With a new album under construction, a 25-city tour being mapped out and a couple of retrospective sets emerging, Duran Duran are in the process of making the comeback of the year.
And the question on everyone's mind is what the result of the original lineup's reunion will sound like. True Durannies already know. "It sounds like Duran Duran," guitarist Andy Taylor said frankly. "When we got back together, it clicked pretty quickly and we found that we still have the ability to write music that we like. And I guess the music that we write and that we like would sound like Duran Duran."
The as-yet-untitled album, Duran Duran's first studio effort in 20 years with all of the original members contributing throughout the recording process (Andy Taylor and Roger Taylor quit before 1986's Notorious was released), has been in the works for a year and a half. Andy Taylor, Roger Taylor, singer Simon LeBon, bassist John Taylor and keyboardist Nick Rhodes hope to have the album out in April or May.
It's not just fans but fellow artists who are eagerly anticipating the album. So while the band isn't ruling out any collaboration with their next-generation contemporaries, they aren't counting on it happening.
"[Collaborations] are always going to be in the cards," LeBon said. "Whether it happens is usually a matter of luck and people's schedules allowing it."
"It's also what's going to work musically," added Roger Taylor. "We're not going to bring someone in just because they're Gwen Stefani or Fred Durst."
That doesn't mean some members of the Fab Five haven't had time to lend a hand to some younger bands. Simon LeBon sings backup on and Nick Rhodes produced the latest album by the Dandy Warhols (see "Duran Duran, Chic, Lemonheads Members Join Dandy Warhols' Monkey House").
Prior to Duran Duran's album release, the band will embark on a North American tour in late October or early November. Five upcoming performances are currently scheduled: a September 19 show in Santa Barbara, California, and four radio shows culminating with the 15th annual HFStival on October 4.
Several shows have already taken place — the kickoff of their tour of Japan in July was the first performance of the original lineup since 1985's Live Aid concert — including a handful of one-off shows in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and New York. The response from their "crazy as they ever were" fans has been overwhelming.
"We had the most amazing time," LeBon said. "We knew it was going to be good, but never in our wildest dreams did we think we were going to get the response and energy and love and affection that we got when we played those shows. It was fantastic."
So fevered was the anticipation for the Vegas show, the 2,050-capacity Joint at the Hard Rock Cafe & Casino sold out in six minutes, according to the promoter.
The gigs are also having a bit of a Peter Pan effect on the band. Playing shows together for the first time since 1985 almost makes the guys feel like the last two decades never happened.
"We sort of reverted to what we did for the first couple of albums," Rhodes explained, "which is trying out all the new material live first, and it really does sort of iron out the creases and [the songs] develop in different ways. It's been amazing."
For those too young to remember how and why Duran Duran reached the pinnacle of pop culture in the early '80s, a remedial course is being offered in the forms of a video anthology simply called Duran Duran Greatest, a two-DVD set that contains the groundbreaking videos that were more cinematic short films than performance clips, including "Girls on Film," "Rio," "Hungry Like the Wolf" and "Ordinary World." Due November 4, the collection also includes interviews, an 80-image photo gallery and uncensored and alternate cuts of some of the videos.
This is in addition to a re-mastered reissue campaign of 1981's self-titled debut and 1983's Seven and the Ragged Tiger in early August and a massive 13-CD box that dropped in June. Each of the original lineup's singles, from "Planet Earth" to "A View to a Kill," is included along with the respective B-sides.