Pop legends Duran Duran ‘go back to basics’
Reporter Andrew Trendell talks to Duran Duran drummer Roger Taylor about how the pop giants have stood the test of time and gone back to their roots.
“It was never spoken about but I think it’s always there,” muses Roger Taylor, considering the pressure on Duran Duran to live up to their own legacy.
“We always know that whatever we do it’s got to be great – it can’t just be good or average. The pressure was really on because it was almost like we were going back to basics.”
Last year the band returned with the eagerly anticipated All You Need Is Now – a critically acclaimed return to form that saw the band recapture the pure pop energy of their early career, but Roger says they couldn’t have done it without a little help from a famous friend.
“Mark Ronson produced this album and his manifesto was really just to take us back to the early years,” says Roger.
“A lot of bands have been influenced by or are using the sound of Duran Duran in the early eighties and we needed to go back and reclaim that sound.”
“For him I think it was almost like a scientific experiment – he was getting loads of old equipment out of storage because he wanted to recreate the sound of the Rio album but of course he’s given it this kind of contemporary finish and I think we’ve made something really exciting actually.”
He continues: “Mark was great, and we need young blood. He came in and told us not to be afraid of who we are. You always try and move yourself forward and be contemporary but he said ‘be you who you are, play like you would have done in 1983 when you were 23 years-old.’ That really worked for us.”
Thinking back to being 23, the 51-year-old Roger remembers his youth very fondly.
“We were so lucky to grow up in a musical era which was so amazing and brimming with variety,” he smiles.
“I went through old-school rock then through the whole punk era and then glam rock with Roxy Music, David Bowie and it was just an incredible time to be growing up and those influences are still very much with us today.”
“I mean, you could go and see Kraftwerk one night and then Human League the next in the same venue!”
But now, in an age obsessed with nostalgia and acts like The Killers, Hurts and La Roux drawing heavily on New Romantics like Duran Duran, has the current music scene inspired the band to reclaim their territory?
“I think it has,” admits Roger.
“Mark’s really got his ear to the ground and knows what’s going on and what people want to hear, and then we released a single on iTunes just before Christmas and it went to number one in 15 different countries which just completely blew our minds because we didn’t have any expectations at all.”
So how does the band respond to such overwhelming success after all these years?
“We’re just gobsmacked,” laughs Roger.
“Sometimes we’ll look at each other while we’re on stage and we can’t believe it. When you join a band at the age of 19 you just you’ll be doing it for a few years, but to still be here 30 years later and doing an arena tour of the UK is pretty mind-blowing actually.
So, having conquered the hearts and imaginations of three generations of music lovers, what does the future hold for Duran Duran?
“Just longevity,” says Roger. “The people we look up to now are the people who have had careers for 30 or 40 years. I bumped into Elton John yesterday in New York and he said to still see us playing is an inspiration and we think the same about him, and we look at Paul McCartney, Rolling Stones, Madonna and U2 and these are the people that we look up to because they’ve had these amazing and long careers across several decades.”
Roger adds: “It’s very hard to escape your decade and not a lot of people do, but I’m proud to say we have.”
Duran Duran will be playing classics such as Rio, Wild Boys, Girls On Film, Hungry Like A Wolf, Save A Prayer and many more at Capital FM Arena in Nottingham on Sunday 22nd May and Sheffield’s Motorpoint Arena on Saturday 4th June.
All You Need Is Now is out now.