Duran Duran: Still Hungry Like Wolves
After more than 30 years, Duran Duran is having one of the best years of its career. Nick Rhodes talks about the group's next studio album and more.
By Jeff Schwachter
After nearly two years on the road, including a debut at Revel in Atlantic City on Saturday, Aug. 25, during its current month-long tour of the States, the members of Duran Duran are still hungry like a pack of wolves.
You’d think the pop band, which was formed in the late 1970s in Birmingham, England, and rose to major international success thanks to the early MTV era and the group’s dynamic sound — a mix of dance, pop, electronica and new wave — would be resting on its laurels in 2012, but as Nick Rhodes, one of the band’s founding members tells Atlantic City Weekly, the band is performing the best shows of its career.
This vibrancy and full-fledged energy is apparent in the band’s recently released live album A Diamond in the Mind, which was just released as a DVD in July. The album/DVD is from the band’s 2011 tour of the U.K.
Lead singer Simon LeBon says, “The 2011 UK tour was particularly significant for all of us on a number of levels. In the early part of the year, I lost my voice and we were forced to cancel several months of touring, including all of our British dates. It was a really difficult time for us as a band as we had a new album out that we were just breaking in and loving playing live. When I blew my voice out in Cannes, at the film festival in mid-May, we weren’t sure when we would be able to resume and the summer wait was long and full of anxiety – especially for me. The U.K. shows, which were finally rescheduled for December, proved to be some of the best we’ve ever done – so the year that had been rather a roller-coaster, ended on a really high note.”
Le Bon and his long-time mates released their 13th studio album in March (All You Need Is Now), and have sold more than 80 million records worldwide as a unit. The band has dozens of hit tunes, from “Rio,” “The Reflex,” “View to a Kill,” Ordinary World,” “Wild Boys” and “Is There Something I Should Know?”
Duran Duran will start writing and recording a new album early next year, according to Rhodes, who called in from a tour stop in Memphis, Tennessee.
You recently played the Opening Ceremonies at the 2012 Olympics at Hyde Park in London; what was that like?
It was certainly a career highlight. We’d never played in Hyde Park and for us being a British band, that is one of those landmark venues in Britain and being a little tiny part of the Olympics was exciting. There was a great feeling in London at the time and the show went fantastically well. We had a great time. It was really a special moment.
You will be working on your next studio album following this tour.
Yes, we’re looking to start in February. We’re going to go into the studio ourselves and start writing, as we usually do, just sort of sketch some things out and see where we’re going. And then later in the process [as long as schedules permit] we’ll be working with [producer] Mark Ronson again.
Do you have any songs started yet?
Not really. We pretty much go in [to the studio] with a blank canvas and play around with things and see where we want to go. I have to say that of all the albums we’ve done in recent years, the last one [also produced by Ronson], I think, was the most gratifying in that we stretched ourselves over a lot of different areas that we hadn’t touched for some years. So I imagine we will want to keep digging further in some of those areas. Like the [elecronica] track, “Man Who Stole the Leopard,” we had never really done anything like that before. And it’s proved to be quite a popular piece. And it was fun to do so I suspect we’ll want to do something in that area again.
You started out as a DJ back when you were in your teens before you started Duran Duran.
Yeah, funny enough, when I started I was DJing — I was around 17 years old. It was really more helpful than I could have imagined because, you know, DJs today are superstars, but all I was trying to do was make people dance. And it was interesting because you learn so much about what people like and what they don’t like; what tempos work and how to mix tracks together and segue things that have similar keys. Silly things that now I think are pretty obvious, but at 17, they weren’t. I understand the rise of the DJ because it’s really about an understanding of what people want, and also about musical knowledge. What works, and what’s exciting and what’s uplifting and what can be chilled out and bring people back down. The psychology of it is fascinating. I’m very grateful that I had that period.
What’s been the magical glue that has held these 18 months of touring together with high energy and the high praise for the shows?
I think when you have a new album that you really believe in, where the songs are working fantastically together live, and you’re able to mix them in with your older material seamlessly, then you know that you’re onto something good and that the tour is likely going to last longer. We’ve just had so much fun on this one. First with the album, then we made a movie with David Lynch, we played the Coachella festival, which was another one we always wanted to do, that was great, and the tour in between all worked out and we made the Diamond in the Mind [concert] film in Manchester, England, which is certainly one of the best live representations we’ve ever had. And then we had the Olympics and we’re still playing all of these dates 18 months in and it’s going well so we couldn’t have asked for a better year. If you said to me 30 years ago, ‘Do you still think the band will still be together?’ I would have probably laughed. If you said, ‘Do you think you’re going to have one of your best years that you’ve ever had [in 2011-2012]?’ I would have never believed it. But we actually have.
Where: Revel, A.C.
When: Sat., Aug. 25, 9pm
How Much: $75-$250
Courtesy Atlantic City Weekly