Tag Archives: Roxy Music

There’s a Fine Line

If you’ve followed our blog for a reasonable length of time, you are probably aware that Amanda and I write about fandom. Rather than this blog being a constant, never-ending, series of love notes to Duran Duran, we write about being a fan. The act of being a fan. Additionally, we write about fandom studies (yes, there is an entire section of studies that focuses on fandom). Today’s blog is going to be a little bit of fandom studies, and a little more “being a fan”.

If I listen close

Who watched the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last weekend? If so, you were treated to seeing Janet Jackson, Stevie Nicks, Def Leppard, The Cure and of course, Roxy Music, (among others) inducted into the Hall of Fame. Naturally for Duran fans, the best part of the night was likely when John and Simon gave their speech for Roxy Music.

In full disclosure, I’d already seen their speeches prior to the show on HBO. So when I comment, I’m referring to what I originally saw in full, since HBO cut part of their time as the show went to air. Regardless, their speech impacted me in a few ways. For one, and likely the most important – I loved seeing just how vested John and Simon were in the moment. Clearly it was a point of pride to be chosen to honor Roxy Music. It wasn’t difficult to see that yes, they too are fans. I loved that. That validated so much for me. Overall, it confirmed that yeah, even rockstars can be fans of something. I also felt a great deal of pride hearing the thunderous applause from the crowd as John and Simon took the stage. Yes, there was also some screaming. Obviously, there were Duran Duran fans in the house.

I took the cheers as a positive. That seems like it should be obvious. There were plenty of people sitting in the audience that like Duran Duran. The applause was loud, and it was long. I may be reaching a bit, but it felt an awful lot like “we’re glad you’re here”, or “it’s about time your band is on this stage!” There were a great number of peers in the audience, in addition to fans.

I can hear them singers

Then of course, we’ve got to talk about the screaming. It was there and yes, it was hard to miss, particularly as John and Simon were trying to speak. I could have written the headlines I would eventually see the following day. As proud as I was to hear those cheers and screams, I had a feeling there would be a collective marginalization in 2019, just as there was in 1985.

I didn’t have to wait long, and in fact – DDHQ were the ones to find it for me. The web-mag Vulture carried an article titled “The Highs, Lows and Whoas of the 2019 Rock Hall Induction Ceremony”.

I knew this was a big mistake

The tongue-in-cheek subheading of “Whoa: The Horny Ladies of Barclays” did absolutely nothing to quell my concerns of depreciation, and I readied myself before reading on.

“At least, we think it was a terrific speech, as the near-constant screams from excitable women in the audience hindered Vulture’s transcription. Those ’80s New Wave heartthrobs — they’ve still got it!”

(Vulture.com “The Highs, Lows, and Whoas of the Rock Hall Induction Ceremony 4/27/2019, Devon Ivie, 2019 New York Media LLC)

The chosen title was bad, at least from where I sit. Horny ladies. Really? It couldn’t be that the women in the audience actually knew their career? Loved their music? Listen, I’m no fool, and I do have eyes. Of course John and Simon are good looking men. I wouldn’t dare suggest otherwise. I just don’t see a whole lot of critics or music journalists commenting on the libido of male fans just because an audience happened to cheer loudly for a female artist. Why is that, exactly?

Then there’s the actual text, which doesn’t really make the sting any less painful. Duran Duran has been in existence now for over 40 years. 14 studio albums, a zillion (highly technical term that means “many more than I can count!” tour dates, millions of albums sold, and several personnel changes later, it still comes down to the fact that they attracted a largely female audience in the 80s? Really? Nothing else they’ve ever done or will ever do matters because I (and many others like me) once had my bedroom walls completely lined with their pinups? The time has come to stop equating the band’s entire career with the words “New Wave Heartthrobs”. For crying out loud it is 2019, people. At least get creative with your dismissive comments.

Give me strength, at least give me a light

Many took the comments from Vulture as positive. Certainly, some will say I’m too serious or that I should lighten up. Indeed, I saw many fans – mostly female – respond online, giggling over being called “horny”, some going as far as to agree. If guys whistle and cat call while you’re just trying to walk down the street, do you laugh and flirt back, or do you show annoyance? To me, it is the same thing. It comes down to deciding how people are going to treat you.

