Duran Duran continue their evolution
'Rio' rockers turn to Timbaland for help with new sound
By Justin Powell
December 6, 2008
If you’ve sold more than 70 million records, it’s probably a pretty good sign you know what you’re doing.
Duran Duran became famous in part because of hit songs like “Hungry Like the Wolf” and “Rio,” but they’ve stayed relevant because they continue to evolve and grow. The band’s most recent album, “Red Carpet Massacre,” is a perfect example, as the rockers teamed up with Timbaland and Justin Timberlake to create a new sound.
Metromix caught up with drummer Roger Taylor recently to discuss the band’s relationship with Timbaland, the upcoming show Monday in Columbus and the Rolling Stones.
Tell me about the current tour you guys are on? Is there anything you guys are doing different now than back when you first started traveling around the country?
We’ve been on tour for 14 months now for this current tour, and we’re promoting the “Red Carpet Massacre” album, and now we’ve integrated that album into the show. It was produced by Timbaland, so we have that mix of hip-hoppy and R&B beats with the Duran Duran sound. We play all the classics, too, plus we had a brand new light show designed for this tour. It’s been a really great tour. We just came from South America, which was great, and we were supposed to be playing in Mexico City, but our keyboardist, Nick, came down with a bit of an ear infection, so now we’re waiting for him to get better.
On some of the newer material, you’ve been working with some pretty talented and popular people. How has the experience with been with Timbaland and Justin Timberlake.
He kind of found us, actually. We were at the Brit Awards in 2003, I think it was. We were receiving a lifetime achievement award, and this guy turns up in our dressing room with a big posse of bodyguards. It was Timbaland, coming to say “hi.” And later we met Justin Timberlake, and said he’d love to work with us someday. If you had a dollar every time someone said that to you, you’d be a multi-millionaire, but this time it actually worked out.
Your sound obviously has changed a bit throughout the years. Do you feel like you guys are always moving forward musically?
Yeah, I think you have to keep evolving. That’s the secret of being around for so long. Our next album, which we’ll work on next year, will probably be completely different again. We’ll take a different avenue, and I think that’s the good thing about the band. We’re not just an electro band or a soul band. A lot of things are apart of the Duran Duran sound.
You guys obviously have a huge collection of material to choose from? How do you decide what works best for each show?
We like to mix it up. We don’t want to hit the audience with six new songs that maybe some of the people in audience don’t know. … Some people pay their ticket and just want to hear “Hungry Like a Wolf” or “Rio.” But then there are the hardcore fans who bought the new album and the album before that, and they want to hear tracks from those. It can be quite tricky picking out what to play. We’re usually arguing about 10 minutes before we go on, trying to decide what songs we can drop and what songs we can add.
You guys have a day off before your Columbus show. Do you know if you’re going to be able to spend any time in the city, or do you guys pretty much take it easy on your days off?
We do a little bit of touring around, but generally by the time we get a day off we just rest up. In our early days we might have been out partying, but now it’s all about retaining your energy.
Do you have any Ohio memories of past shows you’ve done here, or do all the shows pretty much run together?
They all run together for the most part, but we always have a good time there. We were just in South America, which was amazing. The audiences down there are wild. They have big banners and are singing along to everything. But we always love going to North America. That’s our core audience. They’ve been the most loyal to us over the years.
Is being on the road something you guys are able to enjoy after so many years of playing and touring?
I think we still enjoy it. We wouldn’t be doing it if we didn’t. It’s all about the audience reaction. If you’re playing in a rehearsal room, you get bored with it pretty quickly, but if you’re playing for thousands of people, that’s always exciting. No matter how many times we play “Rio,” if we get a good reaction, it’s still great fun.
The core of the group has obviously been together for a long time. Do you think this is something that you’re all going to want to keep doing for another decade or more?
I hope so. None of us are planning to retire, and we all still have the energy, and a great audience out there. We always look at The Rolling Stones – I just watched the (Martin) Scorsese movie (“Shine A Light”). You can see these guys are 70 and they’re still doing it. These days you don’t have retire when you’re 30 or 40 or 50 … or even 60. As long as we’re enjoying it, I think we’ll keep playing.