December 16, 2010 / 5:45 PM / in 7 years

Duran Duran goes forward on new album by going back

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Duran Duran rose to fame in the 1980s with stylized videos that fueled the early MTV generation, and in recent years has sold out live shows by playing old hits such as “Hungry Like a Wolf” and “The Reflex.”

But with a new album, “All You Need is Now,” set for release on December 21, the band whose synthesized pop rock helped usher in the New Wave of the ‘80s is updating its sound for a younger generation while still offering a taste of their past.

The band -- Roger Taylor, John Taylor, Simon Le Bon and Nick Rhodes -- called on uber-producer Mark Ronson for their 13th studio album, which features 12 new tracks.

“We all wanted to get a little bit more experimental with this record. We wanted to reconnect with fans, on the territory on which the band, and Mark Ronson who is the producer, felt we should own. And that was this kind of modern synth, dance, experimental, pop music,” Le Bon told Reuters.

With hits like “Girls on Film,” “Rio” and “Save a Prayer,” Duran Duran sold tens of millions of LP‘s, cassettes and CD’s and logged numerous top 10 hits in a 30-year span that also saw major changes in the way music has been distributed online.

Now, the band is embracing the digital age. The new album’s first single, also titled “All You Need Is Now”, has been available for about a week, free, on iTunes, and the album will also be sold on Apple’s popular music site before CDs are available in stores in February.

“The way that people consume music is obviously radically different than the way it was even ten years ago,” said Rhodes, who started Duran Duran with John Taylor in 1978.

REKINDLED SPIRIT

Unlike some music veterans who are turning their backs on the industry in an age when inexpensive downloads of singles have decimated CD sales, Rhodes said he was now excited for the first time in a long time. The reason is the new CD.

“This album has been such a joy to make because of what we have achieved with it,” he said. “It really drives you to want to go play shows and introduce these songs to the audience.”

New songs have titles such as “Girl Panic!”, “Safe (in the heat of the moment)”, “Being Followed”, “Leave aLight on” and “The Man Who Stole a Leopard,” which features singer Kelis.

Ronson, a DJ and solo artist who has produced for the likes of Christina Aguilera and Amy Winehouse, went back to the early Duran Duran records to update what once worked. He has said he thinks of “All You Need is Now” as the “imaginary followup to ‘Rio’ that never was.”

Yet, the producer takes Duran Duran’s synthesized sound and twists their formidable beats and rhythms into modern songs that the band hopes will please loyalists and win new fans.

While Ronson is the producer, Rhodes and the band still write and perform all the songs, and Rhodes said that his love for music -- while it may have changed over the years -- never completely went away.

“If you have it in your blood and in your mind and in your spirit that you want to make music, you don’t really have the urge to stop,” he said.

“I wake up with a tune in my head or I scribble down some words most days. Later, I might rub it out and think ‘nah, that wasn’t any good.’ But you keep thinking about the process all the time.”

Duran Duran plans to begin a tour early next year and hopes to play in countries like China and India for the first time.

Reporting by Bernard Orr; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte

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