Tag Archives: Warren Cuccurullo

Here’s one you don’t compromise

Every once in a while I run across something – an interview or video clip – that I’ve never seen before.  This happened today as I stumbled across a complete, uncut version of an interview I vaguely remember…maybe…from a long time ago, but I had not seen the full-length interview before.

I could commentate on many, many things here – it’s nearly 38 minutes in length and I had plenty of time to notice everything from John’s chiseled chin and cheekbones to Nick’s lip liner and Simon’s hair – but one thing that overshadowed everything else for me was the amount of anger Simon, Nick & John had towards Andy at the time. There were comments made about his personality, about his inflexibility (with regard to the writing of Wild Boys, which comes near the end of the interview) to the court case that Simon, Nick & John were hoping to win in 1987 against Andy.  There was no love lost between any of them at this point, and during the interview they even made strides to make sure it was understood that Roger and Andy left the band under very different circumstances. I have to admit that it all had me wondering, more than once, how a band this far apart could have ever even considered getting back together.

Of course now we know that the “back together” part of the story wasn’t meant to last. None of us, well…probably very few of us…really know what happened. We can make assumptions, surmise…even make an educated guess, but we weren’t there. It was a great time while it lasted, but it certainly wasn’t meant to last.

In amongst the discussion and perfectly placed stabs in Andy’s direction, John makes mention of Warren and how he was on the album (Notorious) and would be touring with the band, but that he was not a “member”. John’s comments were that the three of them (Simon, Nick and himself) were just too close to allow someone in. They were a solid unit, and Warren would only be a part of the touring band. And the writing band… But not the official band.  Sound at all familiar?

The reality of course is that Warren *did* become a part of the band, for better or worse, and of course opinions to that placement are as varied as the personalities of Duranies across the world. What’s more, this is a subject that, to this very day, is STILL debated with relish within the community. As it turns out, we Duranies take our guitar players seriously. Perhaps even more seriously than does the band (so it seems)…although I suspect if asked, any one member of Duran Duran might have a little something to say about that.

The other day…I believe it might have been Monday, actually, I noticed that DDHQ picked Dom’s FB page as the “Page of the Week”.  They called him the “guitar extraordinaire”, which I thought was nice…as well as completely accurate. (My bias is already showing, and I’m not apologizing.) I was thrilled to see that several had commented that he should be made an official member, and I agreed with those people.  Even if I don’t necessarily think it WILL happen…I can certainly agree that I wish it would, and I do.  For me, it’s every bit as easy as saying that I love the rest of the band. But, on the other side, there are still many that believe the only person who should be on guitar is Andy Taylor. Still others feel the spot belongs to Warren…and to some degree, each one of us is right.

While I suppose I could comment on our tenacity to continue debating about people who haven’t played with the band in a very long time, and I could continue to argue here on the blog….what good would it really do?  No, in this case what I find most incredible is the function of the community as a whole.

Amanda and I have spent the better part of five years studying and writing about fan communities.  We learned what makes a community. One of the things we discuss in our manuscript is that communities – groups of people – create their own culture. They make up their own dialogue, their own way of speaking, communicating…even their own look.  We talk about how this continued dialogue between community members brings about general consensus.  For example, we might say that a general consensus about Duran Duran is that the band looks good in eyeliner…or that this is a band who likes the finer things in life. (these are JUST HYPOTHETICAL EXAMPLES) The point being, we’ve all talked about these subjects or thought about them in our heads for long enough that it’s just accepted thought by the majority of fans. What is especially interesting to me about the Andy, Warren, Dom debate is that the general consensus here is that there will never really BE a consensus. It isn’t always the case that a community agrees, and this is certainly one topic where there may never be an answer. This, along with a myriad of other topics I am sure…will always be a source of debate amongst fans, regardless of the stance one takes.

With that in mind, watch the video – it’s really fascinating to sit back and watch it in hindsight.

-R

 

Today in Duran History – VH1 Storytellers

On today’s date in 2000, VH1 Storytellers aired in the UK.

I found a clip of this on YouTube, and what I like about it is that the person who uploaded it ONLY recorded the stories…not that I don’t want to hear the music, but I think the very best part of this show is the stories about each of the songs, because even at a show, we rarely hear the insight that goes along with the music. Take a look!

Additionally, a very happy birthday goes out to Amber LeBon, who was born on this date in the year *gasp* 1989!! 

