Taylor Made Music
BY BROOKE SEVER
Tuesday, 28 February 2012
Ahead of their show in Dubai, Duran Duran's John Taylor dishes the dirt on surviving the madness of the decade fashion forgot to Ahlan!
Known for hits like Hungry Like a Wolf and Girls on Film as much as for their outrageous fashion sense and even more scandalous behaviour, Eighties icons Duran Duran – made up of Simon Le Bon, John Taylor, Roger Taylor (no relation) and Nick Rhodes – bring their brand of pop to Dubai’s Seven’s Stadium on 8 March.
We sat down with our favourite John ahead of the group's performance to find out about how he survived the madness of the Eighties, his crimes against fashion and aging gracefully.
What kind of show can fans expect when Duran Duran performs here in Dubai?
We’ve got a catalogue of songs that we’ve written over the past 30 years, but obviously a lot of the energy of the show comes from the early Eighties, that’s never going to go away, that’s always going to be a big part of the band’s performance, unless we were doing a particular performance of an album, but that’s not what this show is going to be about. It’s an autobiography, the show, it’s like a retrospective of any artists work, where you go to see particular pieces that you’ve always wanted to hear live.
It’s a show that plays on memories – you’re going to find yourself remembering where you were in 1985, or in 1991, when you first heard "Ordinary World." It’s a very inclusive show, where the audience and the band share a history. I think that when we first came out, we were quite distant and had quite an icy demeanour on stage, and I think as we’ve gotten older, we’ve softened up ad are a lot more engaging. It’s a very human show with a lot of humour, as well. We’ve been doing this for 30 years and I think we know how to put on an entertaining son et lumière.
What is on your list of things to do and see while in Dubai?
That’s a good question. There’s so much fabulous architecture there and every time you go there it’s changed dramatically. I hear the venue [The Sevens] is spectacular. And the hotels and hospitality in Dubai is just spectacular, people always make you feel so welcome. The food is great too – I’m looking forward to it.
Your wife is Gela Nash, co-founder of Juicy Couture, does she offer you fashion tips?
I think my crimes against fashion have been a lot less since I’ve been with her – she’s not afraid to tell me, ‘that doesn’t really work’. But then, I’m not afraid to tell her either. I think one of the strongest aspects of our relationship is our shared fashion, we both love clothes and images is important to both of us. I think she respects my take of things and I respect hers.
Duran Duran were nicknamed the ‘prettiest boys in rock’ during the Eighties – what are you mostly referred to nowadays?
I think you have to learn to age gracefully. I think that I spent a lot of time into my early Forties, feeling like a very tired young man, then I went to accepting that I was middle aged and I suddenly felt like a really cool, middle aged guy. I was discussing this with Simon recently, and Simon said, ‘I hate that term, middle-aged’ and I said, not me. I would rather be a cool, well put together, well kept middle-aged guy, rather than mutton dressed as lamb.
And as a band you all age together, which is quite difficult. Band photos become quite difficult. It’s quite difficult to get a band photo these days that we’re all happy with. Whereas when we were in our Twenties, try getting a photo we didn’t like! You’d just stick us in front of the camera and all you’d do is press click and we’d just, you know. But as we get older, everyone’s like, ‘well I don’t like that look from that wise’, or, ‘oh, my hair looks awful’.
You’re comparing all the time, because you had this f**cking image, this self-image that is so much bigger than you are. It’s very difficult not to compare but we all do it. Everyone looks at a picture of themselves taking when they were a college and says, ‘oh my god, I was so much thinner then,’ but what are you going to do?! [Laughs]
We’re all quite vain, we know that image is important and so we all try to keep it together. We all have a responsibility to each other to keep it together. You want to feel good when you walk out on stage in front of all those people. In what we do, there’s one fifth athlete, I’d say. You have to feel good about yourself to run around in front of all those people. Even when I’m not working, you can never let go completely, you’ve got to be aware of what you’re eating, you can’t get out of control. I’m always on a diet! You’ve got to exercise – I like to do yoga, I moisturise! [Laughs]
We loved your video for Girl Panic starring the supermodels Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Eva Herzigova and Helena Christensen as you guys – were they difficult to work with?
They’re all stars, they’re all super stars, they’re pros – they were just incredible. They’re kind of like us, we’ve walked down the same road, we’ve got a shared history. They loved being a part of it, they got the gag. Kate Moss was calling saying, ‘well why I couldn’t do something like that?’ It was a lot of fun and I think it really shows that those girls are pros. And it was neat they way it got tied in with Harpers Bazaar and their ‘Women of the year’ event, and Dolce and Gabbana got involved too [as stylists and even making a cameo appearance]. It was a massive deal and five million people have watched it on YouTube, and yet, I don’t know if we’ve old even one more MP3, as a result of it, which is interesting. It shows you how the model is changing.
What I did love about this video is that, back in the day, we’d do a video and we’d be wondering if Top of the Pops were going to start showing it, when MTV was going to start running it, we had to stream it into the industry in order to get it across. They call them gate keepers, the programmers, and we were always wondering, are they going to show it, are they going to programme it, and there’s none of that now, it’s just straight to the people. There’s nobody deciding whether or not the video can be seen or not, and I like that. I think that’s fantastic.
We’ve just come to terms with that and this was the first serious piece of product that we’ve put together where we knew, the day it went viral, that the day we put it out there, that it was in the public domain. We had no expectations about what the return might be for us – I still find it extraordinary that five million people can see it and there would be no knock on effect on record sales. But the model is changing.
We talk a lot about brand now, and we would never have used that word in the Eighties. We’re all, to a degree, in brand management. Duran Duran is a brand that we created, curate and manage in the same way Ralph Lauren manages his, is Enzo Ferrari manages his. Yes, it’s creative and new songs have to be written and tours have to be organised but the overview of it all is keeping the Duran Duran legacy alive and relevant and fresh. And it that respect, I feel that’s a very 21st century approach to one’s work.
The band worked with Timbaland on your Red Carpet Massacre album in 2007 and also collaborated with Mark Ronson in 2008 when he remixed some of your best known tracks for a special live performance in Paris, tell us about that.
There are a lot of artists that are doing interesting work, I think you just have to keep an open mind really, I think that’s the greatest asset against the onset of age, is an open mind. I have no idea what next year is going to look like, I have no idea what the next music that we write is going to sound like, I have no idea who’s going to produce the next album; if there’s even going to be a next album! I just don’t know. I’m up for it; if that’s the way it rolls out. When you’re in I think we always have to keep the energy flowing, there’s nothing worse than art that’s devoid of energy and new ideas. Otherwise it starts to get flat and boring, and we’ve been through phases like that. Anybody that’s been making albums for 30 years is going to have flat and boring albums in that mix, you just have to make sure the next one isn’t one of them.
What are your biggest regrets?
I don’t really believe in regret. I think it’s okay to say, I wish we’d played something differently that night, or blah, blah, blah, but anything bigger than that... I’m so grateful for this moment right now, I have such a great life – I’m the luckiest man on the planet and if I started adjusting the story in anyway, then I’m afraid you’re going to throw the whole thing off its axis. Anything could’ve happened differently, and I might be dead!
INFO: Tickets cost Dhs300 (Regular) or Dhs500 (Front pit) , www.timeouttickets.com; Thursday 8 March, 7he Sevens Stadium, Dubai, www.durandurandubai.com
DON’T MISS THIS WEEK’S AHLAN!, ON SALE THURSDAY 1 MARCH, FOR MORE FROM OUR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH DURAN DURAN’S JOHN TAYLOR.