Tag Archives: Roger Taylor

Thought I Heard You Talking

Today marked the second Twitter chat with a member of Duran Duran. This week Roger participated and it went much like it did last week with Simon. Fans used the given hashtag and asked question after question or, in some cases, gave declarations of love, shared pictures, etc. You can see it all for yourself in the blog that Rhonda shared with screenshots of the questions/answers. As I watched the proceedings, I was left with one very strong feeling and wish. I want more of a conversation rather than a competition.

If I jumped on Twitter or another social media and my friends saw me or my post, what would they do? They would respond to what I said or say hi or something similar. Then, I, in turn, would react to them and vice versa. It would look like the normal give and take of a conversation. Of course, on social media platforms like Twitter, tweets are usually public so other friends might also see and join in. For example, I saw people in our Daily Duranie timeline talking about some poll Duran was in against the band, Wilco. Some commented that they were shocked that they could lose against that band (they didn’t) and others wondered who Wilco even was. Every tweet was part of what felt like a normal conversation.

Yet, with these chats with the members of Duran, there is no normal conversation. Fans are not interested in talking to each other much or so it seems. Instead, they tweet questions at Roger or whatever band member is present, hoping for a response. Then, he picks out a few questions to answer. For me, personally, this format does not work for me. Even if I have questions, it feels so unnatural of me to jump in and try to be “heard” or “seen” over others. That is not how I roll. I am pretty comfortable with being beyond patient. After all, I teach for a living. Now, in saying that, I am not blaming the band member present, DDHQ or the fans.

Last week, one of my friends suggested that maybe there needs to be a better or different way like getting the questions ahead of time. I could see why that could be a good alternative. Maybe the band member could answer more questions. Maybe they could search for frequently asked questions and respond to those. That said, I still wish that it could be more like a conversation. Do I have an idea for that to really happen? Not really. I, for one, would love if band member would come in and say, “Hi everyone. How is everyone doing? What is the status where you are?” Then he could share how things are where he is and with the rest of the guys. Honestly, for me, I really just want to know that they are doing okay. Then, people could respond to that opening or fans could respond to each other. I know. It’s not going to happen. I’m an idealist but dreams are free.

Clearly, other fans are also positive thinkers, too, based on the number of times I saw fans ask Roger about when they are planning to come play at place x. Obviously, they are hoping that this horrific pandemic will be gone and settled down soon. I would love for that to be the case, but I suspect that it won’t be. In case you missed the news yesterday, the Isle of Wight Festival has decided to cancel for this year. I was not surprised by the news. It still makes me sad to see things like this in print even when I think this is the right thing to do, in order to keep people safe. So, as much as I appreciate fans’ desires to see the band play live, I cannot imagine that any concerts will be scheduled anywhere for quite awhile. That said, I totally get wanting something to look forward to. I, for one, cannot wait for the day that I don’t have to utter or think about the word, pandemic.

So, maybe, on that note, what I should be focused on wishing was different is not a silly little chat on Twitter but that people who are fighting this pandemic on the front lines get what they need in order to stay safe themselves and others.

-A

Too Much To Know

Are there moments of Duran history that you just sometimes think about and wonder what it must have been like? On the positive, amazing side, I think about what it must have been like when the band was looking through record deal offers or when the band waited to hear where a song charted. I cannot begin to imagine what it was like to hear one’s song on the radio for the first time, for instance. On the other side of the coin, there are times that must have been challenging. What was it like? How did they push through? Did they recognize the moment of challenge or did they live in ignorance? Did it help that they had each other?

The first moment like this that comes to mind was in 1986. At this time, the members of the band ended their side projects and were looking to come back together to record another album. From what I know, it seems like Roger informed the band that he was not returning early in the year, in the spring. They did not have to wonder, to question whether or not they could or should rely on him. Andy, on the other hand, seemed to drag out either his decision or his telling them his decision to go solo, from what I have read. Now, before I dive any deeper into this time in Duran history, I want to be clear that I’m not judging Andy or Roger or the rest of the band. I suspect, for example, that the decision for Andy to leave must have been difficult and emotional even if he knew/felt it was the right thing for him to do. After all, he had experienced a lot of success with the band as well as many monumental moments. So, I can even understand if Andy didn’t declare his leaving quickly and early. I bet that he must have had many moments of indecision, which led the rest of the band to be in somewhat of a state of limbo.

Did John, Simon and Nick know that Andy was thinking about leaving? Would that have been easier for them to know or was it better to maintain hope that he would return for as long as possible? Is it better to know than not to know? On one hand, not knowing can keep hope alive that maybe he would change his mind, that he would return. Decisions regarding a guitarist would not need to be made and they could focus on other things, Duran and non-Duran related. So what about knowing? If they knew, they could figure out their guitarist situation earlier and differently, maybe. I’m pretty sure that there was some grieving done, too. Knowing probably meant some sadness, some fear of the future, some anger and frustration. Did this change the feel of the next album? I don’t doubt it. Still, was it better that they knew?

