Duran Duran play the ECHO arena
15:00, 25 NOV 2015
BY CATHERINE JONES
Band brings its Paper Gods tour to Liverpool
Duran Duran may have been the (pretty) poster boys for the New Romantic generation, but they’ve never been content to rest on their ruffle-shirted laurels.
Thus while plenty of contemporaries are enjoying the 80s nostalgia wave, the Birmingham band (37 this year) is still putting out new records.
Paper Gods is Duran’s 14th studio album, and continues to push the boundaries, mixing pop with what John Taylor calls “this dark, weird, experimental side”.
The record includes collaborations with everyone from Mr Hudson and The Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ John Frusciante to actress Lindsay Lohan.
The band will showcase some of the new tracks, along with old favourites, when it returns to the ECHO arena next month.
In the meantime, John Taylor took time out to talk to me about Duran Duran’s ongoing love affair with music.
Last time you played Liverpool you revealed your mum was a Scouser.
Yes! I’d managed to find the neighbourhood where she was born, so I’d was able to go on a little magical mystery tour and check it out.
I’ve always been quite proud of my roots actually in that sense. So yeah, it makes it that little bit more special.
Is this the moment I should admit I was one of those teenagers who would knock on your mum and dad’s door on a Saturday morning?
Oh really! I think she just loved it so much.
I think she’d been a real fan as a kid, and I don’t think she was above hanging out at stage doors. Whatever was her...Harry James Orchestra, whoever it was, whoever her generation’s heartthrob was.
So I think she always understood the fan mentality. And of course she was a big fan of mine as well!
Did that make it easier when you decided to become a musician?
They were very supportive actually, and they had a very open mind towards my future. They didn’t try and pigeonhole me into any particular direction – thank God!
And when, sort of out of the blue really, I got it into my head that I wanted to go into music, at 17, they were pretty open, and fortunately things moved quite quickly for us.
I wasn’t hanging around the house on the dole for too long.
Would the 17-year-old John have imagined still being on stage at 55?
I didn’t have a plan. At all.
Once I really dug into the idea that I wanted to make it in music, I definitely had a plan in terms of...I wanted to play the Liverpool Empire! I wanted to play Wembley!
But past that, I had no sense whatsoever. And of course I thought that was going to take a lot longer than it actually did.
I think people like me that are drawn to pop music, let’s say, are not particularly the kind of people that are making those plans for midlife.
But we’re kind of there now, we’re knocking on retirement age!
And on the one hand, you feel like you’re just getting started, but I guess there’s a lot of people of this age, of my age, have that feeling.
It’s like institutions start calling time on you. And you’re like – but I’m fit, I’m happy, I’m having a good time, I know my job better than ever.
And still looking for new directions. But that’s always been a Duran Duran thing hasn’t it?
I think anyone who gets to dictate the terms of their employment, that’s what they do.
Nobody wants to be stuck in a retrogressive groove really, nobody. Everybody wants to challenge themselves, because we know that’s where vitality is.
And I really love my job and I want to do the best job I can do, and for us to do the best job means that we continue to make music that does the job that music’s supposed to do.
We don’t know. We might be creatively bankrupt this time next year! But you keep pushing.
And I guess we still believe in the group, we still believe that we’re capable of something extraordinary.
You all seemed to have relished the collaborations on Paper Gods – everyone from Mr Hudson to Lindsay Lohan
Well, once the gloves were off on this one, once we started letting people in, then we got drunk on it. And it was almost like an open house.
And actually if you look, there really is an incredible roll call of talent on the album.
But sometimes we’re the opposite. Sometimes it’s like we get into this bunker mentality and it’s us against the world, and the four of us have to prove that we can do it by ourselves.
But with this album, one door opened, John Frusciante was the first contributor, who played guitar on a couple of songs and really broadened our minds and then we started thinking – wow, you know, this has made the music a whole lot better! We haven’t lost anything have we?
And then we were like – who else can we have?
It seemed to become the defining aspect of this particular album.
How will you replicate that live on stage?
We’ve had a few pop ups over the dates we’ve been doing, when available.
But we’ve got a terrific touring band that can interpret everything that’s on the album.
Funnily enough, the thing that we’ve been missing has been Lindsay Lohan, so I think we’re actually looking to put her on the screen. Her monologue is proving to be quite difficult to replicate.
War of the Worlds-like?
Exactly! If War of the Worlds had been picked up by the Carry On team, Lindsay would have been a part of it.
Do you all still genuinely enjoy touring?
Yeah, I think so.
We don’t all enjoy it to the same degree. I mean, Simon and I, it’s in our blood, we live to perform. And Nick and Roger you know, Nick’s a studio animal. If Nick could live in a studio he’d live in a studio.
I have an agreement. We spend two years in a studio so then we can spend a year on the road.
But it’s very different kind of jobs, the studio and the stage. The stage is a very instant gratification. It’s very physical, so you really have to be fit, you have to be on your game.
What can fans expect if they come to the ECHO arena? Will it be classic Duran Duran as well as the new songs
Of course. It’s a full-on retrospective. That’s the interesting part really.
For us the energy is in the new material because it’s fresh for us. But still the great songs, the songs that everybody wants to hear, are so much fun to play.
So there’s no sense of like ‘uhhhh, we’ve got to play this song now’. It’s not like that. And there’s enough golden tracks.
The only song we really can’t leave the building without playing is Rio we find.
And that’s just like, if we don’t play that, the audience won’t leave!
Duran Duran play the ECHO arena on December 12. Tickets HERE.
Courtesy Livepool Echo