Tag Archives: Rio anniversary

Duran Duran’s Oral History on Rio!

Finally, I get my chance to dive into the celebration surrounding Duran Duran’s second and most successful album, Rio.  May 10th marked the 35th anniversary of the album’s release.  Since then, many articles have been written, many videos have been viewed and many personal celebrations have been shared.   It is like a Duran holiday!  Woohoo!  On the anniversary, I couldn’t do much to mark the special occasion as it was a work day for me.  I did what I could, though.  Before and after each class period, I showed a video of a song from Rio.  Many of my students didn’t know anything about the band but some did come in with knowledge about the band and this album.  Still, I felt good about sharing my favorite band with my high school students.  They need a good music education, right?

Since that date, I did have a chance to listen to the oral history posted on the band’s official fan community’s website.  They called this longer version a “night version” just like the night versions of the band’s singles in their earlier days.  Overall, I found the oral history fascinating!  Not shockingly, I ended up taking copious notes as I didn’t want to miss anything.  In thinking about blogging about this, I decided to treat like just like a regular Katy Kafe, which means that I’ll give some highlights.  I recommend, though, that you listen to it yourself and as there is much that I didn’t get to in this blog!

The oral history began with each member sharing about the album as a whole before diving into each track individually.  I liked being able to hear all of their voices about each track.  While I appreciated this easy-to-follow format, I’m going to describe the highlights in a slightly different way based on themes or highly fascinating statements.

Album Feel:

In the beginning of the oral history, each member discusses the feel of the album as a whole, including the title.  Much of what they mentioned, I knew.  For example, I knew that the trip to America for that first tour impacted the band and that the song “Rio” is a reference to America.  I found it interesting that Simon said it symbolized the love they have for America.  Of course, there is more to it as Rio, Carnival and South America also were ingredients on the album and title.

Influences:

For many of the tracks, the band described specific influences.  For example, Roger mentioned Quiet Life by Japan for Rio and Michael Jackson for My Own Way.  Both John and Roger stated that the fretless bass on Lonely in Your Nightmare was similar to Japan’s.  Simon talked about Gordon Lightfoot’s If You Could Read my Mind in connection to Hungry Like the Wolf.  Early hip hop was brought up with New Religion.  I appreciated hearing all of those examples and am thinking about checking out those songs next to the Duran ones to see if I can hear those influences.

Behind the Scenes:

As much as I loved to hear about the influences, I loved the behind the scenes scoop even more.  I loved hearing about how My Own Way is a “problem child” according to Roger because the single version was too fast.  Another behind the scenes story that really caught my attention was the discussion around Hold Back the Rain.  As many know, this song’s lyrics were written by Simon about John partying too much.  Both John and Simon openly talk about this in the oral history.  I appreciated their openness and being willing to share with all of us.  It made my heart feel full when I heard John describe the song as “bittersweet” which is a “punch in the face” with a hint of sadness.  Indeed.  I might not be able to listen to that song in the same way again.

A Narrative?:

There were many times when a band member would say something profound, meaningful or even jarring that I had to pause and write it down.  Sometimes, those quotes were about the album as a whole or about a specific song.  One example of this is when John talked about how the album was a kind of narrative about these suburban kids who had left their comfort zone and were now experiencing fame.  I have never thought of Rio in that way, but I have often thought fame was a big theme in both Seven and the Ragged Tiger and Notorious.  It makes me want to look at all three in order to see if there is a running undercurrent of a storyline.

Got Me Thinking:

One thing about Duran that I have always loved is that as much as they entertain me and provide me with an escape from real life, they also make me think.  They don’t beat me over the head with intellectualism but it’s there and I love it.  Funny enough, Simon even got me thinking about Hungry Like the Wolf in a different way.  He talked about why it is “THE” wolf as opposed to “A” wolf.  He wanted to get people thinking, “Which wolf?”  He likes getting people to ask questions as that means that they are engaged.  I couldn’t agree with him more.

Speaking of agreement, I also found myself nodding along when John talked about how Simon is underestimated as a lyricist and that New Religion was a “lyrical tour de force”.  Interestingly enough, John shared that Simon used to describe that song as a dialogue between ego and alter ego.  Hmm…

The Chauffeur:

By the time, the band got to discussing this track, I had taken two and a half page of notes.  I started to put away them, figuring that I had heard all the stories about this song before.  I knew about Simon’s time in Israel, that it was the last track recorded, and that Roger and John come in late on the track.  There was no surprise when John described as dark and “underground” Duran.  What did catch my attention is how he stated that it is the song for intellectuals.  In fact, he said that a friend of his  says that there must be at least one track on every album to appeal to intellectuals.  For Rio, it is the Chauffeur.  That really got me thinking.  Do not be surprised if there is an additional blog about that coming up soon!

