iC Wales / JT Interview

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Still a wild boy at heart Apr 27 2004

Sian Harris,, South Wales Echo

HE was the tall, handsome, heart-throb of one of the biggest bands of the 1980s. Today John Taylor is living in sunny LA, happily married to second wife Gela and back on tour with Duran Duran's original line-up wowing the fans once again. The bassist and pin-up tells us why he's "as happy as it gets."

How did you feel about going back on tour?

The band has never played better - we're really playing well. What's great is that back in the day we didn't know what it was we had. Now we appreciate each other's talents.

What can people coming to the gig in Cardiff tomorrow expect?

They can expect everything and I like to think we're going to give it to them. The arguments that we have are about what songs we're not going to play because there are just so many songs to pick.
When we started rehearsing for this tour it was so intense. We'd never seriously tried to play any of the older songs and as we started digging it was spine-tingling.

Can you recall the moment in the 1980s when you realised you were huge stars?

After we released our first album in June 1980 we went on tour. And the first night was like one of those Beatles' nights where we walked out on stage and you could not hear anything. The force of the audience was so strong that it really knocked us off our feet.
Something similar happened in America about a year later when the second album really caught fire. We'd go out on stage and have 12,000 people screaming at us - that was mad.

What was the maddest thing that happened on a video shoot?

When we were shooting the Rio video on the yacht I picked up Andy and threw him off the boat. Years later I found out he was kind of upset about it. Simon - who is an experienced sailor - said "you know that was really pretty dangerous". I've been kind of guilty about it ever since.

Did you ever refuse to do anything for a video?

We were in Italy doing some TV music show. We showed up at this kind of zoo and it was for Hungry Like The Wolf and they had created this banquet and the director just wanted us to start throwing food at one other.}
He wanted the food all over our faces and I thought "what an idiot". I hate stuff like that.

Which of your exotic-location videos do you have the best memories of making?

Sri Lanka was really extraordinary. We didn't want to spend a week especially as there were no clubs, no girls and it was not your sort of rock'n'roll capital of the world. But looking back it was an amazing experience and the videos are just fantastic.

Your fans - the Durannies - were famous for their devotion. What was it like to be the centre of so much attention?

For the first year we all took our fan mail quite seriously and we all diligently returned it. We had no snobbery about doing the teen press - girls magazines like Jackie or Diana - because when I was in school, not that long before in 1974, I'd seen Marc Bolan and Bowie doing Jackie and Diana it didn't seem like rubbish to me.
You had so many of us and we were all approachable. Everybody had their favourite and they would all argue about why Simon was cuter than Roger.

What was the most outrageous rumour ever written about you in the press?

There was the big cocaine scandal when some guy who had sold us drugs sold a story. It was at the time when we were Princess Di's favourite band so that was like THE scandal 'Di's Band Drug Horror'.
At the time it was like the end of the world and the phone lines were burning to lawyers. But it’s meaningless really in the long scheme of things. That's the beauty of experience, you kind of look back on it and say it really doesn't matter.

How do you look back on the twilight years when Duran Duran broke up?

We fell apart in 1984 and then there was nine or ten months where I was not really quite sure where we were going, if I was even going forward with Duran Duran.
Then we started work again and we picked up with Notorious and then we had something else to prove. For the years from 1987 to 1990, 1991 - which is a long time in the life of a pop group - we really had to keep our heads above water.
It doesn't matter what you do, sometimes life just isn't going your way but you've just got to stick with it and then it'll come back.

Which of today's bands float your boat?

There's a song by The Rapture that I like. I like the 50 Cent album from last year that was a great album. I tell what I'm loving at the moment and I can't stop playing is Dido's White Flag.
No Doubt are probably my favourite band of this generation. We just toured with Robbie Williams in Australia and I came away from that feeling that he's one of the greatest front-men of our time.

You've won the 2004 Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution To Music. What did it mean for you?

For a band that has an image of being frivolous we take our art quite seriously and I like being appreciated for surviving because this is an industry like athletics - you've got to be really strong to survive because it can take you out.
It can take you out early, but we're all still here.