Let's be real: If you've never heard of Duran Duran you clearly haven't been paying attention for the last three decades. Love 'em or hate 'em, the supergroup wrote some of the most memorable songs of the '80s: "A View To A Kill," "The Reflex" and "Hungry Like The Wolf" are only a few of the many songs from the band that made an appearance on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.
It is, however, a little more forgivable to not be up to date with Duran Duran's current whereabouts. The band took a hiatus for a stint, before reuniting in 2001. More recently, the band released last year a new album called All You Need Is Now that was produced by musician and producer Mark Ronson (known for his work with the likes of Adele and Amy Winehouse) and the band's now back on the road, celebrating their 30-year-old catalog of music.
In anticipation of Duran Duran's Thursday night tour stop at the Verizon Theatre in Grand Prairie, we had the opportunity to chat up the band's drummer, Roger Taylor, about the new album, the new tour and why he wishes he'd held onto his '80s wardrobe.
How is the tour coming along so far?
Fabulous, actually. Really, really good. Simon [Le Bon] had some vocal issues through the summer, so we had to cancel quite a lot of shows. So we're really just getting back to it. The shows are sounding great. Simon's certainly back on top form. So it's all good.
Mark Ronson produced your latest album, All You Need Is Now. How did that go? And how did you get together with him?
That went really fantastic. I mean, it was a little bit like a dream. We actually met Mark kind of accidentally. We crossed paths with Mark when we did a small show in Paris and he just seemed like a great guy. He had this amazing pedigree behind him. He had just won a Grammy, he worked with Amy Winehouse, he worked with Adele, he had this great solo career going and we just thought he was probably a good person to work with. And he was coming from a real fan perspective as well. He said that the first band he was ever in, in school, used to play "The Wild Boys," and he knew every song from every album and every b-side that we released, so not only did we have this great contemporary producer coming in, [but] he also knew our sound, and knew how to get back to the core of that Duran Duran sound that we've kind of been missing for a while.
Do you think he brought any outside influences to the album?
We didn't really look outside ourselves very much on this record. We've been kind of chasing other people for a number of years. But I think when you've been around for a long time, and you try to be contemporary, you try to follow other people. You try to be like the latest band that's come out, or somebody who's having a great career, and so you try and change your sound a little bit. But Mark was all about really looking inward, looking at ourselves and not being ashamed of who we are. He used to come say like, "Roger, one of your best drum beats was 'Girls On Film.' Don't be afraid to do it again." And he got John [Taylor] playing that funky kind of disco bass that he's great at, he got Nick [Rhodes] working with his old analog synths he hadn't used since God knows when. He got Simon to sing in a very similar style to those early records, and multi-tracking vocals. So it's really about looking into ourselves, and being who we are, and I think it really worked and I think it's really gone down very well with our hardcore fan base. Which I guess is who you want to target first of all, and then hopefully the word will spread out from that real fan base.
Do you feel like that hardcore fan base has changed throughout the years?
You know, it probably has changed. We've got the hardcore fans that have grown with us, that are probably now in their 30s and 40s. That's probably the bulk of the audience. But we've also got some young kids that come along, whether that's because bands that they listen to name-check us as influences or the way that people get their music now. You can go onto iTunes whenever and find any music from any generation; you don't have to be sorting around in dusty old record shops, it's all on your computer. And I think that's definitely helped us get to a wider audience.
How do you feel about the '80s revival that's been happening in modern culture, particularly with music and fashion?
Yeah, it seems to have been around for a while. We reunited as a band in 2001, and that was coincidentally when the '80s started becoming fashionable again. And it seems to have continued through the whole last decade. It can only be a good thing. It was a great era for fans and writers and artists and fashion designers. It was a very exciting period of time. It's great that it's been revived. Kids now walk around dressed like I was in 1983, but I guess fashion does kind of come in big loops, doesn't it? My dad always said to me, "Don't ever throw any of your clothes away!" [Laughs.]
Did you listen to him?
No! [More laughs.] All my Ray-Bans and everything went in the dustbin in the '90s! I ended up buying them again. It's ridiculous.
Who are some of your current influences?
Most of my influences are still really from the late '70s. That's when we were teenagers, David Bowie was a big influence, Roxy Music, the whole punk thing, Sex Pistols, Kraftwerk, you know, the whole electronica thing. You know there have been some really great bands that have come through. We're all big fans of The Killers. Unfortunately, there's not as many great bands now, I don't think, as there was when we were growing up.
Do you think that's why a lot of people are looking to the past?
Yeah, basically. I think a lot of people are looking backwards to rediscover the great bands of the '70s and the '80s because there's not a lot around now, I don't think. Unfortunately.
So what can fans expect from you guys at Thursday night's performance?
A whole new show. On the last tour, we didn't use screens very much, so we're back to the screens. We've got some amazing new screen footage. We're showcasing the new album, playing five or six songs from that. And it's all about 30 years of music. Our catalog is now 30 years old, so it's all about showcasing that. And we're not afraid to go and play the classic tunes. I hate going to see a band or artist that doesn't play the greatest hits, you know? It doesn't matter how great the show has been, I think you tend to leave a little bit disappointed. So, we're all about giving the fans what they want at the end of the day.
Duran Duran plays Thursday, October 6, at the Verizon Theatre
Courtesy Dallas Observer