Justin Timberlake because it brought out a completely different side of them. OK so they moved onto something else afterward…why would they want to repeat that? But…I don’t think it should be denied.”
Patty agrees, explaining, “…and it’s part of the story, and it’s evolved. They couldn’t have made All You Need is Now without Red Carpet Massacre.”
Lori continues, “But…the thing about this era, the New Wave artists, is that they evolved, and they made a different record each time. Whether you loved it, or disliked it, you have to respect the fact that they didn’t want to go where they’d been before. Look at a Katy Perry album, it’s the same one, one after another after another. You look at, you know, Rihanna. She does what someone else told her to do. The fact that these guys, especially at this age, with the money they have, they don’t have to do anything… (and they) challenge themselves each time? That’s admirable, and that’s why they’re still around…and that’s why I’m proud to be a fan.”
Their story is not yet finished, and it is true that while fans may not have felt quite as positively about Red Carpet Massacre as other albums, all of that work is part of their narrative, part of their story. It is difficult to imagine that one day, we will look back on their work as a collective, completed whole. Rather than citing one album as necessarily better or worse than others – it will sit as a finished epic novel, and a completed soundtrack for those of us along for the ride. Lori and Patty seem to have a much greater understanding of this than I.
Steering the conversation back into positive territory where I cannot get myself into trouble quite as easily, I ask about favorite videos.
This time, Patty is the first to answer, “Skin Trade, I love the video for…and White Lines.”
Lori is quick to follow, definitively saying, “I’d say Lonely In Your Nightmare. You know, every time I say that, and I see that video it reminds me of when Patty and I helped John do…when he donated his clothing for that exhibit in Venice. Patty and I went to his storage and got all of his stuff out and…”
Patty jumps in, explaining when this took place and what clothes were offered to the exhibit, “During his solo years…Like the red Rio suit, the Anthony Price…the leather jacket from the first album, the military…”, she trails off.
“…when he pulled out that red suit…”, Lori muses, remembering the day.
“The Save a Prayer peach …”, Patty trails off again.
I’m starting to realize that they take as much glee in their fan girl memories as I do with my own…which makes me smile as I attempt to keep myself calm enough to remember to ask questions!
Lori continues, “and John actually said, ‘I don’t even remember where I wore this’…and I said in a moment of… fan ridiculousness, ‘Hi. Lonely In Your Nightmare video, before it turns black and white when you sit down at the bench and the birds fly off. That’s where it’s from.” She grins at the memory. “He just smiled because you can’t deny who you are, the more famous you get…that’s where it all started. That video for me: the black and white and color, it’s one of my…you know…it’s such a romantic song. It really showed how special they were, I thought. It was on that compilation video when we were growing up, everyone…I mean, you knew all their videos and then that came out and it unearthed all these videos I had not seen and I mean, you know, one long scream…”
This is when I started to be more comfortable in the interview, because I realized that underneath all of the “published author-ness”, “famous magazine editor-in-chief-ness”, “friend to John Taylor-ness” and “famous graphic artist-ness”…they were truly Duranies. It’s our one common denominator, and that is comfortable ground for this blogger to walk on. So I smiled at the fan girl moment, and kept going.
How did all of this really start? How did Lori decide to become a journalist, and how on earth did Patty become brave enough to go after her dreams…and can they teach me how to stop letting the world pass me by? I started with Lori, by first admitting that I’d never heard of the Too Much Information fanzine until recently…and I mean really recently.
“When you said you were on a leash”, says Lori, referring to a comment I’d made about my parents being strict, “I ripped the leash off and my father threatened to give all the doormen at all the hotels pictures of me so that if they saw me, they would make sure to tell me to go home.”
“Seriously?” Patty asks exactly what I’m thinking. My father would have grounded me, plain and simple…and it was that fear that kept me in line. I didn’t want to disappoint my dad. Fear of getting in trouble kept me on the straight and narrow…and it still kind of does to this day.
