The Paris Station
They've been soaking up French culture and recording "heavy, slow, sex-sleaze dance music" as Arcadia. But now, Simon, Nick and Roger face their mose herculean challenge: a chat with the Smash Hits Terror Trio.
AH, PARIS. CITY OF LIGHTS.
"The one thing we didn't want to do," Roger Taylor explains, "was make it sound like another rock and roll band like "The Something." We actually thought of calling it So Red The Rose because it was so off-the-wall and so un-rock sounding."
They saved that bit of fancy poetry for the title of their freshly released vinyl epic, which Mr. Taylor reluctantly labels "Ambient Atmospheric European Dance Music". The sea-farin' Mr. le Bon concurs, "It's definitely not rock music. It's very sensitive and passionate. It's dance music but some of it is just music to be listened to." The first single, "Election Day" is according to Simon, "heavy, slow sex-sleaze dance music" (do tell!). "But," he adds, "there's others that contrast absoutely withthat. Things like 'El Diablo', which is like a South American mountain gypsy folk song."
Like their colleagues in The Power Station, the Arcadians are confident that they've gained new knowledge and experience working on this LP. "this was the first time I played with any other musicians," Nick confesses. "I mean I formed Duran Duran when I was 16 with John. And it seems that I've never played with anybody else." He made up for that in a hurry by drafting in a supporting cast featurng percussionist David Van Tieghem "who's really bizarre" and Raphael de Jesus, who's toured with Duran, and bassist Mark Egan. "And then we used three different guitarist: Masami Tsuchiya, who's very new and Inventive, and slightly oriental, obviously (And who also toured with British art-group Japan--David Sylvian's Socks Ed.); Carlos Alomar, who I think is the best rhythm guitarist in the world, and David Gilmour who has such a great way of picking out melodies. It sounds like it could be a right mess, but somehow the chemistry just clicked."
Experimentation was very much the order of the day. "The first day we ever did something, we cut a track in the studio live, the first time all the musicians had played together, which we've never done before," Nick says. "I was shocked at the sound of it. It is really quite freaky!" For Simon, it meant an opportunity to twang a guitar--"Andy would never let me"--and "have more personal artistic freedom. With Duran you have to go through a whole committee, which is like a filter designed to lead towards excellence." "With Duran," Nick adds, "we bash it out and make a lot of noise. It's like some sort of maze that you have to find the center of. With Simon, it was much calmer." Rally, Simon? "Oh, I always wrassle with Nick," Simon laughs. "We're like distorting mirrors to each other. You can tell how different we are, so there's a load of tension, but it's something that works very well artistically."
Working in Paris had more than just artistic advantages. "It's a really cool place for us to be because you can be very anonyous," Roger acknowledges. "In France you see Mick Jagger walk down the street and people say, 'Oh, that's Mick Jagger', but no one runs down the street after him." If anyone followed Roger home, they might have been doubly delighted by the fact that he and Giovanna shared a "typically French apartment with massivly high ceilings" with Simon.
Eventually, the whole gang headed off to New York, where the fans, Simon says, "are a lot more crazy." It's also where they mixed the album in a familiar studio called--you guessed it--The Power Station. "It is sort of ironic," Roger chuckles. "But we always knew we'd end up there cause there's no better place in the world. I can tell when a record's been mixed there just from the drum sounds."
Now, that it's all finished, they're hoping that there'll be time to stage a few select concerts which, Nick muses, "would be a radically different experience." (We certainly hope so--Mindbending Ed.) And everyone is looking forward to getting back into that Duran groove, which may not be until early next year, depending on Simon's sailing schedules.
"It'll be like getting back together with old friends," Nick smiles. "I think we really needed that break. Not that we were at each other's throats, but you reach a oint where..."
"We all basically fell out with each other and reconciled ourselves with each other," Simon says plainly. "Except for Roger, who's never fallen out with anybody. But myself, Nick, John and Andy have all had raging rows and grudges borne and dispelled and all through that we've formed very, very deep relationships. We're definitely coming out of childhood as a group. We are having growing pains at the moment. I mean it's very obvious when a band does decide to go ahead and make two different records that they want to make some changes and try different things out. And it's not really a dissatisfied-with-Duran situation. It's just a desire to see what else there is going on. You do have to strike when the iron is hot. So I would say this is the rebellious teenage perioud we're going through."