Wild Boys to Paper Gods
Nearly Two Years After Its Release Duran Duran’s 14th Album Continues to Shine

By Lee Valentine Smith

Released on September 11 of ’15, Paper Gods is the latest album from Duran Duran, the original poster boys of New Wave, New Romanticism and international video stardom. The record boasts an incredible guest list of collaborations including influential producers Nile Rodgers, Mark Ronson, musicians John Frusciante, Janelle Monae - and a surprise appearance from Lindsay Lohan.

It continues the stylish, challenging new wave sound of the band that originally gelled in 1978. Today founding members Simon Le Bon (vocals), John Taylor (bass), Nick Rhodes (keyboards) and Roger Taylor (drums) continue to anchor the group.

INsite spoke with Roger Taylor at his home in London as he looked back on the making of the new record which has just been issued in a deluxe vinyl box set from Warner Brothers.

Paper Gods certainly has its share of collaborators. Probably more than any of your previous records. Did it start by inviting Nile Rodgers (Chic, Bowie, Madonna) into the studio?

Yeah, more than ever. It wasn’t a conscious decision this time. We didn’t sit down and say, “Ok right, this is gonna be an album of collaborations.” It just kind of happened organically. And you’re right, I do think the first collaboration was with Nile Rodgers, who we hadn’t worked with since the reunion record Astronaut [in 2004] and we hadn’t worked with him before that since Notorious in the mid-‘80s. So it’s a long history.

The occasional Rodgers/Duran Duran pairings make total sense, with his classic rock/funk/disco style.

It does. It was one of things that’s so obvious and so brilliant. [Co-producer] Mark Ronson said, “Why don’t you guys have Nile in one day and just see what happens.” We all agreed and Nile came in with his Strat, the guitar that apparently wrote a million dollars’ worth of records, and it really worked out well. And then we had more guitar from John Frusciante [of Red Hot Chili Peppers] and it just went on from there.

And someone else on the guest list is dear to many around here, [singer/actress] Janelle Monae [who sings on the album’s first single “Pressure Off”].

Her involvement is something that happened almost by accident. We had gotten to Pressure Off and we were having a break-down of the record and we needed a female voice. Nile suggested Janelle because he’d recently worked with her. That’s how the whole thing happened, actually, with the entire album. Everything just happened at just the right time. Everyone who appeared on the record seem to be perfect for the songs and it seems to have turned out really well.

Of all the guests on this one, the biggest surprise is the appearance of Lindsay Lohan. As pop culture fans, it must have been fun to have her around for a session.

Yeah. Well she was in the neighborhood, actually. She was visiting London and she’s a friend of Simon’s. She called up the studio and said, “Can I do something on your record? I’d like to sing something” or whatever. We just kind of put that on the backburner, but then we’d written this song called Danceophobia. We had this little bit in the middle which we thought could have a Vincent Price, “Thriller”-type vibe with a spoken voice. We said, “Why don’t we try Lindsay for this? She could be amazing.” She eventually came in, with her sister, and did some great work. She did it in like an hour.

As technology has transformed, has the band dynamic evolved over the years?

Not one iota! When I walk back into the room with these guys, it may as well be 30 years ago. The balance within the band is exactly the same as it’s always been. I think, if anything, we’re more patient with each other and I think we understand each other a little bit more. But I’d say the actual band dynamic is the exactly same as it always was. It’s stayed like that because we’re such different personalities and so different in our outlook and the way we express ourselves, but something about it all just works. All the great bands have very diverse personalities within them, and I think that’s something that really works for us. And long may it continue!

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