February 26: I have recently been in touch with some music business insiders and they were cool enough to pass along some Duran Duran informations. The news are about the stuff DD hoped to release last year. In fact in 2008 the band had many projects going on... this is probably the first time you hear about them. No one of these projects has seen the light yet [in typical Durantime some would say!?], but you never know, hopefully they will be released this year? Fingers crossed.
In 2008 the band hoped to release:
a feature film [in development with SonyBMG],
a comic book with Virgin Comics [wich was originally slated for release in late 2008]
a documentary film titled "Looking for Sushi [On Tour With Duran Duran]"
I also did some researches and I actually found out that In 2008 Virgin bosses have developed new stories with Duran Duran and other artists like John Woo, Guy Ritchie, Terry Gilliam, Hugh Jackman, Dave Stewart, Jonathan Mostow, Edward Burns, Nicolas Cage and Sachin Tendulkar. One of the articles says that the Duran guys were very interested in working with director Shekhar Kapur [sources publishersweekly.com and comixology.com] on their Virgin Comics book.
Virgin Comics LLC is a comic book company, founded in 2006, which produces stories [many of which are Indian-culture related] for an international audience. The company was founded by Sir Richard Branson and his Virgin Group, author Deepak Chopra, filmmaker Shekhar Kapur, and entrepreneurs Sharad Devarajan, Suresh Seetharaman, and Gotham Chopra. In August 2008, it was reported that the company will be restructuring, including closing its New York office and relocating the company to Los Angeles. In 2008, it was announced that Virgin Comics changed its name to Liquid Comics after a management buyout.
In 2008 the band also hoped to release their Second Life project [in the closet since 2006] opening the doors to their ‘virtual theme park’. Duran Duran has been always on the forefront of entertainment technology throughout the band’s 30-year history. They were “the first group to shoot a music video on location with director Russell Mulcahy, in 1982; the first band to use live video cameras and videoscreens in their concerts, on their 1984 US tour; the first artists to make a song available for digital download on the web [‘Electric Barbarella’] in 1997; and the first band to produce a pop video made entirely using Macromedia Flash software.” Duran Duran is widely recognized for being innovators and early adopters of music video technology.
Below the [yet unpublished] setlist of the Second Life virtual-show that Duran Duran were supposed to play in late 2006.
Second Life Live
Friends Of Mine
Girls On Film
A View To A Kill
[Reach Up For The] Sunrise
Somewhere Over The Rainbow
Here is what Nick Rhodes had to say to 3pointd.com in late 2006 about Second Life.
“I’ve not actually had a whole day to sit there and explore SL [but] I’ve been to some clubs and danced with a few goths, looked at what people have created so far. The detail is what really impressed more than anything. For example, we came from a long way out and flew into one beautiful garden, and we went so close in, macro close, that we went inside of a flower — and there was a bee in there, and it was collecting pollen. Now that’s my kind of place.”
Rhodes’s was instantly captivated by SL: “I just thought, This is what I’ve been waiting for. It’s everything that I’d hoped for, and that people had been predicting for the Internet from virtually its inception — if you’ll pardon the pun.”
The band hooked up with virtual-world services company Rivers Run Red, and the two “clicked together perfectly,” according to Nick.
“It remarkably reflects our real-life experiences, I realized that when I was looking at certain things and seeing when there was a group of people together and sharing a collective experience, just watching their reactions, how they all looked in the same direction or all jumped up with glee. You are sharing those same experiences.”
“I will have [an avatar] named Nick Rhodes, and I will spend as much time as I can interacting with people because I’m fascinated and curious. Goodness knows what I might run into. The beauty of the Internet is that one is rather safer than in the real world.”
The band’s island has four sims, with a concert stage where Duran Duran will play, a cinema, clubs and various other buildings...
For Rhodes, entering Second Life is a natural evolution for the band. “I love beautiful songs about the reality of our lives, but I also like sci-fi fantasy,” he said. “I think Second Life is the beginning of it. There are inevitably going to be many, many, many other virtual sites that spring up that are equally as good and eventually will become the next level of it. But right now, this is the most exciting place for us to be.”