Let Roger decide the setlist:

Roger stated that the band should dust off New Religion and bring it back into the set.  Ummm…YES, PLEASE!?!  He also said that the Chauffeur should be played more live.  Seriously, can we let Roger decide on the setlist?  Please…

Overall, I found the entire oral history to be well-worth the time to listen (and to take notes!).  I learned a lot by listening and was able to fill in some gaps.  Now, I’m tempted to go pull out my copy of Classic Albums:  Rio DVD and compare what they said there about the various tracks.  One thing is clear.  The album, Rio, was a real game changer.  Not only did it change the band in ways that cannot be measured but it changed the lives for so many fans all around the world.  Truly, May 10, 1982, the ground shifted for those five guys and the fans that would follow.  Every time I listen to it, I recognize it as the masterpiece it is, which leads me to feel nothing but extreme pride to be able to call myself a fan.

-A

April 2017 Katy Kafe with Roger Taylor!

This past weekend, the gift of a gleaming new April 2017 Katy Kafe with Roger Taylor was posted on DuranDuranMusic for members. I gave it a listen yesterday afternoon, knowing I’d be blogging the highlights this morning. Roger and Katy covered a variety of subjects, and as always—I took notes and will cover the more notable topics here. If you want the full Kafe, I’d suggest getting your DDM membership!

Lollapalooza

Roger said that going in, he was concerned that the crowd would be different, and that they might struggle with the audience. Apparently the average attendee for Lollapalooza was 23. But then he saw a lineup and felt they’d fit in nicely. Katy asked him if he likes festivals, and he said yes. He likes playing outside in the elements, and says that if you have the right audience, there’s nothing like it.

I think back to the now infamous photos of the Argentina show and sure, I suppose he’s right. I’m not a big fan of “the elements”, but I can understand where the band is coming from. Someday I’d like to ask the band if it makes any difference at all whether they’re playing a smaller gig in front of 3000 real fans, or many more thousand that might not know their music as well. Judging from the way the band responds online – I’d have to think that while of course they love the fans, when you’re talking about an audience filled with thousands of people, as long as those people are responding – it doesn’t matter.  To them, they’re all fans.

Katy also asked Roger if Lollapalooza was similar to Coachella. I thought this was an interesting question, particularly because it was something I’d wondered myself! To me it seemed the audiences were very different. I watched Coachella again recently – and the way the audience even responded was incredibly different. I felt the Coachella audience stood there waiting to be entertained, where in Argentina, it was far more a group experience. They were all in the show together.  That said, Roger said they were very similar. I’m not really surprised he responded that way, either. Roger is on the drums, in the back, and I don’t know how much of that “crowd feeling” he is able to fully absorb or even notice! Whereas my line of thinking was more about the emotion of the audience, Roger stuck to aesthetics. “They were at similar times of the day” and the crowd size was similar. (in the same ballpark anyway!)

July

Most people know that the band is going out again in July for two more festivals. One is the Calgary Stampede, and the other is Electric Picnic. Katy asked him about those, and Roger let us all in on a little secret—he tries not to look at the tour dates until about three days before he leaves.

If I had an emoji sign with wide eyes that I felt I could post without getting into copyright trouble – I’d post it here. Use your imagination.  This sends my slight OCD tendencies into OVERDRIVE. Oh my. I already have my hotel reservations for a trip I’m taking in July. I know how I’m going to get there and what time I’m going to leave…and it’s not even May!  But then, I don’t have “a good group of people” doing that for me. It’s me. I book the trips. I drive the car, too!  The difference of course is that I don’t tour often, I haven’t been doing this since I was twenty, and I don’t have other people doing the itinerary. There’s something really attractive of not having to be the one to worry about where I’m going though, and only having to show up to play. I wonder what that’s like….

