On its latest studio album, Duran Duran works with guests such as Janelle Monáe, former Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante and Lindsay Lohan — yes, that Lindsay Lohan. But the stars of “Paper Gods” remain the founding members of the British group — singer Simon Le Bon, bassist John Taylor, keyboardist Nick Rhodes and drummer Roger Taylor, who update their signature electro-pop sound with the help of producers Mark Ronson, Nile Rodgers and Jay Z and Kanye collaborator Mr. Hudson. John Taylor tells us how they pulled it off.
Q: It feels like you become a new band with every album. Why put that pressure on yourself?
A: We don’t really know what we’re going to do when we start making an album — we just try to make the best album that we can. With a little bit of perspective, the last couple of albums were sort of underwhelming. For this one it behooved us to leave no stone unturned.
Q: Did serendipity play a big part in the making of “Paper Gods”?
A: We could have never predicted this album. If it had gone according to plan, it would not be anywhere near as interesting. I had my time as a control freak. I’ve come to appreciate it’s better to let go. We had so many people show up for us on this record, and everybody is in there to make a great record, to honor our band. It’s overwhelming, in a way.
Q: Given how much it sounds like “Notorious,” what did you think when Mark Ronson went off and made “Uptown Funk”?
A: Mark’s amazing. When I saw him do it on “Saturday Night Live,” I thought this could be a real game changer. That was a big moment, just like when Nile came back with Daft Punk on “Get Lucky.” We knew we were not that far off the center of things. There have been years where we felt so far from the zeitgeist. When those songs connected, we realized there are still signature Duran sounds we can use. We don’t have to throw everything away.
Q: You spent a few years away from Duran Duran, doing your solo thing. Are you glad you came back?
A: What I learned is there’s no such thing as a solo act. You’re still leaning on co-writers and musicians. There’s no avoiding that. In part, I was emotionally exhausted by the intragroup dynamic. I thought, ‘If I could control that, it would be less exhausting.’ But I couldn’t. At least, I know where I am with these guys. We’re all in service of Duran Duran.
Aidin Vaziri is The San Francisco Chronicle’s pop music critic.
Duran Duran/Chic: 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 2. $49.50-$149.50. Greek Theatre, 2001 Gayley Road, UC Berkeley. www.ticketmaster.com.
Courtesy SF Chronicle