Lori answers, “Yes. You know, I did live in fear of that, but it didn’t stop me. I was a good girl for a long time, I was an ‘A’ student until Duran came to New York to record Big Thing. I was a junior in high school, starting going…you know cutting the afternoon or going right after school and not doing my homework…they were there for a good couple of months working on that record and so that’s when I dropped from #1 in the class to a still-respectable #4. Not bad.”
I personally could not even fathom cutting school to go see the band back when I was in high school, but I keep that thought to myself out of fear of looking completely lame.
Then Patty nearly says what was in my own head. “That was so beyond my realm at the time. Growing up in Akron, it was inconceivable.”
I agreed. Even though I lived in a suburb outside of Los Angeles, in my mind Covina may as well have been thousands of miles away.
Patty continues, “You know, kids were going to the studio and meeting them, and hanging out, and like I couldn’t even imagine. You know, it didn’t…when they came to town it didn’t even cross my mind to GO there. Not that I wouldn’t have had I thought about it, or had I been in a group of friends that suggested it.”
Lori adds, “Yeah, but if we knew each other we would have gone together.
Patty smiles wistfully, “Yeah, I probably would have gone had I known you.”
Thoughtfully, Lori surmises, “I was just going to say, I wouldn’t have thought to go sit outside of a recording studio or a hotel either, but…when I was waiting for Duran Duran tickets at the Beacon Theater in 1987, there was a girl there (turning to Patty) I introduced you to her at the signing the other night. I haven’t seen her now in about 15 years. She came to the signing, she lives in LA now but at the time she lived in New York. She and her friends were waiting in line and we waited in line two days to get tickets. We got to know each other and eventually after they decided that they could trust us and liked us, they told our group of friends where Duran Duran stays when they come to town. They took us to their hotel and to the studio, and so I wouldn’t have had any idea either, except for a very nice group of girls.
After agreeing that in our collective experience, not all Duranies are that nice…we move on. How did Lori go from wanting to be a teacher to writing a fanzine and becoming the editor of Teen People and later, a co-author of Mad World?
Turns out, Lori had a plan. “But, I have to say though, I had a fall-back. I always thought, ‘I’ll be a news reporter. I’ll work at The Daily News in New York as part of my goal.’ I wanted to either do crime or a local reporter that really championed the disenfranchised or things like that. I mean, in my heart I wanted to do music and entertainment writing but I just thought that’s too cool, I’d never achieve that. You know, ‘failing that, this is what I want to do’. Lori pauses to straighten in her chair and goes on, “So with Duran as a dangling carrot, I went into college and started the Plan B to teach myself Page Maker. I became a Journalism major at school, and you know my goal was to interview them. But, I interviewed them by the time I was a junior in college for my college paper, which was great for my paper. But even though I’d already achieved that, (interviewing DD) it I guess it was what helped me get my first internship, which was at Spin Magazine.”
Lori smiles at the memories and is kind enough to ignore my gushing, “That was where I met my co-author, Jonathan Bernstein. And then it actually became real. So before that, I worked at The Weehauken Reporter and the Jersey Journal and I covered fires, and I did a thing called Ms. Fix it. People would write me: ‘my welfare check hasn’t shown up, can you help me find it?’, and I had to go through the bureaucracy and track it down and stuff like that. But then, after the internship at Spin, I got my job at YM. And I was an entertainment editor. So that kind of led me to believe I can actually do this.”
Just as I’m thinking about how it might have been to work for a big magazine, Lori tells a story that I just love:
“In fact it was while I was at YM, and I’m not sure if we knew each other yet or we JUST knew each other (referring to Patty), it was while I was at YM that I had my first lunch with John, and I was like ‘Ok, I have actually kind of achieved it.’…like…and I remember, he went to pay for it, and I was like ‘Nope. I have an expense account.’ She says it again while chuckling, for emphasis, “John, I will pay for this. I have an expense account.” As we all laugh a bit, Lori explains, “I thought I was so fancy. He giggled actually. He knew me as the kid on the street. You know, the kid outside the studio, the kid outside the hotel… and now I was interviewing him. So you know, it was a cool transition.”