Katy also tells him that he’s going to be missing his son’s birthday this year, and it is in that moment that I remind myself that yes, these guys really are still human. Roger sounded sad about missing Julian’s birthday – I think that’s a genuine drawback to being a musician. He says it’s part of the deal, you miss birthdays, school concerts, etc; and then Katy reminds him that he also gets to come home and be with his kids for months at a time and pick them up at school. (which he was getting ready to go do!)  That is true, and is a benefit that these musicians have that most normal people do not. While the band is gone for extended periods to work, when they come home, they’re not working. (Studio time aside, because that’s totally different) Other people go on business trips, come home, and go back to the office.

What about Australia???

This is the question of the moment. Katy asks if the band is still going there or if they’ve shelved the idea. Now, I have no doubt people heard all the hope in the world in his voice, but I have to say that I did not. Roger said that they are waiting for just the right dates and venues, and IF that happens, then yes they’d like to go there. He said that Australia is one of their favorite places to visit, so it’s not about not wanting to go. It sounds to me as though it is purely about the business-side. It’s not worth going if they don’t have the right set of dates and venue.

In my opinion, it didn’t sound all that hopeful. I know there are a ton of rumors out there about playing with Chic, but judging purely from what Roger said, it doesn’t sound as though any of that is solid as of yet. As for the rest of the world? Nothing was mentioned at all. Whether that was  due to time or because Katy chose to focus on the positive, I don’t know. 

What is next?

Katy asked Roger what their plans are for the rest of the year (after July). At one point, Roger felt that they might end 2017 in the studio, and she was wondering if that was still possible. Interestingly enough, Roger says they are going to be doing more dates (no place was mentioned).  He also said something about going somewhere special and filming it. He talked about how he thought they’d been touring Paper Gods for nearly three years now (While I can appreciate the thought that time flies – they’ve been touring Paper Gods since September of 2015, which means it will be two years. Yes, I checked the complete tour list!) and he said they’ve done a lot and would like to finish it out with it filmed. Then he said maybe after that they’d go into the studio, but nothing was really planned.

One thing I’ll note here is that Roger is really happy with just going with the flow. He seems perfectly content to go along with whatever is going to happen! 

Rio turns 35 (Impossible!!!)

Katy mentioned to Roger that yes, in May of this year, Rio will be 35. After I picked myself up off the floor, I heard her ask him to recall ONE memory from that album.  ‘John came into the studio one day and said, “We need to write a song we can open the set with.”….and that song became Rio.’  and then he laughed and said, “now it’s the closer.”  Katy asked Roger if he felt much pressure with Rio.  I was surprised that he said no. His feeling was that the first album had more pressure because they were still really learning how to play and how to be a band. For Rio, they had a backlog of material to choose from, and they were far more confident with their instruments. Roger even said it was an easy process, comparatively speaking to many of their albums which have not always been easy (I believe he would include Paper Gods in that description).

Oh! One thing that Katy asked – which is something I, too, have always wondered – was about that sound at the very beginning of Last Chance on the Stairway.  She wondered if it was the sound of a cigarette being lit. I was really surprised though that Roger didn’t know!  He said that he hadn’t listened to it back in years, but that it was probably a sound effect that Nick added at the very last-minute. Still no firm answer, but maybe Katy will ask Nick when she gets a chance.  This conversation led to a discussion of smoking. Of course, when the band started out, everyone was smoking. Roger had a mantra to “never smoke before midnight.”

I don’t even get that…but OK. I guess if I lived at a club (Rum Runner) I’d probably have had some weird mantras too. Hell, as it is I say “Not without a hazmat suit!”  (Don’t ask.)

Apparently Roger is a coffee drinker in the morning (me too, Roger me too…) and Katy is not, although she did have a brief coffee “thing”  at one point.

So I should never invite Katy for coffee.  And if I ever get close enough to invite Roger to chat – coffee might work in the morning.  (Sure, I’m dreaming. Who cares?!?) 

And about that birthday….

Roger has nothing really planned. Going to see his kids, his parents who live about two hours from him… but nothing super special. He comments that every decade seems to go faster.

I must wholeheartedly agree on that one. I’m actually worried about how quickly the 50’s are gonna go because my 40s have mostly flown by. Can’t we slow this down a bit?!? I still have a few years to go till I’m staring 50 head-on, but at this rate I’ll blink and it will be here. No thank you. 

Katy ended the Kafe with a bit of a spoiler, saying that they may be doing something special for Rio’s 35th “Birthday” in May…which is pretty exciting. Looking forward to that!!

Until next time!

-R