Q&A: Duran Duran

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DURAN Duran's ageless frontman doesn't think the band could go on without him, writes Cameron Adams.

>> You spent several months this year unable to sing due to a mystery ailment. Now Duran Duran's tour has resumed, how's your voice holding up?

I'm 100 per cent. I did question myself at lot in that time when I couldn't sing.

>> What was the conclusion?

I found one thing very definitely, which is that above everything else I am a singer. Before a writer, before a performer, I am a singer. That is how I define myself. To have that threatened was a huge anxiety to me. I didn't know if I was going to be able to sing again, ever.

>> You went to hit a note and couldn't. Did anyone tell you what happened?

No. It was different to things singers usually get, like nodules or nodes or polyps or laryngitis. (The doctors) never could tell me straight what it is. It was an anomaly.

>> Was there a point where the band members began to think, "What if"?

We all felt like that. For me, the worst thing was not being able to sing. And then not being able to be in Duran Duran. It was very scary. I'm very, very happy to be back on form.

>> Silver lining: almost losing the ability to do what you love must mean you feel refreshed after being a singer for more than 30 years?

Absolutely. It's a new lease of life. It's like when you have some life-threatening experience - which I have had (a yachting accident in the 1980s). It's the same kind of thing. It takes away a couple of layers of skin and you feel what you're doing again.

>> Bassist John Taylor hinted people were looking at "options" during your silence. Surely no one could replace you?

It's not beyond the realms of possibility, but I have a very particular voice. It's quite recognisable. The songs would sound very different if it wasn't me singing them. I don't think the fans would have accepted it either. I know I wouldn't have. If I had tickets to see The Doors and Jim Morrison died and they went on stage with Joe Cocker I'd have asked for my money back.

>> You were mates with Michael Hutchence and wrote a song for him after he died. What's your take on INXS without Michael?

I understand the need to carry on performing. There's some great songs they have that need to be played to people. Then it's up to them to convince everybody they can do it without Michael.

They've done a reasonable job so far. It's not the same, but obviously it's not going to be the same. I don't think, "How can they possibly even think of doing it without Michael?"

This is their livelihood, we should respect that. If you want to hear those songs live that's the only way you can hear them. It's hard when someone who put so much personality into the output isn't there.

>> Last year's All You Need is Now, more than your last few albums, fits perfectly live with the '80s hits.

It sounds like Duran Duran. In our quest to reinvent ourselves we moved further and further away from what our fans want Duran Duran to sound like. It took the intervention of someone like Mark Ronson to bring us back. He said, "You guys have been reinventing yourselves for 20 years, now for this album, just be Duran Duran". It was a poignant thing to say.

>> In your Girl Panic music video the band is played by models, including your wife Yasmin, Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell.

It's splendid, isn't it?

>> What's it like being played by Naomi?

Well, she was the only one of those girls who could be the frontman. When we chose the girls and asked them, we pretty much had an idea of who would play who.

>>Next year is the 30th anniversary of both your album Rio and your first tour of Australia.

Crikey, that's gone quickly. We shall celebrate by playing the bloody song in Australia, where it was a massive hit! Australia was the first place where we were really big. I think it has something to do with that willingness to try out a new idea you have. Plus when we first came in 1982, I don't think a lot of bands came there. We got off our fat a---s and went down there.

>> John Taylor's about to release his autobiography. Would you do your own?

Not now. I've got a lot of other writing to do. At the moment I'm not into looking back. I am looking forward to John's book, though. It'll be a different take on things to (former guitarist) Andy Taylor's book.

>> Did you read Andy's book?

Bits of it. I couldn't read the whole bloody thing, I lived it. I'll do the same with John's. It's the stuff I didn't know that I'll be interested in.

>> Did you learn anything reading Andy's book?

(Coyly) Maybe.

>> Along with All You Need is Now and the hits, you're playing the obscure b-side Tiger Tiger in your shows.

Tiger Tiger is an amazing moment in the set. We can't play all our hits - you'd be in the room for three hours. We wanted something with a specific feel. It's about rocking out. It's about getting people up and getting them moving. It's about having a party.

VIC Rod Laver Arena, March 19, $99.90/$159.90, Ticketek
NSW Sydney Entertainment Centre, March 27, $99.90/$159.90; Tempus Two Winery, Pokolbin, March 31, $115 to $475; Ticketmaster
QLD Brisbane Entertainment Centre, March 17, $99.90/$159.90, Ticketek

Courtesy AdelaideNow.com