G Force

Duran’s still hungry

(By Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
By Sarah Rodman
Globe Staff / April 23, 2011

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Q. On the new song “All You Need Is Now,’’ Mr. LeBon sings, “Everybody’s gunning for the VIP section,’’ but maybe listeners are better off running in another direction. I’m guessing you’ve all spent your fair share of time in the VIP section, so I’m curious if you really believe that?

A. Actually Simon wrote that line, so I’m going to hold him entirely responsible for it. (Laughs). But I think I could probably give some explanation to it, which would be: “Don’t go spending all your time chasing completely frivolous things because actually there’s an awful lot more you can do.’’ But as regards to spending a little time in the VIP section, hey, why not?

Q. I saw you play your last album, “Red Carpet Massacre,’’ on Broadway, which was good, but a different sound for you guys. . . .

A. I like that album. I have to say we completely stand by it, all of us in the band. I think it was perfect for that time and it was a fairly brave experiment to try and mash up our sound with Timbaland’s sound. It didn’t connect with a lot of our audience and I think I see why. It was a long way from our original sound, but that’s what led to this.

Q. “This’’ being “All You Need Is Now,’’ to which longtime fans have been responding favorably judging by online message boards.

A. They’ve embraced this one very quickly and we’re getting the message loud and clear from them: “That’s better, that’s what we like!’’

Q. It’s easy to see why since it does evoke your past without feeling overly nostalgic.

A. A lot of that has to do with production techniques. Honestly, if you write a decent song it should be able to stand the test of time. I think if you try to craft a song properly, whatever kind of artist you are, whether it’s a good folk song or a heavy metal song, if you get it right then it should.

Q. What did Mark Ronson bring to the project?

A. A lot. He’s an intelligent musician who has immaculate taste. He’s got a great vision across many different genres. And he’s a lot of fun to have around; we laughed a lot. He’s not afraid to experiment, which was perfect for us. And he’s a huge fan. He knows our catalog inside out so he could refer to obscure b-sides and say, “Could we do something a bit more like that in the middle of this song?’’ Which was actually very helpful.

Q. At a recent concert you welcomed three very different artists — Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance, Beth Ditto of Gossip, and Kelis — to the stage to sing with you. In the last 30 years other acts, such as the Killers, have cited you as an influence. Is it gratifying to think you’ve made an impact?

A. Yeah. It’s always very gratifying working with other artists in itself. It’s very rare if two artists have some sort of empathy that you can’t create something interesting. We’ve been very lucky and chosen well and it’s great for us that the sort of people we respect and have enjoyed in recent years, a lot of them do seem to reciprocate.

Q. Did you ever imagine when you were a teenager launching the band that you would be here 30 years later, releasing new music?

A. Not at all. Like most artists, we’ve had all kinds of ups and downs in our career, but none of us would have ever dreamt we would still be doing this now.

Q. And still be fit and have all your hair!

A. Well, that’s a blessing. (Laughs).

Interview was edited and condensed. Sarah Rodman can be reached at

Nick Rhodes
Duran Duran takes the stage for a sold-out show at Royale on Wednesday. They bring both 30 years of pop history (with hits such as “Hungry Like the Wolf,’’ “The Reflex,’’ and “Ordinary World’’) and sparkly new tracks from the recently released “All You Need Is Now.’’ Produced by Mark Ronson, the album is drawing raves for its evocation of the classic Duran Duran “new romantic’’ sound. We recently chatted up keyboardist Rhodes by phone from San Francisco about “Now’’ and then.