BY GORDON BARR
Bassist John Taylor reveals how it has taken him years to accept the demise from the band of Geordie guitarist Andy Taylor
When Duran Duran first shot to global fame in the early 80s they were universally known as a Brummie band.
But at its heart was a Geordie, in the shape of guitarist Andy Taylor, who hailed from Cullercoats.
Since then there have been several line-up changes, with Andy leaving the band in the mid-80s, to rejoin in the Noughties, only to leave again in 2006, in a somewhat acrimonious split.
But for Duran bass guitarist John Taylor, he is only getting used to that void now. “Newcastle is in the Duran Duran story and always will be,” John tells me. “We are quite proud of that. I was always proud of having a little Geordie in the band.
“Andy brought such a strong flavour to the band, we would not have been the band we were without him and I think he brought an edge that took us a long time to replace.
“It’s interesting with this new album (Paper Gods). I used to obsess that for years I thought the key to salvation was replacing Andy. How do we replace him?
“This album was the first time that I now see that space where Andy used to occupy, it’s now the X Factor, the bit we can now fill with almost anybody and it can be interesting.
“The fact we are not complete, the fact that Simon, John, Nick and Roger are not a complete band that need this extra something in order to complete the picture is what allows us to be really interesting and experiment a lot.
“If Andy was still in the band we would not have been able to make an album anywhere near as interesting as Paper Gods. The fact that we have this opening and can let people in is exciting.”
Singer Simon Le Bon, keyboardist Nick Rhodes, bassist John Taylor and drummer Roger Taylor recorded the album in London with producers Nile Rodgers, Mark Ronson, Josh Blair, and Mr Hudson and the record features special guests Janelle Monáe, former Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante, Canadian Juno-Award winning singer Kiesza, British singer/songwriter Mr Hudson, violinist Davidé Rossi and even actress Lindsay Lohan.
“We spent a lot of time on it. It was a no stone unturned album,” admits John. “None of us know how many more Duran Duran albums there are going to be so you really can’t take it for granted, you have got to invest it.
“There is no point in saying we will get it right next time. I felt that on a number of occasions with earlier albums. I felt like it slipped out of control and we’ve ended up producing an album that didn’t really do us justice.
“With this one we all hung in there and said we’re not letting go, we’re not putting this out until we are all entirely satisfied with it. That is what we felt with this one.
“You’ve got to let go sometimes and know when to quit. The key is getting focused. You have four band members who all have the same goals essentially. But we might have different ideas on how to get these goals.
“We’ve got to get on the same page, otherwise we’re just wasting time.
“What’s the theme of this album? What kind of music are we trying to make? What’s given this album its particular flavour in the Duran Duran catalogue is the amount of featured artists that are on it.
“There are a couple of old favourites and a couple of new favourites on it too. But they’ve all brought something interesting to the album. I think it’s given it some real depth actually.
“It was great to have Nile Rodgers in there too actually. I really enjoyed working with him. He’s an amazing, amazing musician.”
The Metro Radio Arena show will see the band performing an array of hits as well as tracks from Paper Gods. “The tour has been to the States. We did a short run a few months ago around America which was great fun. When you haven’t been on the road a few years you never quite know what you are going to see. But there is a lot of love out there. It was great.
“It’s always good to have a new album and to have a few twists, new cuts to play. It puts energy into the show.
“We play sporadically in between, we’ll do odd one-off shows but inevitably they are a greatest hits show so when we get to do a concert tour like this one we get to do a broader presentation and make it a little it more interesting and of course you want to give people what they want and a bit more than what they want, which is the best of what the new album is about.
“They do want to hear the new stuff. They want to hear new music they can feel proud of and say this is as good as anything, that really is the job, to put that one over on everyone where they come away from the concert saying the new stuff sounded great. That really is the task.”
“I have to say the time I am on stage is as much, if not more, fun than ever. I think we are playing really well, we know what we are doing, how to pace ourselves. We’ve a fantastic show of great historical songs and are loving playing the songs from Paper Gods.
“I’m loving my bandmates and loving the guys they have all become. We have our differences, but essentially we work really well together.
“That’s the thing about mid-life. Its the era where everything’s still working but you kind of know yourself. It’s quite a good time really.”
Courtesy Chronicle Live Newcastle