Sat, March 5, 2005
Durable Duran Duran
MIKE BELL, SUN MEDIA
Forget the current political cosying between the U.S. and the U.K. The two nations couldn't be less alike. If you need an illustration, look no further than the current '80s reunion tours of Motley Crue and Duran Duran.
Although their musical styles couldn't be more regional, nor their appearances, if you really want to know where the main differences are, ask John Taylor, bassist/co-founder of Duran Duran, if the definitive warts-and-all biography of his band could compete with that of Motley Crue's bio The Dirt.
'WE'RE ENGLISH, FOR CHRIST'S SAKE
"Well," Taylor says before pausing thoughtfully for a moment. "Obviously I think it would. It wouldn't be as sleazy. I mean, we're English, for Christ's sake."
Even the band's notorious video for one of its first hits, Girls on Film, was artier and more soft core compared with that for Girls Girls Girls, which the Crue released several years later.
But that was then, and this, as they say, is now.
And the Duran Duran that plays Calgary (and Calgary only, alas) Monday night isn't on top of the world - they're just another reunited rock band searching for a piece of the nostalgia pie, while also attempting to remain relevant. (Motley Crue performs a sold-out show at Rexall Place on April 2.)
It helps a little that current bands such as the Killers and Franz Ferdinand owe a great deal to the new wave scene the quintet exploded out of in the '80s thanks to hits such as Rio, Hungry Like the Wolf and The Reflex.
But still, after having last year released Astronaut, their first album with the original lineup in almost two decades, the band found themselves in a position of having to prove themselves to fans, record labels and critics.
"You've just got to take it on the chin, haven't you?" says Taylor, who formed the band in 1978 with keyboardist Nick Rhodes. "Many, many times in my life I thought something was going to be a lot easier than it's turned out to be.
"But I suppose the ironic thing is when we were first together in '81. We just did what we did - nobody was thinking about it. There was certainly no plan there, but it was like we were on fire - there was nothing we couldn't do.
"Now, everything has to be considered."
Taylor, who left the band in '97, admits even he had to be convinced that Duran Duran was still a viable band despite still believing in the talent of its members back then and now.
"I don't believe in gifted. I don't believe it," he says. "How much is talent and how much is being the right man in the right place at the right time? We were certainly the right men in the right place at the right time. So then you come back and you're not ... but do you still have something to offer?"
Two years of working on Astronaut didn't even fully do the trick. It was when they took a break from recording and stepped in front of Japanese then U.K. crowds that he finally knew. "This is energy. This is currency. This is something we can use," he remembers thinking. "I don't mean that in a cynical sense, but this can have a purpose."
That energy pushed the album forward - an album Taylor admits he didn't think needed to be made - reignited label interest in the band and showed him the audience was still out there.
HOW LONG CAN THEY LAST?
Now, with touring for Astronaut underway, the trick will be seeing how long they can sustain it and, more importantly, how long the five members can last together.
Taylor says it helps that they're older and wiser now, and that they'll be travelling by private jet as opposed to buses.
But, as for the differences between all five members, which led to all of them leaving at different times, Taylor says those will never fully be resolved.
"Oooh, is everything ever worked out between anyone?" he says. "That's tough. I mean, my God, can you imagine having everything worked out with your mother, your wife, your teenage kid? Life's not like that. We're all kind of dirty."
Just, apparently, not the sleazy kind.
Courtesy Edmonton Sun