The grand dukes of decadence, Duran Duran, are jetting into Hong Kong. Bassist and chief ‘throb John Taylor is as excited as we are, writes Jenny Valentish
So John, you’re in the middle of a world tour at the moment – how are you pacing yourself?
Your energy is really focused on the show, and everything that you do is for show day; even the day off is geared towards making sure the performance is as good as it can be. It’s quite good, because you tend to really look out for yourself – you eat well, you keep yourself fit, and then suddenly when you come off tour you’re kind of deprogrammed; you can just let it all hang out. But then everything starts going wrong, and you blame it on the wife: ‘it’s your fault I’ve put on eight pounds!’
In the Girl Panic video you put pay to any banal questions you might get asked on this latest press jaunt by getting supermodels Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Helena Christensen, Eva Herzigova and Jasmin LeBon to answer them ‘as’ Duran Duran. Do you find the bigger you get the more inane the questions become?
It never seemed like we got asked questions of any real significance. I always used to bemoan the fact that we didn’t get asked the kind of questions that Pete Townshend would be asked. We never got asked for our views on governments and the world economic situation, but then when we do get asked those sort of questions we don’t really know how to answer them.
Well, you don’t tend to cover them much in your songs…
It’s just a dance that you have to go through really. I mean you always try to make an interview as positive an experience as you can make it. When you’re doing a lot in a row it does start to wear on you, but I think that’s one of those things that you have to be prepared to do if you want to be successful. You can’t really have an attitude about that sort of thing.
What’s fabulous about the Girl Panic video is that it’s so overtly decadent and over the top that it could be saying – with a wink –
to every other act, ‘don’t even bother trying’.
Nick [Rhodes] came up with the idea of getting the supermodels to play us, which was a cute idea – at one point we were thinking about playing ourselves. We connected with the director and he just took it to a whole new level… he just had this grand scheme. It was a monster, it was a monster to make and produce… to get everybody there, to get the finance… it broke every rule in terms of how we have been making videos for the last 10 or 15 years. We couldn’t be happier with it. It was the first video that we’d done significantly in 15 years where we have not had any thoughts about, ‘where are we going to place the video? Is MTV going to play it? Is the BBC going to play it?’ We knew the day that it launched it would go viral. It was on YouTube and that was it – it was in the public domain and out of our hands. There was something quite fresh about that, and it’s taken us a long time to come to terms with the new model of marketing, which is basically a free-for-all, but you have to have a really cool product. Nobody’s happy when you make a song, an album or a recording that goes viral because then it impacts on your sales. But with this, we could only benefit.
What’s your stance on illegal downloading?
It’s never, ever bothered me. I’m a music fan that didn’t have a lot of pocket money when he was a kid. I bought what I could afford and taped the rest off the radio or made a tape from my friend’s copy of the album. We’ve always done well. We love to write, we’ve got a lot of songs out there and we love to perform. I’m not hurting. I don’t have an attachment to what I call ‘delivery systems’. We write songs and we perform them live – that’s what we do for a living. How the songs get out there into the public domain… it can go either way. The younger generation… it’s been so easy for them to get music free; I don’t know whether they’re ever going to get their heads around the idea of paying for music. I think songwriters and performers will survive. They just will. Maybe there isn’t as much money in the pot as there was in
the mid-70s or mid-80s, but the good writers and the good performers will survive.
Duran Duran play AsiaWorld Expo on Wed March 14. Tickets: 3128 8288; hkticketing.com.