Patty indulges my curiosity about her beginning steps into this journey by answering, “I was living in Cleveland. It was like the summer of ’95. That was when the internet was sort of starting. AOL was happening, and I’d had a little studio set up with my friend in Cleveland and with the limited access that we had, I remember hearing that there was like a message board or something and I’d heard talk that John was starting up a label, and there was like a mailing address for fans to get involved. I’d put together a really nice package of a t-shirt, some samples of my work, and said, you know, if you’re looking for a logo for the label or any design work, this is what I can do. You know…and she (Bev Raff, John’s assistant at the time) fucking called me…she ended up responding. She loved it.”
Lori adds her thoughts to the memories of that time, “Also around that time, we were kind of, you know…I remember sitting with her somewhere…”
“He was approaching fanzines and the fan base…it was like a grass roots thing,” Patty says, and I immediately see how humble she really is about her success.
Lori continues, “He really approached that project really well. I remember us being in Philadelphia maybe…and talking to her or something?? First of all, Patty could have sent it from China and never met Bev, and Bev would have loved what she did. There was a sort of nice, I felt we got to know her a little bit at the right time. You know, that was just a very special time in John’s finding himself.”
Patty recalls, “I remember she approached me, I ended up doing the B-5 Records logo and then that started to coincide with Neurotic Outsiders. I think it was like December of ‘95, I went to LA to see the show at the Viper Room. After that show Bev sat me down with John and we talked about conceptualizing that logo (Referring to the B-5 Records logo), and then I remember he (John Taylor) turned to me and said, ‘Do you want to do a logo for my band?’ meaning Neurotic Outsiders.
(How many fans out there would give a body part to have this happen? Yes, yes I thought so.)
As I try to collect myself, Patty goes on, “Yeah, like the next day Bev took me to Hein’s house. Hein Hoven, who worked on Feelings are Good, which is the album he was working on at the time…”
As any good friend should, Lori interjects to make sure I see what’s what. “See, Patty can’t say this about herself, but I can say that John’s an artist – so he sees another artist and he knows. She could have hated Duran Duran, she could have loved Duran Duran, so that didn’t matter. It was truly that he liked her style.”
Granted, I may have been thinking about my own talents, or lack thereof…but her comment snaps me out of my reverie and back into the present.
Patty isn’t quite finished with her tale from that evening though, and she finishes with a flourish. “That was another thing too, even throughout his whole solo period, he really didn’t speak much of Duran, because it was still a little raw. I remember so much about that night at the Viper Room. The first thing I said to him, Bev brings me over, he’s sitting in a booth, she introduces me and he’s sitting over there with a cigarette.” Patty smiles at Lori.
Clearly we’ve reached a pinnacle here, because Lori excitedly interrupts, “Oh my God, remember that!?!”
Patty looks at me pointedly and continues, “The first fucking thing I say to him is, “You shouldn’t smoke that.”
I can’t help myself and I laugh, because really, that’s beautiful.
“And he said ‘I know, I know’, and he put it out. I mean come on!”, Patty grimaces and then laughs. It’s clear the memory still makes her cringe a bit and all I can think of is that nearly everyone I’ve ever met who has spoken to the band have had their cringe-worthy moments. They happen!
Lori recalls, “You hadn’t decided yet about moving, and I remember you were like ‘should I move to New York or LA?’ and of course I advocated for New York. But you know…when John Taylor wants to hire you I guess…”
Patty interrupts, “And that’s how that decision was made, that’s when things started to happen. It was New Years Eve, 1995, my brother-in-law and I drove out with my car and a U-Haul trailer.”
Once again I’m reminded that focusing on your passions, the things you love most, really can provide reward and success, and I say as much to Patty. She nods and responds, “I mean, when I was a teenager in high school, and it was the graphics that…a lot of musical artists, but you know, being a big Duran collector, the graphics…and Notorious was the first one again that really stuck with me. The whole campaign…on the tour, the t-shirts that they had…”
“Oh, those t-shirts were incredible. I think that’s why you identify with Skin Trade so much.”, Lori adds.