You are probably wondering why now am I asking these questions. Do I have a new fascination with the Notorious album or Duran history from 1986? Am I worried that someone is leaving the band? The answer to all of those questions is a big no. Instead, it is a much more personal situation. As I have mentioned a couple of times on here, I have been dealing with some health related issues over the last few months. At first, I thought the problem was figured out and everything was fine or would be. Then, something else would pop up leading me to wonder if there wasn’t something more going on. This week, after ending a long period of denial, I finally reached out to my doctor who agreed that we should run some tests, which have now been completed. I now await the results. Did John, Simon and Nick want Andy to leave? I suspect not. Was it better when they knew for sure that he was going? Maybe. They could grieve, deal and move on. I guess I am at that point now, too. Is it better for me to know? If the results are what I think they are, will I be facing what Duran faced in 1986 with some grief, fear of the unknown while doing what must be done? Probably. I can only hope to be like them with their determination to move on and continue to be successful.

In thinking about that time period, I have to wonder if it helped them that they were not alone. It happened to all of them and not just one of them. Were they all able to support each other enough to be strong? I often believe that the best part of being a member of a team is that not everyone has to be awesome every day. When one person struggles, the other(s) can be strong with them or for them. Is this what Simon, John and Nick did for each other in 1986? As I learn of the results, I can only hope to have the support of others as I get comfortable with my possible new normal. (By the way, I should mention that what I’m being tested for is not life-threatening but still will affect life moving forward.)

-A

2019 Year End Kafe with Roger

Last week, I began my catch-up with all things Duran with listening and blogging about the year end Katy Kafe with John. These year end ones tend to include the band member’s top book, movie, TV show, Duran moment and more. I missed all of them during our break so I thought it would be good to take time now to listen and blog. This week, I’ll cover Roger’s. As always, I’ll share what stood out to me but there will be a lot I will miss. If you want it all yourself, please head over to DuranDuranMusic.

Event of the Year:

Roger could not come up with a world event but his personal event is Aston Villa get back into what sounds like the playoffs called the premiership . While I’m not a big fan of football/soccer, I get fandom. I would be super excited, for example, if the White Sox made the playoffs and my dad would be over the moon! What I’m most amused by is Roger wondering why people get all excited by sports fandom. I think fandom is fandom. I could explain fandom. 😉

Favorite Movie:

Roger really liked Apollo 11 since they did the anniversary of the moon landing. It brought out his interest in the space program again. Katy tells a very funny story about going to the premiere with Simon and Nick back in the day when she might have had a bit much to drink and had a conversation with Tom Hanks.

TV Show:

Roger discussed the mini-series, When They See Us, about the Central Park 5 because it was so sad and so well-done.

Favorite Music:

Mark Ronson is Roger’s choice for the best of the year. Rhonda brought me that album for Christmas and I have been listening to it quite a bit so Roger’s choice definitely makes me smile. He also mentioned the Elton John movie and how that made me check out more of Elton’s music this past year.

Favorite Duran Duran Moment:

The choice for our favorite drummer was, indeed, playing at the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. It was such a historical event and then they made the anniversary such an “incredible moment” with the accompanying musicians and drones. (I do wish that I could have seen it but…that general admission deal is tough, especially in Florida in the summer.) He also discussed how they are working in the studio and experiencing some “real highs” with that!

When to Hear New Duran:

The band is hoping to be finished around March! (Wow! Of course, I’ll believe it when I see it. Yet, I’ll still be hopeful.) He describes it as more organic (real drum and bass) and very different from Paper Gods. (That sounds good to me!)

Looking Forward to 2020:

“Releasing the album!” Of course, he also mentions the Isle of Wight show. On top of that, he acknowledges that there are a lot of calls to play in the UK.

Overall, Roger’s Kafe was short, sweet and positive, which made it nice. He also made me more excited about what the new album might be like and I found out that he loves cappuccinos. Who know?! Fun stuff!

-A

Boy Panic!

Before visiting England last week, I made several mental notes of Duran Duran historical sites to visit (ok, I made an entire Google map of places). I assumed Nick, and perhaps Simon, would be in town and I fancied I’d bump into them if I walked around enough. Turns out, London is a large city and I was limited on time. I only made one significant Duranie stop on my travels and it left me in a bit of a boy panic!

Arriving in London by train, our first stop of the day was Oxford Street where my wife made for the shops and I ducked into the new Hard Rock Hotel. After admiring one of Bowie’s t-shirts and snapping a picture of an incredibly bland Phil Collins suit, I found the crown jewel of the property: John Taylor’s bass guitar as seen in the “(Reach Up for The) Sunrise” video. I took a nearby seat and enjoyed a cocktail before heading to the day’s main destination.

John Taylor’s bass guitar at the Hard Rock Hotel, London

The Savoy Hotel carries itself with the regal splendor of a property that knows how perfect it is from the architecture to the quality of staff. It is truly like walking into a different world as the noise and congestion of London fades behind you. With a few screenshots from the “Girl Panic!” video on my phone, my wife politely indulged my fandom and we explored the hotel in search of the famous colored lifts.

The lobby lifts were ornate, but green, so we headed down a corridor. Splitting up, I took a turn to a golden door for a lone lift. When it opened, the mystery of the red lift was solved. After a few pictures as bewildered staff walked by, we continued our exploration.

Roger gets (in) a lift

There were functions room everywhere so finding the right one seemed a bit hopeless. Summoning up my courage to not sound like an awestruck American, I asked one of the hotel staff about the band’s video. While not familiar with, certainly, the biggest day in the history of The Savoy, she kindly obliged my interest and I showed her a picture from the video. She immediately recognized the room and she whisked us through the correct doors. The room looked much like it did when Duran Duran filmed here. With a hotel this beautiful, you really don’t need to change much.

