Third Degree With Duran Duran’s John Taylor

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Third Degree With Duran Duran's John Taylor

By Lori Majewski | Photo: Kristin Burns | March 31, 2016

When Duran Duran exploded onto the post-punk scene, anxious critics predicted the androgynous Englishmen would go out of style faster than their frilly shirts. Nearly 40 years later, they’ve survived the vagaries of fashion to become the MTV generation’s elder statesmen. Now in their mid-50s, the band touches down at Barclays Center this month, delivering the hits and a few sparklers from their latest album, Paper Gods. The band’s own paper god (his face covered many an ’80s teen’s wall), bassist John Taylor, weighs in on good style and good times.

Whose style do you admire?
I like Kanye West’s. What passes for men’s fashion today has gotten very narrow; between the hoodie and the tuxedo, we don’t have a lot of room to maneuver. Nobody’s going to dress like Duran Duran did in the ’80s or Mick Jagger in the ’70s. Kanye makes streetwear his own, and he makes it sort of elegant.

Current fashion uniform, onstage and off?
On duty, it’s Saint Laurent, and they cut pretty close, so I’m aware of the clothes. Off duty, I don’t want to be reminded, even, that I’m wearing clothes, so I’ll opt for that favorite, well-worn T-shirt. We all like to create that moment of emphasis where we take off our day clothes. It’s that sartorial Miller Time, where you just get to kick back.

If you could jump in a time machine and revisit any point in your career, what would it be?
The very beginning. When we started working together, the five of us, there was a tremendous excitement and innocence. It hadn’t gotten complicated. No one’s neuroses had come out.

You lived on the Upper West Side in the 1980s. How has your relationship to New York changed?
I had two kids who both went through NYU, and it became about the Lower East Side and all the fantastic food there. New York is the food capital of the world. All the energy that used to go into music and art has gone into food and these extraordinary little restaurants.

Duran Duran were daring in the hair and clothing departments. Any regrets?
“We were reinventing ourselves every week, without stylists, and I think we did pretty well. Hair? More often I see old pictures of myself and think, ‘I love that hair! I’d like that right now.’”

Three artists on your playlist right now?
I’m having a real hip-hop moment—the production is just so incredible and so modern. I’m really loving Travis Scott’s Rodeo, J. Cole’s 2014 Forest Hills Drive and Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly.

Which five iconic figures would you want at your dream dinner party?
Nancy Reagan, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Lennon, Saint Francis and my wife, [Juicy Couture and Pam & Gela co-founder] Gela.

What’s the greatest lesson fatherhood has taught you?
That there is someone more important than me; there’s someone out there now I’d take a bullet for.

What are you afraid of?
I don’t let fear really live in me. I work hard; I keep fear at arm’s length.

When are you at your happiest?
When I’m fully engaged, using my mind—and it’s quite good if my body’s moving as well. That’s why I love being onstage. And I love f—ing! It’s not terribly intellectual, is it? At the end of the day, I’m an animal.

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Courtesy Modern Luxury Manhattan