With their wavy hair, showy clothes, cool British accents and sexy movie caliber videos that blew your mind, Duran Duran ruled the 80’s MTV era.
They weren’t too bad on the eyes either.
Some 35 years later – after some line-up changes, side projects and new hairstyles – one of the hardest working bands with four of five core members, is still at it. They perform Friday and Saturday at The Show at Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa in what is their only Southern California stop.
The band, made up of John Taylor on bass, Simon Le Bon on vocals, Dom Brown on guitar, Roger Taylor on drums and Nick Rhodes on keyboards, released their 14th album “Paper Gods” in Sept. 2015.
The tour stop is in support of their latest album, but they aren't necessarily touring just to promote it, explained John Taylor in a recent interview with the Desert Sun.
“It’s just more of a casual kind of Duran show. We’re not really promoting anything, per say. It’s just for fun because we love to play and … this is probably the only time we’ll play in this area this year. Unless anything happens that I’m not aware of,” he said.
While Duran Duran, touted as pioneers of the synthpop/new wave movement, were known for their highly popular videos, Taylor wants people to know they were always a touring band.
“One of the many misnomers about our band in the 80s was that all we did was videos, because the videos got such high profile and all anybody wanted to talk to us about was our videos,” he said.
“We were knocking out these videos in one or two days. Then we would go back on the road for months. You can’t cheat what you get on stage, what you learn on stage.”
Duran Duran was at the top of their game in the 80s and 90s, dominating the charts in the U.S and U.K.
"We were lucky," Taylor said. He got to thinking back to their heyday recently when KLOS-FM, a rock radio station in Los Angeles, soloed one of his bass tracks for about five minutes.
"I was 21, I think, when I recorded that and there’s nothing like that time in your career where the confidence is so absolute and it doesn’t even matter if you don’t know that much. You’re not comparing yourself to anybody. You’re just going the best job that you can do," he said.
"We’ve been through difficult times. But I think today we know who we are and I think we know what our task is."
During this concert stop, Taylor said they plan to perform songs from new album, but also their legacy songs, the hits they are known for and love to play.
While he did not rattle off the playlist, Duran Duran’s most notable songs include among many, “The Reflex,” “Girls on Film,” “Rio,” “Save a Prayer,” and “Hungry Like a Wolf.”
The new album, produced by Mark Ronson, Nile Rodgers and Mr Hudson, is somewhat of a nod to the band’s original sound fans came to love and includes several guest artists, a popular practice in today’s music industry.
“The culture of bands are that you are a self-contained gang, posse, call it what you will, family. You’re very self-contained. And one of the things that has changed in the industry the last few years, has been this guest culture. Almost to the point that now I think people would struggle to listen to an entire album with the same singer,” he said with a laugh. “I know Adele does it but people are now so tuned into the idea of different singers … and so we kind of opened our minds to that idea.”
The album features Janell Monae on the song “Pressure Off,” Kiesza on the track "Last Night in the City," John Frusciante is featured on "What Are the Chances?" and Lindsay Lohan is featured on “Danceophobia."
Taylor said they had an amazing experience working with the guest artists and opening up the bands’ sound.
“Having these other artists come in with a real fondness for the Duran Duran thing... it was almost like being roasted,” he said.
Taylor, who is British but now has dual citizenship and lives in Los Angeles, said he feels fortunate, now more than ever to be performing, making music and listening to music, especially at such a "weird time" socially and politically.
“I’m listening to music like I was listening to it when I was a teenager. I’m listening for messages and listening for answers,” he said. “Obviously the country had been through its changes. We’ve got such a wonderful relationship with this country. It’s been so good to us over the years. When there’s hurt, I just want to stroke it.”
Duran Duran has never been a political band, they don’t sing about politics. But if they did have a message, Taylor said it would be about “togetherness.”
"We’re always, always in dialogue in order to come to terms with the diversity of opinion that exists just within Duran Duran. Everybody has to be acknowledged. Everybody is equal. It’s a really powerful democracy in Duran Duran. I’m unaware of any other band that have it in quite the same way,” he said.
“We can achieve more together than we can separately,” he added.
If you go:
What: Duran Duran performs in concert.
When: Friday and Saturday
Where: The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32-250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage.
Price: $135-$185, based on seat location.
Info: (800) 585-3737 or www.HotWaterCasino.com
Courtesy Desert Sun