Duran Duran Focus on ‘Now’ with New Album

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Duran Duran focus on 'Now' with new album

By Korina Lopez, USA TODAY

To move forward, sometimes you have to go backward.

That was the guiding principle that helped members of Duran Duran recapture the spirit of their early days on their 13th studio album, All You Need is Now, which debuted at No. 2 this week on iTunes' album download chart (versions on CD are due in February).

"Most bands have difficult second-album syndrome. Not us, we had difficult third-album syndrome," says lead singer Simon Le Bon, referring to 1983's Seven and the Ragged Tiger. "So this album is the sequel to Rio that never happened."

"What's great about Duran Duran is that they don't get complacent," says Rolling Stone critic Rob Sheffield, author of the recent memoir Talking to Girls About Duran Duran. "For their new album, they forged ahead by returning to their classic sound. This is classic Duran Duran. They'll keep old fans and make new ones."

Coming full circle

The man who led the band's way back: Grammy-winning producer Mark Ronson. The longtime fan, who has worked with Lily Allen, Kaiser Chiefs and Madonna, spun a "mega-mix" of Duran's greatest hits at a small event in Paris in 2008. He approached the band with the idea of a collaboration and, according to bassist John Taylor, the chemistry was instant. "Plus, he's very hip and looks good in a suit," Le Bon quips.

"Ronson epitomizes the generation that Duran Duran helped to create," Sheffield says. "Dance and rock music weren't mutually exclusive until Duran Duran broke that wall down. It's come full circle that Ronson engineered this album."

"Mark wanted to rediscover the naïve Duran Duran," says Le Bon, 52. "It was his vision for this album to be a follow-up to (1982's) Rio, which is his favorite. He helped liberate Duran Duran from Duran Duran."

Reviving that early sound was a long time coming. "Our last album (2007's Red Carpet Massacre, which sold about 71,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan) was underwhelming," says Taylor, 50. "We worked with Timbaland, and we yielded to that hip-hop style of production. We came out feeling like we'd surrendered our personalities. We were hijacked by the remix."

By the late 1980s, the multi-platinum-selling group that had ushered in what was called the "second British invasion," began to lose its momentum. "After we did Notorious (in 1986), EMI told us to take our time on our next step, but I actually think that was the worst piece of advice we've ever gotten," Taylor says. "We spent the next year wondering what was right, what we should do, and we lost our way."

The various group members all have had some success with side projects: Le Bon, Nick Rhodes and Roger Taylor recorded one album as Arcadia in 1985, while John Taylor and Andy Taylor formed The Power Station, a group that included Robert Palmer, in 1984.

Now it's 2010, and core members Le Bon, Rhodes and John and Roger Taylor say they're feeling confident about a return to greatness with the new album. "We're Duran Duran! Remember us?" Le Bon says. "We're the ultimate party band, we got you dancing. And now we've got something to make your Christmas go off with a bang."

"We feel like we've been in the labor ward for 48 hours and mother and father are exhausted," John Taylor says. "But we're very proud."

A walk down memory lane

In the 32 years since they formed, they've come a long way since playing nightclubs in Birmingham, England. But the members are still surprised at their enduring appeal.

"It took awhile for our success to register. We'd just come back from our first big tour in the U.S., we'd filmed Save a Prayer in Sri Lanka and recorded Rio in the Caribbean and toured Australia," says Le Bon, recalling 1982. "But it wasn't until we stepped off the plane back home and saw thousands of screaming fans waiting for us that we said to each other, 'we've made it.' Then we got into these tiny cars that took us back to our tiny apartments in Birmingham. Strangest thing, really."

"We had no idea that we'd still be doing all this in our 50s," Taylor adds.

A day in the life

Unless you're Keith Richards, living like a rock star gets old. "Time was that I never saw a sunrise unless I was still up from the night before," says Taylor, who once battled cocaine addiction. "Now I love rising with the dawn. I've done enough freak time. In fact, my wife only just put up curtains. It's our first year living without kids in the house and I just love the energy of the morning."

For Le Bon, who's married to former model Yasmin and has three daughters, a night out on the town is hanging with his family. "After 25 years, I can say that my kind of day starts with getting up to let the dogs run 'round the garden, listen to the radio and think about cooking breakfast. I have great kids and we like to go to our local to have a few beers and dinner. Then I come home, sit on the couch and fall asleep. That's what my days are like now."

The band is planning a world tour starting in April, and there is a comic book set for release. "Apparently there was a lot going on while I was writing the lyrics," Le Bon says

Courtesy of USA Today