Duran Duran Gets Older and Wiser About Touring
BYLINE: By NATALIA E. ARBULU
How does a member of one of the biggest '80s bands prepare for a world tour?
Lots of sleep. Vocal coaching. Nix the drugs and alcohol. Get your hair streaked and pick out the right clothes.
And don't forget to pack the nose hair trimmer.
"I didn't need to have that in 1980," John Taylor said with a laugh.
As Duran Duran embarks on its second world tour since reuniting five years ago, bassist Taylor quips about the difference between touring now and back in the band's heyday.
"I can't sleep in a hotel now without earplugs and eye shades. Sleep is so important. Every day is so important," he said. "We really, really care today. We didn't give a damn before because we took everything for granted."
The five-member band that dominated MTV in the early '80s will launch a world tour next month to promote its latest release, "Astronaut."
Duran Duran, best known for such hits as "Rio," "Hungry Like the Wolf" and "A View to a Kill," will begin its eight-week North American tour Feb. 8, hitting 45 spots in the United States, Mexico and Canada.
Duran Duran's 25th anniversary tour in 2003 was marked by sold-out shows in the United Kingdom, Japan and the United States.
In a telephone interview from London, Taylor said he was surprised by the depth of affection from fans attending the reunion tour.
"It really blew our socks off. Everywhere we've been so far has just been so over the top," Taylor said.
The quintet is made up of Taylor, 44; lead singer Simon LeBon, 46; keyboardist Nick Rhodes, 42; guitarist Andy Taylor, 43; and drummer Roger Taylor, 44. None of the Taylors are related.
Duran Duran made its mark on the MTV generation with upbeat pop songs enhanced by exotic, stylized videos.
Formed by Rhodes and John Taylor in 1978, the group finalized its lineup two years later with the addition of the other two Taylors and LeBon.
The band officially arrived in the United States in 1982 when singles "Rio" and "Hungry Like the Wolf" reached the top 10 on the music charts.
In 1984, the single "The Reflex" hit No. 1 on the U.S. charts and the band went on its worldwide arena tour. That same year, the band won two Grammy awards for its videos and was featured on the cover of "Rolling Stone" magazine, which dubbed it "The Fab Five."
In 1985, Duran Duran's title song for the James Bond movie "A View to a Kill" hit No. 1 on music charts throughout the world, the only Bond song to do so.
The band's final performance together was that year at Live Aid. Afterwards, Roger Taylor and Andy Taylor left.
From 1986 to 1996, LeBon, Rhodes and John Taylor collaborated with other musicians to produce six albums.
John Taylor left the band in 1996 to pursue acting and a solo career. LeBon and Rhodes went on to produce five albums, including two records with new songs and a greatest hits collection.
In 2000, John Taylor had LeBon perform with him at a show in New York and felt the two had to work together again, he said. The other members were brought on board for a reunion.
"It was something I had always thought about because all the subsequent lineups of the band had been such a struggle to get it to sound right," John Taylor said.
Taylor said the band members realized the chemistry they had in the 1980s was special and still intact.
"We all had to sort of put our pride aside a little bit because everybody had left in their own sort of way," he said.
Taylor said the band is proud of "Astronaut," which delivers signature Duran Duran-style pop grooves and songs influenced by the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
While the album has received its fair share of good reviews, Taylor said about half of them are negative.
"There are still a lot of journalists who don't think this reunion is a good idea," he said. "But you can't please everybody, can you? You are who you are."
Fans attending shows can expect to hear many songs from "Astronaut" mixed with hits and older songs that were never released as singles.
"You gotta mix it up. You can't just play 'Hungry Like the Wolf,' can you?" Taylor said. "What made Duran interesting, really, to people was that there was a depth to the music that people who only heard the singles wouldn't have realized."
Duran Duran is different than it was 20 years ago.
"Now we tread very, very carefully. We respect each other and we respect the people that are still interested in us and are allowing us the luxury of this incredible profession," Taylor said.
The different personalities of the five musicians have helped to keep fans interested in Duran Duran over the years.
"The story of this band is not just about one or two people. It's a soap opera and everybody's got a favorite character," Taylor said.
Duran Duran announced last week that it was postponing this month's Japan tour dates so that Roger Taylor could recover from a foot injury.
After the world tour, the band will play shows in Europe and South America and then begin working on another album, John Taylor said.
To view Duran Duran's U.S. tour dates, visit www.duranduran.com
Courtesy Newhouse News Syndicate