Duran Duran: Still wild boys
Jun 27 2008 by Emma Johnson, Liverpool Daily Post
Emma Johnson finds Duran Duran are as hungry for success as ever
BACK in the 1980s, Duran Duran were all about three things – big hair, bold make-up and crazy fans.
And all these years later? Well, it seems not a lot has changed.
“We still use a lot of hair products,” laughs drummer Roger Taylor, when I catch up with the band during their tour of the Far East.
As for the fans, they are just as devoted if less dangerous.
“Back then, our core audience was teenagers – these mad hormonal crazy teenagers who just wanted to rip our clothes off,” Roger recalls.
“They used to be all screaming outside the hotels,” Roger recalls. “Now they are all 30-something and can afford to check into the hotels.”
Roger, one of three completely unrelated Taylors in the band – the others are Andy (who quit in 2006) and John – is talking ahead of the band’s return to Liverpool for the first time in more than 20 years, and what will be one of the high-lights of this year’s Summer Pops. Since they formed in Birmingham, way back in 1978, Duran Duran has seen its fair share of band members, but it is four of the classic line-up who will take to the stage at the Echo Arena next weekend, with the two Taylors joined by frontman Simon Le Bon and Nick Rhodes.
And Roger says, unlike when the guys reformed for the anniversary tour five years ago, this time they have their eyes fixed firmly on the future.
“People remind us of these things every so often, but we are such a forward-looking group of people that we tend not to look back and say: ‘Hey, the Rio video was made 25 years ago – let’s celebrate it’.
“That was then and this is now. The eighties were great but we are all about the next project.”
For Duran Duran, the eighties were more than great, for many they were the British band of the decade. But then again, despite the splits and ever-changing line-ups, the nineties and the noughties haven’t exactly been a disaster.
Over the last three decades, they have sold 85m records, had 21 singles in the US Billboard chart, and 30 Top 40 hits, while last year saw the release of Red Carpet Massacre, their 12th studio album.
Duran Duran’s is a world far removed from that of many other 1980s bands currently working the nostalgia circuit.
Roger puts it down to the fact that, unlike many other acts from their era, Duran Duran never fully disbanded.
He says: “There has always been a Duran Duran. There were hits in the nineties and there have been hits now, so there has always been a presence.
“We have been very careful who we work with and who we perform with,” he continues. “It is very easy to slip into that Here and Now thing. We have always avoided that, done our own thing and always tried to perform with contemporary artists. We had Goldfrapp on one of our recent big tours, and The Scissor Sisters before they got big.”
Most recently, Duran Duran – who this month became the first band to play the Louvre – have been cited as inspiration by current bands like The Killers and Lostprophets, and next week man of the moment Mark Ronson will join the band for another performance in Paris. Something Ronson recently described to me as “an honour”.
“We are always aware that we have to not pigeon-hole ourselves in that 80s pop revival mode,” Roger adds. “We try to work with contemporary producers as well – we just worked with Timbaland and Justin Timberlake, and it is very important to keep your head in where we are.
“The great thing is they have come to us, we haven’t been chasing people. We met Justin and Timbaland just as the band re-formed. Justin presented us with a Brit award and then turned up at our after-show party with his posse.”
With a vast body of work to pull from, Roger admits choosing tracks for tours is not the easiest of tasks, but assures fans there won’t be any big hits missing from their Liverpool gig.
“It’s a balancing act,” he says. “You get people turning up to shows and all they want to hear is Rio and Girls on Film and Hungry like the Wolf. Then you get those who want to hear a bit of everything. Then you get the real die-hards and they want to hear really rare stuff.
“Obviously, we have to play the classics. I have been to see people who haven’t played the biggest record they had. People pay a lot of money for a ticket and leave feeling short-changed. We are very careful with that and we have a respect for people who want to hear the classics.
“We also have a very large catalogue of work to pull from, so we argue and are still changing the set list about five minutes before we go on – pulling each other’s hair out.”
Ah yes, back to the hair. It seems that, even in the throes of middle age – Roger and bass guitarist John are both 48, Simon is a 49-year-old father-of-three and keyboard player Nick Rhodes, at 46, is the baby of the bunch – the image is just as important to the guys as it was back when they were all teen idols.
Says Roger: “We are all clothes-conscious, as we have always been. We formed in the era where you made your own style and we have always been very vain. We all like to hog the mirror before we go on, it’s just the way we are.
“I think the audience would be very disappointed if we went on stage in checked shirts and faded out jeans.”
* DURAN Duran play the Echo Arena Liverpool, on Saturday, July 5 as part of the Summer Pops and, thanks to United Utilities and its Tap into Water campaign, backed by the Daily Post, we have two pairs of tickets for this fantastic concert to give away.
For a chance to win, simply tell us the name of Simon Le Bon’s supermodel wife. Email your answer along with your postal address to [email protected] co.uk by 5pm BST today.
Normal rules apply.
Competition open to UK residents only.
Courtesy Liverpool Daily Post