 

-R

 

If Notorious and Big Thing Could Talk…

by C.K. Shortell

Sometimes, I think Duran Duran albums talk to each other. Specifically, they talk to their predecessor. I remember the first time I listened to The Wedding Album and hearing the line “You rescued me from liberty” in Love Voodoo, and wondering if I was reading too much into the lyric to wonder if Simon wasn’t taking a shot at the last album.  Or the beginning of “Hold Me,” when he starts with “This time…” — somehow I got into my head that “Hold Me” was one of the first songs written for Notorious and that line/ad lib was basically Simon’s way of expressing the uncharted territory the band was in, now down to a trio.  Additionally… all the lyrics to “Still Breathing,” which I took as a declaration against the previous lineup of the band. I can’t prove any of this, it’s just in my head when I listen to these songs and albums.

This topic circles in my head for a few reasons. First, we are between albums. Speculation abounds about the sound of DD14. We know the band never does the same thing twice. We also know that, on AYNIN, they finally felt comfortable “reclaiming” some of that old ground/sound. So what will happen on the next album? In what way will it be a reaction to what they did on AYNIN?

Additionally, Notorious, the album, has been in heavy circulation on my iPod for the last few months. I think there are a lot of parallels between Notorious and All You Need Is Now. Both feature very strong title tracks that will likely be a staple of the band’s live set as long as they continue to tour (I don’t think it’s going out on a limb to say that the song AYNIN will continue to be featured, but you never know).   Both were heavily anticipated after a pause in the band’s career in which it was uncertain what direction they would take. Both were heavily influenced/co-written by the album’s producer, and both featured a mix of guest musicians on other tracks (and in the case of Notorious, it remains the only Duran album that features the work of both Andy and Warren).

Why do I bring up these parallels? I am trying to draw conclusions about DD14, and I think we might gain insight by understanding the relationship between Notorious and its follow-up, Big Thing.

I’ve always viewed Notorious as being a very solid, “orderly” album, with perfect alignment between the A and B sides, the Hitchcock theme, and the neatly packaged video that tied back to the album artwork. Big Thing is the exact opposite. It’s noisy, disorganized, loud (at least the first half), moody (the second half) and unconventional. Notorious features a virtual all-star cast of guest musicians, including Nile Rodgers, Andy, Warren, and Steve Ferrone, not to mention the album cover featuring super model Christy Turlington. Big Thing boasts no such lineup—it is the truly the first (and ultimately only, as it would turn out) Taylor-Rhodes-LeBon collaboration, with Warren sprinkled in, albeit in a non-writing role.  On Notorious, the songs tend to follow the standard verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge/chorus/outro format, which the exception of Winter Marches On. On Big Thing, it’s the exception when a song follows that format. Notorious is defined by its title track; the song Big Thing mocks itself and the music industry in general, and is probably one of the more forgettable songs on the record.

When John, Nick, and Simon hosted an hour-long countdown of their favorite Duran videos on MTV in 1988, they commented that on Notorious, they were very polite to each other and trying to figure out how to function as a band. Not so during the Big Thing sessions, where “we were all screaming at each other.” This is not surprising. The trio had weathered the uncertainty of the Notorious era; they had put out an album and toured and had success despite the loss of Andy and Roger (of course, they were no longer the biggest band in the world, but at least they knew there was still an audience for their music, albeit a smaller one than before).

So, with that out of the way, they pushed themselves creatively on Big Thing. What resulted was an album of disparate sides: the first consisting mostly of noisy, dance “house” music, and the second slower, moody ballads. Side one featured the hit single “I Don’t Want Your Love,” that is possibly the band’s most underrated and forgotten hit (and one of my personal favorites), and the follow-up single “All She Wants Is” which didn’t chart as well, but did see a lot of club play. The B-side is built around the lush anthem “Land,” one of the longer Duran songs in the catalogue that clocks in at just over six minutes. Preceding it are the haunting “Do You Believe in Shame?” and airy “Palomino.” I remember first listening to Big Thing and strongly disliking the second side, and then about a week later I had a strange tune stuck in my head…and it turned out to be “Palomino.”

Conversely, I did love “Edge of America” the minute I heard it, and still do to this day. And I always have considered “Edge of America” and “Lake Shore Driving” to be one song, even if they have different titles and are on separate tracks. It’s an unconventional way to end Big Thing but it works, as the Nick’s synths and Warren’s guitar bring the proceedings full circle to how the album started.

There are many other details about Big Thing that we could cover (the two different producers, the controversy over the mixes of “Drug” that highly annoyed John, etc.) but those can be left to another blog. The question is, how can Big Thing’s differences from Notorious inform us as to DD14’s differences from AYNIN?

