Duran Duran: The Interview by Murray Walker
Many of you will have heard by now that Duran Duran will be touring South Africa in December. It was with great excitement that we secured an interview with Duran Duran keyboardist and longest standing member Nick Rhodes. I spoke to Nick about synths, being a 21st century rock star and Mark Ronson. Enjoy.
What's On: It’s been almost 20 years since Duran Duran was last here, what are you expecting this time around?
Nick Rhodes: I’m obviously very curious, we were last in South Africa in ’93, we were the first band to tour since the end of Apartheid. That was an exciting time, the shows were spectacular. We had just arrived when Chris Hani was murdered and that left quite an impression on us. We’re excited to be returning and curious to see if things really have changed.
WO: Will you be playing any songs from the new album ‘All You Need Is Now’?
NR: I would hope we play some if the new songs, we haven’t rehearsed any of them yet so we better get moving. There will obviously be the favourites, some surprises and hopefully some fresh, new songs.
WO: What is life like now as a rock star compared to back in the 80’s and 90’s?
NR: The music business has obviously changed. This is the digital age, the way we consume music has drastically changed and there are many exciting new ways to go about things, new possibilities. Being able to communicate so easily with your audience is extraordinary.
Back when we started we’d record an album onto tape, sort out the artwork, put some posters up and see what happened. Now you can instantly get reactions to things. We’ve always embraced new technology, we were the first band to sell a legal download back in 1997, ‘Electric Barbarella’.
WO:Would you consider giving the new album away, much like Radiohead did?
NR: I think Radiohead were extremely brave in doing that but things have moved on. There is still a massive problem with illegal downloading but what iTunes has done is remarkable and its shown the way for the entire industry.
WO: Mark Ronson recently remixed some of your songs in an attempt to introduce younger people to your music, do you think these kids will even know the songs are originally yours?
NR: Well I don’t think it really matters. People either like music or they don’t. What is important is that we put out a strong record. It’s been an absolute joy working with Mark Ronson [he’s also producing the new album]. He’s perfect for us. He’s a fan and I think he understands what we’re about. It’s not just the music for us, the space we occupy in broader pop culture is where we incorporate photographers, designers, fashion designers and so forth and Mark’s cut from the same cloth.
WO: What synth gear are you using at the moment?
NR: Funnily enough I’ve used almost entirely analog synthesizers. They have a bigger, warmer sound. Mark particularly was keen to capture that and bring back some of the music from when we were first starting out. His idea was to make a contemporary follow-up to the ‘Rio’ album.
WO: Any message that you’d like to leave for the fans here on the eve of your arrival?
NR: It's been a long time since we played in South Africa and it might be a while till the next time so we’re looking forward to making the most of it. These will be the first shows since completing the new album which is always exciting to us. I’m sure we’ll come up with something to make the show unforgettable.
Duran Duran will be performing in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town in December. Click on your city for more info.
Courtesy What's On