As we returned to the lobby, I was still curious where the blue lift might reside. Feeling a bit cheeky after my earlier success, I approach a member of the hotel staff in a small office area. She was also unaware of the Duran Duran video but was excited that I asked about the blue lift. We headed off towards a staff area and she let us see where Roger once took the best elevator ride ever! No luck on seeing the suite but maybe next time I’ll book it. Umm, about that, I’m going to need a raise. Amanda? Rhonda?

Happy Halloween 2019!

I don’t know if there will be many treats for me this Halloween! So far, it’s been all tricks here at my house today! I’ve been working non-stop on doing some website housekeeping today, unfortunately to no avail. I’m going to be continuing to work on that this afternoon until my little pumpkin gets out of school a bit later. ( I suppose she is neither little, nor would she be amused by that term of endearment at this stage!)

Halloween has never been one of my favorite holidays , but I didn’t mind the trick or treat portion of the day! (I can hear Nick’s shocked gasp right about now…) Not a big fan of scary movies or any of that, and since I’m now a parent, I struggle just to find time to get it all done. It’s the kids holiday, not really mine, I guess. Case in point, I was sewing a costume for the aforementioned “pumpkin” just last night. She decided to go as a character from one of her favorite anime once she discovered that her school allows them to come in costume, which meant I had less than a week to pull something together.

Did I mention that sewing isn’t one of my better talents?

As a quick aside, I saw a T-Rex, Mario, Santa, and some Elves…and Deku (that’d be MY kid) this morning at the school drop-off. The kids refuse to wear their orange and blue school colors for spirit day, but they’ll sure as heck come in costume on Halloween. Sure, ok…I get it.

I think I’m struggling to get into the spirit of it all this year, which now that it is actually *the* day, I suppose it’s a bit late…but I’m going to try by referring to the Master himself, Mr. Nick Rhodes.

I ask you, has there really ever been a more dignified vampire?

Probably not.

Duranduran.com describes Nick’s playlist this year as “esoteric”…which makes me laugh. I’m just going to copy them here for all to enjoy! The best part of this list is that there are videos to match!

Midnight Star – Freak-A-Zoid

CJ & Co – The Devil’s Gun

Cameo – Rigor Mortis

Hot Blood – Soul Dracula

Souls Unlimited – The Raving Vampire 

James Brown – Hell

Billy Preston – Creature Feature

Lee Perry & the Full Experience – Disco Devil 

The Pop Group – She is Beyond Good and Evil

Brian Auger and The Trinity – Black Cat

The Temptations – Witchcraft (For Your Love) 

Dusty Springfield – Spooky

R Dean Taylor – There’s a Ghost in my House

If that’s not enough for you, and you’re looking for a little more Duran this evening…I give you Roger’s playlist, the full list available on Spotify, or you could certainly recreate it elsewhere!

That’s it for me today. I’m back to website maintenance! We’ll chat again next Monday!

-R

Post-imperial funk: Notorious

In 2010, Pitchfork contributor Tom Ewing helped define the concept of imperial phases as it applies to popular music. Coined by Pet Shop Boys’ Neil Tennant, also a music critic, it’s the sort of term that obsessive music fans and writers grasp immediately. Ewing laid out certain parameters for what constitutes a band’s imperial phase while also noting that empires eventually crumble: “it holds a mix of world-conquering swagger and inevitable obsolescence.” On October 20, 1986, Duran Duran released the single “Notorious” and rose up from the rubble of an empire in tatters. 

Without discrediting their success in the UK, the entire concept of an imperial phase implies an empire that stretches beyond borders. For Duran Duran, that meant conquering the United States and the world. I would make the case that the band’s imperial phase began in March 1983 when “Hungry Like the Wolf” peaked at #3 in the U.S. and came to a close with “A View To A Kill” becoming the band’s second #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 in July of 1985.

For those twenty-eight months, Duran Duran possessed the three traits required of a band’s imperial phase as laid out by Ewing. The band’s sense of command was impeccable. The original idea of a band that blended Chic and Sex Pistols had become a reality. The New Romantic scene was left behind and the band was creating a singular style all their own where over-driven guitars and textured synths could dance in harmony. Secondly, they had permission – the world was listening and the hysteria was deafening. Finally, the band’s imperial phase set the tone for the rest of their career. Within the sounds of Rio and Seven & the Ragged Tiger are the seeds of everything that would come after. 

It was the unpolished performance at Live Aid in July of 1985 that put all the internal issues of the band in front of the world and they were overshadowed by everyone from Howard Jones to U2 that magical day. The fragmentation into two camps: rock (The Powerstation) and art-pop (Arcadia) were both successful but the band’s imperial phase was grinding to a halt. The loss of Roger and Andy should have been death blows to the Duran Duran empire. Can you imagine The Beatles moving on if Ringo and George Harrison had left? It was time to burn out or fade away. Thanks to a little help from a friend in Nile Rodgers, Duran Duran emphatically chose to do neither.

