Duran Duran


Duran Duran: “From day one, we’ve always tried to move forward with our sound”

Duran Duran drummer Roger Taylor would have been a frontman, had it not been for nerves. Instead, he sits behind the drum kit of one of pop’s most enduring bands, treating tour after tour like it’s their very first, as he provides the backing for classics like ‘Rio’, ‘Ordinary World’ and ‘Hungry Like A Wolf’.

“It’s a bit like going on a very long boat journey, you have to change your psyche somehow,” Taylor says of extended tours that see the band thrill their fanbase. “The music business is a really strange business, you’re either at home holding the hoover, or away for months on end, and we have to make that transition. But it’s exciting, it’s been a number of years since we’ve toured the UK and Ireland.”

“We’ll be playing a real mix,” he says of the shows. “We like to deliver the classic hits that people know and love, but also mix in some more contemporary songs. The great thing about the ‘Future Past’ record is that the songs really mix in well with the earlier stuff. It was about recapturing some of that earlier sound and bringing it into the now, which has really helped the transition from studio to the live show.”

Taylor can’t help chuckling when I mention the revival of Kate Bush and Top Gun – the apparent return of the 80s, again. “When we reunited in 2003, the first thing we were told was that there’s an 80s revival,” he laughs, “so it’s been a long one. It keeps bouncing back, probably because it was such an exciting decade for music, fashion, and visually stunning, too. We went a little bit grey, for me, in the 90s. We harp back to that period because it was a no-holds barred period, and we loved to remind people of that.”

“I knew that I wanted to be a musician, and Birmingham taught me everything I needed to know,” Taylor says looking back. “I was quite shy growing up, and I never had that frontman cockiness that you need. I get to hide a little bit at the back. When first sat down at a drum kit, I felt like I had a natural ability. I found I could play a lot of the songs I was listening to in my record collection. It’s the perfect instrument for me.”

“I’m a bit more relaxed and less frantic than perhaps I was early on. Those early Duran Duran songs sound like they were written on speed. We still play them that fast as we like to honour the original recording. ‘Rio’ usually comes right at the end of the set, and we’ve been playing for two hours, and it’s breakneck speed. That’s always a tough one for me.”

For all their experience, the stress never completely leaves. “We all get quite nervous about every tour and every show, as you get to a certain point where you have to honour your previous level of performance. You don’t want to be known for a performance that you did ten years ago, to even six months ago. It’s all about the show tonight, and you have to honour those best performances.”

“From day one, we’ve always tried to move forwards with our sound. The second album is very different from the first record. We’ve never tried to make the same record twice, and we’re still like that today. The next record – and I’m sure we will make another record – will sound very different to ‘Future Past’.”

“I often get asked now how we keep going, how we stay relevant. The answer is we always try to keep making something different. We’re very lucky that all our influences were very different, from Kraftwerk to New York disco to AC/DC. We still draw upon them all.”