Duran Duran, one of the most iconic bands of the 80s, stops in Saratoga for shows at Mountain Winery on August 8 and 9. After the shows the band will continue on the road to tour for their live concert DVD/BluRay release of the album, A Diamond in the Mind. We caught up with drummer Roger Taylor to discuss the tour and challenges the band has faced over the decades.
Duran Duran is coming to Saratoga for the Mountain Winery concert series. How do you feel about the turnout for the two shows?
Brilliant actually because we just booked one show initially. That sold out immediately so we added a second night. We had a great show there last year; immensely enjoyed it. It’s a beautiful place to play and we’re looking forward to coming back.
Tell us about the The Diamond in the Mind Live DVD/Blu Ray.
It’s a very special moment. Simon lost his voice before this. We thought maybe it was the end of a fairly long career. Luckily, with some voice therapy and some time away his voice came back stronger than ever. The show seemed extra special because we came back from adversity. We thought even for ourselves we should film the show as something to keep and look back on. That was the original idea for the DVD. It was directed by Gavin Elder who’s done a lot of fly on the wall documentary footage of us for the last 10 years. It was like having a friend behind the camera, which made it less self-conscious and really captured the intimacy of the band members.
How’s it been dealing with jet lag and discomforts on tour before as it is compared to now?
The same. It never really changes. That’s one thing that’s the downside of being in a band is constantly traveling, constantly adjusting yourself to all the different times. It’s part of the job. There’s a lot of great things that go with this job; this is one of the tougher things. I find you never really get used to it. As a human being, we have a natural body clock. You can never really change that. It doesn’t matter how long you do this for. You just have to deal with it.
Anywhere on tour you are excited about?
We love playing in New York; that’s always great. I love LA, which is also John’s home. We all love to come to America. We’ve had a loyal fan base for many years. America gets you, it always gets you. Its not as fickle as some of the European markets which is a great thing for us.
How are European markets more fickle in comparison to the American markets?
The UK is a bit more trend-orientated. I think its always been like that. The scenes have moved very quickly. There were the mods and rockers, the punks, new romantics, skinheads, so many different movements. There’s still a certain amount of you have to keep calm and you have to be bang up to the latest thing. Its ok, but its not what it should be all about. If you are a good band, you write good songs and you perform well, you deserve to have longevity and a loyal audience.
You were one of the most iconic bands of the 80s. How do you feel you have changed since then?
With the latest album, our producer thought we should reclaim our original sound with a contemporary spin. We’ve tried to move with the times. You have to progress. We could never get stuck just in that 1983 groove. We’ve always been able to change to adapt to contemporary music. We asked each member of the band who their biggest influence was growing up. Each member listed David Bowie. He changed with the times. He really showed how you could keep yourself moving and keep yourself interesting.
What are some of the big changes you’ve seen in the music industry since you started?
The huge one is the advance of the Internet and digital downloading. They’ve had their positive things and their negative things. The positive is that it has opened up all kinds of music from different generations to everybody. You don’t have to go to record shops to find something from 1983. Kids can download something that was released yesterday and something that was released 30 years ago at the same time. Its also great to attract new people to the live music scene. On the down side, there is not much money in the industry right now. I think that’s due to all the illegal downloading.
Before breaking big, what were some of the other big hurdles for Duran Duran?
I don’t really recall there being a big hurdle. It felt like we were in the right place at the right time. We were very lucky and very fortunate to be around at the advance of video. We had a manager that wanted to be a film director so he took us to all these fabulous locations to make videos. That happened just as MTV started in America. That broke down every door in the music business. Stumbling, probably, because it happened so quickly at a very young age. It was a lot to take in at 20 years old. That probably led to the breakup of the band prematurely.