Patty agrees, “Perhaps so. It’s all one big package. My fantasy at the time was to work with Frank Olinsky from Manhattan Design. He did the MTV logo. My fantasy was working there with them. My other fantasy was heading the art department at Capitol Records. I used to sit at my dad’s office, at his desk and pretend like, (mocking herself and pretending to sit a desk barking orders) ‘Yeah, you know, get the artwork up!’ It was like you know…artwork and doing that which actually was a passion. I don’t remember wanting to do anything else.”
We continue chatting, discussing the reasons behind John’s solo career and the rewards in doing so.
Patty surmises, “…with John’s solo career, some people now are saying ‘I wish I knew about that then’…because the internet wasn’t how it is now then either. You know, with the internet – if it was the way it is now back then, the plethora of websites and message boards and such, you know then I think it would have been different. It was just meant to go the way it did.”
Patty concludes by saying something that I believe will strike a chord (so to speak) with every fan: (It was) “Something he needed to do so that he could go back to the band.”
All of this memory recall gets them thinking about their friendship.
Lori muses, “It’s funny to think that there was a time that we didn’t know each other.”
Patty agrees, “I know, I know because it feels like we’ve known each other forever. You know what I remember from that signing? (Referring to the album signing for Thank You) I had the Perfect Day single scratch and sniff, and they all signed it. I went down the line, and then I was talking to you, and actually, I also had t-shirts for the band because I had a t-shirt line.” Patty explains, “After I graduated college and I was still in Cleveland, a friend and I had a little t-shirt company…and I brought t-shirts for all the guys. I was giving them and getting different things signed, and I was talking to you (Lori), and I left, and completely forgot the single. The one that was signed by every one… remember I walked out on to the street and I saw you again and I was like,
‘Oh my God…I forgot the single!’ I have a feeling that you went up and got it.”
True friendship is all about the little things, like someone grabbing a forgotten CD when another is trying to keep the inner fangirl under control. It’s a finely tuned system, the friendship between Duranies. Patty and Lori’s friendship is nearly as long lived as the band’s career, which is the case for many Duranies out there. I’ve often wondered if the band really understands the friendships that have been made as a direct result of Duran Duran.
Lori seems to believe they do. She says, “Well, I always say, and I’ve talked to you about this (motioning to Patty), there was a time that I was waiting out somewhere for John. In London?…it was definitely in the early 90s, maybe I wasn’t even out of college yet, and John came out and we were talking, and he was like ‘Have you guys been here for a long time?’ he was concerned. I was with Eileen from Philadelphia and a couple of other girls and we’re like ‘No, we’re just hanging out talking…I haven’t seen this one in a year and that one in a few months, and so…’, and he was saying, ‘You know, Amanda (referring to his ex-wife Amanda DeCadenet) was worried that you guys had been out here a long time. I said to Amanda, don’t worry about it Amanda. It’s not all about me…they love hanging out with each other.’ And I thought that was the cutest thing, because that’s absolutely true. You know…there’s one side of it, which is them (Duran Duran), but then there’s the other side of it (that) the best friends I have in this whole world are because of Duran Duran. And my husband.”
The conversation then turns to the criticism the band (and others) receives from fans. I ask how Lori handled the fanzine criticism back in the day.
“Well, I had worked with Sassy as an intern, and Sassy had an ironic “Oh my God” voice, so I used that voice in the fanzine. So, most of the time it was very endearing toward the band. I remember a friend of mine wrote an article, a review of one of their shows and it wasn’t all that positive and we would get you know, mail about that. Lyndsay Parker, she’s a friend of mine, an editor at Yahoo! Music, wrote a book, a memoir about being a fan. She said the other night to me that she got a lot of flack from fans who, she said, you know, she’s a journalist and she said she was very honest about certain points in their career…she said…she was critical, but the point (is that) the book is called Careless Memories. You know, it’s called this because, she’s a fan. She wrote about them because she loves them. I don’t think she was overly critical. But then there are other people who are overly critical of the band, and to that I say, ‘Do you call yourself a fan?’ For instance, I was at SXSW a couple of months ago and we did an interview with Gary Numan. He said that you know, he finds it hard to go on Facebook and Twitter because there are (people that call themselves) fans that go on there and are like, ‘How come you didn’t play this?’ or, ‘I can’t believe you’re wearing that!’ or ‘Fix your hair like this.’ And he’s like ‘That’s not why I’m on here…if you guys want to engage with me, don’t criticize me to a point that it’s so picky.’ You know? So I think there’s a certain range. There are the people that will love them no matter what and never see the cracks in the pavement so to speak, and then there are those who are overly critical. I think I lie somewhere in the middle? But as I said, I don’t know where I was saying this or who I was talking to…here’s the thing about Duran Duran, there’s been things I loved, and there’s been things I didn’t love as much. But, I love that they take chances, and that they are major risk takers…”
Patty chimes in, “Well, and I think about all the critics in the past of the band. You can’t not acknowledge the fact that after thirty plus years, they’re still doing it. They’re still…and they’re doing it with grace, I think. Compared to certain other acts, I mean, you can’t deny that. They’re not just doing the hits. You can’t deny what they’ve done and what they’re still doing.”
