Revitalized Duran Duran returns to music scene

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Revitalized Duran Duran returns to music scene
February 11,2005
Stephanie Holmes 
The Monitor

Bassist John Taylor said Duran Duran’s latest release Astronaut is a lot like a new Ford Mustang.

"The new Mustang gets launched and you say, ‘Oh, I don’t know.’ You see people driving it around. Then you see it in red and think, ‘Oh! I do like that,’ " Taylor said. "At the end of this show, people are going to be as comfortable with this record as they are with the old ones. We want them to say, ‘Oh my God! I have to get it.’ "

Astronaut stands out from Duran Duran’s more recent releases because it is the first time in 22 years, since 1983’s Seven and the Ragged Tiger, that the British quintet — frontman Simon Le Bon, keyboardist Nick Rhodes, guitarist Andy Taylor bassist John Taylor and drummer Roger Taylor — has collaborated on a studio album.

If fans found Duran Duran’s music to be a bit of a poetic mystery in the 1980s, Taylor said that time has rendered the new material more concrete. Taylor, 44, said that he and most of his band mates have mellowed with the transition from being young and single to middle aged and married.

"Simon is very literate. We put out album after album in the ’80s that were artful to that obliqueness. It’s kind of like Jim Morrison. You do not know what he was talking about, but it was cool," Taylor said. "Toward the end of the 1980s, we consciously tried to make the band less abstract. Looking back, it was a good idea. Simon had a thing. There is nobody else who could write "The Reflex." This record is pretty clear, it’s more like reading a newspaper than reading abstract poetry."

Dodge Arena is the fourth stop on the first leg of Duran Duran’s 10-week U.S. tour as a united band. The members of Duran Duran have already stirred hearts and revved up many 30-to-40 year old Duranies, transforming fans into starstruck teenagers in many cases, with their sound during European tour stops and limited U.S. engagements, including the band’s early morning performance on Good Morning America last week.

Some critics have labeled the tour and the release of Astronaut as a comeback vehicle designed to attract attention and make money for the band, but Taylor disagrees.

"It’s my life. It just is. I don’t consider it in those terms. This is what we are doing this year. This is what we are doing this month. We chose to take this route again. We hope that it is worthwhile," said Taylor.

If there is such a thing as an Old Faithful in the worlds of new wave and electro pop music, Duran Duran fits the profile.

The band exploded alongside MTV in the 1980s and, looking back, one can say that Duran Duran avoided the silly hair and Hefty-bag wearing snare of most 1980s-era new wave bands.

The band continued to steadily release albums through the 1990s. Members left so the band had to reinvent the roles of guitar and drums. By the time of the 2000 release of Pop Trash, only Le Bon and Rhodes remained.

Duran Duran appeared to retreat into one of its more dormant states following Pop Trash, but hunger for fusion of art, rock and fashion remained in demand.

The Electroclash Movement, another band, began taking over in 2001 with its brand of fashionably loud and danceable punk music, making way for Duran Duran’s return.

In 2003, members of Duran Duran sporadically returned to the stage. Momentum and buzz built up with the warm reception of fans and the resolution of personal rifts within the band "nudged us back into each other’s lives," said Taylor.

"It’s a little bit like being part of the family where you are not speaking to each other. People say, ‘You should call so and so.’ And, certainly, there were a couple of documentaries done on the band by BBC and VH1. We spoke independently and sent out signals to each other. I think that happens a lot with those sort of things," Taylor said.

"You have got to get past the negative aspects of the experience and think about what you achieve musically. We’ve all worked with numerous other musicians, and it’s damn hard to find that chemistry. We know what we have together, and it works."

Courtesy The Monitor (TX)