Duran Duran grows up and goes back on the road
BY DAVID J. SPATZ • FOR THE COURIER-POST • DECEMBER 12, 2008
When the original members of Duran Duran decided to reunite seven years ago, bass player John Taylor thought that finding the sound that defined the New Wave band nearly 30 years ago would be a musical no-brainer.
"I thought it was going to just happen, like magic," Taylor, a founding member of the group, said with a chuckle. "It turned out the hardest thing for us was to play like we used to play. We'd all grown up, and we'd changed as musicians. We wouldn't let ourselves play the way we were when we were 21 or 22."
Taylor chalked it up to a "conscious naivete" on the part of himself and his band mates. It was difficult to locate the original sound because of a little something called artistic growth. Taylor, Roger Taylor (no relation), Simon Le Bon and Nick Rhodes never took that into consideration when the band regrouped in 2001.
"I think many artists do their best work when they're not thinking too much about what they're doing," he said. "They're sort of operating on the edge of their available skills. On our early records, you hear guys playing the absolute best that they can play. There was no holding back."
As good as they were when they broke onto the music scene with their self-titled debut album in 1981, Taylor and his partners discovered they couldn't repeat their earlier successes as concert and recording artists.
"Everybody has to find that for themselves," said Taylor, who leads the band into the House of Blues at Showboat on Saturday. "You can't take a great song like "Hungry Like the Wolf' and -- make it work again. It can't be done. It just can't."
There are too many factors that come into play that makes it impossible to repeat the success of a recorded song, he said.
"It's the energies that were present at the time that can't be repeated," he explained. "Maybe there was a girl who walked through the studio at a precise moment (while the song was being recorded). It could be something as silly as the hamburger somebody had for lunch. We've all tried to go back and rewrite "Save a Prayer' and it couldn't be done. I defy anybody to have a big hit song and then not try to rewrite it at some point during their careers. Everybody does it, but it doesn't work."
Having sold more than 70 million albums and singles during their 30-year run -- the bulk of them in the United States, England and Australia -- Duran Duran is just now starting to explore markets they'd previously missed.
Last month, the band played its first real tour of South America and did well enough that they'll consider another visit there. In the past, the group did a series of one-off shows in Argentina and Chile, but never a tour.
"South America was kind of an unknown quantity for a long time," Taylor said during a recent phone call from Rio de Janeiro. "I mean, in the '80s it was still like the Wild West down there. (The band) Queen famously came down here toward the end of the '70s, and I think they got paid in beef."
Duran Duran was always too busy working its core markets, particularly America, to worry about not working South America.
"Once America went off for us, we kept coming back because we didn't want to let it get away," he said.
Duran Duran performs at the House of Blues at Showboat at 8 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $62, $72 and $87, available through Ticketmaster at (800) 736-1420 or www.ticketmaster.com
David Spatz writes about the casinos for The Courier-Post. Contact him at [email protected]