Lori nods, adding “And remember, they’re very popular right now, they have kudos, the credibility and the gravitas, but they did not have that up until very recently and yet they still did what they wanted.”
And as for this next album, DD14?
Lori responds, “You know, after two years of working on this new record they’re finally jelling and you know what? Look at how amazing that is that they kept at it? Whereas like, they don’t HAVE to do this album. They could retire. They could come out every couple of years and do a hits tour, but the fact is that they’re still at it? That’s why they got into it in the first place. Because they love it.”
Patty is quick to give some insight, “…and again, I don’t think that it wasn’t that they weren’t happy with what they’d done, but as they keep evolving the project…they’re like they’re happy with this and then six months down the road they’ve done more and then like “This is so much better”. When they get something, they know it, and when Simon is really inspired the lyrics start popping.”
“Remember these aren’t guys”, Lori begins, “they’re not guys who are 19 or 20 that live in the same town now, John has to go over there for extended periods of time, they all have families, Roger has a young child…so…”
“They don’t have a label breathing down their neck, either”, reminds Patty.
So what is coming up next for these Duranies? I ask Lori about the possibility of doing a sequel to Mad World.
Lori chuckles, probably because she’s been asked about this a thousand times, and she begins, “I’m trying to relax and not think about that? You can’t help but not think about it, because everyone asks about that. But, I think it will organically evolve especially if we decide on which artists we want to do. I’m not sure if it will be exactly the same, but we hit upon a formula that’s pretty special. Fellow journalists have said to me that we weren’t very critical about it. You know, this is not like…Like Punk Never Happened, which happens to be one of my favorite books about the era. (In that book) They don’t let the artists speak at length, the journalists speak at length. We allowed the artists to do the bulk of each chapter, in their own voices, in their own words. And I think that is a formula that I’d like to stick with. Because look, it’s nice that people like our opinions but we keep them to a minimum. This is really about the artists. I’m not a critic. But I’m definitely a music journalist, an entertainment journalist, but I’m not a critic because I don’t really want to criticize. I found that a very uncomfortable part of the exercise whereas Jonathan, he’s definitely been a critic. He’s OK with that. Yeah, but me? I’m uncomfortable with that because I think as an editor and a journalist, we’re told to keep our opinions out of it. So when it came to writing this book, writing in first person, I was kind of, at points, actually really anxious. You remember this, Patty. I was really nervous about putting my opinions, thoughts and anecdotes in there because I was like, I’m not used to putting myself in the story. But it turns out, that’s what a lot of people are responding to because if you’re more of a critical type of person, you identify with Jonathan’s story. And I feel like, a lot of the American fans, the Duranies and the wide-eyed fans, they can see. You tweeted at me yesterday and said ‘I totally feel the same way’(when I said that looks are great but it’s about the music), and I said… ‘Yeah, and you know, when I say things, we have similar stories even if we grew up on different coasts.’ To that balance, if you just read the book and you only got Jonathan’s point of view, you would be turned off and if you read the book and only got my point of view, other, you know, it wouldn’t be a serious read.”
I ask about the dynamic between Jonathan and Lori, because in every great partnership, there is definitely a dynamic that evolves.