The slope is slippery. A male fan can hit it off with a band member and say “Hey, we should keep in touch” or, “Come hang out with us and have drinks”, and no one thinks he’s trying to make a pass at them. Should a woman dare to do similarly, and suddenly it’s assumed they must want something entirely different. It is asinine, and yes, I speak from personal experience. I’m 100% over it. My God, I’m 48, married, and have three kids. The LAST thing I need is another man assuming I’m ready to jump his bones. I could, however, always use more good friends. This isn’t difficult, people.

If it had been mostly males cheering in the audience that night – I can guarantee there wouldn’t have been anything written about the band being 80s heartthrobs. Instead, their enduring talent and legacy would be heralded. Their looks would have never been mentioned, much less the sexual drive of the audience in question.

It is 2019. I’m over it.

-R

Heroes Inducting Heroes

Those words are all remainders

Hello Monday! I solemnly swear this is not an April Fools post.

(I must admit considering the possibilities of writing a piece on the gem-like qualities of “Read My Lips”. However, I decided that today required something a little different. I’ll leave that other task to those slightly more inspired!)

Instead, this is a post that I have been itching to write since Friday. My heroes inducted heroes of their own into the Rock and Roll Music Hall of Fame. Distance, and lack of invitation or tickets kept me from being there myself (of course!). I just waited patiently, curious about what John and Simon would say about Roxy Music.

Sitting here at home, social media was abuzz with activity. Duran Duran fans flitted from one platform to another, building their arguments for why Duran Duran should already be inducted. I saw many suggest that it was even insulting to John and Simon for needing to lend their kind words to such a ceremony. Was that really the case? I thought about that a lot over the weekend.

Echoes growing in the heart of twilight

Much has been written and said about the Hall of Fame over the years. Read any article about the nominees of any given year and you will find a plethora of opinionated fans responding below. Words such as “politics”, “overrated”, “underrated”, “joke”, “overlooked” and “ignored” dot the comments like punctuation in a grand essay on the history of rock music.

It would also be true that Amanda and I – perhaps more me than Amanda – have lent our voices to the side that says none of it matters. And really, the Hall of Fame doesn’t “matter”. It is no different than any other sort of recognition in that sense. The notation is wonderful to have, but it certainly isn’t the kind of thing one should campaign to receive.

Whether or not a band or artist has been inducted into the Hall of Fame does little to vindicate, or validate. My opinion is simply that the band’s history – in this case I mean Duran Duran’s – speaks for itself. An induction into the Hall of Fame isn’t going to suddenly convince anyone of their greatness. By the same token, I am not saying they aren’t worthy of such an honor. I just don’t happen to believe they need me, or anyone else, to beg or campaign their peers to bestow such a distinction.

Awaken all those whispers

Getting back to Friday night – it was a different story. John and Simon were asked to induct a band that is as important to them as Duran Duran is to me – or likely anyone else reading. Roxy Music was their inspiration, and a driving force behind their career. While my
“career” as a blogger is “slightly” less fortuitous, I am indeed a fan. Duran Duran is 100% my inspiration. Obviously. So, I can fully imagine their joy, admiration, respect, and honor in taking the stage for Roxy Music. Even as I strained to hear their speech on a YouTube video, it was plain to see their pride. My emotions swelled. After all, my heroes were inducting their own heroes. The thunderous applause when they took the stage was all I needed to remind myself of one thing – Duran Duran is loved by many.

I also felt something very different while listening to John’s tale of waiting backstage at the Odeon. He and Nick were there in 1974 (I was four years old at the time – which makes me laugh!!), listening to Roxy Music’s soundcheck. It was as though I were listening to a friend tell a story about fandom. In fact, I am nearly certain we’ve all done similar things over the years. Who wouldn’t have run to the back of a venue if one could hear Duran Duran soundcheck? For example, I remember waiting in 95-degree heat outside of the backlot venue for Jimmy Kimmel Live. I could hear Duran Duran play “You Kill Me with Silence” live for the first time. Adrenaline coursed through my veins because in a few hours, I knew I’d be in front of them for the first time in a couple of years. So exciting!

John spoke about seeing the black Mercedes pulling up, band members rushing out, piling into the car and speeding away. More than once I’ve been amongst the gathering of fans at the back entrance of a venue, waiting to see the band emerge. The thrill is intoxicating, and John communicated those feelings like…well…like any other fan I’ve ever met.

