Last night, I was battling insomnia so I was online rather late, trying to catch up on the news of the week (and by news, I admit I’m talking purely about Duran Duran news!). I came across two articles that mention Roger Taylor’s thoughts on working with Ronson, and his thought process on the new album. (All You Need is Now, available on iTunes as of 12/21!) Links to the two interviews are here (this one is less “kind” and maybe not worth the plug I’m freely giving…) and a better one here .
What I find the most interesting is the quote directly from Roger where he admits there was a certain amount of pressure coming into the writing of this newest album.
“He said: “We all knew it was a very important album for us, it was do or die actually.
“After our last record didn’t perform that well, we thought: ‘The next one better be good, because it could be our last.”
I think that as a fan who was deeply disappointed by Red Carpet Massacre in many ways – I know that *I* felt that way. I’ll even go as far as to say that there was a time where I wondered if there really would be a new album. When I saw them two years ago (two years ago yesterday I saw their show at MGM Foxwoods in Connecticut, today would have been the Atlantic City show, and tomorrow would be Montclair, New Jersey) – I remember walking away from the show thinking that although the performance was solid, there was something very clearly lacking. It wasn’t so much that I thought the band looked defeated…maybe they were just a bit tired? Maybe it was that they seemed as though they were getting bored by the process? I’m really not sure. I just know that they weren’t the same band I was used to seeing. I also know that my own attitude was pretty nasty coming into the show. I dreaded hearing some of the songs off of RCM, (although I still say, and will go to my grave saying that Red Carpet Massacre, the song that is, is one of the few outstanding moments on the album!) and I wondered if *I* was getting tired of the same old, same old at the shows. I forced myself to have a change in attitude for the following night, and as a result, I enjoyed the show much more…although I swore after that night that I’d never wear heels to a show again! Fashion be damned! I digress….
So while I was a little surprised by Roger’s comment because I wasn’t expecting to ever really read how close to calling it over and done they might have been, I have to wonder why so many other fans seem to be reading the comments and reacting in anger, shock, surprise and even awe. There are moments in my own fandom where I sit back and wonder what the hell the rest of the fans are thinking, and this is one of those cases. I went to those same shows in support of RCM. I saw them at the fan show back at Hammerstein – the performance that night was NOT of a band that was at all sure of themselves. I don’t care what Simon says, they may have made what he calls “a cracking album” – but they had no idea how to sell it to their fans, and make no mistake – that’s EXACTLY what a band does when they take to the stage. I think that was the first real sign of problems. (never mind Andy’s departure, because although I’m sure RCM would not have been Andy’s first choice in albums to complete – much less the process with which it was completed, I firmly believe that the seed for his leaving the band had already been planted. Can’t blame that album for everything, can we?) Shoot ahead two years (give or take) to the shows on the east coast in 2008 and while it was obvious they were more confident with the material, they still looked very lackluster, very tired, very….well, NOT Duran Duran. Not only that, the band didn’t even react to the fans the way I’d been used to. There was very little “after the show” hanging out in a nearby club or bar – it was as though they played the show and got out of town as quickly as they could to go back to the relative safety of New York City. Yes, that could have been as much about circumstance as it was anything else, but I say that when enough signs are pointing to problems – best not to ignore them, even if 90% of the fan base doesn’t see them.
So here we are, close to dawn on the new album…and Roger thanks Mark. I think that’s a fair statement. No, Mark didn’t write the songs (to my knowledge), he didn’t play every instrument, he didn’t write and perform the lyric. However, he DID give the band back some confidence…and for that, why shouldn’t he be thanked? It makes zero difference….read the words and believe them, dear fellow-fans…it makes zero difference whether the album sells one copy or 1,000,000 copies…if Mark gave the band back some of the confidence that I truly believe they lost after the last album, even if it was only by standing in a corner and being their head cheerleader, then yes he should be thanked. Don’t we as fans WISH for the day when the band comes out and thanks us for sticking by them for 30 years? It’s the same thing. No, I don’t think they’re giving Mark all of the credit, although rest assured if the album does anything at all the press will certainly make Mark out to be the only reason why. It’s just very clear to me that the band recognizes a certain amount of debt and gratitude that they owe Mark.
Some fans may say that Mark owes the band, that they are in fact giving him his own shot. Some feel that Mark took the band back to simply re-do what they’ve already done once. I think that’s unfair, but there are some fans that will never be happy. I don’t know what they’re looking for, I don’t know what they’re expecting, and it doesn’t really matter. At the end of the day it comes down to our own musical tastes. On our own blog we’ve seen very different opinions on the album, and we could spend an awful lot of time and energy getting angry, defending our opinions and getting nowhere in the process. I encourage everyone to listen to the single, to buy the album when it becomes available and enjoy having the opportunity to form your own opinion!