On the band’s new album FUTURE PAST, Duran Duran performs no nostalgia tips, nor does the group succumb to high 40 gimmicks. Throughout the album’s 51-minute runtime, Duran Duran presents touches of the dazzling and vigorous sound for which the band has come to be recognized over an unexpectedly trendy, trustworthy and emotionally-resonate core — a reckoning with the tumult of the current, the ghosts that linger from the previous and, because the album’s title would recommend, a glimmering hope for a greater tomorrow. Accompanied by strong manufacturing from Erol Alkan and stand-out additions from the likes of Mark Ronson, Giorgio Moroder, CHAI and extra, FUTURE PAST reminds us that even after 4 a long time within the enterprise, Duran Duran nonetheless has one thing to say. Schön! joins John Taylor of the band to debate success, the brand new album, teen magazines of yore and extra.
Hi there John. Pretty to speak with you immediately. How are you doing? How’s life?
Gosh, that’s an enormous query. Clearly, an album launch is at all times a high-energy state of affairs… You’re simply doing every thing that you are able to do to attempt to give the album an excellent launch, after which it’s important to be off on the highway for a few years. Getting again into that’s intense at instances. And, I had a few well being issues, like, I received a fucking diabetes prognosis…It’s sophisticated, you recognize? I used to be speaking to a pal final evening… and I believe all of us sort of count on life to even out, like, ‘I’m going to get to some extent the place it’s simply going to be like that. I’m going to have the ability to coast.’ Nevertheless it’s simply not like that. Particularly if you’d like a sure high quality of life, and a sure high quality of existence, you’re at all times going to must work laborious for it.
That’s fascinating, as a result of I really feel such as you in Duran Duran deliberately work yourselves laborious — each new album adopts some sort of a brand new sound, type, for instance. And FUTURE PAST is after all an ideal exemplification of that. How has it been, popping out of quarantine after which abruptly having this album that you simply’re placing out into the world?
I’ve at all times beloved the completion of an album. That’s such an enormous a part of our life’s work, and as we grow old, it’s not one thing we take without any consideration… There’s a sure success that’s connected to simply the completion of it, simply the truth that we have been all capable of align ourselves for it. That’s actually what it’s about for us, you recognize? There’s not a gaggle of men with one thoughts; there’s a gaggle of men with a gaggle of minds, and now we have to align these minds lengthy sufficient to supply one thing that we will all really feel comfy placing a reputation on, placing the band title on. Albums nearly signify for me, you recognize, a contest of wills — but in addition, concord, compromise and democracy.
After all. About your music — I’m a bass participant myself, however I grew up in an period the place recording bass was at all times, in a method or one other, accompanied by the manufacturing capabilities of a pc. Listening to the Duran Duran discography, there was a time while you slowly developed into that world. How did your bass taking part in and your strategy to music on the whole change as that manufacturing modified?
I believe that once we began out, everyone had very clearly delineated components: I took care of my nook, he took care of his nook, you recognize. However within the mid 80s, the band sort of — a few the fellows left for a time period, and there was three of us doing the work of 5. That coincided with expertise arriving in a approach that allowed us every one in every of us to faucet out rhythms and create type of funky grooves — I really feel that’s once we all turned producers… Now, I roll as much as the studio, and my intention is to place down a drum groove. I are available in with an thought for a guitar half, and everyone else does the identical. And that’s simply the way in which that it developed.
