Duran Duran new album “Future Past” out today: “we’re much more constant than the Pope!”

Duran Duran has delivered yet another incredible genre-spanning piece of work. For their 15th release, the band worked alongside British DJ / producer Erol Alkan and Italian composer / producer Giorgio Moroder, and some of the most unexpected and inspiring names in pop – including multi-platinum Swedish hit-maker Tove Lo (‘GIVE IT ALL UP’), ‘Queen of Drill’ Ivorian Doll (‘HAMMERHEAD’), and Japan’s CHAI (‘MORE JOY!’). In addition, Blur’s Graham Coxon co-wrote and lends his guitar to several tracks on the record, and David Bowie’s former pianist, Mike Garson, adds an exquisite sonic layer to album closer ‘FALLING.’ The record, which was recorded across studios in London and L.A., also features long-time collaborator Mark Ronson, who co-wrote and played on ‘WING’, and was mixed by Mark ‘Spike’ Stent.


Ph. John Swannell

Duran Duran has met the Italian press, during a Zoom call meeting last week, everyone connected in the comfort of their home. John Taylor was in L.A., California. Simon, Roger and Nick were connected from London, U.K.

About the album, ‘Future Past’, John Taylor says: We’re very excited about the sound. Yeah, and I qualify that by saying, you know, we’re always excited about a new album when we put it out, but I think this one particularly, it feels a very as you alluded to, it’s a great representation of everything that we’ve ever, you know, we’ve ever represented in music. We put a lot our hearts and souls into this record, it’s a very emotional record. And we’ve been living with it for about six months now, which is, you know, it’s been a very long lead up to the, to the release of the album. And, and I think it’s still revealing itself to us, but it’s quite an autobiographical record. We’re very excited to be with BMG with this particular release, and very excited for it to be released in Italy. It’s always been such a wonderful country for us, and it’s treated us so well, and we’re very appreciative of all of you, all of you guys Joining us this morning. Yeah, yeah”.


Ph. John Swannell

The band are excited to collaborate with the pioneering Italian composer and producer, Giorgio Moroder: “Well, actually, we couldn’t have chosen two more different producers on this album if we tried – says Nick Rhodes  –  Erol is absolutely full of energy, entirely unpredictable. Crazy, but  extremely inspiring. Giorgio Moroder is very measured. He is concise. He works very quickly. He knows exactly what he wants. And he was also incredibly inspiring. We wanted to work with Giorgio, since the very inception of Duran Duran. In fact, we were just talking about it the other day, when we played our first show together in 1980, as the original lineup with Simon we played at the Rum, a club in Birmingham, and we opened our set with a cover version of the song I feel love (the Donna Summer song), which, of course, Giorgio produced and the song that I personally feel changed music forever certainly dance music dominant agree, Georgio was an absolute joy, consummate professional, and just such a sweet person really lovely, calm, great energy. And, and he was always interested in where to find the best food, which I appreciated”.


Ph. John Swannell

I think Blur are an important British group – says Simon – They affected a lot of bands that came after them. And they were, they had a very different way of approaching music. And they were experimental. The same time, we’re able to kind of reference the other bands that came before them, like the kinks, for example. And Graham is an extraordinary guitarist. And I think he had an extraordinary effect on the record we made. This was the first record that we’ve made with a creative guitarist in the writing room. Since we work with Warren Kukula, really, Graham came in right from the beginning of the writing session. And right from the start, he started influencing the way that music went. He likes to experiment. He likes to play things that you’ve never heard. these new guitar ideas that would affect the way  that john was playing the bass the way we played. You know, it was  a real joy to work with Graham”.


Ph. John Swannell

Roger Taylor married his first wife, Giovanna Catone, in Naples during the eighties. Those were the crazy days, right before duran mania arise in Italy: “My first marriage was in NaplesRoger sayswe had to escape  from the press on a boat and we went out on the Bay of Naples I think around it was the time of wild boys,  I just remember  being chased down the street by people on scooters. Suddenly overnight we’ve become huge in Italy. And I think  it’s a relationship that’s grown over the years and you know, we love to come to Italy, we feel we have a lot in common with Italy. You know, we love the food in Italy, the fashion. So we always have a great time when we come, but it’s been a really enduring relationship with would never seem to have gone away in Italy. It’s worked really great relationship for us”.


