Two decades on from their 1980s heyday, Duran Duran were determined to stick to standards. And it was bloomin’ hard work, as the band’s Roger Taylor tells Andy Welch
THANKS to their 1980s videos, Duran Duran's Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes, John Taylor and Roger Taylor already have record sales approaching the 100 million mark under their belt. But according to drummer Roger Taylor, recording Paper Gods – their 14th album and first since recent career highlight All You Need Is Now in 2010 – was like having a "proper job".
"We'd roll up about 12pm and work 'til eight or nine in the evening," he says. "For the two years we were making the album, we kept good hours, no slacking off, five days a week. There's no taskmaster as such, but Nick is definitely the most motivated. But then, we all are. There's no reason to be in this band in 2015 unless we're all motivated. That's the only thing that keeps us going.
"Or perhaps an eternal lust for affirmation. Maybe it's that?" he adds mockingly.
Any holiday time had to be run by the other three members too. Above all else, Taylor says, they wanted to make a good record.
That may sound obvious, but he has a point.
All You Need Is Now, which saw them working with Mark Ronson and sounding as invigorated and energetic as they did in their pomp, reset the bar rather high. "Use the gear you used on Rio," was the advice Ronson gave them, and it worked.
"We weren't going to finish this until we reached that level again," says Taylor.
Taking the lead from the bequiffed Uptown Funk producer, they added a few more names to the roster. First was John Frusciante, formerly of Red Hot Chili Peppers, who wanted to play guitar.
"You can't say no to John Frusciante," says Taylor, 55. "He didn't want to leave his LA studio so he did everything there and sent it to us, but what he did on What Are The Chances was fantastic."
Next up was Janelle Monae, who provides vocals on Pressure Off, a track that also features guitar from Nile Rodgers. The Chic man produced Notorious, the band's fourth album which spawned the mega-hit of the same name, and Wild Boys, one of their biggest singles.
"It was incredible to work with him again," says Taylor. "What was really exciting was that very early on in the project, he played us an early version of Get Lucky that he was working on with Daft Punk, which just blew us away. We thought, 'Nile's back' – and we knew it was going reignite his career. The seeds were sewn when we heard that. Eighteen months later, we were back in the studio. I'd never played at my kit and had him there, with his famous guitar, The Hitmaker. Those jams gave us Pressure Off. It was quite special. He's so infectious, a beam of energy, and the final piece of the jigsaw."
Controversial star Lindsay Lohan also appears, albeit in a talking role while playing a doctor on Danceophobia.
Simon Le Bon says he and Lohan have been friends for years since they met on a US talk show, and, while backstage, Lohan revealed she'd thrown an 1980s-themed birthday party the week before and dressed up as him.
The new material has already appeared in live sets – namely headlining Bestival on the Isle Of Wight earlier this month – and Taylor's happy the songs stand up to the best of the back catalogue, the likes of Rio, Is There Something I Should Know, Ordinary World, A View To A Kill, Planet Earth and Girls On Film.
For the band, cooped up for two years while recording and forced to get "proper jobs", the chance to get out on the road again can't come soon enough.
"It's about getting out there and playing to our audience," says Taylor. "That's really why we carry on doing what we do."
Paper Gods is out now. Duran Duran begin a UK arena tour in November visiting the MetroRadio Arena, Newcastle, on December 5. The VIP area has sold out already. Tickets are: £35, £45, £55 and £65. Box Office: 0844-493-6666 or eventim.co.uk
Courtesy The Northern Echo