The `Rio' deal: Duran Duran back in orbit with `Astronaut'

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The `Rio' deal: Duran Duran back in orbit with `Astronaut'
By Sarah Rodman
Friday, April 1, 2005 - Updated: 02:19 AM EST

Duran Duran may have been off radio's radar for the past few years, but that doesn't mean its music hasn't been sailing through the airwaves.

In February 2004, NASA chose to wake up the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity every morning by playing the band's 1983 hit ``Is There Something I Should Know?''

``We'll go anywhere to find new fans,'' quipped keyboardist Nick Rhodes.

The band is bringing its music back down to planet Earth, including a sold-out Agganis Arena tonight, on a tour for ``Astronaut,'' its first new album by the original lineup in more than 20 years.

The Fab Five broke onto the music scene as part of the British ``new romantic'' movement of the early '80s, wedding new wave keyboards, funk bass and pop melodies to a fashion-forward image. Rhodes, singer Simon LeBon, guitarist Andy Taylor, bassist John Taylor and drummer Roger Taylor (none of the Taylors are related) were the darlings of nascent MTV, scoring a string of hits with the help of flashy videos for songs such as ``The Reflex,'' ``Rio'' and ``Hungry Like the Wolf'' and eventually selling 70 million records worldwide.

Andy and Roger Taylor left the band in 1985 and John Taylor departed in 1996. While Rhodes and LeBon had continued working as Duran Duran, a 2001 meeting of the charter members was, Rhodes said, ``literally the first time that all of five of us were available and that we all felt it was a good idea and simply asked the question.''

The answer was a resounding yes. The reconstituted group, looking little the worse for wear, launched a reunion tour in 2003 and followed up with the release of ``Astronaut'' in October.

Sales have not been out of this world for the album - a creditable update of their infectious electropop - but Rhodes says the members of Duran Duran are optimistic. ``Right now the charts are very different, they're very urban mostly and there is some indie rock in there but obviously what we're trying to do is carve out a space for Duran Duran, and when people get to hear the songs it seems to be working.''

Rhodes says this has been borne out on the current tour.

``They're the loudest audiences I think I've ever heard in my life,'' he said with a laugh on the phone from a Chicago tour stop. He's particularly gratified to see a ``a real cross-section'' of fans representing all three stages of Duran Duran's career: ``It's really been something.

``We have built it back up to be something that we're all very proud of and something that we're all having a lot of fun doing and so for us it's like being a new band again.''

Courtesy Boston Herald