Whenever music fans think they may have heard the last of Duran Duran, the Birmingham, England, boys – who rode the crest of new wave into a career that’s nearing 40 years – return with another album and tour that flirts with reinvention without ever abandoning its core. Its 2015 Top 10 album, “Paper Gods,” found the group working with a cast that would make for a must-see reality series: Mark Ronson, Lindsay Lohan, John Frusciante, Janelle Monae, Nile Rodgers and the Sex Pistols’ Steve Jones.
The tour brings the band back to PNC Music Pavilion Saturday with Nile Rodgers’ band, Chic. Bassist John Taylor spoke to the Observer about the album in March.
Q. What’s the dynamic of the band in the studio nowadays?
A. It’s tricky. I’m not a big fan of confrontation. Nick (Rhodes) and Simon (LeBon) can go head-to-head. And they do. From day one, I’ve got the finish line in mind. I have a very low quality control. I’m like, “That’s great.” Nick tends to be the one who will edit and re-edit and reconsider. That’s his energy. He’s much more analytical. What was satisfying about “Paper Gods” ... there were several songs we all pitched in with the meaning of the song. On “You Kill Me With Silence” we were able to go, “Yeah, I know that feeling.” My wife is very good at the silent treatment. It’s more powerful than a sock in the mouth. We were all able to feel that. It’s not often you’re able to do that.
Q. How did bringing in other artists and producers affect the album?
A. About halfway through the making of the album our co-producer, Mr. Hudson, came on board. He gave us permission to experiment. Of our generation, we think we’re pretty hip, but we’re about 20 years behind. We need someone to come in and say, “It’s OK. You can own this. This style or drum beat is not going to sound self-conscious or pretentious.” I was always saying, “Is this mutton dressed as lamb?” Like a middle-age dad dressed like a teenager. We’d take some beat off a Kendrick Lamar record and I’d say, “Can we do this?” We want to be contemporary. I can still go back to T-rex and Bowie and James Brown (for inspiration), but it’s great to look at Kendrick Lamar or Justin Bieber. It’s useful if you’ve got someone in the room that can judge that.
Q. How do you feel about “Paper Gods,” having had some time away from it?
A. The jury is still out. You get so engrossed in it, you can’t really tell how good it is. We always tell ourselves, “This is the best one.” I’ve got to convince you and your readers it’s as good as anything we’ve ever done. When this tour is over I probably won’t listen to it for a couple of years. I’ll come back to it when I’m disconnected emotionally.
Q. I just got done reading the piece you wrote on David Bowie a few years ago. How do you feel about losing the artists you looked up to?
A. I knew things weren’t right (with Bowie). There was an article in The Times recently called “The invisible New Yorker.” It answered all the questions that I was asking in my article. He loved to walk around Chinatown at dawn. He and his wife were friends with the parents of their daughter’s friends. I thought it was interesting a man that had such an extraordinary life chose to have the most normal life when he was up against it.
Q. Do you have any insight into who can fill those shoes for the next generation?
A. It’s hard to say who are going to be occupying this generations’ hearts and minds. Kanye aspires strong feelings in people. He’s irritating, but he’s so much more interesting than his peers.
When: 7 p.m. Saturday.
Where: PNC Music Pavilion, 707 Pavilion Blvd.
Courtesy Charlotte Observer