This brings me to one thing I feel most confident in saying about John. He knows what being a fan is like. I don’t think he’s entirely forgotten what it feels like to be one of us. During the four and a half minutes or so that he spoke (their entire speech was just under nine minutes I believe), he conveyed the feelings I have whenever I see Duran Duran. A thrilling mixture of pride and joy, adrenaline and emotion, inspiration and comfort flow through me – every single time. Seeing John and Simon speak of the very same things that have kept me engaged with Duran Duran over the years reminded me once again, we really are not so different.

All these faces look the same to me

John and Simon were not two men forced to eat a generous slice of humble pie while inducting Roxy Music into a club that has not accepted them. No, these were two men overjoyed by being able to recognize the band that made Duran Duran what it is today. These were two fans inducting their heroes. To say otherwise completely defeats the messages that John and Simon were trying to communicate. Everything they said, all of the body language present that night indicates just the opposite: they were proud to be there.

I was proud to watch them, if even after the fact. I can’t imagine what it must have felt like to induct their heroes. Oddly, I almost think it is more of an honor to be the one inducting than it is to be the one inducted. After all, how many people get the opportunity to gush over the career of a hero?

Well, besides this blog, anyway…and to have the heroes actually listen? I cannot imagine ever being quite so lucky to have the honor.

I must be chasing after rainbows

So, to my fellow fans commiserating over Duran’s obvious absence in the Hall of Fame – it was no insult for them to be there that night. Never think that. Instead, I earnestly recommend focusing on the obvious pride they took while inducting Roxy Music. Sometimes, the real rewards don’t come packaged in a trophy or plaque, or in ways we might easily notice. Taking those accolades from the band purely because we fans don’t like the box is unfair. It does a great disservice to the very people we admire most.

-R

Thank You, You’re Welcome (Part Two)

Having “covered” who would do some amazing Duran Duran songs in Part 1, I’m ready to take a deep breath and assess Thank You. Was it the worst album of all-time as some snarky critics have said? Of course not. Something called nu-metal locked down the top spots years ago. However, it was a misguided album born from good intentions. Let’s try to figure out what went wrong.  

David Bowie’s Pin Ups seems to be the logical impetus for this project given the song choices. Bowie’s decision to cover The Yardbirds, Pink Floyd, and The Who was unexpected and Bowie knew that. Coming off Aladdin Sane, Bowie was at the peak of his creative powers and Pin Ups remains one of the most challenging and rewarding covers albums of all-time. It isn’t a stretch to think a band which emerged from the New Romantic scene born, at least partially, from Bowie’s artistic vision would try to emulate the project. 

Duran Duran were riding high after “Ordinary World” and “Come Undone”, so they had some creative and commercial freedom when they undertook Thank You. History has shown that the band often does their least interesting work in such situations. From Seven & the Ragged Tiger (saved commercially by a remix of “The Reflex” that wasn’t on the album) to Paper Gods, the band’s follow-up to a truly special album has been uneven at best. Thank You falls into that category but imagine what could have been if they took a slightly different path. 

Thank You Redux

1. Grandmaster Flash & Melle Mel – White Lines

Such a fun cover that it has to stay. The band’s roots in NYC club culture via Birmingham justify this crossover into hip-hop. They could have taken this somewhere special, though, if they had paid respect to Liquid Liquid’s “Cavern” at the same time since that is where Melle Mel “borrowed” the song from.

2. I Wanna Take You Higher David Bowie – Fashion

As much as “Ashes to Ashes” makes sense, “Fashion” would be a more fitting Duran Duran song. John Taylor’s bass guitar would suit this track and Warren’s guitar playing fits the solo like a glove. You HAVE to have at least one Bowie song on the album, right?

3. Lou Reed – Perfect Day

A surprisingly well conceived cover of Lou Reed that pays homage without trying to change who they are as a band. It has a beautiful polished sound and LeBon’s vocal works. There is a hint of despair in his voice and the production keeps every instrument in their lane. There is restraint in the playing that would have served the band on the rest of the album. 

4. Watching the Detectives Roxy Music – Both Ends Burning

Another field day for John Taylor on bass and an appropriate nod to one of the biggest influences on Duran Duran in Roxy Music. All these years later, Duran are inducting Roxy Music into the rock-n-roll hall of fame because the connection is so strong. If you listen to “Planet Earth”, you can hear some influence from this song on Siren. A lesser known Roxy song works well here because the most popular stuff would be difficult for Duran Duran to re-invent in a unique way.

