Jon Bream, Star Tribune
March 11, 2005
You might not have realized it, but Duran Duran never really went away. The Brit boy-band kept losing its original members, but still kept making albums.
By 1999, it was down to founding singer Simon LeBon and keyboardist Nick Rhodes.
"I think that's when Simon and I were sort of realizing that it was time to have a rethink," Rhodes said recently.
After a string of MTV-propelled hits in the '80s, including "Hungry Like a Wolf" and "Rio," Duran Duran rebounded in 1993 with "Ordinary World" and "Come Undone." Then the pretty boys made a disc of covers of Bob Dylan, Lou Reed and Grandmaster Flash and took stock of themselves.
"We decided to try to put the original lineup back together and see if we had the same chemistry as we did when we started," said Rhodes, who also produced a Dandy Warhols' CD in his spare time. "We only got together under the premise that we would make new material."
Roger and Andy Taylor, who had left Duran Duran in the mid-1980s, and John Taylor, who had exited in 1997, joined LeBon and Rhodes in the south of France in 2001. There was no money or pressure from a record label, no talk even of cashing in with a reunion tour. They wrote about 30 songs and eventually brought in producers.
Actually, Don Gilmore, who had worked with Linkin Park and Good Charlotte, contacted the group. "At first, we were a little unsure because some of the things he had done were a little heavier than we generally like," Rhodes said. "But it worked out really well."
Duran Duran also worked with Dallas Austin because they wanted to collaborate with an urban-music producer, as they had in their heyday with Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards. "Dallas has got a very different way of thinking," Rhodes said. "Most of the records he's made are hip-hop or dance records. He added a good burst of energy."
"Astronaut," the first new studio album in 21 years featuring the five original members, was released in October. It hasn't exactly taken off at retail, with sales at 200,000-plus, but it has led to a 40-city U.S. tour, the band's biggest ever, coming to Xcel Center on March 22.
Courtesy Minneapolis Star Tribune