All They Need is Now

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In 1981, a 21-year-old Simon Le Bon was introduced by an ex-girlfriend to John Taylor and Nick Rhodes in a Birmingham nightclub. Thankfully, he became the frontman for their band, Duran Duran. Otherwise, this writer wouldn't have had albums like Rio or Seven And The Ragged Tiger - foisted on me by my older cousins, by the way - to grow up to.

Now, 31 years on, four of the five original poster boys for the New Romantic movement - Le Bon, Taylor, Rhodes and Roger Taylor - are still very much in the game, touring the world and promoting their 13th album, All You Need Is Now (2010). For me, the thing that matters is that I got to gush on the phone with Simon Le Bon, telling him how I saved up my allowance and begged my parents to let me watch their show at the Singapore Indoor Stadium - on a school night, too.

He laughed: "If that was the last time you saw us live, then I better see you up front and centre this time round! You'll be amazed at what we have in store for you."

Critics have been saying that this is Duran Duran's best album in years. How does that make you guys feel?

I am really happy that they feel that way about it. You know, we got used to having some bad reviews in the past (laughs), but you got to take it with a pinch of salt. We know from the fans that this album has come down really well. It's great that people say nice things about you. That's the bottom line of it.

Is it then important to work with new blood like Mark Ronson or Ana Matronic from Scissor Sisters, to keep you guys going?

For us, I think it's important to work with ... a person with an overview. It doesn't matter if they are new or they have been around for a while. As long as they have an overview and a sense of direction, and a sense of control of where things are going, I think that's important for us. And Mark is very, very good at that. And when it came to Ana Matronic and Kelly, they are very much the case that the songs will benefit having the duets on them. And Mark said, "I think I can get these people." And he made the phone calls, and they were there!

We love the fact that it sounds like the Duran Duran we all know.

I'm glad you feel like that because if that's the case then it means the project was successful in that way.

Do you worry about Duran Duran becoming its own cover band, seeing that everybody will expect the old hits?

I think we're very aware of that. And it's a really big reason why we put the energy into going to make a new album, to be honest. If we wanted to just cash in, we could just go out there and play a greatest hits tour for the rest of our lives! And I bet people will come and see us as well. But it wouldn't give us the same kind of thrill. We would be afraid that our art would die off through lack of use. I think it's important to keep that writing alive. And to keep exercising those muscles. Because if you don't, they will just go away.

What's the secret to your longevity?

I think we're clearly passionate about music. We get on with each other. And we have this respect and affection between the four of us. That's important. It's a great job, we love doing it. Nobody is forcing us to do this. We're only doing this because we want to. And we're good at it. We haven't stopped learning. That's the thing: We try new things out. We try new ideas. We experiment. And while you're still learning, you're still developing. And that's something exciting about you I think.

Knowing what you guys know now, what would you have said to yourselves when you first started out?

Well, there was a bunch of deals that I wouldn't have signed, if I had the knowledge I had know. But basically, I think I would have said, "Relax! It's going to be okay. Don't struggle. Don't fight. It'll be alright."

You guys are known to mix things up while you tour, so what can your Singapore fans expect now?

We've got a lot of hits that we're going to play. After that whole conversation about the greatest hits tour, there is no way we can go out there and not play "The Reflex" and other songs like that. And we got the new album, which dictates the whole style of the show and we like to throw a few surprises in. To give them something they're not expecting.

Any sneak peeks you can share?

I'm not a sneak peeker! (Laughs) I don't do sneak peeks! You got to come see us to get a peek! (Laughs)

Duran Duran perform on March 10, 8pm, at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. Tickets at S$98 to S$228 from Sistic. For the unexpurgated interview, visit Poparazzi (