“Our dynamic is that”, Lori begins to chuckle as she answers, “is that he’s curmudgeonly and I’m wide-eyed, ‘Oh my God I love everything.’ I’m breathless, and he holds his breath. That’s completely how we are, and that’s how it works, but he’s even more excited about the next book than I am.”
During an interview I watched with Michael Des Barres, Jonathan characterized their dynamic as “She was backstage and I was out front”. I asked Lori how she felt about that.
Lori laughs, “He was sometimes not even out front. He doesn’t even like going to shows.” As we all laughed, Lori continued, “No, he freely admits that. He really loves the album cover, he loves the vinyl…well not always vinyl, just the music, the product. He is not about the live experience, he’s not about meeting the band. He doesn’t want any of that. Whereas me, I want it all. I want the 360 experience and you know, I really identify with…you know, wasn’t it John Taylor who said he didn’t ever want to buy a record by an ugly band? And he was of course joking but there’s something to be said about the fact that this era stimulated us. You know, by the sound of the music, by the looks, by the videos. It all came together and it was just like this chemical reaction. And look, Patty’s an artist for that reason. It wasn’t just, ‘Oh, he looks pretty.’ It’s the way they styled themselves, the way they took, they paid attention to every detail.”
Patty adds, “Down to the typeface.”
I comment that I really don’t know of a lot of bands that have ever paid such meticulous attention to the minute details.
Lori agrees, “Not a lot. Especially nowadays.”
“Particularly nowadays its so,” Patty tries to explain, “like a one-way street, like everything. Every female artist has the same picture close up face of theirs on the cover, with the same font, all beautifully airbrushed, gorgeous picture.”
Lori interjects, “Because you know, you worked on those records. Red Carpet Massacre, you know…you actually worked directly with the label and you know how little thought they would have put into the cover, and that’s why Duran had to work on it, because it really, you guys all brainstormed on it and you brought something beautiful to life rather than just ‘OK, here you go.’
“I remember because they had the label’s mock-ups and they were like “Oh my God, we need to do something”, Patty comments.
So I ask Patty about her future plans for Punkmaster and her freelance work. At the time, I didn’t know she still worked for Pam and Gela on a freelance basis, but she’s quick to bring me up to speed.
“They don’t do as many graphics as they did with Juicy – it’s two different companies – but they do some graphic tees. It’s more type-oriented, but I’ve been doing all of those for them, I’ve done some printing for them too, actually. I did some print runs of some of the shirts they’re selling in stores right now. No, in terms of work-wise, they’ve been very good to me. They’ve made a point to ask me if I wanted to work with them on this venture, you know it’s all free-lanced based, I’m not, you know, full time with them, they’re very small anyway. And even with their book I helped out. That was trickier, like, you know with John’s book I did the cover and that was again, that was one of those things where the publisher was going to do it and he was like, ‘No, I’m going to hire her’, it was good to pick whatever he wanted. With Pam and Gela the publishers had a little more control…I sent a bunch of ideas over and then the publisher just took that, and then the inside too, with the photo pages, I designed that. (As for Punkmasters) That has sort of been put on the backburner a little bit for the past two years. Yeah, because when I started with John’s book, that really took over a big portion of it, because it started as the cover and then it expanded to the whole inside. All the photos – you know I actually went through and pretty much picked the photos and then he came in and said, ‘Yeah, let’s do that’ and then we worked together on narrowing the photos down. That actually started as photos that were going throughout the chapters, not just one per chapter head, but then the publisher came back and cut that. So there was a little back and forth on that for a while, but then you know, it makes sense the way we were left with it. So that took a big chunk of the year and then we did the t-shirts, the nine shirts from that, so that was sort of like that year’s new t-shirt line because that was enough work in and of itself. Then I started getting more with Pam and Gela, and some freelance jobs here and there as well, some friends of some other musician friends, I did some album covers…So that just took up more of this last year. Then I got to the point this year where I’m like, OK, I think I’m going to…I need to put out a new line…so I feel like I’m kind of re-launching.
And what about Duran Duran? Is there more work ahead for Patty there too?