5. Lay Lady Lay New York Dolls – Lonely Planet Boy

I never hated this cover but the guitar tone was “Come Undone” all over again. Dylan influenced everyone so there is no need to point it out. I’m leaving T. Rex out of the discussion since the band (i.e. Nick) would have never allowed them to cover it in the wake of The Power Station. This New York Dolls song is begging to be turned into a synth-pop dance song like Duran pulled off with Bowie’s “Boys Keep Swinging”. 

6. 911 Is A Joke Blondie – Fade Away and Radiate

Yeah, it is cool to namecheck Public Enemy to earn hipster points but no, just no. The band owes a huge debt to Blondie for bringing dance music into punk and for giving the band a support slot when Duran Duran were trying to crack America. This moody track from Parallel Lines has enough texture to satisfy Nick and Warren in equal measure. And why not bring in Clem Burke on drums for this cover? 

7. Iggy Pop – Success

It works. Only Duran Duran could turn an Iggy Pop song into a Gary Glitter stomp. Given the band’s commercial highs and lows, it could almost be the theme song for their career. Turn it up!

8. Crystal Ship The Normal – Warm Leatherette

The band already showed how good this sounded during a tour and this is the most seminal track in the history of synth-pop. The Doors cover sounded like a cloud of pot smoke which isn’t the Duran Duran way. Bonus connection: Grace Jones covered this once.

9. Ball of Confusion Japan – Gentlemen Take Polaroids

Let’s see. Nick Rhodes “borrowed” his look from Japan’s David Sylvan. The Japan albums were a direct precursor to Duran Duran’s sound with funky bass lines and sweeping synths.  And, best of all, this cover would be a cheeky nod to “Girls On Film” which, for all I know, was a concept lifted from this Japan song. Too close to home? Perhaps, but Duran Duran earned their success and a little nod to Japan is warranted.

10. Thank You Sister Sledge – Lost In Music

Don’t touch Zeppelin. Every instrument in Zeppelin comes from the opposite place of Duran Duran. There has to be a shout-out to Nile Rodgers somewhere on Thank You Redux and I think “Lost In Music” would keep the band in a safe place for a disco cover. This could be played loud with a hint of the “White Lines” sound they had at this time. Turn it into a real rocker without losing the dance vibe. It would be dangerously fun live. 

11. Drive By

It doesn’t fit into a covers album and I need to save space so this album will fit on vinyl. 

12. I Wanna Take You Higher Again ESG – My Love For You

Maybe a little obscure at the time but ESG’s influence has come full circle in music. They have been sampled (mostly illegally) by hundreds of rap producers and their funky dance sound influenced everything from post-punk to house music. Rather than Public Enemy, Duran Duran can point to ESG as an influential band on their modern mix of funk, rock, and dance music without sounding so desperate. Duran Duran could have a lot of fun with this track especially if Nick added some melodic synths over the melody

July 2016 Katy Kafe with Roger!

Today brought a rare treat!  Not only a Katy Kafe with Roger, but one that could be shared with Amanda, as she is currently sitting at my kitchen table with me!

That’s right, Amanda is here in lovely (and hot) Southern California. She arrived late last night, and we are preparing for our next road trip, which will commence tomorrow!

Roger was sitting in for Simon, who was resting his voice on a day off.    This time, Katy asked for questions from the fan community, which she then relayed to Roger to answer. I took notes, but keep in mind these are only the highlights.  The actual Katy Kafe is a member’s only exclusive available on duranduranmusic.com.

Nick

Obviously, Nick has been absent from the US tour thus far, but Roger feels the shows have gone well considering. He says that people seem to be loving the show as well as the more recent songs included from Paper Gods.  He commented that MNDR is doing well filling in, and that it’s stranger than he thought it would be playing without him. Roger has never played a Duran Duran show without Nick being in his line of sight, and they hope that Nick will be back soon.

Besides your drums and drumsticks, what is one thing you must have with you on tour?

There are two things Roger has to have with him: his MacBook and his iPhone (he really is not an ad for Apple….) while these things aren’t particularly mind-blowing, Roger did have an interesting anecdote to share about growing up. His family did not have a phone in the house!  He said that the UK was about ten years behind the US as far as that type of technology goes…but even so….WOW.

