On “Paper Gods,” ‘80s new wave vets Duran Duran still have the glossy shine that propelled the group to stardom three decades ago. But the flashy British group isn’t resting on its laurels for its 14th record, released last September.
Instead, Duran Duran enlisted a host of producers, singers and even John Frusciante — the former Red Hot Chili Peppers’ guitarist — to mesh the group’s classic sound with flavors of contemporary EDM, hip hop and rock.
“Dance music, hip hop… That was something that we never really thought we were going to engage with because we’re a band,” explains bassist John Taylor. “But that feature culture has changed the way people listen to music, pop music particularly.”
The result finds the group exploring pulsating dance pop (“Last Night in the City” featuring Kiesza), enthusiastic funk (“Pressure Off” featuring Janelle Monae and Nile Rodgers) and sultry soft rock (“What Are the Chances?”).
Influence from collaborators like rap producer Mr Hudson, Mark Ronson (of “Uptown Funk” fame) and Chic’s Nile Rodgers throughout the record is apparent — but not overwhelming. “We’re at the point where, the five of us, we’ve got our thing,” says Taylor. “It’s really fun to bring other artists into the mix with us.”
A group mentality
One reason why Duran Duran had success working with others on “Paper Gods” may be because of the group’s recent push to make decisions about songs together. “In the ‘80s, it wasn’t like that. Simon [LeBon] took care of his lyrics. I never questioned him about that,” says Taylor. “As we’ve gotten older and we work in a different way, everybody’s in everybody else’s thing and we all want to feel part of the music.”
A career-spanning live show
“[It’s] a two hour show which tells the whole story,” says Taylor. “It mixes songs from 30 years ago with songs from last year. But that’s artistic, also. It’s creative.”
And, yes, you’ll likely hear “Ordinary World” and “Hungry Like the Wolf.”
“There’s a reason why those songs are so popular,” he continues. “They’re great songs. When you’ve written good amounts of mediocre songs, you know what a great song is, and you know how hard those songs are to write. And they’re just great to play.”
Catch Duran Duran live at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY on April 12 and at the Xfinity Center in Mansfield, MA on July 17.