Ph. John Swannell

“I think we’re more aware today, I think we’re more open to the emotions of others – John says –  When we take to the stage, we’re very aware of the emotion and that we’re challenged with it, we’re channeling. I mean, it’s quite a gift to get that kind of energy from a crowd. I mean, 40 years ago, I kind of feel we were holding on for our lives. It was when the band was very, very successful very quickly. We hadn’t been together all that long. And a lot was being asked of us, in our early 20s. I think today we’re kind of able to enjoy, the ride and be more appreciative of what the audience is giving us.   We’ve just had a short run of shows in,in the UK and in America. And it’s been obviously the first time that we’ve gotten to play in a couple of years and the first time that we’ve played since COVID. And  it was quite profound, really they were all incredibly emotional events.  I don’t know I think it’s something that music is at, maybe it’s something to do with the time that we’ve been around, but it does seem to Be an emotional experience. I mean, it’s always been emotional in Italy, quite honestly, from fthe first concert we ever played in Italy, ag concert events in Italy have always been extremely emotional. But emotions are good, it’s good”.


Duran Duran during the Q&A with director Alison Jackson and Larry Flick (Billboard)

“I think what you’ve asked touches on the very center of everything we do, because we’re constantly trying to connect with people emotionally – Nick says – We try to do that, firstly, through writing music. And if you write a song that can either lift somebody spirits, or make them question something in life for or just somehow affect them emotionally, they think you’ve achieved something special. And of course, that carries through to the live shows, as john was explaining, where you have that very direct interaction with the audience, and you actually see their emotions come come alive, you see on their faces when we play certain songs. For us, f that is a really wonderful thing to be able  to make people smile. And I think that, certainly with this album, it is quite an emotional journey. Lyrically, Simon has produced I think, some of the most personal lyrics that he’s ever written. And I think where we are in the world right now, everything that we’ve been through for the last couple of years, but also the previous couple of decades, where things have moved so much the way people have relationships now, and our relationship with technology, and the Internet has really altered the way we interact in the world. And I think some of that is extremely positive, because we’re all so connected. And then I think part of it is awfully negative, because we lose that closeness and that very direct contact, where you might you used to be able to go and meet a friend, of course, you still do, but meaning maybe you’d meet a friend more often at a local bar or a restaurant or something. Now, it’s more often a text or a quick call or video call or something. And I think human interaction remains the greatest thing that we all have”.


Ph. Nefer Suvio

Then came the question every fan is afraid of. Since the music business has changed nowadays, with more streaming on its way, did Duran Duran has considered to retire from their career in music?

“I think we all kind of look try to understand the situation and try to see how it affected usSimon saysAnd I mean, there was definitely the beginning of this project, there was  a train of thought that certainly I was subscribing to that people only listen to a few tracks off an album, and that maybe you didn’t need to go in and do a full full album you could go in and that we could go in and do say five tracks and and put that out. But actually when that  whole kind of idea was overtaken by the creativity that was in the writing room when we went in there and and the album was determined to be born”.

“Just one quick thing to add to that is that I think that the format of music as very much changed Simon was talking about – Nick says –  you know, maybe somebody just takes a track or people listen to things on random, or playlists and different songs by different artists come up. But for us, and the period we came from the album was the ultimate artistic statement for any band or solo artists to make the format of it, a collection of songs. It’s almost like a painter doing an exhibition. You put it together and that’s what you’re presenting to people and I don’t think that has ever left us because whilst it’s great to release a song here and a song there and sometimes four or five songs before you even release your album now. Ultimately, the format of producing a record or collect Have songs together I still think is the greatest strength for music artists”

“ I was gonna saySimon adds  – actually that  there is a resurgence in the vinyl the LP my kids have started to want to know how to use the record player and I think that the part of that its the fact that people are willing to invest you know 45 minutes of their time into the artistic  work of one Artist and they  don’t necessarily have to jump from one artist to another to another to another all the time. In fact I think that that’s another thing  that COVID has done you know in this year and a half of lockdown we’ve had a little bit more time to get to a little bit to immerse ourselves for a little bit longer in the artist”

Duran Duran has been impressed by overwhelming success of Måneskin, like everyone! “Obviously, we all saw the Eurovision results and things in the media – Nick saysYeah, I think they’ve got a good energy and they’ve definitely got a new modern look. I need to hear the songs more to really comment on that but really, it’s great to have something new coming out of Italy that has been more international. And  I love that they’re more edgy and and modern looking”. “I saw the original song contest. Yeah. And I thought they  were  the best bits of music and the best acts on the show” Simon adds.

What does mean to be an ICON? “I think all you can ever hope for when you make music, or you make art or you make cinema or or whatever your genre is, is that you’re connecting with people – Nick says – If you’re able to connect with a nation of people in some deeper way, and become somehow a part of the fabric of the pop culture of that country. That’s a pretty extraordinary thing. It isn’t something that I think any of us would have considered, was particularly possible for us or even other bands or artists. But it happened to a degree with Italy, we realize that I remember seeing something in one of one of your weekly news magazines, that people that once at one point voted that Simon was as recognizable as the Pope”.