The release of “Notorious” thirty-three years ago this month ushered in the band’s post-imperial phase. As Tennant once said, “what’s interesting is what you do after” and Duran Duran lived up to that immediately with a funky single that introduced us to a leaner, more mature band. While the single performed admirably, the album stalled outside the Top 10 in both the UK and America even though it remains one of the deepest albums they have ever released. From start to finish, there isn’t a song on there that makes you wonder if maybe they could have found something better for the album. 

The follow-up singles to “Notorious” are two of my favorite Duran Duran singles, especially “Skin Trade”. The fact that it barely nibbled the Top 40 remains one of the biggest mysteries in their career. The video, the bass line, the vocal, everything came together on “Skin Trade” but most people had already made the decision to either move on to new bands and styles as the decade wound down. It’s a shame. Things were starting to get really interesting….

John Taylor on Let There Be Talk Podcast

I’m late, I’m late…I know… My tardy excuse today is that I was listening to the “Let There Be Talk” podcast with Dean Delray as he interviewed John Taylor. Yesterday, I scanned through it, picking up on bits and pieces, but today I forced myself to sit down and listen to the entire thing (at over an hour and a half – it’s a monster).

If you haven’t listened, or feel like you need a fairly comprehensive (but elementary) education on Duran Duran’s history, this may be the podcast for you. Likewise, if you are more of an auditory learner, give it a good listen. Make sure to have beverages and other sustenance available because it is hella-long. Here’s the link: Let There Be Talk featuring John Taylor.

Hard rock, The Viper Room, and plenty of gushing

Here’s the real deal: Dean Delray is very obviously someone who comes from more of a rock background, and by “rock”, I mean hard rock. Van Halen. Black Sabbath (whom he mentioned during the first MINUTE John was on the podcast), Guns ’n’ Roses… you get the idea. He has a voice that sounds like he smoked for 40 years and hung out at the Viper Room as a regular for at least 10, but who really knows.

He is what I would call a man’s man (more on that in a bit), and although he does a fair job of gushing (and yes, I do mean gushing) over Duran Duran and John Taylor (not that they don’t deserve it)…I would venture to guess the guy has spent next to no time ever really listening to their albums, or reading about their history. He knows the highlights, which to be fair is more than I can say about MANY of the people who have interviewed the band over the years. The problem is that Dean was going to attempt to chat with John for 90 minutes. Where does one go, conversationally, when you only know a smidgeon of what they’ve done??? That said…let’s just get on with the highlights before I get into more trouble.

I appreciated that the conversation opens with a discussion of the post-punk era. That lasted for approximately 15 precious seconds, when the conversation takes a strange turn. Delray brings up Black Sabbath – which caused my eyes to nearly roll back into my head. Is there really any other band that sums up the antithesis of what Duran Duran really IS at their core, than Black Sabbath? Obviously Delray was reaching for something to connect with John because Sabbath is also from the Midlands. I get it, but I don’t like where he was trying to go.

If you had to name one band that was DD’s polar opposite…

And hey, were John and Nick ever fans of Black Sabbath? I nearly spat coffee at my screen as John commented that no, he was never really into Sabbath, but he and Nick went to a show where they were playing, and knew to get out while they could. Again I ask, is there really any other band that is quite the polar opposite of Duran Duran? Probably not. I mean, Duran Duran is light, love, joy. Black Sabbath (and yes I actually *do* know their music well, thankyouverymuch) is more darkness, anger, and some control issues mixed in for good measure.

Rest assured, the train was brought back onto the right track as they continued to discuss where Duran Duran fit into this post-punk movement. John discussed how he switched from guitar to bass, and why he aspired to the sounds from black American bands like Chic. He talked about the funky power trio being at their core and how those rhythm sounds (as well as the bass) spoke to him. John also said that time really belonged to rhythm sections, as opposed to punk which belonged to guitar.

Delray then mentioned that in the 80s, Duran Duran were everywhere. DJ’s would play them, then follow with Van Halen and Prince. The common thread was that the 80s were a dance scene – bands wanted to be able to crossover and create songs that could be danced to, like “Jump” from Van Halen.

Dance, dance, dance

Funny, I just had this same conversation with my youngest as she prepares to go to her very first school dance on Friday. She’s only in 6th grade (she’s 11), and the dance is being billed as a dance/social with a carnival theme. Rather than just music and kids dancing – nowadays parents try to add in other activities. I talked about how at my middle school dances, girls (primarily, but not always) formed circles on the dance floor while we danced to the popular music of the day. She asked me what was popular then, and with profound joy (seriously, way too much joy, I think…) I pointed at our car stereo, which was tuned to SiriusXM 1stWave. “Anything they play on this channel is what Mom would dance to, including Duran Duran.” As we talked further, we agreed that kids don’t seem to have a lot of bands to dance to. It’s EDM, or like where we live – country. It’s not the same now. They have to play carnival games instead, I guess.

“What we lacked in know-how, we made up for in cajones.” – John, on “Let There Be Talk”

Simon, before…and after

They spend some time chatting about life before Simon. (Seems like that could be a fitting title for an autobiography) John gave a rudimentary timeline of the singers who held the mic before Simon came gliding in with his suave attitude, pink leopard pants, and book of lyrics. Sometimes, I wonder if the book of lyrics wasn’t more of a driving force behind Simon’s induction into Duran Duran than anyone wants to say….hmm…(thank goodness he’s still there though, am I right??) He mentionedTin-Tin Duffy and his band the Lilac Time, then talked a little more about Andy Wickett, and explained the course of events that brought him into Duran Duran. He said that Andy was a phenomenal singer, but that it just didn’t work out for him as a front man.

