Duran Duran is Still Hungry on Heels of New ‘All You Need Is Now’ Album

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Nearly three decades after Duran Duran's "Hungry like the Wolf" heyday, this British rock band is still hungry. Singer Simon Le Bon, keyboardist Nick Rhodes, bassist John Taylor and drummer Roger Taylor (no relation) recently hit the road again on the heels of their 13th album, "All You Need Is Now." John Taylor, 51, spoke to us by phone this week from a tour stop in Clearwater, Fla.

Your autobiography is set to be published next year. How goes it?

It's coming along. I'm working with [co-writer] Tom Sykes. I couldn't do it alone. Well, I could. But I don't think I'd want to. It's like going into the attic. It's definitely better going in with someone else.

I've not lost too much sleep over it. Yet.

Are there any trunks in the attic that you're not looking forward to opening?

I don't want to lose any friends -- let's put it that way.

I'm strong enough to take myself down. But I'm not taking anybody else down.

Part of what makes a book like this work is picking the right stories. They're not all going to be dark and dangerous. But they're not all going to be good times, either.

So far, I've found it tremendously affirmative and empowering.

As a band, we don't tend to look back much. We keep the blinkers on. We achieved so much in our early 20s, then we went through some years of real struggle. If you look back, one could almost drown.

I don't like talking about album sales or concert-ticket sales, because you end up comparing them to the '80s, and you really have to struggle to put a good spin on it.

Success is feeling good today.

Duran Duran still headlines the occasional arena, although you're playing a theater in Cleveland. Do you have a preference?

We'd rather sell 20,000 tickets than 2,000 tickets. But big does not necessarily mean good.

We've had a tough year. Whatever momentum we had in the spring with the release of the album, we lost through the summer [when the group had to postpone concerts because Le Bon partly lost his voice]. Anybody who was looking forward to seeing the band had their patience tested.

Now we're where we're meant to be. . . . We're having a good time onstage, and I think the audiences are having a good time, too.

How does "All You Need Is Now" compare to Duran Duran's classic '80s work?

Mark Ronson, who produced the album, was a big fan of our first two albums, particularly "Rio." His fantasy was to create a sequel to that album.

We were like, "OK. Alright. That's interesting."

Still, the fantasy was limited. First of all, we have a different guitar player today -- Dom Brown. The guitar on this album isn't as loud as Andy Taylor's guitar was, back in that day.

Mark was into certain details. He talked to Nick about the kinds of synths he was using back then. He talked to Roger about the drum kit. And he talked to me about the rig that I used on "Rio."

That got us thinking along slightly different lines. On the last couple of albums before this one, we were definitely looking at the current culture and trying to make the sound more now. With this album, we didn't do that as much. We thought more about how we used to do things.

When you first put Duran Duran together, what kind of sound were you after?

It's interesting. As part of my writing process, I was listening to some very early demo tapes of the band. They're really out there!

We changed direction considerably when Roger joined. We liked the idea of a groove-based thing, which as ex-punks, we hadn't been into before. We started listening to funky American R&B and [David] Bowie's "Low" and "Station to Station" albums.

Then we were looking for a guitar player who could play like Steve Jones but could also play like Nile Rodgers. That's where Andy came in.

When Simon joined, he brought so much more than we could've ever imagined. Once that template was set, I don't we changed that much from it.

Obviously, the band's videos got a lot of attention. Has enough attention been paid to Duran Duran's music?

People are still coming to terms with the records. They're not talking about the phenomenon that was Duran Duran in 1984. It's the music that remains.

There was a feeling around the band in the early '80s, which you're never going to get again. But people are still going to be listening to the music, for a long time.

It was a golden age of video, the early '80s. We were a big part of that. Our videos tell the story of music video, in a way -- the rise and the fall.

We've run the gamut with this album. We have a new video that we did with Jonas Akerlund for "Girl Panic!" That's coming in November. It's about 9 minutes long. It's a must-see. It's going to blow everyone's socks off.

That's in contrast to the "All You Need is Now" video, which we did with Nick Egan on a shoestring budget. I think we spent about $5,000 on that one.

We're still hands-on, as far as video goes. It's still very important to us. It's important that our music is represented in a strong way at that level.

Courtesy Cleveland Plain Dealer