A Chat with Duran Duran’s Simon Le Bon

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Mention the term “renaissance” to Duran Duran frontfop Simon Le Bon – referring to “Paper Gods,” the band’s new comeback for Warner Bros. — and his English wit kicks in. “The word what?” he inquires, feigning ignorance. “Oh! Reh-nay-SANZ! I think I only understand it when it’s said to me in a French accent!” He can afford to joke. Fans snubbed the band’s inventive “Red Carpet Massacre” in 2007, so 2010’s “All You Need is Now,” he says, “was really Duran Duran and (producer) Mark Ronson reclaiming the ‘80s.” He adds, “You can’t repeat that, you can’t make the same album twice. So this one had to have a bit of funk, a bit of groove to it.”

Where do you live now?
In South London, right near Richmond Park, where we take the doggies for their daily walk. We have little ones, and the leader of the pack is a 10-year-old chihuahua which my daughter named Tinker. And we’ve got a little pug named Luigi, and then there’s a slightly, uh, special dog, and his name is Cecil. He’s special in all sorts of ways. If you could have OCD for dogs, he would have it.

So, three dogs then?

Yes. And two cats. And three daughters, all still living at home. And I don’t know if I want them to move out. The problem is, when they go, they’re gone, aren’t they? And that’s it. So I’m not really trying to push them. And we’ve also got my niece who lives with us, as well – she’s studying to be a midwife. So yeah, we’ve got a full house. Lots of people in the house makes me feel good.

What hobbies keep you occupied?

I’ve got three motorcycles. And there’s sailing – I’ve done a lot of sailboat racing. And I’ve done more sailing in the last 10 years than I’ve done in the rest of my life, apart from one big journey I took halfway around the world. But it’s so different from what I do in the band that I really enjoy it, and it’s a physical skill that you learn – you learn co-ordination.

And you once faced death when your yacht Drum capsized, and you were trapped underwater for 45 minutes.

Yeah. It was life-changing, absolutely.

The pop star Kiesza – who sings on “Last Night in the City” – is an avid sailor, too. Did you compare seafaring notes?

That’s amazing – I had no idea! We didn’t talk about sailing or boats at all! But she is a bloody good singer, and we were so excited when she said she would make a guest appearance. God, the talent. We have got some good talent on this album!

Duran Duran
Where: Greek Theatre, 2001 Gayley Road, Berkeley
When: 7 p.m. Oct. 2
Tickets: $49.50 to $149.50 (sold out)
Contact: (510) 548-3010, www.apeconcerts.com

Courtesy of SF Examiner