Andy Taylor Interview from The Beat / Australia

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Andy Taylor tells Christie Eliezer about the benefits of raising kids in Ibiza


Last Tuesday evening, up in the penthouse suites of the Grand Hyatt, things were running late at Duran Duran headquarters. Interviews were running late. Beat started its interview just as the band should have been on its way to the Boutique for a listening party for its Astronaut album, due in October. The publicists’ phones never stopped ringing. No, we can’t squeeze any more people in. What’s this, Simon wants the crew of their Qantas flight added to the guest list? No, Nick can’t do radio tomorrow, he wants to spend time with Taj (his daughter), she’s just turned 18. Well, the boys are up for Indian or Italian for dinner tonight. No, they don’t want Chinese because they’re going to Hong Kong tomorrow afternoon...

Andy Taylor surveys the scene, turns to the last vestiges of the sunset through his shades and shrugs. “You know, for years the first thing people would ask us was, ‘When’s the original lineup going to reform?’ Now you inevitably wait for them to ask, ‘How long before you have a fight and break up?’”

For a generation of kids, the Durans were the perfect pop band – beautiful but heterosexual, pouting but with Brummie commonsense, synth pop but with a punk attitude, cool enough to be able to reel off the names of every Chic track and Kraftwerk bootleg in existence but dumb enough to almost drown in a yacht race...

The reunion story is simple: Simon Le Bon and John Taylor are hanging by the latter’s swimming pool in LA, and Le Bon suggests a reunion. Taylor is hesitant because he doesn’t want the band to join the nostalgia circuit. Phone calls are made, and suddenly the original five are recording in the
south of France.

“It was obvious the first time we sat down and spoke to each other, that this strange quantum physics thing was working,” continues the guitarist. “We locked in straight away. Clearly Nick and John (who formed the band) had been listening to the same things. No one turned up with a sitar. Everyone had the same energy.

“We were the same people but a bit wiser. We treat our relationships with more respect. But while making the record, you got your share of bodyblows. To be a good player, you have to be belligerent. You write four things but you only use one. Getting back together is just conversation. Getting it back is the hard thing. A huge machinery - band, agency, management, record label - that keeps a band on the road. When we got back, we didn’t have a manager or record company. That was good. That means no one else but the five of us were pushing for this.”

So they went on the road through Europe, and opened last year in Australia for Robbie Williams, which was a bit of a reality check. The hits set was glorious: Girls On Film, Rio, Planet Earth and Save A Prayer remain great pop moments. There were two new songs, What Happens Tomorrow and(Reach Up For The) Sunrise which they tried out. Both songs are on the new album as different versions, and Sunrise is their new single. It sounds crisp, modern and in your face. Some of the world’s top producers lined up to make the new record, including Nile Rodgers, Felix Da Housecat and Rich Harrison. The band opted for the dual textures of Don Gilmore (Linkin Park, Pearl Jam) and Dallas Austin (TLC, Kelis).

In February they start a world tour which, Taylor says, should hit Australia in May. If not, it’ll be the end of 2005. What Duranies hope they bring to early 21st culture is not the excesses, glam and vanity of the 80s. Taylor says that decade should be remembered for the way it broke rules, and made mix’n’match of styles provide the energy.

So what was the most excessive thing he did?

“John and I lived in the Carlisle Hotel in New York for six months. It was spectacular waste of money, about half a million dollars! We were making the Power Station album at the time.”

Johnny Marr revealed that Morrissey forbade him to ever compliment another band in public or buy their records. Did the Duranies have such silly rules?

“It is a competitive business, there is a chart and everyone wants to get up it. But ultimately any acts pissing on each other in the newspapers, is good for record companies because it sells more records. In the pack we came from, we achieved the most – and we’re the only ones still doing it. Not hashing the past but committed to new music.” Did they ever sabotage one of their rivals?

“Well, if you do a TV show together, some, umm, interesting things can happen. Everyone pitched us against Spandau Ballet. We still see ‘em. Except we have a band and they don’t. (Laughs). See, I’m still at it!”

The son of a carpenter, Andy got turned on to music by a copy of the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper which he nicked from an older cousin. He then discovered guitarists like J. Hendrix, J. Beck and J. Page. Duran were children of the MTV generation, committed to expanding the video format. The video for Sunrise is ground breaking, using different formats to highlight the different lifestyles of the five.

Andy’s sees him clubbing in Ibiza, where he has several houses. It’s a good place for his kids – a son aged 20, three daughters aged 17, 13 and 8 – to grow up, away from the paparazzi in England. “It’s an inspirational place,” Taylor admits. “A lot of creative musicians, DJs, movie people, artists, all glamorous. You go to the clubs, you hear shit you don’t hear anywhere else, and the whole place is vibing. The kids hang out with kids of other creative people, and they know that dad’s got to go away and work, so they grow up very secure and happy. I can go off and do this without feeling guilty.”

Duran Duran’s new album, Astronaut – their first album since 1983 – is due in October. The new single, (Reach Up For The) Sunrise is out now through Sony.

Article courtesy of THE BEAT Issue Number 926. Download a copy at www.thebeat.com.au/

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