Duran Duran Drummer Roger Taylor on '80s Nostalgia and Exploring New Sounds

Duran Duran hits Hard Rock Live.
Duran Duran hits Hard Rock Live.
Photo by Stephanie Pistel
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If a Duran Duran show sounds like a throwback to the "Greed Is Good" era, well, you're half right. The five-person act fronted by singer Simon Le Bon emerged in the early '80s as part of the New Wave movement that bifurcated from punk rock; in the following decade, Duran Duran became one of the best-known bands in the world, achieving mainstream success in America and overseas with the 1984 album Rio and eventually selling more than 100 million records worldwide. Songs such as "Hungry Like the Wolf" and "Girls on Film" came to define the era.

But while they rode their wave of popularity throughout the rest of the '80s, Le Bon and crew restructured their sound toward the end of the decade when hip-hop and alternative became the music of the times. The band's music evolved, but one thing that remained is Duran Duran's affinity for the experimental, in both music and visuals.

Now the bandmates are touring to support their 14th studio album, Paper Gods. Ahead of their stop at Hard Rock Live next Wednesday, New Times talked to drummer Roger Taylor about the band's latest release and how Duran Duran remains popular after 30 years.

New Times: Have you performed in South Florida before?

Roger Taylor: We have. Florida has always been a big market for us, actually. I think it was one of the very first places in my memory that really got the spirit of Duran Duran that seemed to resonate with Miami and Florida and all that... I like the music down there as well. I like the Miami dance music scene. It's an exciting place for us to be coming, definitely.

How does the band stay relevant after 30 years?

I think we've never been afraid of change; that's been the biggest thing. We made the Rio album in 1983, and everyone at the time said that was kind of like a seminal piece of work. It would have been very easy to keep making the Rio album year after year after year. If you look at the next album, Seven and the Ragged Tiger, that was a very different album. We're not one of these bands that stick to a formula. We're explorers, and we're not afraid to go off-piste a little bit and explore new territory, and I think that keeps the audience interested.

How did the production of Paper Gods stack up against the rest of the band's albums?

We always spend a long time making albums, to be honest with you. That's been the case since Seven and the Ragged Tiger, which is our third album. I think there's a certain perfectionism that runs through the band. There's no such word as "perfection," but I don't think we're happy until it's something we really love as a band. It's never been a quick, easy process with Duran Duran. There's always been a certain amount of pain with making the records. I'm sure when we pick up the pen again for the next record... it's going to be the same again. We always say this time it's going to take us three months from start to finish and we're going to do it really quickly. But it's always a long, painful process.

How did you get talent as diverse as Lindsay Lohan, John Frusciante, and Mark Ronson for Paper Gods?

This album was all about collaboration. I think the first collaboration on the record was to get Nile Rogers to come play guitar with us. That was such an obvious thing to do... One of the songs happened really quickly, "Pressure Off"; that just kind of got the ball rolling with all of the collaborations. I think also that when you're 18 months into a project, it's good to bring new blood into the studio and take it outside the four of us a little bit. The collaborations really worked on this record.

There's been a resurgence of '80s nostalgia, perhaps tied to the current political turmoil. Where do you think Duran Duran fits into that?

It's the greatest form of flattery, I think, when people try to emulate or copy you. It was a great period of time, I feel, the '80s, a fantastically creative period of time. I guess if people can kind of pick up on that creativity and kind of reinvent it, I think it's a great thing.

Duran Duran
8 p.m. Wednesday, April 5, at Hard Rock Live, 1 Seminole Way, Hollywood; 866-502-7529; seminolehardrockhollywood.com. Tickets start at $55.

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