Still Hungry Like The Wolf: Duran Duran’s Roger Taylor Says Retiring is Not an Option

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Still Hungry Like The Wolf: Duran Duran's Roger Taylor says retiring is not an option as he talks about working with Mark Ronson on new album All You Need Is Now

By Jody Thompson
Last updated at 4:48 PM on 11th April 2011

Duran Duran drummer Roger Taylor has been talking about the legendary Eighties band's recent rebirth - by conversely revisiting their old sound, courtesy of Mark Ronson.

Amy Winehouse's former knobtwiddler, Mark, 35, has produced their new album All You Need Is Now - hailed as the band's best since their 1982 classic Rio - which also features guest appearances from Kelis and Scissor Sisters' Ana Matronic.

The album was a Number One iTunes hit in December for the band - also featuring frontman Simon Le Bon, 52, keyboardist Nick Rhodes, 48, and bassist John Taylor, 50 - and got a physical release last month where it went to Number 11.

Talking down the line to MailOnline from a hotel in New York, Roger, 50, explained: 'I think it's got the classic Duran sound, anyone who hears it will immediately recognise it as that sound and a lot of that is to do with Mark Ronson.

'He had this vision that we should go back to that early ground that we occupied in the Eighties and reclaim it - he came to the table as fan but also with this amazing musical pedigree...and he just seemed to have this vision of what the band should sound like.

'For him, it was almost like a scientific experiment, how to get that sound again.'

Duran Duran formed in Birmingham in 1978 and were initially part of the flamboyant New Romantic movement - and with the release of their self-titled debut album in 1981, became Princess Diana's favourite band.

Roger explained that as part of Mark's mission, the producer insisted that the band use equipment from their early days too.

Roger chuckled: 'He was fishing out vintage basses from storage, Nick had all his keyboards in storage, covered in dust, and Mark demanded that we get them all out.

'Luckily we still had all this stuff and he set everything up exactly as it was set up to record the Rio album, even mic-ed up in a certain way.

'It was a combination of going back and recording in exactly in the same way, but obviously bringing it right up to 2011.'

Mark himself has said of the band: ‘I was a huge fan. Their album Rio was a classic. But because Duran sold 80 million albums, they are written off.’

However, to many of their fans, unlike many of their peers from the decade, they always kept some of their cool cachet.

For one thing, they never resorted to nostalgia tours like the Here And Now bandwagon, and just last month, soundtracked the new Kate Moss advert for Dior Addict lipstick.

Only last month, they played at achingly-hip U.S. magazine Paper's Beautiful People party in New York and in February were made honorary citizens of Milan after the Italian city named them Style Icons Of The 20th Century.

However, the new album has garnered them even more popularity, proved by the fact that they embark on their first UK arena tour for seven years next month, starting on May 18 at the Newcastle Metro Radio Arena.

They round off the dates with the V Festival at Stafford on August 20 and Chelmsford on August 21.

Scoring other cool points, the band, who recently streamed a live gig on YouTube that was directed by David Lynch, are currently touring the Americas including a slot at the prestigious Coachella Festival in Indio, California, on April 17.

And despite their legendary reputation for their wild rock 'n' roll excesses in the Eighties and fall-outs in the following years, Roger insisted that the band kept the partying to a a minimum now and thoroughly enjoyed touring.

He laughed: 'It's easier to tour nowadays, we've matured so we're kind of a bit more sensible these days, thank God!'

He added: 'It's more about the show now than the afterparty. We're very responsible now, the show is the big thing for us, all our energy goes into that. We usually turn up in a decent condition to play the show nowadays!'

And most importantly for the band, they are now doing it all themselves, having released the album on their own label.

Roger expanded: 'It was like being back to where we started - back in Birmingham. We financed this album ourselves and wrote and recorded it in a tiny little room in south London, so it really was back to our roots.

'I think it's the way forward actually (to release material yourself). The last release was with a major national corporation and it was kind of like being on the Titanic, with it sinking beneath our feet.

'People were leaving, people were getting fired, whole departments were getting the chop, labels within the label were falling apart, so it wasn't really a great environment in which to be releasing your record. So we thought we'd do it ourselves.'

Roger said that they had been hugely inspired by the attitude of the Arctic Monkeys. He explained: 'They really the first band to show that you didn't need a big corporation behind you.

'I'm a big fan of the way they did that, being online and being in contact with your fans in a different way, which I think we've done with this album.'

However, he said if they'd had to rely on reality TV shows for a shot at stardom, they wouldn't be here today .

Roger guffawed: 'I don't there is any way we would have made it through something like the X Factor. Which kind of shows you that it's flawed actually because it's not all about having the perfect voice or about being the most amazing musician, it's often a combination of different talents and chemistry that makes a band great.

'I think it's great in its own way, it does give a lot of people a great opportunity who wouldn't necessarily have that opportunity, but I don't think Duran Duran would have made it through.'

As for who are going to be the next whippersnappers nipping at their heels, Roger said that the Durans weren't actually that on the ball..

Roger laughs nervously, saying: 'We're not that clued up really when it comes to new bands, I used to get it off my son, he'd tell me what's cool and what's not.

'But I like The Naked And Famous, they're great. I've just got into the XX, I know it's been around for a while, but I was in a restaurant in Austin, Texas, and the DJ was playing some songs, I was like, "oh what's that?! That's fantastic!"

'So I went and asked the DJ and he said it was the XX, who strangely enough, were formed just round the corner from where I live in southwest London. I'm quite into them at the moment.'

The new single for Duran Duran meanwhile is going to be Girl Panic!, which was co-written by Mark Ronson.

And despite the band all now being resolutely middle-aged and all in their late 40s and early 50s, Roger said Duran Duran were all still looking to the future - and feeling stronger than ever.

He insisted: 'We've got a great relationship at the moment actually, we're very strong as a unit, I think we've ironed out all our differences, we really understand each other now.

'We feel very strong. No-one's thinking about retiring, that's for sure. We want to be doing this for a while yet. Who knows how long? We bumped into Elton John the other night and he's still doing it.

'It's amazing, people just seem to go on and on these days and you don't have to retire when you're 40 or 50 or even 60 or maybe even 70 with the Stones, they've changed all that for ever.

'It's great to know that you don't have to retire on a certain date, you just retire when it feels right.'

We have a feeling they'll still be Notorious for a good while yet...

Duran Duran's All You Need Is Love tour starts on May 18 in Newcastle and tickets are on sale now. New single Girl Panic!'s release date will be announced soon.

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