February 23: The Le Bons have been on the spot recently with Amber starting her carrer as model and Yasmin still going strong on the catwalk. The Mail newspaper says: "Despite being in the business for 25 years, supermodel Yasmin Le Bon looked stunning in a black satin gown and chandelier earrings, while husband Simon cheered on from the audience" [see above pics] mail online article
Check out Amber as guest editor at moschinoboutique.com. In the interview Amber says that she'd like to go on studying photography at the University [and maybe become a photographer just like her maternal grandfather] or doing something creative.
Since we are talking about Duran Duran's families we have to report also that [according to the Daily Mail from February 19th] Meredith Ostrom has just split from long-time boyfriend Nick Rhodes. Meredith, actress and model, has also emerged as an artist since 2007. Many of her paintings focus on her own naked physical form impressed onto vividly painted canvas. Nick and Meredith have been together since 2001. Read the article here
The Sun - Andy Cato and Tom Findlay,
the dance gurus behind Groove Armada and Lovebox
said: “We bumped into Simon Le Bon when playing some tunes
at a beach party in Ibiza last year. He had Sienna
Miller on one side and a naked fire eater on the other. We had a
chat and mentioned that if he fancied playing at Lovebox, it would be an absolute
pleasure. And now it’s official - the biggest London gig of the summer
is on. Lovebox bring legends to your local park.”
Simon Le Bon and his boys will be joined by festival founders Groove Armada and rappers N.E.R.D featuring Pharrell Williams. Other top acts playing in London Victoria Park on July 18 and 19 will include Ladyhawke and Florence & The Machine.
Le Bon said: 'We are thrilled to be headlining Saturday night at Lovebox for what will be our only UK show this year.' 'The band are big fans of the festival and we were delighted to be asked by Tom and Andy [Groove Armada] to take part.' 'We were on the road for the whole of 2008 and are now back in the studio working on new music. Playing at Lovebox in the summer will be a real highlight for us.” metro.co.uk
Tickets are on sale at lovebox.net or +44 0844 8472436. Tickets can be also purchased in person from Stargreen Box Office, 20/21a Argyll Street, London, W1F 7TT.
February 17: In John's recent blog up on duranduran.com he talks a little bit about the first two weeks of songwriting in London, here's what he says:
[...] "Into London on the train for some songwriting with the boys. Now I would love to tell you all about it, what the vibe is, what the new songs sound like, what they are about, but that would be too premature of me. I can tell you we all had a good, good time, and the creative juices were flowing. Dom joined us for the first time, and it was good to have him in the mix. We’ll be picking up the strands in a few weeks and moving on to step 2". [...]
February 17: Waiting for some fresh news on the new Duran Duran stuff I like to go back to the past, just to keep the interest alive... Is anyone tired of Arcadia's So Red The Rose? Well... I'm not. That's why I recently enquired [trough duranduran.com] Nick Rhodes about Masami Tsuchiya's contribuition to the album. Here's Nick's answer as reported on AskKaty:
February 13th, 2009
Hi Nick, i recently came across an early 1985 posed photo of you, Simon and Roger with Masami Tsuchiya taken in a park. I think it was an embryonic form of Arcadia as I also saw pics of you with him in the studio in Paris. Well, in those pics Masami Tsuchiya looked like a member of Arcadia. Just wondering, were you guys in the beginning supposed to have him on board as a proper member rather than a contribuitor? Thanks. Take care. Salvo
“Arcadia was always conceived as a Studio based project. Whilst we did make videos, we never intended to play live shows. We worked with an array of extraordinary musicians, one of the most significant contributors being Masami. He was an integral part of the sound of the record. He spent many months in Paris with us and his unique guitar playing is featured throughout the album. NR”
since I can't get enough of Arcadia here is one more!
Mark Egan [bass player] speaks about recording with Arcadia:
"I was fortunate to be asked to be a part of the Arcadia recordings. Arcadia was a project by members of Duran Duran, Nick Rhodes and Simon Lebon along with drummer Roger Taylor in 1985. The producer was Alex Sadkin whom I knew from my recording days in Miami Fla. at Criteria Recording studios.
