Why the band’s 2022 tour is amazing
Roger Taylor and his cronies are about to take their rightful place in the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Famean honor that fits well with a 2022 tour celebrating Duran Duran’s 40th birthday and a new album called “Future Past.”
They seem to have a lot of fun on these shows. “It’s really like that,” Taylor says.
One reason is how well the songs from “Future Past” blended well with the hits their legacy built on, from “Girls on Film” to “Hungry Like the Wolf” and “Rio.”
“It’s not like we’re trying to fit something into the set that’s kind of very abstract and doesn’t really fit the original material,” he says.
Why working with Giorgio Moroder on ‘Future Past’ was so special
In a candid Zoom call from Las Vegas, Taylor spoke with The Arizona Republic about keeping the spirit of “Rio” alive while looking ahead to the Phoenix date on a tour where fan energy kinda feels like visiting the USA in the 80’s.
My friend who has seen the tour twice says the dancefloor-friendly nature of the new songs feels a bit like a tie-in to previous records.
We have to thank Erol Alkan, the producer who did most of the record, for that. He wanted to incorporate the kind of earlier grooves into the more contemporary music we produce. So there were a lot more gigs, a lot more work from John (Taylor) and me in the studio, where we really dug in and created organic grooves.
Of course, we worked with Giorgio Moroder, who is a real hero for us. It is really part of the DNA of these first discs. In fact, the first song we played live as Duran Duran was “I Feel Love”. So bringing him in to work on this record gave him that kind of early Duran feel.
Now seems like a particularly good time for this type of record, coming out of the pandemic.
I think people are ready to party again. The energy coming from the audience is unlike anything I’ve felt since the first days we came to America in the early 80s.
Was part of the appeal of naming the album “Future Past” the idea of moving forward into the future while embracing what you love about your past?
I think John and Simon (Le Bon) were describing the sound of the record to someone. And they said, “Oh, wow, it’s kind of like your future past, isn’t it? You’re looking into the future, but there are elements of your past on the record.” And John just clung to that phrase.
The title has always been so important with Duran Duran. I mean, you’re thinking “Rio”. It just tells you roughly what is going to be on the disk. “Seven and the Ragged Tiger” was a slightly more complex sounding record. We were taking several different routes. Again, the title sort of tells you that.
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This is also a 40th anniversary tour. What does it do?
It’s great to still be in the building. I can’t think of many bands that have been playing together for this long and are still releasing music that is embraced by the public. We don’t sit down and say, “Oh, wow, it’s our 40th anniversary. But I think we feel grateful that we still get recognition, that we can still go out and play, that we can still put out new records.
What do you think of those previous records when you hear them now?
I mean, I’m not one to blow my own trumpet (laughs). I think they sound good. When I hear one of Duran’s first songs on the radio, I always think “Wow, that still sounds good.” And I think it’s thanks to an incredible production. We had the chance to work with Colin Thurston on the first records, Alex Sadkin, Nile Rodgers, Bernard Edwards. It’s so important to have the right producer.
I listen to Chic records and they still sound great. I listen to Michael Jackson records. They sound amazing. And I think we’re definitely in that club where early records sound good. Prince is another. So it’s a great little club to be part of.
Do you remember a time in those early days when you felt like you had really captured what you were looking for in the sound of the band?
I do. I remember the exact moment. We had just finished the “Rio” album and were flying to Sri Lanka to make some videos. Nick (Rhodes) had stayed a few days in London to do more mixing on the record. Nick is such a perfectionist. And he finally finished mixing.
I arrived in Sri Lanka and – remember the old cassette players? — I received a cassette of the album. I sat in my room in Sri Lanka and put my headphones on and listened to the record until the end and I thought, “Wow, that’s something. I think we’ve finally reached what we were looking for.”
We formed in 1979. But I don’t think we really found the plan before “Rio”. And of course, it’s considered a classic 80s album. So I think my instincts were right.
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Why Roger Taylor left Duran Duran in 1985: ‘It was…like a runaway train’
You took some time to do this in 1985. Could you tell us how you came to this decision and how it felt to walk away from such a huge pop cultural phenomenon?
People didn’t understand why I was walking away from this thing that was at the height of its creativity, its fame, its success. I’m good at instinct. And my instinct told me at that moment that it was time to take a break. It had been five very intense years. And I never really had time to live a normal life.
So I said, “I’m going to take a break. I don’t know how long this is going to be. But I just know I need it.” The train was rolling. And the train wouldn’t stop for anyone then. It was like a runaway train. And I needed to rest for a while.
I like to live a normal life outside of work. And I couldn’t do that in 1985. It was impossible. So I thought it was time to walk away.
Did you miss it?
(Long pause). I think I did after a while. When I heard “The Wedding Album” I thought, “Wow, that’s a great record and I kinda miss being in that band.” So that kind of planted the seed. I worked with them in 96 around the album “Thank You”. Then finally we got together in 2001, which was great. I had had a normal life for a while. I had had children. I had left London. And I came back with a freshness.
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You’ll take your place in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in November. What does it do?
It’s incredible. It’s so huge to be part of it. I really don’t know what’s wrong with all of this. We never got much early recognition from critics or the establishment. And it looks like we’re finally getting the recognition we always thought we deserved. So it’s really good. We are very, very grateful.
Do you have any thoughts on what caused the kind of reversal in the way you’re received by critics and the establishment?
If we had been like a three-album wonder and disappeared completely in 1985, we would have been written out of history as a teenage band. Because we would have come out of that kind of teenage band experience, if you will. But people had time to listen and think, “Actually, they’ve made some really good records over the years. We worked hard to stay together. We worked hard to make records. And I think at the end of the day, we kind of got our due.
You said you consider Duran Duran a work in progress.
We have never been satisfied. We never sat on our laurels thinking, “Wow, we’ve made three great records and that’s it. We did our thing. There was always the feeling that we could improve in everything. We always think we can be better. This is very important if you are going to stay for a long time. You have to keep looking forward. You can’t keep looking over your shoulder.
When: 7 p.m. Wednesday, September 7.
Where: Footprint Center, 201 E. Jefferson St., Phoenix.
Admission: $24.50 and up.
Details: 602-379-7800, ticketmaster.com.
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