For starters, I suspect that there will be more of a balance between ballads and dance songs on DD14. AYNIN was heavily skewed toward upbeat music (much like Notorious) with several well-placed slower songs to even out the album’s pacing. I think it’s natural for the band to be inclined to write some more moody material after an album as upbeat as AYNIN.

And speaking of the band…by all accounts, it’s just them, just like it was on Big Thing. Or at least it’s more of “just them” than the AYNIN sessions, which included Mark Ronson, Ana Matronic, Kelis, Owen Pallett, and Nick Hodgson, as well as newscaster Nina Hossain. There was a report that Ronson worked with them initially but every quote I’ve read since indicates that it’s just the five (Rhonda says four…because we certainly don’t hear much of Dom being there lately. Just saying..) of them in the studio.

Is this a good thing or not? I think time will tell. Duran has made some tremendous music when they close ranks and keep it “in house”—see Big Thing and The Wedding Album and Astronaut, at least as originally conceived. But therein lies my concern: Duran Duran also seems to make ill advised decisions when there is no outside producer to referee things. (I’m convinced that Ronson or even Timbaland—yes, Timbaland—or any of us, for that matter—would have told them to keep “Beautiful Colours” and “Salt in the Rainbow” on the Astronaut album.  As it was, they went through three producers on that one.)

Do you think I’m reading too much into the relationship between Notorious and Big Thing to infer anything from AYNIN and DD14? And are you worried about the apparent lack of an outside producer tied to this project?

438d2-ckshortellC.K. Shortell is a lifelong Duran Duran fan who lives in the northeast with his wife and two sons, one of whom loves watching concert footage of the band.  When he’s not struggling to explain to a two year old why the guitarist always looks different or just what exactly Nick is doing, C.K. is constantly reminding co-workers and friends that the band never broke up.

 

Daily Duranie Guest Blog – Just Very

Today we’re very lucky to have a guest blog from none other than Fabiana Torras, who along with her cohorts from Argentina, were the winners of the TV Mania Franchise contest with their song “Just Very”.  Fabiana explains all about the franchise, and how they created such a brilliant entry!

By Fabiana Torras

The idea of the TV Mania franchise was to open things up for people to become TV Mania elsewhere, as explained on the TV Mania website. We figured people could be TV Mania by actually following our Manifesto and for fun, and actually adhering to certain principles that TV Mania has, like using samples of people talking along with rhythm boxes and sampled analog synthesizers, and then putting it all together.  So you just simply apply for a license to be TV Mania. So, If you´re in…Buenos Aires, and you wanna be TV Mania Buenos Aires, you have a look and then you apply and we give you an official TV Mania license. And then you can perform, send us music and video material, remixes, anything you like, and we put them up on the site. So we´re hoping that there´ll be a lot of TV Manias around the world”. – Nick Rhodes (answering my question at a TV Mania event in Second Life)

TV Mania for Daily Duranie 4 Manifesto
In case you ever wondered what that TV Mania Manifesto was really all about…

That might just be the best answer I ever received to a question  I asked. As an extra bonus, it was Nick Rhodes who answered it. On that exact day, March 2nd 2013, not only did I receive an answer to what I wanted to know on the first of the Second Life TV Mania events; I also got the name of the future franchise Gerardo, Pablo and I would apply for: TV Mania Buenos Aires.  This was not an instant thing, though. We had to wait for six months for the franchise to be up and running, but at this point we all know Durantime affects side projects as well, don´t we?

Last September, as soon as the franchise was up, we applied and got the confirmation email with our name´s approval and the download links for the “Franchise Pack”, which included samples and music of the songs Euphoria, Beautiful Clothes, Paramount and I Wanna Make Films. We were in! All we needed now was an idea and time to make it happen.

Our first meeting was set on a Friday night after we all got off work, mostly to discuss what direction our project would take. To be honest, we didn´t actually meet face to face until there was a deadline; as much as we loved the idea of “being the band” and enter a contest with absolutely fantastic prizes for any Duranie, everyday life makes you so tired that sometimes if someone doesn´t push you, you just do not move (See? Limits are good!). We had to make a song or a remix and shoot some video for it, since every song you sent was going to be uploaded to TV Mania´s official Youtube playlist. And from the first moment we started thinking about our franchise project, we all agreed it had to be something related to our local TV and the video had to show our city to the world, but in a “TV Mania” sort of way.