Alex also engineered a David Sanborn recording, The David Sandborn Band that I was a member of. It was during a recording session at Right track recording in New York while I was in recording a solo project and Alex was producing a Foreigner record that Alex asked me if I would be interested in recording a project with members of Duran Duran. A month later I was in Paris at Grand Armee' studios and my participation involved 6 weeks of intensive recording sessions. Long time friend and drummer Steve Jordan was also playing drums on the session. The instruments that I used on the sessions were my Pedulla 4 string fretless buzz bass, Pedulla 8 string fretless and my fender 1964 Jazz bass. The bass was recorded direct through tube direct boxes that were made in France. I used D'Addario strings, XL170s.
The way that the sessions went down was: Simon and Nick had some pre production themes on tape. We first listened to the basic ideas and talked about feel and form.
I wrote out a basic chord chart and then we would start playing and come up with some grooves. When things started coming together Alex would have the engineer, Larry Alexander, start rolling the Mitsubishi digital tape that was being recorded through an SSL board. We'd listen and comment then try other versions until we had a basic drum track to work with and possibly a bass part. I would usually meet the producer, Alex and the engineer, Larry in the mid morning at the studio and I would overdub five or six possible complete bass parts for each song. Later in the day Simon and Nick would arrive and we'd go over the parts to find something that worked. One day Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts who were in Paris recording a Stones record came by the studio to hang and I had the great opportunity to play with Charlie. It was a great experience recording the Arcadia project. I believe that it will be re-released with a bonus track, which I haven't heard yet".
And... if you think that this is the only existing picture of Arcadia with the really missed Keith Haring you might find out that is not correct... click here to get an exclusive and unseen polaroid picture of one the Arcadia members with Haring!
February 9: Simon and Yasmin Le Bon have been spotted at the Finch & Partners' Pre-BAFTA Party held at Annabel's on February 7 in London. Pictures of the couple with Penelope Cruz, Lily Allen and other guests can be seen in all the usual photoagencies websites. Not long a go [january 5] the couple have been also spotted in company of Mickey Rourke at the the Uk premiere of The Wrestler [pics below]
February 5: There are some very reassuring and optimistic news coming from London straight from Nick, Roger and John trough the official sources [dd.com and ddm]. The band is about to regroup in their London studio to start the 13th album! Acccording to Nick Rhodes the band is on the eve of returning to the studio to commence writing new Duran Duran songs, Nick says "at heart, we remain an art school project, we are driven by exploration and curiosity! [...] "We don’t like to limit where the journey takes us and we are not dictated to by commerce. We don’t give in until we have got what we want. Taking a chance is vastly more appealing than repetition". Roger says: "we are still here and about to begin writing the ‘13th’ Duran Duran album. I’m not superstitious in any way but wish me luck! Nick also speaks about Dom Brown and seems to confirm that the guy will take part actively to the process: "Dominic is a delightful guitarrist, he has now been with us for a few years, he's also very well integrated in the band dinamics [...] he's doing extraordinary well". Both, Nick and John, refering to the current line-up, says that they are very "happy with the current status of the band". John also adds "we are still looking at opportunities to play live in the summer".
So many projects, so many promises to the fans, the band seems in great mood and in good shape to start the new year in the studio.
duranasty.com wishes to the guys a great start. It's gonna be a very prolific year!
[pics: on the right Nick few days a go in London [at Saatchi Gallery in King's Rd on 29/1] other pics: some unseen shots by Dean Karr on the set of Out Of My Mind video]
february 1: I didn't expect to see Duran Duran live so soon this year instead, thanks to a last minute phonecall, I had a chance to attend the SkyArts Songbook event in London on january 28. My friend Donata got an email from the ddm staff on sunday, they said she was one of the 25 lucky winners to attend the SkyArts show on wedsney. She asked me if I was able [even with so short notice] to fly to London for the event. I had no doubt, of course I said yes with a huge thanks. The fans who attended the show were treated to a 11 songs show; songs that have also been object of a long interview about songwriting and lyrics. The show has been recorded at the Hospital Club in Covent Garden - London [website]. A Club wich houses also Europe's first high-definition tv and has got unique music recording facilities.