I believe that’s what makes [FUTURE PAST] work efficiently, that everyone’s sort of pushed again into their corners just a little bit. That’s as a lot as something right down to the presence of Graham Coxon and his guitar taking part in. There’s at all times anyone within the room taking part in guitar, and it is perhaps a Nile Rodgers, however extra doubtless it’s going to be me, or the engineer — it’s not going to be a star inventive guitar participant. [Graham] is only a improbable guitar participant. He’s one of many biggest residing electrical guitarists. Every little thing he performed was fascinating, and he carved out this house for himself that basically, for me, took me again to model 1.0 of the band, the place the guitar was this edifice. As a substitute of all of the sounds bleeding into each other, the place you possibly can’t inform the distinction between a synth and a guitar, or bass or drum, every thing separated out extra. That was as a result of we had confidence in what he was doing. If you’re lacking a elementary cornerstone of your sound, and guitar was a elementary cornerstone of the Duran Duran sound, then you definately are likely to compensate and fill it up with all types of stuff. However with Graham, we didn’t must overdo it. There’s extra space on this report in consequence, and it simply sounds extra highly effective. The entire thing simply works higher for me.
I believed Erol Alkan did a very good job of capturing that as effectively. I used to be aware of Erol Alkan as a DJ, however not as a producer — how did that relationship come about, and the way did that work within the studio?
There’s now some sort of confusion about how he got here into our world. I believe he knew somebody who labored at our administration firm and stated that he’d wish to work with us. All of us had conferences with him — I’d by no means seen him as a DJ, however there was an album that he did for a German label. I neglect what it’s known as, however it was two curated CDs; one was older music, the opposite was modern digital dance music. And I actually beloved this album. I knew the man had style, and he had power… So we have been like, ‘you recognize what? Let’s give this man a go.’ The opposite factor that he stated was truly, ‘How do you are feeling about working with Graham Coxon?’ And I used to be like, ‘yeah!’
I used to be actually shocked with Erol. I didn’t count on him to come back into the studio with such a need to craft sounds. I’d gotten actually used to different producers from the digital world within the final 10-15 years. They are often like, ‘simply give me a few notes and I’ll do it.’ I imply, I’ve made albums like that — you recognize, actually lazy. Expertise can actually engender type of laziness in a musician, however that was not what he wished to do. He was very very similar to, ‘I need this to be the final word JT bass.’ And he was saying this to everyone! ‘Roger, I need this to be the final word Roger Taylor drum,’ — to everybody.
It’s one factor simply to say it, however he took such time to get the sounds. I haven’t spent as lengthy on bass sounds as I spent on this on this album in 20 years. I didn’t count on that from a DJ, you recognize? However what that did was set me as much as be like, ‘okay, this dude’s taking me significantly. I’ve received to be severe, too.’ He made me need to work more durable at what I do… This isn’t a lazy report. We’ve labored actually laborious. Erol fucking labored me, and I do know he labored everyone.
One of many issues that has caught with me since studying your e book was a narrative you instructed about seeing artists in teen magazines, after which asking why Duran Duran wasn’t in teen magazines. By ultimately getting in these magazines, you began to see your recognition skyrocket. Was pushing for teen magazines solely a enterprise choice, or was there one other concept that underpinned it?
Effectively, issues have been shifting in a short time. You realize, in January of 1981, we put out our first single Planet Earth, and it was profitable — not solely was it successful within the UK, it was successful in a single or two different nations as effectively. We wished to launch Ladies on Movie as the following single, however the report firm didn’t suppose that was the following single… in order that they put out this tune Careless Reminiscences, which was cool, however it wasn’t successful tune. So abruptly, the vultures have been circling — ‘they’re a one-hit marvel.’
I don’t even know what we have been pondering then, however I do know that I had aspirations to take the band up the steps to success… We had a report label with a press division, and I keep in mind asking, ‘what in regards to the teen press?’ I remembered it from once I was a child at college, and that been solely 4, 5 years earlier than. I used to be saying, ‘what about magazines like Jackie? Are they nonetheless influential?’ And so they simply stated, ‘effectively, we may name them.’ On the primary name, they have been like, ‘we’d like to do a shoot with Duran Duran!’ And that simply opened that door.
On the time, there was additionally this new wave of pop press actually main that course, shifting pop music media away from the extra conventional black and white weekly into color. It was a brand new media to replicate this new type of music that was popping out with Adam and the Ants, Bananarama, you title it… As soon as we confirmed we had a willingness to court docket that younger, female-oriented press, even when it was only for a number of months, it actually opened every thing up. If we hadn’t executed that? Who is aware of.
