"I think a lot of people think it’s a rant. It’s not. It’s just an observation really."
Duran Duran’s 14th studio album, Paper Gods, is due out Sept. 11, and now EW is excited to premiere the band’s next single, its title track. A dark, thumping, seven-minute dance song, “Paper Gods” tackles consumerism with lyrics like, “The slaver in a sweatshop/Putting trainers on your feet” and, “Bleeding from paper cards, no money for head shots/Fools leading, who needs it?”
“I think paper gods can be all kinds of things,” Duran Duran frontman Simon Le Bon tells EW. “That’s why it’s the title track of the album. Money could be paper gods or photographs or memories. Paper gods could be people who stand up on top of the hill, telling everyone what to do, or the people who own the newspapers and tell them what to think, or people who stand on soapboxes telling people what to say. I like the ambiguity of it and the different way it can be interpreted.”
Le Bon said it’s a rule of his never to explain lyrics but noted, “It’s obviously about modern life and attitudes. What I would say is that it’s not a criticism. I think a lot of people think it’s a rant. It’s not. It’s just an observation really.”
The band worked on the track with songwriter-producer Mr. Hudson, but Le Bon said he thought of the song while in the bathroom. During a break in their London studio, Lebon says, “I made coffee, went to the toilet, and I’m standing there having a piss. As I’m in there I’m hearing this melody in my head.” He left the coffee and went back to the band. “By the time I got to the studio, I got the line ‘Bow to the paper gods’ in my head already. Suddenly all these ideas came rushing into my head. This whole paper gods thing, all the different things it could mean. That was probably the easiest lyric on the album I have written. It was finished within the space of an afternoon. The whole thing, everything.”
Paper Gods also features collaborations with Janelle Monáe, Nile Rodgers, Kiesza, violinist Davidé Rossi, former Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante, and Lindsay Lohan, who provided a spoken word part to one song, “Danceophobia.”
But above all the other tracks, “Paper Gods” may be Le Bon’s favorite. “It has such depth and commitment. I’m very proud of that song,” he said. “I think it’s the best song on the album.”