Hungry for respect

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Hungry for respect
Reunited Duran Duran doesn't lack ardent fans

By Jeffrey Lee Puckett

John Taylor co-founded Duran Duran more than 25 years ago, nurturing the band that plays at the Louisville Palace tonight from its earliest Birmingham, England, pub shows to its status as a multiplatinum icon of 1980s pop -- the architects of "Rio," "Hungry Like a Wolf" and "Girls on Film."

He is, to say the least, a bit protective.

"I want Duran Duran to be taken more seriously than they are," said Taylor, who started the band with keyboardist Nick Rhodes in 1978. "I was just obsessing over something a few minutes ago, and I'm still angry. Capitol Records had this deck of cards made for a promotion, and it has a picture of all of their influential bands on every card.

"And we weren't on one. I was -- -- furious. You have this snotty -- -- guy at the label, some kid, who decides that we don't deserve a card. It's hard to say, 'Hey, take me seriously,' but it does motivate you -- doesn't it? -- when you feel you have something to prove."

Taylor has nothing to prove to Duran Duran loyalists, aka Duranies, who have helped the band sell more than 70 million records.

Since the original lineup reunited three years ago after two decades apart, Duranies have sold out show after show, and last year's album, "Astronaut," was well-reviewed. Apparently, Duran Duran's glamorous hybrid of pop and dance music is more than a footnote to the '80s, when the band virtually defined key aspects of music and pop culture -- poof shirts, fashion-model lovers and splashy MTV videos.

Although Duran Duran never actually quit recording or performing, the original lineup folded in 1985 when guitarist Andy Taylor and drummer Roger Taylor (no relation, even to John) quit. The big hits continued for a couple of years, and albums kept showing up even after John Taylor left in 1996.

Despite decent reviews and a loyal fan base, everyone seemed to recognize the truth: A Duran Duran without the original five poster boys was somehow counterfeit. But John Taylor said that the reunion would never have happened if the new music didn't rival the hype.

"We've spent a lot of time playing a greatest-hits sort of show … and I suppose now we've reached a point where we have new songs that we can integrate," he said.

"The key is that if you do it right, the audience will think they're all hits. 'Oh, I like that. How'd I miss that one the first time around?' "

Rhodes, the Taylors and singer Simon LeBon first met to explore a reunion in late 2001. The emphasis wasn't on merchandising, but songwriting. By 2003 they felt good enough about their creative chemistry to test the waters with a tour, and many shows sold out within hours.

They hit the studio, carefully balancing the need to sound fresh with a desire to remain true to their roots.

"It was tricky because you want to make a modern record," Taylor said. "Most of what I consider modern is made with a lot of programming, a lot of computer work, but what this reunion was about was five musicians coming back and working together.

"The writing process was very gratifying because we were getting to know each other again."

Duran Duran continues to stir up a dense cloud of nostalgia-fueled euphoria. "It runs very deep with a lot of people," Taylor said.

"What really blew our minds more than anything when we went back out on the road was the love that people have for these songs."

Courtesy Louisville Courier-Journal