Simon joined the group by listening to what became Sound of Thunder a couple of times, flipping though that now infamous book of lyrics, and settling upon words that fit the music. The uniqueness of Duran Duran maintains that basic approach to this day, but back then it was John, Nick, Roger and Andy who wrote the music. Simon wrote the lyrics. All five members were equal.

Doesn’t it suck to be a boyband?

Just the topic is enough to set me off. Dean Delray doesn’t realize the minefield he stepped into as he asks the next question.

“There was a time when of course you become the teen idols. You’re fucking everywhere…Teen BeatTiger BeatDream Magazine (is that even a thing?)….any kinds of those. But at the same time it was really helping you, it was cursing you maybe in a legitimate music world. People thinking they’re just a boy band, even back then because we have boy bands all the way to now. Uh…did you feel that way, like ‘fuck this is great but it sucks at the same time’?”

John kind of pauses, which I appreciated…and I’m going to assume that he needed to collect his thoughts before answering. I know I needed to collect my jaw as it hit the ground while I was listening. He then says “uhhhh….I don’t remember thinking it sucks.”

For me, that was all that was needed. However, for the people in the back, or for those who, like Delray, believe it was a double-edged sword…John continues to explain that he didn’t mind being the pinup and in fact points out that his fans had his poster pinned up in their room to Gela (this made me chuckle) whenever possible. Amusing. If I were his wife, I’d probably put up with that exactly one time before throttling him. (typed with a grin)

“Life is foreplay for when the lights go down.” – JT


Videos

Like most who interview Duran Duran, Dean Delray doesn’t really get the videos. He knows they’re works of art “They’re 35mm films, dude, not videos!”, but he also thinks they cost millions. “Planet Earth cost about $10,000 US”, John corrects.

John gives Dean the quick rundown on why Duran Duran relied on videos, explaining that Rio was charting in Australia, about as far away as one could get from the UK, and yet they couldn’t affordably travel there to play, so their managers suggested they make videos. He described going into the studio to make Planet Earth and meeting Russel Mulcahey, and then talking about how it wasn’t until the mid-80s that videos became a multi-million dollar business. It remained pretty clear that Delray just didn’t get it as he finished the conversation on videos by saying “That thing you did on the yacht was great!” He expanded by talking about how they looked rich, living the good life and trails off just as John says that they were really “just goofballs” on the video.

Exactly. Sure, it took place on a yacht, but the moral of that video is that you can put the goofballs in nice clothes, allow them to drink champagne, and let them sail on a yacht…but they’re still going to fall all over themselves in front of a girl and throw the guitarist overboard!

They speak briefly of Sing Blue Silver, and it is just about at this point when I begin to wonder if John knew he was going to be teaching Duran Duran 101 before doing the podcast. His reward for providing that knowledge is Delray’s reply “That thing is so great!”

Oh come on….you know you’re thinking the same thing I am. Did he really know what Sing Blue Silver was?

Power Station and an evolving Duran Duran

So here’s the thing, John gives a full narrative on how Power Station came to be. The two main highlights here are:

Had Robert Palmer agreed to tour with Power Station, John feels (in hindsight, mind you), that they would have continued on, but they wouldn’t have been as important as Duran Duran.

John has so much respect for Nile, it is truly inspiring. They talk about Nile and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Chic has been nominated eleven times. ELEVEN…and even then, only Nile has been honored with an award of excellence as a guitarist. John says he (Rodgers) wears that (the knowledge) very well, that if it were him, he’d be bitter.

As many probably recognize, it was during this period that Duran Duran really evolved from a five piece to a three piece band. Dean asks about the money and the fame. Rather than succumb to discussing what had been lost along the way, John turns it around.

“A run like that, sooner or later, has to end. The momentum of what you’ve done carries you. Objectivity of your work, it has it’s place.” He continues by saying, “Treat audiences and your band mates with respect, and you can have a career.”

Delray asked about Neurotic Outsiders, a project that – out of everything – he seemed the most familiar with. He cites the Viper Room and knows the people in the band. John explains that it was a good space for him to work through the burnout he’d had (for him, it was the second time he experienced burnout with Duran Duran), and to work on staying sober and being a decent parent. This was a way for him to still have fun, by playing a residency on Monday’s at the Viper Room.

New album and closing thoughts

They closed with a bit of news on the coming album – which I shared yesterday. I also took special note of a date that John mentioned while talking about Simon’s history with the band. As they chatted about the band’s beginnings, John commented that on July 1, 2020 – it will be the 40th anniversary for the current lineup. I know this has always been a sticking point for fans, many of whom claim that the band has somehow “missed” their own anniversary in 2018.

I’m the last person to tell Duran Duran what date should be celebrated, or how they should do so. My job is to applaud it. In the case of the date though, it would appear that they want to celebrate the time when Simon was in fact part of the band. This makes sense. After all, the Duran Duran we all tend to think of actually involves Simon! So, stop with the “they forgot to celebrate their anniversary” nonsense. They didn’t. Sure, they celebrated the inception of the band back when they did the 78-03 tour. That’s called “marketing”. It’s a thing, and it isn’t an affront to anyone. It also isn’t “confusing”….it was about selling tickets and hyping up their reunion as the original five. They came up with a slick way to make it all seem a lot less contrived than saying “Hey, we need to hit the road to see if anyone will even buy tickets to come see us.” There’s nothing wrong with that.

