“We want to make music that stands up in this world,” Duran Duran frontman Simon Le Bon tells Billboard. “When I walk out onstage, I want to think, ‘We’re f---ing cool, actually -- we’re not bad at all.’ ”
“That’s why we set the bar so high: because of our extraordinary legacy,” says bassist John Taylor of their new album, Paper Gods. “There are many artists I’m fond of who will put out a new record, but when I hear it, all I really want to do is listen to their old records. That’s what we’re up against.”
With his dyed blond mop and slightly ghostly features, Nick Rhodes resembles Andy Warhol more than ever. Years ago, the pop artist confessed to being a big fan, claiming he would masturbate to the band’s videos. Rhodes clearly took it as a compliment; the pair became firm friends.
Duran Duran, which formed in 1978, should be the beached whale so many had expected it to become. “We were the last band people thought would carry on,” agrees Le Bon of the group (including drummer Roger Taylor, pictured). “They thought we were a flash in the pan, contrived, probably put together by management.”
“I watched a documentary about the post-punk era recently,” John says. “It was all fairly monochrome, but then our video for ‘Hungry Like the Wolf’ came on, and it all suddenly went widescreen. See, we had it even then: that global vision. We wanted to make albums, to play Madison Square Garden, all that stuff. And you know what? We always felt entitled to it.”