Well… after Duran Duran’s second implosion in 2006 I actually had bugger all else to do! We were in London one day and someone just said, ‘why don’t you think about writing a book?… I mean there’s so much to the story and a lot of it has never been explained, it’s interesting and some of it’s very funny, and there’s a lot of achievement that often gets overlooked so it was a chance to put all of that into one place. But it took a lot of work and I did have a lot of help from people who were writers and with the research and everything, but there was also the therapeutic aspect of going through the whole process and finally being able to put it all behind me.
You know it’s funny because we were teenagers when we signed to EMI, and quite literally our teenage dream became a reality so it iss almost like fiction from that point of view because it’s like the perfect script for a story about a young band.
I started with the the first day of Duran Duran for me, which was when I had my audition for the band and went down to Birmingham from Newcastle with my guitar and amplifier on the train. I walked into this club where there were these three blokes – Nick, Roger and John – and we just started jamming. They wanted to find a guitar player and they’d already tried quite a few people out so we started jamming and had a few ideas and by the end of the day we were actually playing pieces of music. That was something I was very good at, organising the music, because I’d worked in a covers band before that and played working men’s clubs and everything, in fact I had played hundreds of gigs already at that stage, so I understood how to construct music. They had loads of ideas but they just needed a bit more architecture so we just sort of clicked. Roger and John were these really young blokes but they were really tight because they were heavily influenced by Chic and they had this funk and groove thing which was just so different, not generic like everyone else was doing… it just clicked like I said. I knew they had the intention, they had it in them, that thing that just said ‘we’re going to make it’. There was this invisible thread of the whole concept; the nightclub and the whole thing that was there. Coming into that from Newcastle was a bit like walking into wonderland!
I’ve still got the Yamaha guitar – the one I used for ‘Girls On Film’ and played on one or two other big hits, and which I used to use live – I still have that guitar, it sits in my studio and every day it reminds me of who I am and that’s the thing I’ve kept. But memorabilia, Roger’s got a lot but Nick’s the real hoarder so maybe one day we’ll get the Hard Rock Nick Rhodes Cafe… it’ll probably be in the Tribeca district of New York! But a lot of the book is done from memories and one of the things that came out of writing it is that it just showed me how lucky I was to have had the chance to work with so many fucking incredible people!
Well I think you kind of need the births and deaths and marriages to kind of humanise the story, to let everyone know all the other things that were going on. Sometimes we were up, sometimes we were down, I mean we’re all human but people only really see the presentation; they see the little bits that are written in the papers but not the things that lead up to those stories or the consequences of them, because that wasn’t public. But I think that all of us, each in his own way, had an enormous weight on us by the time we were in our early twenties. People still come up and say to me ‘what went wrong? I mean you really had it all…’ well, guess what? We’re just human beings, we have family and kids and pressures and the life, the excess, took it’s toll. So after a hundred million records I suppose it’s time for some sort of an explanation!
That’s the thing with trying to get away, trying to escape all the madness… I know that towards the end of the book there’s a line where I realise that doing this job means there’s never another day off in your life… and it really would be like that. You don’t have your own free will or the freedom to be able to do that and make it succeed, and I always remind people that in any other job there’s someone to show you, someone to give you the education, who knows how to do it all… writing music and turning it into something, and there’s no real guidelines and it comes when it comes, it’s a very volatile thing.
Yeah I think that’s right, but only if they are written honestly. I have read a lot of books where I know that they’re still missing the point. What I do all kind of depends on where my head’s at… you’ve got to have the motivation, you’ve got to have the character, but if your brain’s not working, the little voices aren’t speaking to you and the ideas aren’t coming through then you just don’t function.
It’s always about trying to get back to that place where you can just work, just like every time you do an album you’re trying to get back to that place. You have to clear it all out and then get into it and get into yourself and ask the questions. What haven’t we done yet? Where else can we go? That was always the fun bit with Duran Duran because we never went with the norm. At the beginning we were always, always ahead of the curve. Later on I think we were behind it, and we were chasing instead of leading. Having said that I actually think we did really well to keep ourselves kind of in tune for about five years, and in that five years we had seven platinum albums in America with Duran Duran, Arcadia and Power Station, and I don’t think that any other British act has ever achieved that. And they were all written completely by us – with a little bit of help from John Barry of course for the Bond thing – and that’s a hell of a lot of work.
