Duran Duran: More '08 than '80s

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Duran Duran: More '08 than '80s


Palm Beach Post Music Writer

Friday, May 16, 2008

When New Wave melodic synth demigods Duran Duran released their Timbaland/Justin Timberlake-assisted Red Carpet Massacre last fall, critics - many of whom seemed shocked to have liked it - called it the band's comeback. But since they've released an album roughly every three years since 1981, where are they coming back from?

"We don't ever go anywhere actually. We're always here, always making records," keyboard player and co-founder Nick Rhodes explains. "Sometimes, the audience takes a vacation."

For the moment, at least, the Hungry Like The Wolf hitmakers and their fans are back on the job making the New Romantic pioneers relevant. Red Carpet is the follow-up to 2004's smash Astronaut, which reunited the classic Duran Duran lineup - Rhodes, singer Simon LeBon, bassist John Taylor, drummer Roger Taylor and guitarist Andy Taylor - for the first time since 1985.

They're now down one Taylor (Andy left during the Astronaut tour) but up several celebrity buddies, including Timberlake, Timbaland and Danja, Tim's frequent co-producers, as well as several new fans and some that never went anywhere.

"You can't win on every record. It's been a diverse journey, and we accept that," Rhodes says of a career that's included hits like The Reflex, Save A Prayer, Girls On Film, A View To A Kill and Rio, which has survived a current boring remake by chief Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger.

"But it is great when we do have the audience back. We've become their soundtrack again and brought in some younger fans who were curious as to the (new) work we'd done," Rhodes continues. "And our older fans were all really understanding, although I'm sure that some thought, 'Ooh, I don't know if I want to hear Duran Duran with elements of Timbaland in it.' "

For anyone who hasn't heard the album, which made its appropriately splashy live debut in a two-week Broadway run, that pretty much sounds like Duran Duran, the 2008 version. Then again, the band's always managed to stay themselves while remaining relevant - note 1993's Ordinary World, which bridged the anthemic keyboard glories of their heydey to the acoustic ballads of the time.

"(We were) all fans of Timbaland's early Missy Elliott albums and the first album he had done with Nelly, which we heard and thought, 'Well this is just great pop songs,' " Rhodes says. "I love the way that he created his own sounds with beats, and we wanted to merge some of those elements into our sound. It was a big experiment because we never collaborated on this level with other people writing with us. I think the results were largely successful. We've kept our identity."

And, again, managed to delay that vacation.

DURAN DURAN - 8 p.m. Monday, Mizner Park Amphitheater, 590 Plaza Real, Boca Raton. Tickets: $59.50-$115. Phone: (561) 966-3309.