Still hungry after all these years

All press / news

Still hungry after all these years

By David Burke

John Taylor, founding guitarist of Duran Duran, is asked how much of the band’s current concerts feature songs from the band’s first album of new music in more than four years, October 2004’s “Astronaut.”

When the interviewer is told six songs out of a 20-song setlist, Taylor replies, “There’s a hint of fear in your voice there.”

But Duran Duran isn’t afraid of giving its fans newer material, besides its 1980s hits such as “Is There Something I Should Know,” “Notorious” and “Wild Boys.”

“You’ve got this resume of all these songs you’ve made, and some of them you’ve made famous,” Taylor said in a phone interview from his Los Angeles home about Duran Duran’s situation. “But every time you go out, you have to refresh the script a little bit. You’ve got to give the people what they want, but you have to keep updating it. I love that.”

Taylor and fellow band members John Taylor and Roger Taylor (no relation), Simon LeBon and Nick Rhodes — the lineup for Duran Duran’s heyday of hits like — reunited in the summer of 2001 for several tours over the subsequent years.

“They’ve been greatest hits show, and now we have a new album in the marketplace and we can mix it up a bit,” Taylor said from his home in Los Angeles. “Which is invigorating for us. You’ve got to mix it up.”

Taylor was one of the group’s founding members in 1978. By 1982, its album “Rio” launched the band with the likes of “Hungry Like the Wolf,” “Say a Prayer” and the title song.

He said the sound and the experience of “Astronaut” was similar to the first album.

“I think it does much of the same job,” he said. “Our first album, as it is with most bands, is the manifesto. ... We’ve never strayed too much from that. About the time

of (1993’s) ‘The Wedding Album,’ things began to get a little lush, a little acoustical. But I think we’ve got back to more of a minimal, wiry aesthetic with this record. You really hear the interaction of the musicians.

“At least I hope so.”

But yet, Taylor said, the band didn’t want to simply repeat the Duran Duran sound of the 1980s.

“You can’t ever go back there,” he said. “It would be like a job for an archaeologist or an archivist. You couldn’t just make a record that sounded like it was made in 1980. But we’ve got the same sort of values in this record.”

All of the members of the band have matured through the years, said the 44-year-old Taylor.

“You’re so different as people,” he said. “I think we know much more now, we know how to get what we want. Back when we were kids, we were just eager students following directions. None of us had any idea of sound or what a microphone was.”

Likewise, a Duran Duran concert 20-plus years ago would veer off into many different directions.

“We kind of had to make it up as we were going along, and we were reinventing ourselves as we were doing it,” he said. “We were discovering ourselves as musicians, in relationship to each other.”

Any animosity that band members may have had in the past is gone, he said.

“We’re all very keen to get along, so whatever resentment or issues we’ve picked up along the way we’ve shelved. Everybody had to put the project first,” he said. “It wasn’t an easy thing to do. We had a lot of fun, and it was thrilling to get back into each other’s lives.

“It was like a class reunion, expect we chose to be with each other.”

Taylor said he admired Bruce Springsteen’s comeback concert a few years ago, where The Boss — using the “Born to Run” album cover as publicity — firmly saluted his past but also had a generous amount of new music.

“He was able to go back, work with his boys again and not break step,” Taylor said. “That was what we set out to do.”

With nostalgia for the Me Decade being as plentiful as “I Love the ’80s” reruns on VH1, Taylor said he was mostly pleased with the way Duran Duran has been portrayed in retrospective.

“Obviously there are a lot of people who love us a lot. We’ve touched people, a lot of people, in a deep way,” he said. “We don’t get the kudos a lot of other artists do. In a way, you have to be grateful with what you have.”

Courtesy Quad City Press