Apparantly it was a Nick Rhodes idea to have the fans standing behind the set, so they could have a unique spot of the show and get very close to the band, rather than the the british media and the general audience. It make sense as people will see on tv an active and happy audience as background of the Duran Duran performance! A member of the production team asked the audience to refrain from singing along if possible because they wanted a clean sound on tv, but that seemed impossible during Sunrise [everyone was singing loudly and waving their hands in the air] and Rio. After an introduction by Will Hodgkinson [SongBook's presenter and music journalist] who introduced Duran Duran as one of the greatest band ever, the show started with Planet Earth. Fans were so excited to listen the obscure b-side Late Bar [never played since the early years - Simon introduced it saying: "we got a lot of requests for this one"] and Do you Belive in Shame? Besides the usual tour-band, Duran got Martha Brown [Dom Brown's pregnant wife] on stage who played violin in some tracks such as A View To a Kill. The band, looked great in their taylor made dark grey three piece suits. John wore a red scarf and Simon his silly hat [that's how he defined it] during The Chauffeur! They all seemed to enjoy the show, Simon and John kept joking and saying funny things... after playing Skin Trade, John said "C’mon, we’ve got to get out of the 80s!’ to which Simon asked ‘Isn’t there a medicine you can take for that?’ John replied ‘Well, if there is one, we’ve taken it!’. It was fun also to see some behind the scenes, with the guys and the crew adjusting their instruments and equipment and a makeup artist retouching the guys makeup for the tv lights every two songs. They opted to re-play four tracks in total, in typical perfectionist Duran Duran style. So glad I had to listen Late Bar twice the same evening, and of course the second take was more energic than the first! In the audience you could spot Yasmin and Amber Le Bon, Tatjana Rhodes, Gisela Taylor, Kevin Brennan [Cabinet Office Minister], Kay Burley [an English television newsreader] and ex-Duran video girl Tess Daly [In 1990, she appeared in two Duran Duran videos for the songs "Serious" and "Violence of Summer", both from the album Liberty]. It was a very great live show experience, very intimate. We had a lot of fun, and we also had a chance to say hello to some band members [I took the above picture of Nick Rhodes on jan. 28 when the man left the venue]. Just a good way to start the new year!
The show will be broadcasted on Sky Arts 1 Uk  on Thursday 26th March 2009 at 20:00 part one [1 hour long] at 22:00 part two [1 hour long]
Personal souvenir from Songbook: Roger gave me one of the two drumsticks he used at the SongBook show. During the show I was standing right behind his set, from that position we could hear and see how powerfull his drumming is and the energy he puts with his arms! Click on the banner below to see an exclusive "get.into.the.scene" photo reportage of the show.
SkyArts SongBook setlist [including the second takes] jan. 28 2009
2. Late Bar
3. The Chauffeur
4. The Valley
5. Box Full O' Honey
6. Do You Believe In Shame?
7. A View To A Kill
8 Skin Trade
9. Skin Trade [2nd Take]
10. Ordinary World
11. Ordinary World [2nd take]
13. Late Bar [2nd Take with a false start]
14. Do You Believe In Shame? [2nd take]
I also uploaded a scan of the article about the show published on the Daily Star from january 30 2009.
January 27: Here is another duranasty.com exclusive! Today I got these fab pictures of Simon having fun on a bike in Key West from a local professional photographer named Greg Needham. Click on the banner below to get a three pages photo report. Greg also told me:
"These pics were were taken on January 20 In Key West outside the Half Shell Raw Bar. The two women in the photos are Hannia, the dark haired girl, who manages the Bar and Colleen Needham, who is General Manager of A&B Lobster House. Simon had just eaten at Half Shell and was talking to the two women, both of whom were huge fans when they were much younger. He autographed a couple menus with a crayon. Simon was in town for the Acura Key West 2008 Sailing Championships. He is an avid sailor, as you know, having participated in several around-the-world races and was here to support his friend Charlie Dunstone's boat, "Rio".
Simon had a low tire on his bike and got some help from the staff at Half Shell. After looking at his bike, I told him I would crop the bike out of the photos. He laughed and said "I like this bike, actually."
Greg [photo credit www.gregneedham.com]