history music pragmatic historian

Duran Duran – “Keep Moving Into the Future But Acknowledge Your Past”

Over the past week my Twitter feed has been burning up with news of Duran Duran. It’s almost as though they’ve released a new album ….

And they have!

The album “Future Past” dropped on October 22, 2021, the fifteenth studio album for one of my all-time favorite bands.

Whoever is operating Duran Duran’s Twitter account is doing a marvelous job of keeping fans updated on the band’s current media appearances to promote the album. What’s fun for those of us who are long-time fans is that these appearances are giving band members, Simon LeBon, John Taylor, Nick Rhodes, and Roger Taylor, an opportunity to revisit their musical past and to discuss how often they have been at the forefront of new movements and technologies in the music industry. Their interviews are in keeping with the Future Past theme of the album.

In an interview on NPR’s Weekend Edition, Lulu Garcia-Navarro asked the band’s keyboardist, Nick Rhodes, what the album title meant. He replied, “For me, it certainly means keep moving into the future but acknowledge your past. Without it, you wouldn’t be in the present.”

As a historian who loves to use history to consider the future, those are words that speak to my heart.

That Nick would say this does not come as a surprise to me. I heard him discuss once how he serves as the band’s historian, saving items from the band’s long career, which began in the late 1970s. In this article from Interview magazine, Nick revisits some of the the things he said in the past, updating his comments with his current thoughts. (How I wish we all had an opportunity to do this!)

Duran Duran became wildly popular for their cinematic videos, like “Rio” and “Hungry Like the Wolf,” in the 1980s, having been forward-thinking enough to jump into music videos as MTV got started.

They also showed their foresight in two other areas: Creating songs that didn’t fit neatly into any specific genre and by collaborating with legions of musicians, producers, and artists throughout their career.

With Future Past, they continue that focus on the future, having created the album’s first video for the song “Invisible” using the artificial intelligence platform Huxley, the first video made with this platform.

During current interviews with band members, they discuss many of their past collaborators with great fondness, with John Taylor saying in one interview that the band needs these collaborators for the fresh insight they bring. (This was said during the iHeartRadio interview linked below.)

The collaborations continue on Future Past, with Duran Duran taking a dive into Japanese rock by teaming up with the Japanese band CHAI on the song “More Joy!” Other collaborators on the album include Swedish singer Tove Lo, English rapper Ivorian Doll, and pianist Mike Garson, who has worked with such notable musicians as David Bowie, Nine Inch Nails, and St. Vincent. Producers on the album include Giorgio Moroder, Mark Ronson, and Erol Alkan.

Having come of age at a time when famous people, particularly bands with the magnitude of stardom of Duran Duran, were held aloft from their fans, I am enjoying the new access social media is providing between fans and their musical heroes. There is more potential for direct interaction than there used to be. I’m glad Duran Duran is still vibrant,  making fabulous music, and continuing their future-focused exploration after four decades.

I’m delighted to be able to share a couple of recent videos in which members of Duran Duran discuss Future Past and their past albums. What’s fun about these interviews is how the band members are so comfortable with each other and excited to share that they practically talk over each other. This makes for engaging interviews.

Duran Duran: The Rolling Stone Interview, October 23, 2021

Duran Duran Talks New Album ‘Future Past’ + More In iHeartRadio’s The Box! (The concept for the following iHeartRadio is great. John Taylor and Roger Taylor from Duran Duran are invited to pull items from the past out of a box to discuss them.)

I’m going to close this post with one more video, this one from Duran Duran’s past, at a time when I had lost track of what they were doing. I recently ran across this video through YouTube’s suggestion algorithm and I’m happy that I did. It is their cover of the song “White Lines” and it ROCKS!!