Patty smiles, “Oh yeah. And I have been…I still help them with that. Even since starting my t-shirt company I’ve still done…a lot of times Wendy will call me up and she’s like, ‘We need something for this’, or ‘We need the Magus logo redrawn’, …yeah I’ve done little things. Whatever comes up in the future, I’d be more than happy to help.”
Lori jumps in to remind Patty of the Mad World shirts she’s worked on.
“Yeah, so the one Mad World shirt that you saw that John (Lori’s husband John) in, we’ve got another one which is really fun actually”, mentions Patty.
“Bad. Ass.”, Lori announces.
Patty continues, “I don’t know if you remember the Punkmasters shirt, the Bach and Roll Suicide with the Bowie? I’ve actually got a few more in the same vein, and the one in particular is Mozart, but with the Adam Ant white strip and the little braids? Amadeus Ant? And that’s got the Mad World at the bottom, and when I launch the Punkmaster line we’ve got those two Mad World shirts, so kind of like when I collaborated with John for his book, these two shirts are for Mad World…they’re like a capsule collection, so that’ll come out with the new Punkmasters line.”
I look forward to seeing what comes next, and I’m sure this won’t be the last we hear from Lori or Patty!
Part of the reason I love blogging so much is that I don’t really follow rules. I’ve never taken a single journalism class in my life, so I don’t know enough to keep my own head out of the story. When I interview, I’m constantly interrupting and trying to have a real conversation. When I write, I openly say what I think, sometimes getting myself into real trouble. I break all of the rules, happily, blissfully unaware. So, as I end this post – I just want to say thank you to Lori and Patty. They took a couple hours out of their day to spend time with me talking about fandom, friendship and Duran Duran. I will be forever grateful to them – and that’s not just me playing a “kiss ass” Duranie, it’s really me saying thank you. I feel like I made new friends that day, which is the very best part about doing this blog and being a Duranie.
Yesterday afternoon, I packed up my Mad World book, picked up my own chauffeur from work (my husband!), some Daily Duranie wristbands (do you have yours yet?!?), my camera and made my way up to the Sunset Strip to one of my favorite bookstores: Book Soup! My mission was to have my book signed by Lori Majewski and Jonathan Bernstein, authors of Mad World. I’d never been to a book signing that had a DJ along for the ride, spinning tunes as we stood in line. My husband Walt commented as we stood in line hearing Echo and The Bunnymen that it felt like we’d been propelled back in time to the early 80s. Observant, that husband of mine…. I loved the music, and yes, I did stay long enough to catch the familiar chords of Girls on Film flowing in the air. But back to that signing…
Book Soup is not a huge bookstore. It is this fabulous, homey feeling bookstore in the heart of the Strip. Situated just up the street from the likes of the Key Club, Viper Room and The Whisky among others, it’s in an unlikely spot, which is very much part of it’s charm. It reminds me of the independent bookstores I’d find on the main street of Glendora or Covina – my home town(s). Not only can one find books in Book Soup, but there’s vinyl as well – bonus!!
As I arrived last night and stepped into the store, there was no way you couldn’t be immediately swept away back to the 80’s. Kajagoogoo was playing, and no – I can’t listen to “Too Shy” without thinking of Nick Rhodes. I’m forever cursed. Thanks Nick. I wound my way to the line snaking around the perimeter of one side of the store, and as I stood in line, I dared myself to think back to what it was like listening to these songs in the 80s. I was pretty young back then, and if I only knew where it all might lead me… (and if I could figure that out now, well, maybe I’d actually be making a decent living!!) I just remember a time when I could turn on the radio and song after song would carry me away from my teenage problems to a world of daydreams. Nowadays I struggle to find a regular radio station that I can actually stand to listen to more than a song or two. The joys of aging, I suppose.
I looked up as I stood in line and caught the wandering eye of Lori Majewski, as she glanced to see how far back the line began. She waved. I started to wave back but then thoughtto myself, wait a minute. She couldn’t possibly recognize you, Rhonda. She doesn’t even KNOW you. Now you’re waving like an idiot. Awesome. So I looked around, only to find that no one else was looking up. She was waving my way after all. Great job, self-confidence. *begin slow clap here* I swear it was it was my own personal Ducky moment from Pretty in Pink. (watch the end of the movie if you don’t know what I mean…and why on earth do you not know what I mean?!?)
