Duran Duran is ready for the next stage in music

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Duran Duran is ready for the next stage in music
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Last updated: Thursday December 11, 2008, 7:10 AM
BY DAVID J. SPATZ
SPECIAL TO THE RECORD

When the original members of Duran Duran decided to reunite seven years ago, bass player John Taylor thought that finding the sound that defined the new wave band nearly 30 years ago would be a no-brainer.

After nearly 30 years of performing, '80s band Duran Duran is expanding its focus.
Not quite.

"I thought it was going to just happen, like magic," Taylor, a founding member of the group, said with a chuckle. "It turned out the hardest thing for us was to play like we used to play. We'd all grown up, and we'd changed as musicians. We wouldn't let ourselves play the way we were when we were 21 or 22."

Taylor chalked it up to a "conscious naiveté" on the part of himself and his bandmates. Taylor, Roger Taylor (no relation), Simon Le Bon and Nick Rhodes never took artistic growth into consideration when the band regrouped in 2001.

"I think many artists do their best work when they're not thinking too much about what they're doing," he said. "They're sort of operating on the edge of their available skills. On our early records, you hear guys playing the absolute best that they can play. There was no holding back."

As good as they were when they broke onto the music scene in 1981, Taylor and his partners discovered they couldn't repeat their earlier successes.

"Everybody has to find that out for themselves," he said. "You can't take a great song like 'Hungry Like the Wolf' and … make it work again. It can't be done. It just can't."

There are too many factors that make it impossible to repeat the success of a recorded song, he said.

"It's the energies that were present at the time that can't be repeated," he explained. "Maybe there was a girl who walked through the studio at a precise moment [while recording]. It could be something as silly as the hamburger somebody had for lunch."

Having sold more than 70 million albums and singles during their 30-year run — the bulk of them in the United States, England and Australia — Duran Duran is just starting to explore markets it had previously missed.

Last month, the band played its first real tour of South America and did well enough to consider a return visit. In the past, they had done a series of one-off shows in Argentina and Chile, but never a tour.

"South America was kind of an unknown quantity for a long time," Taylor said during a phone call from Rio de Janeiro. "I mean, in the '80s it was still like the Wild West down there. Queen famously came down here toward the end of the '70s, and I think they got paid in beef."

Willing to experiment

Duran Duran, which performs Saturday at the House of Blues at Showboat, had been too busy working its core markets, particularly America, to worry about other regions.

"Once America went off for us, we kept coming back because we didn't want to let it get away," he said.

Always willing to experiment musically or with its progressive videos during the 1980s, Duran Duran has broadened its horizons to include playing unusual venues, such as a 10-show run on Broadway last year to launch the album "Red Carpet Massacre."

The Broadway run was so successful the band would consider doing it again to promote another album.

"If we could just perform in New York … or London, we'd never leave," he said with a laugh. "It's just difficult when you're living out of a suitcase all the time, so we'd relish any chance to play a series of shows in one location, but unfortunately it doesn't happen very often."

Duran Duran performs at the House of Blues at Showboat at 8 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $62, $72 and $87, available through Ticketmaster. They also perform 8 p.m. Sunday at the Wellmont Theatre, 5 Seymour St., Montclair. Tickets are $70, available at 877-WELLMNT or wellmonttheatre. com.

Coourtesy The Record

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