From the S&S archives: Duran Duran: Still hungry
DON'T LET THE NAME of Duran Duran's new world tour fool you.
It's called "Strange Behavior," but there's really nothing strange about the trio's mannerisms on stage. In fact, the band's concert is quite normal, if you like dance music and fancy light shows.
"Strange Behavior" is a line from Duran Duran's new single, Skin Trade, a song off the recent Notorious album that deals with the selling power of sex.
"We thought it sounded kind of nice," said keyboardist Nick Rhodes. But, he added, "there's all sorts of strange behavior going on all the time when pop groups are on tour."
Unfortunately, reporters usually aren't privy to such information, in particular when it comes to a band as image-conscious as Duran Duran. During an interview before a recent concert in Essen, Germany, Rhodes, 24, and bassist John Taylor, 26, presented themselves as mature, self-confident young men who take their music seriously. But, they admit, they've had a hard time convincing others to do the same.
"A lot of people are very offhand about our music and say, 'Well, they're just a little-girl's band that makes pretty videos,' " said Taylor. "We're not. We're a lot more than that. We just have to slowly prove that to everybody. It may take us a couple more years."
Eight years in the music business apparently hasn't been long enough for the bandmembers to establish credibility in their craft. Rhodes and Taylor founded Duran Duran in the spring of 1978 in Birmingham, England, naming the group after a villain in the science-fiction movie, Barbarella. With singer Simon LeBon, guitarist Andy Taylor and drummer Roger Taylor, the band soon became an institution in the United Kingdom. Their New Romantic synth-pop, combined with their penchant for fashion, provided an alternative to the punk scene dominating England at the time.
In 1982, Duran Duran conquered America with the hit single, Hungry Like the Wolf. When MTV began airing the song's video, the handsome British pop stars quickly became the pinup boys of the '80s. Their subsequent tour brought thousands of screaming teenyboppers to concert halls across the nation.
After two years, the teen sex symbol image began to wear thin The bandmembers decided it was time to show the world that they weren't just pretty boys riding high on a passing fad. John Taylor and Andy Taylor joined forces with singer Robert Palmer and Chic drummer Tony Thompson to form the Power Station; LeBon, Rhodes and Roger Taylor recorded an album under the name of Arcadia.
"For us to maintain, to keep it all together and continue to make music, we had to have the experiences we'd had with these other projects," said Taylor. "Before we did (them), we'd never been in the studio with anyone else. So in terms of opening our heads, they were really useful."
"The one thing that those projects certainly taught us," added LeBon, "was the fact that (while) it was great working with other people, working together we can still make the best records."
The bandmembers had every intention of keeping Duran Duran alive as a quintet, but it didn't work out that way. Drummer Roger dropped out — the music business "wasn't doing him any good," said Taylor. Guitarist Andy simply didn't show up at the recording sessions for the new album.
"He sent his lawyers instead," said Taylor.
Andy finally did appear — to add some riffs to Notorious and to announce his departure. Still, LeBon, Taylor and Rhodes held out.
"Between the three of us, we've always had this spirit of what Duran Duran was meant to be about, and we knew where Duran Duran should go," said Taylor.
Following the European tour, the band will tour the United States and Canada. Then it's back to the business of making records —and working on achieving a major goal.
"We started out intending to become a major rock force, and that's what we still intend to become," said Rhodes.