The members of Duran Duran aren't expecting dancing dwarves and talking rabbits to be part of their upcoming David Lynch-directed episode of American Express' "Unstaged" concert series. But they won't mind if they are -- or if Lynch wants to get even weirder with the show.
"The stranger it is, the more beautiful it will be," Duran keyboardist Nick Rhodes tells Billboard.com. "What appeals to us very much about working with David is that we like the way he thinks about things and how he's always gone out on a limb to make things different than anybody else. He works completely outside of the system, and that's what we try to do. I think the combustion between us and David should create something that nobody's ever seen before, something mysterious and magical and surprising."
The Duran Duran-Lynch episode of "Unstaged" will be streamed live at 10 pm ET on Mar. 23 -- the day after the physical release of the group's new album, "All You Need Is Now" -- from the Mayan Theatre in Los Angeles via youtube.com/duranduranvevo. The concert will continue to be streamed for about a month.
It launches the second season of "Unstaged," which last year posted three concerts -- Arcade Fire directed by Terry Gilliam, John Legend and the Roots by Spike Lee and Sugarland with Kenny Ortega. This year American Express hopes to present up to a half-dozen concerts, according to Jessica Igoe, the company's vice-president for global sponsorship marketing. "This notion of combining breakthrough artists with really influential filmmakers and then using the ever-growing power of social media is really interesting and has resulted in some great concerts," Igoe says. We're really excited to not only continue that conversation...but also figure out a way to make it bigger and better."
Among the innovations Lynch has planned for the Duran Duran concert are: Choose Your Cam, which allows viewers to switch between the main stream and alternate angles; the "Now Pulse" Crowd Visualizer, which monitors real-time online chatter until a particular crescendo that unlocks special content; "All of Us Now," which lets fans upload photos of body parts that will be used for live and online collages; an opportunity to tweet questions to the band at #amexduranduran; and an online pre-show with a band interview also directed by Lynch.
"The idea is to try and create, on the fly, layers of images permeating Duran Duran on stage," Lynch says in a statement, "a world of experimentation and hopefully some happy accidents." Duran bassist John Taylor, meanwhile, says Lynch is "such a creative guy...such a music guy. It's a very difficult medium to do anything really fresh with, and he seems to be coming at it from a more creative angle than anyone else. We are all so thrilled; we couldn't believe he agreed to do it."
Taylor adds that the "Unstaged" concert is in keeping with the contemporary spin Duran Duran is employing to bring out the Mark Ronson-produced "All You Need is Now." The album came out first in December via iTunes, while the physical release on Mar. 22 features 14 tracks, including collaborations with the Scissor Sisters' Ana Matronic ("Safe (In the Heat of the Moment)") and Kelis ("The Man Who Stole a Leopard"). "We've probably been more in sync with the new media around this album than anything else we've done," Taylor says. "We're doing a lot of work on social networking around this album to sort of get it out and off. This kind of a send-off is kind of nice."
The group will also be setting things up at this week's South By Southwest Music + Media Conference, where it will perform on March 16 before starting a short run of U.S. shows. "We've been talking about going to South By Southwest for many years now," Rhodes says. "We've just never been able to sort of schedule it in. And with this project we felt like it was completely right. It is an independent album all around the world (on S-Curve in the U.S.), so I feel like we fit into the spirit of what (South By Southwest) is."
Duran Duran's U.S. swing includes performances March 25 at the Ultra Music Festival on Mar. 25 in Miami and Apr. 17 at the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in Indio, Calif. The group plans to be in Europe during the summer, but Taylor says he expects the group to get back to North America before the end of the year. "I don't think we've ever worked harder than we're working right now, he says. "You've just got to spread yourself all over the map, but I don't have a problem with that because it's essentially a live experience."