Duran Duran Talk "All You Need Is Now"
Mon, 20 Dec 2010 15:05:36
13 is Duran Duran's lucky number. No, really.
The band is digitally releasing its 13th album, All You Need Is Now on December 21st, with a physical release to follow in February! For their 13th platter, Double D have partnered with "hot" or "right now," if you prefer, producer Mark Ronson, who manned the boards and twiddled knobs for sultry-voiced, bee-hived songbird Amy Winehouse. Perhaps you've heard of her? It's a semi-surprising partnership in theory, but the execution? Well that's right on!
All You Need Is Now will certainly remind you of Duran Duran classics, thanks to the synthy pop contained within. As they get older, they get better. Still, they are hungry like the wolf. Yeah, I went there. The record, which boasts collabs with Ana Matronic of Scissor Sisters and neo-soul diva Kelis, as well as Owen Pallett of Arcade Fire, is distinctly modern, while retaining Duran Duran's signature new wave crackle.
ARTISTdirect.com contributor and "All She Wants Is" and "The Reflex" fan Amy Sciarretto spoke with delightful keyboardist Nick Rhodes, who claimed he was feeling "fairly acceptable for a cold afternoon in NYC!"
All You Need is Now is a bit of a return to form and to early Duran Duran music. How much did Mark Ronson have to do with that?
I think it was the convergence of a lot of different things. Having Mark Ronson on board was a key factor to the way the record sounds and he was a joy to work with, as he has an energy and enthusiasm, for music and what he is involved with, that few I've come across have. He is a big fan and knows our new material intimately, and was okay with saying what he liked best and what worked about our sound and what we should be doing. We all had such great respect for Mark and what he has created. He made it easy to accept his opinions and views and to try things.
What were some of his criticisms, constructive or otherwise, that you took to heart?
He said things no one has said for a few decades - like listen to some of your own material instead of going somewhere new every time. He told us to look at things we created ourselves, since that is at the heart of what people want and what you are good at. We all looked deeper into catalog, to our first few albums, and it sounds right again. It sounds like something that should be out at the moment and modern, so it has become a complete circle. There is no doubt that our first two albums are the biggest influence.
You influenced yourselves! Was it hard to get back to this place?
Not really. Music is like fashion now. Things just feel right. It seems silly to say, but people get bored. What do people dance to? Disco beats. We have not used those since the early ‘80s. It feels right again. There's technology, different angles and different knowledge but the elements are the same. That sound, electronic pulses with dance beats, and how [singer] Simon [ LeBon] builds up harmonies, felt contemporary when we started playing, Artists that have cited our band as an influence and have used that sound themselves, and we want to bring it back into people's minds.
Your song with Kelis, "The Man Who Stole a Leopard," is very moody, a bit of a divergence for the upbeats of disco.
There are very few female vocalists, to me, that have an attitude and style and extraordinary voice that can pull off something that is more esoteric like that. She was at the top of the list, because her voice has that character and she has that charisma and attitude in her delivery. It was an unusual choice for us, but really, it was more unusual for her.
Then you shift gears and employ Arcade Fire's Owen Pallett, who is an indie rocker!
He did string arranges on "The Man Who Stole a Leopard," which was Mark's idea. We wanted a string arrangement on a song, but something more vibrant and not traditional to broaden the perspective and make it more artistic and not classically traditionally. Owen was the person to do it.
Duran Duran's career has been marked by pauses and movement and things like the uncharacteristic late ‘90s hit "Ordinary World," but this is more classic Duran Duran! What keeps you going and stops you from running out of steam 13 albums deep?
We don't ever run out of ideas and we like working together. We're a different unit than most. We feel what we have within the band is the ability to create whatever we want at any given time. We operate within our own vacuum; we don't seal out everything outside but we enter a room and close the doors and do what we want. It's the balance between rock guitar and electronics, and of course, the sound of Simon's voice. The arrangement is not that unusual but the sound itself is. After three decades, it is a real treat and thrill for us.
What is on Nick Rhode's Holiday Wish List?
Hmmm, I am considering an iPad, but I am waiting for them to release a new one. A few books. Something decent to read. Not sure what. I will read some book reviews, or defer to Simon. I like biographies, but they have to be good ones.
What is one thing you want fans to know about your 13th album!
Go and get it. Listen to it. The music has reached a point where it speaks for itself. I can spend hours talking about its ease and difficulty, but it works on the whole when people listen to it. It's undoubtedly one of the strongest of our career and I am thrilled to be releasing it. As cliché as it sounds, I am always the most excited the new one because we are bringing a new thing into the world.