Duran Duran and the glamour v grit music wars of the 80s

Roger Taylor (l), John Taylor (BBC Wogan House, June 25th 2018)

Ahead of tonight’s BBC4 Duran Duran night.. There is one rather interesting section of my interview with John Taylor and Roger Taylor we couldn’t quite get into the final Front Row edit on Monday night.   So here’s the transcript. Growing up in the 80s it’s clear that not only was there an enduring sneering attitude against any band that had a large female teenage fan following, but bands were politically labelled. In the era of Red Wedge, the yachts, the sharp suits and the models saw the band put alongside yuppies and bankers on one side of what felt like a rigidly policed divide about class and attitude. You can listen to the broadcast interview here. It features a broader discussion on their roots, the way traditional indies like NME and Melody Maker sneered at bands with a  large teenage female following, and how Duran Duran made a stonking great Bond theme with a very grumpy John Barry.

Samira Ahmed: The thing about the 80s was it was a time when music could be quite political, and a time when having money seemed quite a political statement. There was a big divide in Thatcher’s Britain.

Roger Taylor: You’re exactly right.

SA: How did Duran Duran get labelled, or how did you feel you fitted in, in what was quite a polarized music scene?

John Taylor: I feel like we were following our instincts and I have no truck with where we were coming from. Like Roger talked about our roots. Our parents knew austerity, they’d served in the war. I mean we all came from a very rigorous and austere working class background. Where we chose to go, where we let ourselves go felt natural, it felt creative, fun. We got a lot of flack for that. 

SA: Unfairly?

John Taylor: Unfairly. Fairly. Whatever; people have opinions for whatever reasons. I was watching another BBC documentary on the post punk era and they were showing a lot of artists. Joy Division were one. And then they get to Duran Duran and they show Hungry Like the Wolf and it felt like everything that had come before it was in black and white. And suddenly Duran Duran was like widescreen technicolor. And I could understand why people were like, “Whoa, well you know.. they’re selling out.” And yet it was big screen.

SA: It was escapism too?

Roger Taylor: It was I think. It was escapism. Somebody said to me the other day, “Oh, did you like UB40?” I said, yeah, I loved them. They used to rehearse next door to us. “Really?” Yeah, yeah, they had the next room. Same city. Same background. But they were singing about being on the dole and we were singing about girls on film and glamour. And how we got that kind of shift, why it went in that direction and we went in ours, I don’t quite know what it happened. It was just one of those weird shifts in life that puts you on a different direction.

 

About samiraahmed

Journalist. Writer. Broadcaster.
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