This band isn’t one for looking back – listen to any interview over the years, and they’ll tell you that themselves. We fans have made far more out of this 40th anniversary than anyone else likely intended, including the band and management. The sights are set incredibly high, and the expectations are out of this world. No matter what the band does at this point, it may not be enough to pacify. This is unfortunate. Listen to the podcast. The one thing John says that is key for Duranies in resetting their expectations, is that the band talked a lot about what to do (if anything) about the 40th anniversary. The one thing they agreed upon, was that the best way to celebrate their career next year was with new music.

Sounds great to me, John!

Wow, after that post, I need a break! Good thing today is my “Friday” for blogging! Happy Weekend, everyone!

-R

September 2019 Katy Kafe with Roger

There are days, and then there are days. Today is the latter. I’ve spent my morning neck deep in the throes of webhosting madness, and now I am rewarded with a new Katy Kafe!

Roger was still in LA for one more day before traveling home, and found time for a chat with Katy to fill us all in on the DD happenings over the summer.

Mini-Tour

They just finished the mini tour and KAABOO Festival in Del Mar (just north of San Diego). Roger said he loves touring the west, making note of our constant sunny days and the positive energy he felt from all of the audiences. He and Katy also made note of the audience in Tahoe, saying that they were surprised by the amount of people who came out to see the show, saying that it felt more like a festival. They moved Wild Boys to the encore that night and ended up doing four songs for what he thinks may have been the first time.

Roger commented that he was happy to get “Anyone Out There” back out, along with “Astronaut”, and mentioned how lucky they were to do the NASA gig, too. He ended by saying how it “gets to a point in life where you’re really happy to still be in the room”, referring to the hundreds of other bands out there who were just as talented, but for some reason didn’t go the distance.

Above Ground

While in LA, Roger found time to attend a charity show benefitting Above Ground, an organization committed to working with musicians with varying types of mental illness including depression. The show featured many artists, including Billy Idol, whom Roger met that night for the second time.

The first meeting took place many years ago after Billy and his band Generation X played at Barbarella’s in Birmingham. Roger told a story about how he’d gone to see them play (they were his favorite band at the time), and they were booed offstage! During that time in Birmingham, punk was still very much on the scene, and Generation X had begun to slide a bit more mainstream – which did not go over with the crowd. Roger met Billy and had him sign his Generation X album, which remains the only album Roger has ever gotten signed.

When Roger met Billy in Los Angeles, he shared the memory of the show at Barbarella’s, and Billy remembered. I loved the anecdote, simply because it is endearing to hear of my own biggest idol meeting his idol. The only difference is that I’m still shy enough to where if I ran into Roger, I’m not sure what I’d say!

Album update

I know everyone chomps at the bit to hear news of what may be on the horizon. I’m happy to say that Roger was pretty forthcoming! He didn’t even need much prodding, and said that they are pretty well advanced on the album, citing Erol Alkan’s influence as producer, “He has given us a good boot up the backside!” Katy asked if there would be other producers on the album, and Roger said they worked a little with Mark (Ronson), and that there has been talk of Giorgio Moroder…but the bulk of the album would be completed with Erol Alkan.

The greatest news is that they’re hoping to have the album out by SPRING…which is amazing. Roger said that they had really only gotten back into the swing of things this past year, which means they’ve worked at a pretty decent speed.

Katy spoke of how it has been five years in between Paper Gods and this one (assuming it is released in 2020). I took pause at that. Has it really been that long?? I suppose so. I know that Amanda and I have tried to talk about just about anything but the album they’re working on – figuring that it will happen when the band is ready. Meanwhile, I guess we’ve all been busy!

Paper Gods was released in 2015, but as Roger explained – they toured the album extensively for a couple of years. So while it will be five years in between albums, it doesn’t seem like it has been that long to me. I would also say that having the band break up that time with the occasional run of shows has also helped!

The touring question

That brought the discussion around to why they haven’t toured in many of the places fans wanted. **Please note the disclaimer here. Do not shoot the messenger. **

If the band was able to tour so much with Paper Gods, why is it they focused on so few regions of the world?

Roger was very clear, explaining that “in America in particular, people do not forget [them] and show the love.” They are able to fill arenas, no matter how long the span of time has been from show to show. Katy continued, saying that she feels bad because she receives emails from fans wondering why the band doesn’t go other places. She says they don’t understand that while “they, and their friends…and even their friends friends will go see them, that just isn’t enough to fill an arena.”

In order to make touring in many places of the world economically viable, they don’t just need to fill an arena once, either. They need to be able to fill more than one, multiple times. Otherwise, the cost to ship and rent equipment along with transportation, housing, food, etc etc means that essentially, the band would be paying to tour, which wouldn’t work for long.

