A Brief Chat with Duran Duran

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English new romantics Duran Duran are back with their best album in years, Paper Gods, and they play Red Rocks on Sunday, so we chatted with founding member Roger Taylor about it all.E

Yellow Scene: How do you feel Paper Gods stacks up next to the back catalog?

Roger Taylor: I thing it stands up very well. I think it’s probably the best album we’ve made since the reunion. We feel that everything’s built up to this moment – all the records we’ve led to this point, and it was a long process. We spent two years in the studio on this record, so it was really going to take as long as it was going to take. We knew it had to be a great album, because the last one was very well-received. We knew this had to be a great piece of work, and we’re very proud of.

YS: You have some great collaborators on there, like Mr. Hudson, Nile Rodgers – how did you set about picking who you wanted to work with?

RT: They kind of picked off, actually. The first one was John Frusciante – we got a message saying that he’d heard we were making a new record and that he was a long-time fan and he wanted to play on the record. We were about six months into the project at that point and thought we were doing really well. But then we thought, “Wow, you can’t say no to John Frusciante – he’s probably one of the greatest living guitar players, in our eyes anyway.” So we said yes to that, and that opened the door to more collaboration. Mark Ronson came back in, and he suggested that if we have John Frusciante why don’t we get Nile Rodgers as well. That led us to Nile coming in and writing “Pressure Off” with us. They all came very naturally. Mr. Hudson being from Birmingham was an influence. We were doing well with the record and it was coming along, and our manager Wendy called and said that this guy Mr. Hudson wants to work with us. He’s worked with Kanye West and Jay Z, he’s an artist in his own right and he’s amazing. We weren’t sure, and she said that he’s from Birmingham, he’s a Brummie. That’s why we said yes. We knew that we’d have instant history with this guy, coming from the same town. We had him come in for the day to see how we get on. It was so good that he stayed until the end of the record and ended up being a major influence on the direction, the songwriting, the lyrics and the sonics of the record. So again, it was one of those things that dropped out of the blue.

YS: You’re coming here to play Red Rocks, which is a stunning place to perform. Have you been here before?

RT: No, we’ve never been to Red Rocks before. I know that it’s a legendary venue. Back in the 1980s, when U2 played there, it broke them in America. I’ve always had this vision of the place, and to go and play there is really something. This far down the line as well. Who would have thought, all these years later, we’d be playing there for the first time? I’m immensely looking forward to it.

YS: What can we expect from the set?

RT: It’s a great set, actually, because we open with something from the new record, but we play all the classics as well. There are three or four new songs in there, but we’re not afraid of playing the big ones. I hate to go and see an artist and they don’t play your favorite record. I’ve been to a few gigs over the years where that’s happened, and I think you walk away feeling a little short-changed. So we always make sure we play what the audience wants. You’ll hear all the big records. Also, to share a stage with Nile Rodgers and Chic will be quite incredible.

YS: When the tour’s over, what’s next?

RT: Well, I don’t know. We’re very much in the moment at the moment. We’ve just unleashed the album that we’ve been working on for two years, so we’re very much in that moment of taking the record to the world and we’re not thinking beyond that. It’s all about getting out there and playing great shows and promoting the record.

Courtesy Yellow Scene