Duran Duran Shares Details on Upcoming Ballet & Stage Musical

Andrew Benge/Redferns
John Taylor, Simon Le Bon and Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran perform on stage at Manchester Arena on Nov. 27, 2015 in Manchester, England.

Duran Duran is seeking to expand its creative reach with a couple of projects coming in the wake of last year's Paper Gods album.

"We've always got stuff going on," keyboardist Nick Rhodes tells Billboard. Now, that includes a ballet that will be created from a track that was left off the album, as well as a stage musical Rhodes and bassist John Taylor have been working on.

The ballet will, of course, drastically overhaul and expand what was intended to be a more straightforward pop song. "We're developing the song into a piece," Rhodes explains. "We're looking at trying to do 30 or 40 minutes but having another character in it, too, a female character. There is a sketch of the idea, but it's too early on that one, really. But [the track] would clearly lend itself well to that kind of imagery, and I've always enjoyed the ballet. We have particularly good ballet in London so we'll have to see if we can persuade them to work on it."

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Don't count on seeing any of the Duran members prancing around in tights, however.

"Oh, I try not to envision that, for sure," Rhodes says with a laugh. "That gives me nightmares about bands from the 1970s standing on one leg playing flute -- purely a matter of sartorial taste, that one. Nothing to do with the music."

Rhodes and Taylor, meanwhile, have been "working sporadically" on a stage musical in between Duran commitments. "It's set in the art world in the culture, but I can't really reveal more than that at the moment 'cause we're on the first draft," the keyboardist says. "But we're quite pleased where we are. It's a challenge. It's all brand new material. It's a completely different discipline than trying to write songs together as a band. We're almost finished; we're gonna do a little more work on that in March and that'll be our first draft, actually completed."

Those projects will be competing with plenty of Duran Duran road work during the coming year. The group returns to the road for the first of two North American tour legs, and there are also plans to visit Australia, Japan, possibly South America and a return to Europe before year's end. The group is taking out the stage production it used in the U.K. last year, which Rhodes calls "quite an ambitious show for us. The visuals are pretty strong and we somehow managed to get the best reviews we ever got -- although I'm always a little worried if we get good reviews like that." Most of the North American dates will be with Chic featuring Nile Rodgers, whose association with Duran Duran dates back to remixes of "The Reflex" and includes three tracks on Paper Gods.

"It's such a perfect fit, for both of us," Rhodes says of the pairing. "We're huge fans and have been supportive of everything Nile does...and he's also been very generous about Duran Duran and dedicated a lot of time to us. So it feels good to be alongside Nile. It's very uplifting; you hear all these songs, one after the other, and it just makes you smile. When I'm in the dressing room getting ready to go on I pop my head at side stage sometimes to take a look, and it never fails to make me happy, hearing those Chic songs."

Being in the U.S. will also give Rhodes and his bandmates a chance to eyeball the presidential campaign, which he says has been "terrifying" to watch from across the pond. "It's definitely entertaining watching the characters that you're dealing with at the moment, that's for sure," Rhodes says. "I'm rather hoping that wherever the ball lands, it's right in the center of politics so there is some sensible, reasonable decisions made by whoever's going to lead your great country and that the ball doesn't fall too far to the right or the left, because I think that would be a big mistake."