Vegas Residency Revisited

Katy asked Roger if they’d do a Vegas Residency. In my head, they’ve just done one – having played the Chelsea at the Cosmopolitan six times over the past 18 months or so. That seems like enough, doesn’t it? Roger paused, and said that it would have to be something very cool, mentioning the show, Love, the Michael Jackson show, Cirque du Soleil and even Elton John. He mused over how it would be to stay in Vegas for any length of time, suggesting that it is not the same as LA or New York, and he doesn’t know if he’d like that. Katy suggested living in LA and then commuting to Vegas for weekends. While I don’t think a residency is really on their radar, it didn’t sound to me as though Roger was ready to write off the possibility, either. We’ll see!

New dates??

Katy suggested that maybe there might be new dates prior to the release of the album, saying that maybe the East Coast would get some love this time – although they did do the NASA show in Florida. So, my East Coast people – don’t be surprised if the band suddenly pops dates and pre-sales on you before the holidays!! That’s your warning….

Until next time…

-R

You Can Make Your Rhymes and Paint Your Rules

It’s hard to feel like blogging today. I tried staying off of social media over the weekend. This morning it is definitely no better. Reading the same thing 50,000 times does little to heal, nor does it seem productive if you’re really wanting to change things. I would rather spend the time with people I care about, can see, speak with, and respond to in person. So that’s what I’ve been doing, and it is what I intend to continue – a lot less social media, and a lot more “in person”.

At one time, I was a huge proponent of social media. Direct-to-fan marketing? YES! Fan-empowerment? 100% on board. I believed that social media was the way to bond with fans, and a great tool for marketing and promotion. I loved it all. What changed?

Thought that I was in control

I was just sitting here mulling over my social media trajectory as I considered what I’d write this morning. The idea that we could connect with others from all across the globe, using this wonderful conduit, sparked something in me. Virtually “meeting” people that I would have likely never had the opportunity to talk with otherwise, made the Duranie world feel so much more tactile and real. Message boards and social media made fandom fun. I wanted more.

I don’t think things can stay like that forever. For example, writing this blog now isn’t nearly the “wide-eyed and bushy-tailed” experience it was when we started, and that’s okay with me. I can only control what I write – not how readers respond to my words. Social media is the same. What was once pure fun for me, has turned into something quite different. I am still able to see the joy when I see posts from friends and they’re speaking about things in their personal lives or sharing pictures and things. Every once in a while a blog resonates with someone, or a complete stranger finds the website and feels compelled to connect with Amanda and I to say thank you or to excitedly share their feelings. Those moments are still golden and I appreciate them greatly.

On the other hand though, social media is a minefield. Sometimes I have to wonder if it’s just me or if others feel the same. I see posts from people, and immediately internalize them. It is unhealthy, and I am well-aware of when I’m allowing it to happen. Ultimately, I’ve gotten to the point where social media isn’t a friend, but rather – a foe.

Another trick of fate

Self-confidence is attractive. Conversely, it is never good when someone seems desperate, has little poise, or self-assurance. If I am not careful, I can easily slide down that hill into the woe-is-me cesspool, and I have zero interest in wallowing there. I can see that social media is the kind of kryptonite that can throw me there. While it can, and has built me up over the years, social media has also helped to tear me down.

Not being mentioned in a list of people that inspired a friend didn’t shove me into a cavern of despair. Seeing posts from people who have long since stopped being close confidants doesn’t make me wistful and sad for what once was. Reading tweet after tweet suggesting that wishing “thoughts and prayers” are now horrible things to say didn’t hurt me directly. Knowing that we didn’t even go a full 24-hours without a mass shooting didn’t altogether drive me over an edge. No. It is all of it, actually. All of it – collectively – made me see that social media is no longer my friend.

Nearly everyone has asked at one point or another why the band isn’t on social media anymore – at least beyond more than a post here or there. This morning, the nicest thing I saw on Twitter was from someone (*cough* Dom *cough*) who almost never posts. They retweeted a picture from freaking 2012. That was SEVEN years ago…and it was the best thing I saw in my timeline, amongst of all the other tweets (not specifically aimed at anyone) filled with vitriol, anger and insults. Seriously? That’s the best?

Gotta break it all

People like to blame a specific troll, or say it’s the “crazies” that drove band members like John from Twitter. Did you ever ask him personally? (I haven’t) What if it wasn’t any one thing? Maybe it was ALL of it. What if they realized that it just isn’t that helpful, and it really isn’t much fun? That’s where I’m at.

I don’t know what I’m going to do, or how to handle it. I’m still online, of course. Regardless of what I do in my personal life, Daily Duranie won’t be affected. I’ve talked about taking a break before, and for the most part I think I did. Maybe I need another, but perhaps I also just need to unplug a bit more extensively.

I don’t like being dramatic and announcing an exit. Fishing or sympathy or reassurance isn’t something I like doing. I truly hate seeing people beg not to be “cut” from the friend list, or what-have-you. If I’m going to cull my friends and followers, or if I’m going to completely quit social media in my personal life; readers are probably going to be the last to know. I’m not going to tell you all so that you can “kiss the ring” and stay. That’s kind of the opposite of the point.

That isn’t even the purpose of my writing about it here. I’m just wondering if anyone else feels the same. Social media is an integral part of being a fan. We all rely on it to stay connected. I’m just wondering how it would feel to disconnect myself, I guess. It feels so extreme. I wonder how other people manage it all. Any thoughts or ideas?

