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Our fab five are best of British

Staff Reporter

Duran Duran are among the artists featured on The BRIT Awards Album 2004, released on this week.

A total of 40 tracks from artists nominated for an award at The BRITS at Earls Court, London on February 17, also includes hits by Beyonce, Will Young, Feeder, Muse, The Coral and Dido.

We caught up with Simon Le Bon ahead of the prestigious ceremony...

Q: What was your reaction to the Lifetime Achievement Award?

Le Bon: Well to be honest, we were completely amazed, gobsmacked and surprised, and found it a little difficult to believe at first, because we hadn't even got a mention in the Brits in all the time they've been going.

Q:What are you going to be doing for us on the night?

Le Bon: We've talked about what we're going to do with our seven and a half minutes, but so far those conversations have all ended in argument. The word medley came up which has scared a lot of people, as it always does, but I don't think you've really got much option.

Q: I'm told the five tracks which are most requested are Hungry Like the Wolf, Ordinary World, Reflex, Rio and Say a Prayer.

Le Bon: I don't think we'll be doing Rio. It's just such a thing on its own. It became bigger than the band in a way. It just sort of encapsulated that moment for people. Everybody has a real memory that Rio kind of makes them think of.

Q: Ordinary World was something again. What was it like for you guys to come back?

Le Bon: We'd been working very hard between '85, when Andy and Roger left the group, until '94. It all seemed to be in decline and that we were never going to be as good or as successful as we were with the original five. But we never really lost hope and when we wrote Ordinary World, it just kind of said 'look, it's still there'.

Q: When you decided to get back together, wasn't it kind of scary?

Le Bon: There was an awful lot of water under the bridge.

I went round to John's house in LA and started talking with him. We pretty much said at the same time, why don't we do that thing we've been talking about for the last ten years? Or the thing we've been asked in every single interview. Let's see if we can get the original band back together.

Q: What was the first thing you did together? Did you play an old song?

Le Bon: Andy and John and Roger went to a little place in Wales and jammed through old stuff and actually worked on some new things, so they were kind of confident when they came in. But we walked into this room in the south of France, Nick pressed a button on his keyboard and this sequence started happening, and within minutes Andywas playing this riff. I heard a melody line straight in that, Roger was playing the drums and John had a bass in there, and within 20 minutes we had a song happening. It was fantastic, really great.

Q: How has it been with the five original members, because you were obviously very close friends when you were in the band?

Le Bon: We've always been very close. We do argue a lot but that's because we care about what we're doing. But then there are the times when we get on stage, when we just automatically kind of crystallise and we're hard and pure and sharp - and completely together in one accord. Then, it's really all worth it.

Q: Was it important that you didn't become a tribute band?

Le Bon: In a way it's still difficult not to be a Duran Duran tribute band. You have to push yourself. The old songs have become so legendary and we can do a lot of better stuff, but it has to be that much better because you're up against things that are dear to people.

Q: Is there a new group of young fans?

Le Bon: When we played in the States, we noticed that people were actually running after the bus! These are teenagers and you know, they can run fast. We seem to have a second generation of fans turning up at our concerts now. I don't know if it's because their parents played them the music, or if it's just that they kind of got into our music in the same way that I got into the Beatles' music, a decade and a half after the Beatles were happening.

Q: What does the future hold for you guys?

Le Bon: Well, since we made the phone calls in 2001 and got back together, we've spent a lot of time writing. We've got a bunch of new stuff. We're going to put some songs out and get them on the radio --hopefully --and play more shows. We've got 14 UK shows and we're in Birmingham, of course - our home town. We're looking forward to that.

The 2004 BRIT Awards album is out now BMG. The BRIT Awards are live on ITV1 on February 17.