80s POP “GODS” ELECTRIFY BROOKLYN
After decades in the spotlight, British pop icons Duran Duran command the stage at Barclays Center April 12 with “The Paper Gods Tour,” which travels across North America through August.
Coming off the release of their fourteenth studio album Paper Gods, the event will be a career-spanning celebration of hits such as “Hungry Like The Wolf,” “Girls On Film” and “Ordinary World” and they will share the evening with disco pioneers Chic featuring Nile Rodgers and possibly some others. Lead singer Simon Le Bon, keyboardist Nick Rhodes, bassist John Taylor and drummer Roger Taylor were poster boys for MTV’s music video generation building a presence with slick images and style, as part of the Second British Invasion, which solidified new wave and dance pop as one of the prominent sounds of the 80s.
With Paper Gods, Duran Duran shifted in a different direction with one of their most adventurous albums ever – collaborating with tourmate Nile Rodgers and Janelle Monae on recent single “Pressure Off” as well as with John Frusciante, Mr Hudson, Kiesza and even had Lindsay Lohan lend her voice to the track “Danceophobia.” New York City Monthly spoke recently with drummer Roger Taylor on his favorite part of New York City, how the new record came together and why Duran Duran music goes well beyond MTV’s heyday…
Roger, you have been with your bandmates for nearly 40 years. Duran Duran’s first arena tour stopped at Madison Square Garden in 1984 and your last NYC appearance was in October 2011 for “The All You Need Is Now Tour.” Have you played Barclays in the past and why will playing NYC be any different this time for you all?
Actually we have appeared there once before for Fashion Rocks, that was cool. What a cool venue, a great part of town. Every tour is special for us, this tour is all about the new album, Paper Gods which is our new baby. And that’s what makes it exciting for us I think is taking a new record on the road. We love playing the old tunes but it’s exciting for us to play new material – every time we come back we have something new. We are just grateful to still be in the building after all these years. We have enormous gratitude for the following that we have, it’s quite rare for a band to be playing at arenas for so long after the first tour, it’s incredible.
On new album Paper Gods, Duran Duran’s highest-charting album in 22 years, you share your most collaborative work yet. Live collabs are usually a blast – do you plan to have any special guests at Barclays like Kiesza, Mr Hudson, Janelle Monae, Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante on stage with you?
It’s probably a little early to predict that. We always love to have guests, we’ve had Ben Hudson at O2 arena, Nile comes and jams sometimes. It seems to depend on who is around. It’s usually a last-minute thing but we would love for somebody to come guest with us, but there are so many collaborators on this record and most are so busy right now.
New York has changed a lot over the years since you’ve been coming here with your new wave sound, 90s hits and more. What remains the same to you and what has changed for the better during your visits here, your leisure time, etc?
I think the energy stays the same, it’s always had this incredible vibe, we feel it when we step off the airplane. I think it’s always been like that, always been an incredibly driven city which we always loved. I left the band in the mid-80s and came back around 2000, so I hadn’t been to New York in a long time. We turned up at the Mercer Hotel in Soho and I couldn’t believe how much that had changed. The last time I was there it was like warehouses and a couple cool places, but I thought – wow, how did that happen? The whole development of the downtown area – I wouldn’t stay anywhere else. Nick always says it feels like a part of Europe broke off and floated across the Atlantic. We love staying in that part town.
Brooklyn rapper The Notorious B.I.G. of course sampled your hit “Notorious,” “Hungry Like The Wolf” has appeared on Glee and is now sampled in 5 Seconds of Summer’s “Hey Everybody!” track. Your songs have not only reached different genres of music, but have inspired new generations of music fans. What do you hope will be the big takeaway from the tour and this Brooklyn date?
The amazing thing is we do seem to be cross-generational. The way the kids are picking up on the songs is a great thing, it shows the songs were very very strong, and I think the new album stands up as well. We just did a UK tour just before Christmas and the new songs were going down just as well as the classics. I think it’s a brave record. The great thing about Duran Duran is we can pull on so many influences – we were influenced by early Clockwork, David Bowie, when Andy [Taylor] was in the band he was into heavy metal and AC/DC, John loved New York disco and Chic and Bernard Edwards.
(Photo Credit: Stephanie Pistel)