Duran Duran starts over
By JASON MACNEIL -- Special to Sun Media
When Duran Duran released its new studio album, Red Carpet Massacre, earlier this month, it marked the end of a long, strange trip. The British band ditched an entire album's worth of material, worked with three important collaborators and in the process parted with guitarist Andy Taylor.
However keyboardist Nick Rhodes sounds like he wouldn't have changed anything.
"The road to get to it was quite difficult but once we started work on it a year ago last September in New York, then we sort of knew what we had to do, really," Rhodes says on the line from New York City.
Initially, the group had an album with the working title Reportage completed. Surprisingly, Rhodes says it was a very politically-oriented album dealing with the war in Afghanistan and various political leaders.
"The record label was a little taken aback," Rhodes says. "I suppose that as a band we usually write songs that are a little more uplifting to people's spirits. They said, 'Well, okay this is great but we could do with a lead track, a single that was perhaps a little bit more buoyant.' "
After tossing around possible collaborators for a single, Duran Duran got in touch with acclaimed producer Timbaland and Nate Hills. With additional input from Justin Timberlake, the partnership brought about a bevy of new tracks.
"At that point we surmised that this was a new sound for us," he says. "We managed to merge Timbaland's beats and his vibe with Duran Duran and so we really didn't have to think about it much, it was just how do we continue working at it so the album could be cohesive?
"I think Tim (Timbaland) has made some of the best records over the past 10 years. He used the melodic structures that we used and a lot of that sound but merged the more electronic sides of his beats. It's not a sound we're unfamiliar with. When we started out it was all about trying to merge rock music with electronics and dance music."
Red Carpet Massacre at times sounds heavily influenced by Timbaland and Co. on tracks such as Nite-Runner and especially Skin Divers. Yet there are some classic Duran Duran moments, such as the single Falling Down, a song completed over a 36-hour period during Timberlake's British leg of his recent FutureSex/LoveShow world tour.
"Falling Down was actually the last piece of music to be written on the album," Rhodes says. "He (Timberlake) said, 'Why don't we do just one more track?'
"Funnily enough Justin had isolated the fact that he thought we were missing what he calls a 'tempo ballad,' something along the lines of Come Undone and Ordinary World. And it was just one of those things that came very easily."
And while Rhodes, singer Simon Le Bon, bassist John Taylor and drummer Roger Taylor were pleased with the new material, Andy Taylor voiced his displeasure with his feet by not attending the studio sessions with Timbaland.
"It's one of those relationships that people often find themselves in where you're going along and you're papering over the cracks, you pretend that things are okay and at times you're getting along but at other times it's a complete nightmare," Rhodes says of Taylor official departure from the group in October 2006. "The communication had completely broken down and we couldn't get a hold of Andy, he blocked all his e-mails and things. It was sort of like a divorce."
Now with a new guitarist in Dominic Brown, Duran Duran recently shot a video for Falling Down which Rhodes describes as being in "true Duran Duran style."
"The theme is supermodels in rehab," he says. "It is of course tongue-in-cheek although it does reflect some of the media coverage that we are all bombarded with now. It seems that you can't turn around for more than a few seconds and there's some coverage of a celeb in meltdown."
Although playing a handful of club shows this year, Duran Duran plans to start a world tour next year with a North American leg planned for either late February or early March with Canadian dates in the works.
Courtesy Jam Canada