A list of famous phrases from Argentine TV was made and we recorded about 50 at Pablo´s home (he has a little studio of his own there), but ended up using only 9 of those. You can hear the three of us on our track, along with Pablo´s wife, Cecilia, who was very happy to help. We also wanted to include samples of Nick and Warren in our song, so we asked permission to use the audios of the Second Life events to sample the guys and we were very happy to get a green light from TV Mania. There was a precious bit of Nick we were dying to use where he said “TV Mania Buenos Aires”; I mean, we just had to have that, right?

Once we chose the bits of Nick and Warren that were going to be used, we wrote and recorded the samples in English (it is my voice you hear, by the way), and afterwards we began to write the music, which was completely new. We decided not to use anything from the downloaded franchise pack and try to come up with something fresh and original, respecting the TV Mania essence. For the video, the plan was to film different Buenos Aires landmarks and ourselves in what we thought could be TV Mania-esque outfits and colours.  That was how “Just Very” was born.

Here’s the video link to watch for yourselves!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WLnDzsAlDE

Now, as I write and tell you all of this, I get the feeling it doesn´t seem to be that hard, does it? But there are lots of things you need to know how to do in order to make all of this happen. It´s not that easy to make and mix music, operate a camera and film proper video, edit both music and video, and I am not counting the “standing in front of a camera” process which many people may find uncomfortable (with zero budget, little time and no volunteers, it´s you and you alone doing that!). There were many things we had to use to accomplish our goal and I am glad we were such a great team, because I know that I alone could never have done what we did as a group.

Nevertheless, being more than one person doing something together means you have to find a common ground to stand on when you make decisions, and you can trust me when I say that isn´t always a simple task.  For example, when the time of sending the final song to TV Mania came some of us did not want to include the samples in Spanish and some of us did. It took us a LONG TIME to agree on that. In the end, we put it to a vote and decided to send an “Ambient Mix” of our song that didn´t have samples in Spanish. For the video of that one, we simply added some colour effects to the original one and sent both “Just Very” and “Just Very (Ambient Mix)” for approval.

A few hours later we got the news of our videos being up on the official TV Mania Franchise Playlist on Youtube, and a couple of deadlines later (the contest deadline was pushed twice extending it for 2 and a half months) we found out via TV Mania´s Twitter account that we were the TV Mania Franchise Grand Prize winners for “Just Very”.

To this day, we still think it´s a dream….which is why I’ve included this photo (a memento from the Skype session we won with Nick and Warren as result of the contest!)

IMG_0029

Just as Duran Duran likes to do for their liner notes…we’re including a list of what we used:

  • Ableton Live 8
  • Synths: Albino Vst synth/Atmosphere Vst synth/Korg M1  Vst Synth/ Korg wavestation synth/Orange vocoder
  • Electronic drums: 707 sounds/808 sounds/Ez Drummer
  • Guitar: Fx Boss GT8 / digitech rp7 valve/ Steinberger Spirit guitar
  • Adobe Premiere (video)

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Fabiana is from Buenos Aires, Argentina. She´s been a Duranie since 1988 when she was 10 and loves the band, side projects (well, duh!) and mostly all the fan-tastic people she´s met because of them. She has a major in Journalism and Communications and at the moment is finishing her Community Manager & Social Media graduate studies. She works for a private university where she manages an academic department (not as fun as seeing #Duranlive!) and is looking forward for the next Duran Duran album and tour. No need to convince an angry boyfriend to let her go see them live: he is a huge Duranie!

Today’s Date in Duran History – TV Mania!

Do you know what was released just ONE short year ago today?? TV Mania’s LONG awaited album, Bored with Prozac and the Internet?  There are times when I sit back and say “Wow, it’s been a year already?”, and this is one of those times. Where has that year gone???

For me personally, this is one of the very few albums in my lifetime that really made me sit back and take notice. Surprising (for me) in every sense. As I wrote back then, I fully expected to develop an instant dislike…or at least deep-apathy, for this album. That couldn’t be further from the truth, and as much as I enjoy listening to the album from my happy “home” (my computer, of course…as I’m still not quite bored with the internet, and Prozac just isn’t my thing), I love listening to it on vinyl even more. Even better? Warren REALLY outdid himself on this one. While I admittedly had trouble ever embracing him as a member of Duran Duran – his style of guitar just never quite worked for me – I still say his work on this album is nothing short of genius.

I still get a chuckle from the tweets sent from the @TVManiaMusic, and sometimes the tweets even give me a chance to stretch my brain a bit, which I enjoy.  I wish that Nick and/or Warren had the time/interest/compunction to communicate with fans…but I guess putting out an album that was a decade or more “in the making” was hard enough. Best not to push it. Can’t have it all, can we?

-R