What was that Eagles album called? ‘When Hell Freezes Over’! Well I think hell is going to have to freeze back over first. I don’t really think it was our best work – if the work was good then fine but it’s not our best work – and the record company basically threw it back it us and like I explain in the book and I knew that would be their reaction. I have respect for the A&R guys and they had said all along ‘just wait, it’s not ready’… so we had the opportunity and we blew it, and then some bright spark suggested that we outsource our creativity, how can you outsource creativity?
Then once our creative relationship hit the rocks that was it… I mean sure, we could still play live, but the creative relationship just blew up. It was terrible and there were problems with the management, I didn’t have a visa to work in America and all these rank excuses. The bottom line was that the basis of our relationship wasn’t as friends and it wasn’t as neighbours, it was creative from that first day we got together. It was a totally creative relationship and once we didn’t have that there wasn’t a great deal we could do about it. At the end of the day, when you’ve had as much as we’ve had, how much more do you need to prove and exactly what are you prepared to do to achieve that? I think by anyone’s standards we have a remarkable repertoire and I’m very very proud of that and I certainly don’t want to leave my name on anything from Duran Duran that isn’t absolutely top dollar. I don’t want to sound arrogant about it but that’s how I feel.
Well my lawyers do! We’re getting divorced OK? And with all the fun of the fair that goes with that. There’s never any easy way when you have these sorts of disputes, but all’s fair in love and war and there’s still the deep underlying respect that we’ve always had for each other.
Well I haven’t really spoken to them for a while, but our families all know each other so we’re never far out of the loop. I saw Roger last year at a gig at the Royal Albert Hall and there’s not any animostity… all of a sudden we just ended up in a place where we just didn’t know where we stood with each other, and to be honest that takes some resolving.
It was all emotions rolled into one. it was quite strange actually. We went through everything but however tough it got when I got to the end I wouldn’t change it, I wouldn’t want to, why would I? And then there’s the characters you meet along the way… I haven’t seen Rod Stewart for years but he’s one of the funniest men on the planet and some of those anecdotes are my favourite bit, I mean he was a real hero of mine and it’s often disappointing to meet your heroes but sometimes they even want to to work with you, and when you get a call from someone like that… it’s quite… intimidating! There you are and you’ve got your own world and it’s all great and all of a sudden Rod Stewart calls you! But we got to do some amazing things, I mean once we got a tour of the Whitehouse… and I did try really hard to steal an ashtray or something for a souvenir but there’s always these secret service guys who don’t take their eyes off you. No chance! But that sort of stuff that gets thrown at you is absolutely priceless. We did Fashion Rocks a few years ago and Prince Charles came ober and said ‘hello chaps!’ absolutely no formality at all and he’s just standing there chatting away!
Well the libel lawyers pretty much sort you out on that one! But it’s pretty much the book I wanted it to be…
Well, two things… I’ve pretty much got an album done with a new band but I’m not going to start chasing my tail on that and try to get it on Top Of The Pops or whatever is out there now but I’ll probably go on the road with that, it’s the kind of band that could do well at festivals, it owes a lot to bands like the Foo Fighters I suppose… and I’m working with a young artist called Sonny J Mason – every once in a while you come across someone who’s not just really got it but really IS it, and he is the best part of Michael Jackson, the funkiest part of Prince and the elaborate part of Sly Stone and he’s really something else. He’s a british kid, Glaswegian-Nigerian, wears a fucking kilt! But it’s amazing and it’s got a lot of Power Station elements in it… I’m working as a kind of chief producer and doing some writing with him and stuff. That’s the stuff that keeps me going, the writing with people and coming up with new songs and I’m still very active in that.
So I’ve written two albums really, over the last couple of years. Mine is pretty much done and the one with Sonny is about half way through I suppose but it’s great working with him and the band, a young band. So music still gets me out of bed and as long as it does that then I’m quite happy!
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