Duran Duran’s Simon Le Bon on Sam Smith, X Factor + Paper Gods

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"This is our job," asserts Duran Duran frontman Simon Le Bon, still full of the compulsion of an artist with purpose after three decades. "Sometimes you listen to the music out there in the world and you think 'we can do better than that'. As Pete Townsend says 'if you've got an axe to grind...' and we have. We're 35 years in the business as Duran Duran and you've really got to prove yourself at this stage."

With a career that most acts can only dream of, Duran Duran's seemingly endless list of classic hit singles inspired a generation of artists. They turned pop into an art, an art of such high calibre that after all this time they find themselves on their fourteenth album - still hitting the top five and able to headline festivals. There's a reason we're talking to them at the Q Awards where they pick up the Q Icon gong.

So what are they doing that other, younger bands aren't?

"Well, I think music has become very diverse," Le Bon admits. "I wouldn't want to get stuck into criticising modern pop music in general because I don't think it deserves it. There are fantastic modern acts out there - people like Tame Impala, fka Twigs and Charli XCX. What we've seen in the last 15 years is the rise of Saturday night music, television music.

"Because it's supposed to cater to the lowest common denominator, your pre-teenage kids to your grannies as well - a lot of the sharpness has been taken off it. I'm always a big supporter and a big fan of the independent bands who don't have a big backing, a television contract and management behind them."

He adds: "Music is a very healthy business, it's not going to go away and it's not going to get killed off by the X Factor."

And of course, having written one of the best James Bond soundtracks of all time with 'A View To A Kill', we couldn't let them leave without asking what they thought of Sam Smith's 'Writing's On The Wall'.

"I caught a little bit of it, it's not my favourite - I prefer ours," admits Le Bon. "But he's Sam Smith, he's got a beautiful voice and I'm a big fan of him. I support him and what he stands for."

So what does it take to record a classic Bond track?

"I always think it needs something exciting, something surprising, something that shocks you a little bit. Whether it's a chord change, a rhythmic shift or even a lyrical twist - a surprise is always a good thing."

Paper Gods by Duran Duran is out now. Their upcoming UK tour dates are below. For tickets and more information, visit here.


27 - Manchester, Manchester Arena
28 - Leeds, First Direct Arena
30 - Cardiff, Motorpoint Arena


02 - Brighton, Brighton Centre
04 - Birmingham, Genting Arena
05 - Newcastle, Metro Radio Arena
06 - Glasgow, The SSE Hydro
08 - London, The O2
09 - Bournemouth, Bournemouth International Centre
11 - Nottingham, Capital FM Arena
12 - Liverpool, Echo Arena

Courtesy Gigwise (click to watch video)