Countdown Memories

An interview with JOHN TAYLOR by Jason

Formed in 1978 in Birmingham by Nick Rhodes (Nicholas Bates) and John Taylor, Duran Duran took their name from the cult sc-fi movie Barbarella starring Jane Fonda. The original members of the band were: John Taylor, Nick Rhodes, Simon Colley on drums and Stephen Duffy on vocals. Stephen Duffy became a solo artist in the 80’s with the hit single “Kiss Me”. Other work by Stephen included The Lilac Time, Me Me Me and more recently The Devils, a collaboration with Nick Rhodes.

After Simon Colley left he was replaced by Andy Whicket.

Also Roger Taylor joined the band. Andy Whicket was replaced with Alan Curtis and Stephen replaced with Jeff Thompson. They started performing at the Rum Runner in Birmingham and a tape with four tracks including: ”Girls On Film” and “Late Bar” was sent to record companies. Alan Curtis and Jeff Thompson left finally to be replaced by Andy Taylor and Simon Le Bon.

Duran Duran’s success began in 1981 with their debut single “Planet Earth” which went Number 1 in Australia and broke them through Countdown. Other hits through the first half of the 80’s included Careless Memories, Girls On Film, My Own Way, Hungry Like The Wolf, Save A Prayer, Rio, Is There Something I Should Know, Union Of The Snake, New Moon On Monday, The Reflex, The Wild Boys and A View To A Kill.

From 1981 to 1984 Duran Duran produced 4 albums as a 5 piece including Duran Duran, Rio and Seven And The Ragged Tiger mixed in Sydney’s Studio’s 301. Duran Duran also released the live album Arena with the added “Wild Boys” single.

In 1985 Duran Duran split into 2 separate units producing 2 very innovative bands being Arcadia and Power Station. Arcadia consisting of Nick Rhodes, Simon Le Bon and Roger Taylor released the singles “Election Day”, “The Promise”, “Goodbye Is Forever” and “The Flame” all taken from the album So Red The Rose.

So Red The Rose also featured high profile artists Grace Jones, Sting and Herbie Hancock all performing on the album. So Red The Rose was most definitely a pure piece of art and creativity. Power Station featuring John Taylor, Andy Taylor and the two late and greatly talented Robert Palmer and Tony Thompson from Chic produced a more U.S influenced and certainly rock oriented sound. The Power Station singles from their debut album Power Station included “Some Like It Hot”, “Get It On (Bang A Gong)” and “Communication”

Duran Duran performed for the very last time in the 80’s as a five piece at 1985’s Live Aid. The new chapter of Duran Duran debuted in 1986 minus Roger and Andy Taylor with the album Notorious. The new and long staying member Warren Cuccurullo of Missing Persons joined the band and stuck around till 2000. Duran Duran continued to have hits and innovative singles in the second half of the 80’s and the 90’s with such tracks as Notorious, Skin Trade and Meet el Presidente from Notorious… I Don’t Want Your Love, All She Wants Is and Do You Believe in Shame from Big Thing… Violence Of Summer and Serious from Liberty… Ordinary World, Come Undone and Too Much Information from the hugely successful Wedding Album.

And the extraordinary cover of Perfect Day and White Lines from the covers album Thank You. John Taylor left Duran Duran after the Thank You album in 1995 and Duran Duran continued as a three piece with the fabulous album Medazzaland with the singles Out Of My Mind and Electric Barbarella. Duran Duran’s next album in 2000 was Pop Trash and the single taken off the album was the beautiful Someone Else Not Me.

In 2001 the extremely exciting and mind blowing news came to light with the announcement of the original line up of Duran Duran - Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes, John Taylor, Roger Taylor and Andy Taylor coming together again to make music for the first time since 1985!

Duran Duran toured Australia in December 2003 for the first time since 1983 and the reaction was simply amazing. Since then they have again returned to Australia and started promotion for the single “(Reach up for the) Sunrise”. Duran Duran arrived on Monday 23rd August 2004 and visited Sydney and Melbourne. In Australia the single was released on September 20, and is taken from the brand new album titled Astronaut which is out now!

I interviewed John Taylor via email through Megan Fowler at Sony Music. Many thanks to Megan for organising this interview and of course many thanks to John Taylor whilst very busy promoting in OZ! Below is the interview, ENJOY!

Jason: Duran Duran have always had a very healthy relationship with Australia which goes back to 1981 when Molly Meldrum’s Countdown broke Duran Duran with “Planet Earth”. Did you enjoy the many times you came to Australia in the early 80’s and appeared on Countdown and also building up a friendship with Molly?

John: When we arrived back in Brisbane last December, we had not been on Australian soil for over ten years. It was like meeting an old flame, and falling in love all over again. All of our tours have been hugely successful; the only disappointing visit was a 'promo only' trip in support of the 'Liberty' album in '89. Molly has always been a tremendous supporter of Duran, and we owe much of our success to him. He's been a good mate, and it's always good to see him.

Jason: Another great relationship with a fellow Australian was Russell Mulchay who directed many Duran Duran videos and endless bands and artists, how did that relationship come about and how important was video to the band at the time?

John: Russell was working in London at the beginning of the eighties. He had made a name for himself with the video he made for Ultravox, 'Vienna'. When we decided to make a video for 'Planet Earth', (primarily because of the song's popularity down under), EMI suggested Russell. I think everybody who knows anything about Duran Duran will tell you how important video has been to us.

Jason: Looking back at past lyrics in Duran Duran’s music many of the tracks obviously have hidden meanings but what is The Reflex about?

John: Ah, good question. The lyrics to that song have been mystifying us all for many years now, and will hopefully continue for many years more.

Jason: How did the reformation with the original line up of Duran Duran come about and were you excited to be back together after such a long period of time?

John: Simon and Nick had lunch at my house in LA, in the fall of '00. We called Andy and Roger that afternoon. We all agreed to meet in London some time soon after.  There was some trepidation, but mostly excitement. I think we all got a kick out of getting to spend time with each other again, we had been so close during our time together as a band.

Jason: Your last visit to Australia in December 2003 was a big success, as Duran Duran hadn’t played live since 1983 in Australia. Were you surprised by the great response from your fans?

John: Yes and No. There really isn't a better crowd than an Aussie crowd, although we have been blown away by the intensity of the crowds we have played to all over the world since we got back together.

Jason: The first single to be released from the forthcoming Duran Duran album “Astronaut” is titled “Sunrise”. What’s the reason for promoting the single in Australia first?

John: I think it's about timing. We wanted to get Australia off to a good start. Next year we'll be back for more concerts.

Jason: Duran Duran being the empire it is with a cult following of loyal fans how much easier has it made the musical direction of the album “Astronaut” knowing that the music industry is now so manufactured and saturated with the idol phenomenon?

John: We just tried to make the best album we could make.

Jason: Will Australian audiences see Duran Duran touring Australia again in the near future with the release of “Astronaut”?

John: Absolutely!

Interview conducted by Jason Grech, © Copyright 2004