Duran Duran have been away from their home city for way too long – but now they’re back, and bass legend John Taylor tells David Johns has one or two old haunts he’d love to revisit
John Taylor sounds nostalgic. “When we were shot out a cannon in the Eighties part of me was left in Birmingham and no morning since has passed without me thinking ‘I’ve got to get back there and have a really good look around some day’.” Maybe this month will present the perfect opportunity for John and the rest of legendary rock band Duran Duran to drop in and revisit their roots as Birmingham’s superhero group comes home to perform for their adoring fans at the Genting Arena? “It all depends on the day if we get the chance to go around Birmingham,” answers John. “It’s so difficult to make hard and fast plans, but it’s possible and we’d love it to happen. There are so many haunts to go back to. It’d be a bit like a treasure hunt looking for lost souls.”
The band is always short on time, it goes with the territory. They are in town for one night as part of a packed three-week UK tour promoting their 14th album Paper Gods. We caught up with John, Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes and Roger Taylor as they grabbed a short break just after returning from playing a series of gigs in the US. “We’re into rehearsals for our UK tour in a week, so we’re in a kind of limbo right now.” explained John. “While it’s similar to the States, our UK performances will be slightly longer. “When you’ve been doing what we do for a long time you tend to romanticise about the cities and places you go to. You can always come up with something special to add to your performance. If it’s Liverpool, you say ‘Hey, we’re playing in the city where the Beatles were born’. Coming home to Birmingham is extra special. It’s bound to be an emotional occasion.” It’s difficult to imagine a more famous, more Brummie bunch. John is from Hollywood in Solihull, Nick hails from Moseley and Roger has his roots in Necells. And while ‘odd man out’ Simon was born just outside London in Pinner, he considers himself an ‘honorary Brummie’ after the band was founded while the guys were studying together at Birmingham Polytechnic, now Birmingham City University.
Simon has no hesitation in describing playing Birmingham as the band coming home. “We’ve got a special thing with Birmingham and people are proud of Duran Duran for being a Brum band – that’s how it feels to us,” he said. “And we’re proud to be Brummies. I miss Broad Street and the old Rum Runner where the band first started and used to rehearse. It’s not just where we met but where we first worked.” Duran Duran hit superstar status in the early 1980s, subsequently selling more than 100 million records and racking up 14 UK Top 10 singles, including huge favourites such as Rio, Notorious, A View To A Kill, The Wild Boys, The Reflex and Union of the Snake. Accolades include two Brit awards, two Grammys and in September this year they received the inaugural MTV Visionary Award. In the same month, the Paper Gods album reached the Top 10 of the Billboard 200 album chart, making the band one of the few artists ever to achieve the accolade in three different decades. PASSIONATE “In the Eighties we were barely hanging on, we were kids,” remembers John. “Duran Duran has settled down and these days we’re relatively stable, relaxed professionals who are still passionate about what we do and are eager to please. We’re pleased with the new album, we spent two years on it in our studio in Battersea. Touring is much more instant and happening now, whereas you build an album up over time, you need to think things through. Everyone wants to make a great album, but you can each have different ideas of what great means.” We’re in no doubt what the verdict of the excited fans in Birmingham will be…