DURAN DURAN HONOR THEIR IDOLS

By EW Staff
Updated April 14, 1995 at 04:00 AM EDT
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You can tell a lot about a band by the heroes it keeps. The affection of relentlessly stylish Duran Duran for the arty glam rock of David Bowie and Roxy Music was evident from the start. But on its new album of mostly covers, Thank You, the 15-year-old Birmingham, England, group tackles a more unlikely closet of influences, including Grandmaster Flash & Melle Mel (”White Lines”), Bob Dylan (”Lay Lady Lay”), and the Doors (”Crystal Ship”). ”The idea was to do songs that we wish we’d written,” says keyboardist Nick Rhodes, 32. The intent was also to be as provocative and subversive as the punk rock Rhodes and his Duran-mates listened to as kids. ”We knew it would piss people off,” laughs singer Simon LeBon, 36. ”The musical purists who go, ‘How could you possibly touch a Dylan song?’ Anticipation of that sort of disgust made it quite humorous.” Provoking disgust is nothing new to the band, which became something of a joke after a long run at the top of the charts. ”We’re as good an example as anybody of what the early ’80s were,” suggests Rhodes. ”Excessive, bright, and full of hope. And not realizing you were gonna get the bill at the end of the decade.” By the ’90s, MTV was entering the age of grunge, and Duran Duran’s glitzy, leather-clad cavorting in videos like ”Rio” was destined to become Butt-head fodder. ”Our videos were meant to be ephemeral little clips to go with a piece of music that we’d slaved over,” defends Rhodes. ”But after they were shown to death, a lot of people saw us as a video band only. When MTV pulled the plug (in 1988), it was like they turned off our life support machine.” Ironically, a 1993 song about MTV’s fickleness, ”Too Much Information,” and that year’s self-titled album (which sold more than a million copies), helped Duran bounce out of a five-year commercial slump and allowed them to finally record the commercially risky Thank You, a work-in-progress since 1985. Now, grateful for their resurrection, they’re making sure to savor it. ”When you’re young, you just run around being crazy. There’s so much wasteage,” says Rhodes. ”This time round, there’s no panic. We’ve organized that chaos.”

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