If you could play onstage with anyone, who would you choose?

Roger mentioned three:  Nile Rodgers, Bryan Ferry, and David Bowie.  Obviously, they’ve had the opportunity to play with Nile lately, which has been a treat for everyone—band and audience alike. Bryan Ferry went on before Duran Duran at one point, and made sure to stop by to see the band in their dressing room to say hi.  Roger said that it was strange having him go on before they did because he had been their idol, but that he and John stood off to the side of the stage for Bryan’s set.  Then there’s David Bowie, with whom the band toured after Roger had already left Duran Duran (1987). Unfortunately they didn’t have a chance to actually play with Bowie in recent years before his death. I have to mention that even after six months, the sadness and pain is still palpable in their words and voices whenever David comes up in conversation, which makes me sad for them. I can’t imagine.

Were you always passionate about the drums or has there ever been another instrument you’ve played?

Interestingly enough, the first instrument Roger played was bass. He wanted to learn something because his friends were all taking up instruments, and so he started on bass. Then one day he sat down behind a drum set, and it felt much more natural. he talked about he didn’t want a “normal job” (I’d say Duran Duran is about as far from that as possible!), but that his parents kept telling him that the likelihood of finding fame and fortune as a rock star was “like winning the lottery.” Roger commented that it was a combination of luck with preparation and opportunity.  Even so, guess what Roger? You won!

You’re far more vocal now than you were in the 80s. Do you view the spotlight different now?

Roger says that a lot of it had to do with growing up. It was easy for him to hide behind the others when he was younger since he was quiet and shy.  The work he did on the drums did his speaking.  He also surmises that he really didn’t know himself when he was 20, so when he returned, he decided that he was going to be himself.   This led Katy to chime in saying that if she were to give her children advice it would be not to get married before they are 30 because you really do not know yourself before that. Yes, there are exceptions to that rule, but overall, it’s a good point.  (As someone who married very young at the age of 24 and was a mom by 26, I TOTALLY AGREE.)

What has been your favorite show on the tour so far?

Roger has a list of favorite shows! The O2 in London was packed to the rafters, and the audience was fantastic. He commented that “it’s not work” on nights like that because “you just float through the performance.” He mentions the festival in Ottawa, and then says that all of the concerts in Canada had great energy and they loved it. Red Rocks and the Hollywood Bowl were also high on the list, as well as the legendary Apollo in NYC.

Does anyone in the band have any weird habits?

Simon has a “weird warmup” where he makes strange noises, and he even does this thing where he goes “shhhhhhhh” and Roger says that he wonders sometimes if Simon is just shushing them!

Nick is weird about not wearing jeans or baseball caps, and he also doesn’t drink hot drinks.  Also, Nick does not like being in the lobby of a hotel unless everyone else (in the band) is already down there.

John, on the other hand is “pretty normal”. “he’s intense”, Katy adds. He does have to warm up for an hour as some sort of ritual before a show, though.

Finally, Roger’s weird thing is that he does not eat fruit aside from the occasional banana.

What drummer(s) inspired your career?

Roger says there were really three who inspired his style and career: Paul Thompson from Roxy Music, Dennis Davis (who passed away just this past April) from David Bowie’s band, and Charlie Watts.  In fact, whenever he is sore from playing, he reminds himself that Charlie Watts is still playing and he’s 75.  So there you have it!

Would you ever consider writing your own autobiography?

Roger says he probably will, but not yet. He still feels like there might be more to the story to tell.

What is your guilty (eating) pleasure while on tour?

Roger confesses that he is a bit of a choco-holic!  Katy questions whether he likes milk or dark chocolate and Roger responds saying that the dressing room is filled with dark chocolate and yet he’s on the hunt for a milk chocolate bar that he typically finds at the very bottom of the basket of chocolates. He’ll grab it and then after the show he’ll eat the bar. (I have to share that when I heard that, I said “The entire BAR?” Good on you, Roger. Have some for me too as I can only have one square at a time!!)

That was the final question for the July 2016 Katy Kafe. One thing I like about Roger these days is that he’s chattier than I remember. It’s nice to hear from him, because a lot of times during interviews it doesn’t seem like he has much to say (thanks to editing I am sure).  It was the perfect Kafe to get me ready for heading out for more shows!

-R