Tag Archives: Tel Aviv

Duran Duran Demos: Trust the Process

As a Duran Duran fan, what is your dream day?  A dream day for me would end at a Duran show with good friends followed by an all-night party.  The rest of the day, though, I would love one thing.  I would love to be able to explore the Duran Duran vault where all songs, videos, pictures are kept.  Is there such a thing?  I’m not sure, but there really should be.

What would I be looking for in this magical vault or archive?  Simple.  I want to see and hear all of the material that I haven’t had the good fortune to watch/hear.  I can think of numerous examples.  Anyone remember a little documentary about the 2005 tour called Drama Americana that was never released?  I would love to see it.  There even was a trailer for it:

Of course, I’m sure that there is plenty of music that they created that we were never able to hear.  The most obvious example is Reportage, the album created after Astronaut that was shelved after Andy left and with the change in direction leading to Red Carpet Massacre.  If that wasn’t enough, I would love to hear demos of released songs.  One of the best features of those re-released box sets of the early albums was not only getting official remixes but often hearing demos, showing how much some songs changed.  The best example of this is Tel Aviv:

In thinking about all of the unreleased Duran material that exists, I wonder how they feel about those songs or versions that ended up on the cutting room floor.  Do they think they made the right choices with what they chose to be released or do they regret some of them?  Beautiful Colours is a demo that many Duranies have and desperately wish that it was included on Astronaut.  If you haven’t heard it, listen to it below and let us know if you agree that it should have been on the album:

Then, I wonder about the process they go through.  I think many of us have heard interviews in which they state that writing and recording usually begins with them “jamming” in a room together.  When they come up with something interesting, they try to form the song around what they discovered or something like that.  Every time I hear about this process I always think about how organic and natural it sounds.  I get the sense from this that they don’t try to force a certain sound or a specific type of song.

That said, I suspect that there are many steps, though, between grasping onto something cool and being ready to go on an album.  What I want to know more about is how they deal with questions about how they should proceed.  Say, for instance, they have something like a song that they had been working hard on but they know or someone else points out that there is something missing to the song.  How do they add or subtract or change to fill in the song, to make better, to make it ready to send out to the world?  What about those songs that they truly change like Tel Aviv?  Clearly based on the fact that some songs were never released, how and when do they decide to scrap a song?  Then, do they ever feel that they wasted their time?

I can imagine that it must be frustrated to work a song that ends up not going anywhere.  If that is the case, I wonder how they feel about albums that they created that never made it out of the recording studio.  Do they ever wish then to pick up those projects and finish them?  I know that many of the fans would really like them to see certain projects and songs through.  If they chose to just fix songs that were mostly done, maybe, the next album could be released sooner rather than later??

Overall, I find myself really wondering what their creative process really is.  As someone who is also working on a creative project, I bet that I could learn from them.

-A

The Joy of Demos

I was in the car this morning, and the demo version of “Nice” shuffled its way to the top of my iTunes.  I know I’ve had the song for a while, but I can’t remember how I ended up with it. It has been at least a couple of years since I sat and listened.

As it played, I thought about how far the song had come from the time it was recorded as a demo to the final version included on Astronaut. Aside from the chorus, which was much of the same, if not exactly the same as we heard on the album, the rest of the song definitely had some further evolving and retooling before any of us ever marched up to the counter of our local music store (I seem to recall there still being a few back then!) and purchased our copy of Astronaut in October of 2004.

When I hear demos like these, it reaffirms what I already know about myself: I am a music geek. I might not know many of the more  obscure bands out there – admittedly finding bands like that takes more time than I’ve really got these days to listen to music (something I wish I could change).  I am also not very good at being aware of every type of drum Roger has used or every single synthesizer Nick has used over the years, I’m just not quite that exacting with details. However,  I love being able to listen and discover the evolutionary paths the songs have taken on the journey to a finished album. I like hearing the way a bass line has changed, or how the final mix brings out certain tracks and leaves others to be more of a “suggestion” rather than full-blown. Perhaps, as it is in the case for “Nice”, the lyrics have taken a completely different turn. I like hearing that discovery, and in plenty of ways, it gives a little extra insight and minutia into the recording process, which is really cool.

I can’t say I am like that about many of my favorite bands. For instance, I have always had a fondness for Tears for Fears, but I don’t seek out their old demos – although I do have an album from back when they were called The Graduate, which was a cool find for me. I also have a few demos that The Killers have released on various remasterings or what-have-you, and while those are interesting, none of them hold the same sort of significance.

I remember when the remastered editions of the first album and Rio came out – I was more excited by the prospect of finally hearing a version of Tel Aviv, complete with vocals, than anything else. I listened to that song first, and wondered what made them change it. I remember listening to the original and Kershenbaum mixes over and over again, absorbing every last change and marveling over how something seemingly so subtle could make all the difference in the US market. It’s those types of stories that I enjoy most. I suppose part of that comes from studying pop culture, and seeing that yes, even with (or especially with) Duran Duran, who felt to me like they were so ahead of the time in 1982, the culture here in the US not only had to catch up, but in some ways Duran Duran even had to slightly alter themselves to be picked up by radio. Had any one thing changed in the way they were embraced here in America, perhaps that would have made the difference as to my own fandom – and that both fascinates and thrills me.

I’ve really enjoyed the few things the band has shared with us over the years – the demos, the stories, etc. Now that the catalog has been reunited under Warner, I hope that as the years go on we can expect to see more shared from the archives!

-R