As I recovered from that moment (there are just times when I’m glad the band ISN’T there, you know??), I saw Patty Palazzo walk past me – and so I did what any normal person might do any Duranie might do, I got out of line to go say hi! I’d never met Patty before, but I have exchanged emails a few times….and actually, we’d agreed to talk that night about setting up an interview for the blog!! (I’m so excited about this news that I might burst! No really. I just ate carrot cake. I might honestly burst.) I don’t know where my courage came from because I am really not this brave ever, but I walked up and said hello, and even dared to hug her. *gasp* I don’t know WHERE that came from, because my friends – Rhonda is not a hugger. I like personal space. I am not touchy-feely. But I hugged Patty last night, and I’m pretty sure I violated her personal space. Maybe this is why I’ve never really gotten anywhere near the band…I’m a closet hugger!!! *gasp* This is really why I should never be allowed to go to events like this unattended. (meaning without Amanda) I even got Patty and a few new friends to wear our Daily Duranie wristbands! Amanda should be so proud…because I had those darn wristbands in my bag, and I kept thinking to myself: do I dare hand them out? Really? Should I? Will I look as super cool as I do right now if I hand them out?
(The answer is no. No Rhonda…you never looked super cool to begin with, so…you’re safe. Go with it.) So I did! Never mind that it took my darling husband three or four tries to get a decent photo…
Before I knew it, we were up to the front and Jonathan Bernstein was doing everything possible to make sure I knew it was time to hand over my book. I was too mesmerized by the process to see that he was practically grabbing my book out of my hands. (so sorry!) The next thing I knew, I was being introduced to Lori Majewski by Patty, and we’d set up a time to get together for something I’m not going to talk about just yet…you’ll have to just watch this space! (Again, I’m really thinking I might burst. Remind me that carrot cake is never an acceptable breakfast substitute…)
It’s blurry (sorry Jonathan…I hope your photographer was better than mine!)…but it is a very cool memory. Admittedly I am fangirling just a bit over meeting Lori. Back in the day, before writing Mad World, before Teen People, she was the editor of a Duran fanzine. How cool is that?? I don’t know where in the hell I was back then, but I intend to ask her all about that…when we meet up for that thing I’m not going to talk about just yet!
If that weren’t enough, and it’s really not EVER enough (I believe there’s a John Taylor quote to be had somewhere in there), after I had my books signed I had the chance to run into Duranie friends. I know that I’ve lamented here about how much I miss the band, and I do. Maybe that’s overly sentimental, but I miss seeing them play and I especially miss that sense of “one-ness” that we all feel with them when the show is going right. We’re all in that same place together feeling the same thing. It’s a remarkably cool feeling that I hope all fans get to experience at one time or another. However, it’s in moments like some that I had last night that I remember how much I miss my friends from afar. Friends from the UK, Europe, the midwest, east, northwest…southeast…I’ve been very lucky to have made real friends in a multitude of places, and last night I had just the smallest taste of getting to see some of them again. We don’t gather very often, and it was really nice to catch up with a few of them. Friendships are the one collective “thing” about being a Duranie I treasure most. Well, there is the music too…I mean, duh… (can’t really forget to mention the band, can I??), but I love seeing friends from all over.
The night ended relatively early for us, as we had to get back home, but it was really a great night and I’m glad I went to the signing. If you haven’t gotten your copy of Mad World yet, do yourself a favor and look for it on Amazon. I have read the entire thing once and am going back through it a second time. Jonathan and Lori did a fantastic job interviewing all of the bands, and there is just so much information in there – things we never would have ever known about the music we grew up with. It is genuinely worth the read. You should see my book, I was telling Jonathan last night as we left that my book is all marked up, highlighted, red-lined, complete with notes in the margin! (Note to self: next time, bring a book that is not already marked up with your notes in it…)
An outspoken examination and celebration of fandom!