“Yeah, I think  we’re much more constant than the Pope – Simon saysWe’ve only had a few minor changes. we’ve had a few lineup changes. We’ve been more constant than the Pope, because he’s only been around for 40 years”.

About David Bowie and Mike Garson collaboration with Duran Duran, John says:David Bowie is probably the most consistent influence on the four of our lifetimes. Getting Mike to come and perform on this song was a real dream, actually. And yes, we consciously  referenced his work particularly on ALLADIN SANE. And Mike was very, very happy to come and do that. I mean, the sound design on that particular song I feel is like an credit to our engineer Josh Blair, and the producer of that song, AROL alchemy. It’s quite a masterpiece, if I say so myself. And I feel also it’s as the last song on the album, it’s almost like unwittingly become a tribute to David Bowie. And the fact that he passed in a time since we put out our last album. Mike’s an amazing force, you know, in music and he then brought us into the tribute the online tribute event that happened at the beginning of the year where we got to perform five years with my which also was a I feel a career high in a way it was a really extraordinary song to perform to play”.


Ph. Nefer Suvio

How did the pandemic affect your life and your work?: “I think it’s impossible for the pandemic not to have affected the way that we all liveNick says – We were in the middle of the Duran Duran album with this album. And the pandemic struck and we all had to leave the studio and go home to isolate. We weren’t allowed to work together. JOHN went back to California. And I believe he did a lot of painting, which was I thought an inspired choice. My first instinct was to start logging my digital photos that I thought I would never do in my lifetime. So I sat at home just going tree flower building for for a long time. But then Personally, I thought it was going to drive me completely insane if I couldn’t work and I had no idea like everybody else how long it was going to last. So I I managed to find a way to work in the studio alone with with an article Wendy Bevan who was in California and I made four albums, instrumental albums during lockdown”.

Well, yeah, I mean, it was sadnessRoger addsParticularly Italy had a really tough time with it. Very early, I think it was the first western country to really have a bad and we were kind of watching you, you guys thinking oh my god, that’s terrible. Wow, what a dreadful thing to happen to a country. And of course, it happened to us, you know, and it was a difficult period. But we’ve just come back from America, we do some shows and American It feels like we’ve we’re kind of coming out of it. You know, we played to bus to be in 100,000 people in Austin, Texas. And the bills that were on a bit of a crest of a wave and I’ve always said that once we come out of this pandemic. It’s going to be really a really positive time for the world. And I think we’re going to really appreciate everything that was taken away from us, you know, a lot more than we ever would have done”.

“I think there are people who really, kind of got that you didn’t know how to cope with COVID at all – Simon adds – and people who just can’t seem to kind of disappear and just deal with it in their own quiet way. Personally,  I always tried to make the best out of a situation I knew it wasn’t,  great thing that was happening to the world. But I thought there’s something changed and, and I wanted to see if I could  do something useful during that change. And it turned out that quite a lot of useful factors. Quite a lot of useful things happened during that time. I mean, I did the sort of the clichéd thing of, I learned how to make sourdough bread. And I sort of started, you know, I got into exercise. And I dealt with quite a few issues myself, I started after a while for quite early on it should be I started listening to new music, which was my daughter’s suggestion. She suggested  that although I called myself a musician, I really didn’t like music. And I really, especially didn’t like new music. And I thought about this and I realized that she had a very good point, actually. So I knew I wanted to reconnect myself, with the current music scene, especially this sort of the more underground, the more alternative music scene. And I did so. And I ended up having, putting together a radio show, a weekly radio show, which really focuses on new music that comes out. that’s still due right now. But all through that time, something else was happening for me. In the back of my mind, I think all the work that we done on future past before the pandemic, had it kind of it fell into place. And so when we went back in the studio, after, after the lockdown, and and re commenced our work on the album, it really seemed to be much easier to, to know what the what the record needed, what lyrics  were all about what music was there, what could b be incorporated to make it sound new and modern. We’d spent I think we worked it out, there was 14 months or 15 months of work on the album before the pandemic before the lockdown  AND four or five months after. We did as much work if not more than we’ve done before   the pandemic to get it finished. And so, for me, I was able to find something very positive in all”.


Luana Salvatore

Luana Salvatore About Luana Salvatore

giornalista pubblicista, è editore e direttore responsabile di RioCarnival Music Magazine dal 2010, nonchè co-fondatrice della omonima fanzine italiana dedicata ai Duran Duran (1987). Ha fatto parte dell'Academy MEDIMEX (la giuria per i premi delle produzioni musicali italiane, equivalente dei Brit Awards) e collaborato con alcune testate giornalistiche musicali, tra cui Rolling Stone Italia.
Si interessa e scrive di Musica, Cinema, Cultura, Yoga e Lifestyle.
Contatti: editor@riocarnivalmagazine.it