By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Duran Duran has had plenty of “pinch-me” moments in the last 44 years. But drummer Roger Taylor said performing at the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in June was near the top.
“It was a huge event for us,” Taylor said. “To be chosen for an event that is put on by the royal family is a pinch-yourself moment.
“We’re this little band that was created in this little club in Birmingham in a back room all those years ago. Fast forward and we’re playing for the royal family. It’s an incredible honor. Also, we have an emotional attachment because (Princess) Diana was a big fan of the band. So, it felt natural for us to be there.”
Fans who saw the concert in person or on U.S. television saw a sneak peek of Duran Duran’s tour, which comes to the Footprint Center at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 7. The title of Duran Duran’s newest album, “Future Past,” tells the whole story.
For its 15th collection, Duran Duran hearkened back to the Roger Taylor and bassist John Taylor heavy rhythm section. Producer Erol Alkan instigated that, he said.
“The new album was about reclaiming our old sound a little bit more,” Taylor said.
“We’ve been down quite a few different avenues over the years. We’ve gone down the electronic avenue. We’ve gone down the avenue where we programmed a lot more. This is definitely more about organic playing.”
Alkan is a fan of Duran Duran’s early 12-inch records where John and Roger laid down grooves organically.
“He’s a great DJ, and he wanted to capture that groove that John and I have,” Taylor said of Alkan.
The decision is a rarity in Duran Duran’s record-making world that is more spontaneous than planned.
“We literally just go into the room, and we let the universe take us down whichever path it wants to take us,” Taylor said.
“I think it’s because, when we started, we had so many different influences. We were listening to Kraftwerk, New York disco, the New York Dolls, Sex Pistols and Chic. We were very lucky to be forming at a time when there was a lot of great, different forms of music.
“I think that worked its way into the DNA of the band. So, when we sit down and write, we can really go down any of those paths.”
Duran Duran has never been absolutely success driven either, Taylor added. The mainstay quartet — Taylor, singer Simon LeBon, bassist John Taylor and keyboardist Nick Rhodes — doesn’t feel the need to remake “Rio” to return to Top 40 radio, either.
“We’ve always done what we’ve felt like doing,” Taylor said. “If it’s commercially successful, amazing. But that’s never been the driving factor behind us.”
Along with Alkan, “Future Past” was produced by Italian film composer, songwriter and the “Father of Disco” Giorgio Moroder, while former Blur guitarist Graham Coxon played guitars on each song.
“It was great working with Graham,” Taylor said.
“God bless (former guitarists) Andy (Taylor) and Warren (Cuccurullo) and Dom Brown, who plays with us now. But it was really interesting to have somebody come into the room from the get-go, from the start of the writing sessions, because we’ve not had that for a while. It was really creative, and it changed the shape of the record as well.”
Coxon was great to work with, but Taylor calls Moroder “the real legend.”
“We’re huge fans of his, so it was wonderful to work with him. He’s such a big part of our DNA. I think it was great to have the original article in the room with us. It was great to work with Mike Gaston. He’s another legend who played on great Bowie records.”
“Future Past” was recorded and written during the lockdown and, with “very little else going on in our world, we couldn’t travel, we couldn’t even go out for dinner together.” The energy was focused on making the record.
“It was a tough time, but I think it really helped us deliver a great record,” Taylor added.
That record will be reflected in the live show as well. But Taylor said Duran Duran is cognizant of fans’ request of a hit-driven set.
“The album seems to be really well accepted,” he said. “We’re going to showcase some of the songs from the new record, obviously. But we’re going to play all of the classics that people still love all these years later. It’s a brand-new live show with new screen footage. It’s a really great show.”
After the tour ends, on Nov. 5, Duran Duran will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. Taylor is looking forward to it. The ceremony is “rumored” — according to Taylor — to include Andy Taylor and Cuccurullo.
“They’re inductees, so we thought it would be right and proper to invite them to come and play with us,” he said. “So that’s going to be interesting.”
Duran Duran w/Nile Rodgers and Chic
WHEN: 7 p.m. Wednesday, September 7
WHERE: Footprint Center, 201 E. Jefferson Street, Phoenix
COST: Tickets start at $24.50