-R

Still In My Heart: Remembering Live Aid & The Power Station

By Jason Lent

Another Live Aid comes and goes and, as always, people have their annual chuckle about Simon LeBon missing a note during Duran Duran’s indifferent performance on the momentous day. For me, Live Aid arrived only four days after my first rock-n-roll concert and my ears were still ringing. As much as I wanted to see Duran Duran, it was The Power Station that had me glued to the television. A few nights earlier, my father took me to the outskirts of Florida civilization to witness John and Andy’s side-project at the infamous Hollywood Sportatorium. The excitement of seeing The Power Station certainly made it easier to accept the splintering mess that Duran Duran had become.


Duran Duran had played the Hollywood Sportatorium, affectionately called the Vomitorium for its lawless behavior, a year prior in March of 1984. Being a school night, I wasn’t able to convince my parents that it was the most important night of my life and I had to be there. They chalked it up to being a music crazed eleven year-old but I was serious. I knew Duran Duran were at their peak and I’ve always regretted missing that tour. My dad came through in 1985 and we stood in line for tickets as soon as the unexpected Power Station tour was announced. 


The videos for “Some Like It Hot” and “Get It On (Bang A Gong)” were colorful, sexy, and rocking. The album was an instant favorite for me whereas Arcadia’s album has taken years to fully win me over (and it has). For a first concert, I could do far worse than The Power Station and my excitement built and built as we drove down a one lane highway towards to Florida Everglades in the middle of empty fields. While South Florida eventually paved its way west into the Everglades, in 1985 the Sportatorium sat alone on the edge of civilization. We were on an adventure in my 12 year-old mind!


The decrepit arena lived up to its reputation. A few weeks earlier, a Robert Plant concert was postponed due to rain which wouldn’t be that odd except the Sportatorium was actually indoors! The crumbing ceiling was a sieve. Upon arrival, we climbed up the side of the concrete box to section 117 after a stop at the merch table to buy a concert program which I still have to this day. The scheduled support act Spandau Ballet had pulled out due to someone blowing out a knee and, I think, The Bongos might have opened the show. Can anyone confirm that? I just learned they had a song called “Barbarella” so there’s that. Regardless, I don’t remember the support act and the arena’s acoustics were a sound engineer’s nightmare so it could have been Poison and I wouldn’t have noticed.


Thinking back on concerts in the 1980s, I really miss the way they started. The excitement of the first song felt bigger back then from Jon Bon Jovi shooting from under the stage to Howard Jones’ mime winding up an audience. The opening riff of “Murderess” is still burned into my memory. As the curtains pulled back, Andy Taylor’s guitar sliced through the clouds of pot smoke and enveloped my entire being. This was rock-n-roll! I was hooked for life.  


The setlist was a mix of somewhat odd covers and the entire debut album. One of the biggest memories of the night was Miami Vice star Don Johnson joining the band on stage for a cover of  Rod Stewart’s “Some Guys Have All the Luck”. One of the most interesting songs would have been The Velvet Underground classic “White Light/White Heat” but I don’t remember it and I wouldn’t have known the VU back then. The Animotion cover of “Obsession” that DesBarres cowrote was a bigger deal to me on that night. Looking back at the setlist, I’m surprised that there were only two Duran Duran songs played (“The Reflex” and “Hungry Like the Wolf”) but I was so overwhelmed by the concert that I left on a high. 


A few days later, I spent a Saturday shifting from the living room couch to the front lawn to kick a soccer ball around awaiting the Duran Duran and The Power Station slots at Live Aid. The Power Station came out swinging at Live Aid, perhaps trying a little too hard. DesBarres runs all over the place while John and Andy play everything a little too fast. Tony Thompson, always a massive hitter, fills the stadium with ease but he was certainly thinking ahead to his set with Led Zeppelin a few hours later.


Next up was Duran Duran and it was quickly apparent that there was trouble in paradise. Roger Taylor looks completely sick of being in Duran Duran and the other four are clearly operating from two different camps. Andy Taylor sounds like he wants to bury Simon and Nick under a wall of distortion and John looks a bit ragged from his lifestyle. This is not a healthy band and Andy’s disgusted look to the stars when Simon misses the infamous note was a portent of what was to come. The fallout of Live Aid changed Duran Duran, and me, forever.


What happened after Live Aid comes back to me in pieces. I definitely didn’t buy Andy Taylor’s Thunder out of loyalty to Duran Duran but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the singles. The Power Station concert had opened my ears to dirtier guitars just in time for the rise of glam metal on MTV. When Notorious arrived, it was such a break from where Duran Duran had left off that it pushed me deeper into the world of Whitesnake and David Lee Roth, both of whom I saw at the Hollywood Sportatorium before it was torn down to the disappointment of absolutely no one. 


I finally saw Duran Duran in 1989 at the Miami Arena, which replaced the Sportatorium for us in South Florida. Empty seats and a lack of energy is what little I remember from the night. It was a difficult time to love Duran Duran but a lot of the songs on Big Thing and Notorious have aged better than Seven & the Ragged Tiger for me. Maybe The Power Station saved Duran Duran from themselves. It gave Andy an exit strategy, it finally forced them to address the divide that formed between the five men, and it forced Duran Duran to find a new sound in the aftermath. The Power Station also lit a fire in my soul for rock-n-roll that burns to this day. Other people have “cooler” first concerts to brag about but I wouldn’t trade that night in 1985 for any of them. 

Jason’s Power Station ticket from 1985!