Duran Duran’s lead singer avoids gossip mags. By Sophie Harris
Duran Duran played TONY’s SXSW showcase this year. It was amazing.
It was good, wasn’t it?
Even the old songs sounded crisp, not like you were plodding through them.
I was asked recently [if I] think people are kind of enslaved by their hits. And we’ve never felt that. Not boasting, but it’s because we have a lot of them. We don’t have to play “Rio” every night, or “Reflex” or “Ordinary World.” We can rotate them! As long as you play a few of [the hits], you’re gonna make people happy.
What was your first experience of visiting New York like?
It was the Times Square mobbing. We made an appearance at the Video Shack, and there were police on horseback to control the crowd. The road got blocked off because there were so many people.
Duran Duran was known for its wild behavior—drinking, partying with female fans—in the ’80s. That seems like a good thing for young men to get out of their system before settling down.
Before you get married? Basically. I think it’s also good for women to have a bit of fun and see life.
I was thinking of you describing your first Australian tour as a “shagfest.”
Oh, it was unbelievable. But you’re right, it’s really good to do this when you’re unattached.
When you and [your wife] Yasmin met, we didn’t have the gossip rag culture that exists now.
People weren’t peering into your wardrobe or your back garden or your kitchen. Yasmin and I did one story for [the British tabloid] Hello! and realized very quickly that it was the kiss of death. It takes away all the mystique. I was trying to be a rock idol, and when people see you frying up an omelette in the morning, you lose all of that.
Was your wedding a fancy affair?
We got married in Oxford registry office the day after Boxing Day. We wanted it to be personal and meaningful. It had to be in the registry office because we are both atheists.
I thought you were an agnostic?
You’re probably right. I was trying to be an atheist for a while, but I realized it’s just as arrogant as being a hard-boiled fundamentalist. It’s closed-minded and I like to be open-minded.
Have you or any other members of the band gone through a spiritual phase?
You mean like the Beatles in India? No, none of that bollocks. John [Taylor] was brought up in a Catholic school, given the full dose of fire and brimstone. And Nick [Rhodes] is very cynical about anything he sees as an institution trying to control people. So we went the other way.
Did you always know you’d be famous?
I knew I had something to offer. When I was in school everyone was trying to be “normal,” whereas all I wanted was be different from everyone else. I wanted to do things that were extraordinary, like perform. I trained as an actor for 15 years.
Do you ever get shy when meeting fellow famous people?
Oh yeah, with everybody. But I’m quite brave though, I’m always the guy who goes up and introduces myself. I never wait. If you do it straight away it’s always much better. I met Joan Collins. I was in rapture when she spoke to me. She’s wonderful.
Do you still act?
I get to go onstage every night and play at being Simon le Bon, which is a lot of fun. I wouldn’t make a good actor—I’m much better as a lead singer. I get to write my own script.
Duran Duran plays Madison Square Garden Tue 25.
Courtesy Time Out New York