This can be a sort of a left flip, however I spent the previous week watching Duran Duran movies on YouTube. Typically with music from the 80s and 90s, you’ll see folks will remark saying, like, ‘this music is so significantly better than what’s taking part in immediately!’ However should you have a look at most Duran Duran movies, it looks like folks of all ages are having fun with the music by itself phrases, with out feeling the necessity to evaluate it to the rest. Why do you suppose that’s?
Yeah. I don’t know, actually. We weren’t ever actually a ‘critic’s band’. Our music wasn’t actually handed to the general public by the mainstream press, so I’ve at all times felt we have been a folks’s band, proper? We by no means received numerous awards, however the public, in a really broad sense, took to us. Possibly that’s as a result of there are such a lot of completely different personalities concerned… It’s like going to a buffet — there’s sort of one thing for everybody in Duran. Should you don’t like my shtick, you want Nick. Everyone appeals barely in another way, despite the fact that it’s not at all times as apparent immediately because it was within the 80s…
We simply performed in Birmingham, truly. We performed a few hometown live shows, and it was actually fascinating trying on the viewers and seeing so many guys. I imply, there was a time the place you possibly can actually depend the fellows within the viewers! And I simply noticed within the eyes of those guys… they have been me as if to say, ‘wow,’ like, ‘I do know you.’ There was this type of possession that labored each methods. I knew these guys. I grew up with them, and I used to be, you recognize, the ‘chosen one’ of our neighbourhood. I believe to some extent, while you got down to do no matter it’s that you simply do, you need to make that viewers happy with you.
There are two extra issues. One is, with this album, we gave our core fanbase an album they could possibly be happy with. Lengthy-term followers, mid-lifers who’re nonetheless attaching themselves to us, who name themselves a fan, must take numerous shit, proper? ‘Are you continue to into that band?!’ So while you give them an album that has received fairly a pleasant high quality, it’s significant to them as a result of it’s private for them. And the opposite factor is, I’ve actually come to consider that, given a alternative, the quantity of people who find themselves going to purchase a ticket to see a band like ours who solely need to hear outdated songs could be very small. Most music followers, even music followers of their 40s and 50s, wish to go to see an artist — whether or not it’s Madonna, Billie Eilish or Duran Duran — and listen to some new songs that they like. It’s one factor to listen to outdated songs and go, ‘do you keep in mind this?’ However there’s additionally one thing about listening to one thing new that makes you go, ‘I fucking love this,’ that makes you are feeling such as you wager on the fitting horse. Duran Duran followers immediately are largely not listening to new music. They’re simply not. They placed on some 80s mixtapes or no matter, and it’s very uncommon for brand new music to come back into their lives. So while you do introduce them to one thing new that they really feel actually good about, that’s value leaning into. If you are able to do that, it’s well worth the effort.
I’ll simply ask one ultimate query. It may be brief time period or long run, however what are you trying ahead to proper now? It could possibly be the tour, it may simply be lunch.
I’ve received a few weeks earlier than I’m going again to work. I began portray in lockdown, and I put all my paints away, like, ‘Okay, received to return to work. Received to get again to music.’ Then I received house for a break and I’m like, ‘fuck. I would like [to paint].’ I discovered one thing very therapeutic in that, and I’m actually having fun with it. So I’m trying ahead to that for the time being. And sure, I’m trying ahead to lunch.
FUTURE PAST is obtainable now.
pictures. Stephanie Pistel @ Tempomedia
vogue. Jeffrey Bryant
expertise. Duran Duran
manufacturing. Wendy Laister
grooming. Paolo de Maria
submit. Edwin Veer
pictures assistant. Julian Pechler
location + particular thanks. Byblos Art Hotel Villa Amista, Verona
phrases. Braden Bjella