Refusing to be dragged underneath by his terminal most cancers analysis, Andy Taylor has not solely been enjoying guitar on a brand new Duran Duran album but in addition making his first solo document for 33 years. Explaining the significance of music in staying sturdy throughout his sickness, he tells Basic Pop how straightforward it’s been along with his previous bandmates, why he left twice over… and his hopes of getting again onstage.
“Frankie Goes To Hollywood? They have been good boys, it’s pretty to see them again. I had a messy present with them in Paris as soon as. I obtained as much as play with them within the encore. Once I put my guitar on, they’d put an elastic strap on it. There have been 10,000 individuals within the area, whereas I used to be attempting to play Calm down with an elasticated guitar bouncing up and down on my physique. Frankie have been pissing themselves.”
That is how Andy Taylor introduces himself to Basic Pop, over Zoom from his residence in Ibiza the afternoon after Frankie’s comeback efficiency at Eurovision.
Given how his terminal most cancers was so publicly revealed throughout Duran Duran’s induction on the Rock And Roll Corridor Of Fame final yr, you may count on Taylor to look weak and a bit weary. As an alternative, Duran Duran’s previous guitarist is a crucial power, rattling off terrific pop tales at a charge of knots. Earlier than our interview, his supervisor tells us: “You’ll like Andy. Correct rock and roll, ever so garrulous.” He wasn’t unsuitable.
Andy is right here, at the very least nominally, to debate Man’s A Wolf To A Man. Solely his third solo album – and his earlier assortment, 1990’s Harmful, was a covers document – it’s as unpredictable, sparky and joyful as the person himself, switching from the glam of This Will Be Ours to the robofunk of Reachin’ Out To You by way of wistful ballad Huge Set off, all with a stressed vitality.
The album’s genesis is inevitably eccentric, as Taylor explains: “I had a FaceTime name come up: ‘Hartwig Masuch, BMG CEO.’ I believed: ‘The CEO of BMG? I’d higher take this.’ Hartwig informed me he was a long-time fan. He was a really personable man, one of many few CEOs of a document label who doesn’t have lizard-like tendencies.”
The exec mentioned he’d love Andy to make no matter album he wished for his label, maybe a brand new Energy Station document? “I informed him that wasn’t very straightforward,” laughs Taylor. “Most of The Energy Station are useless. Even John Taylor has come shut a few occasions.”
With a possible document deal unexpectedly arriving, the guitarist adopted the ethos of his former Energy Station bandmate, Robert Palmer. “Robert’s rule was: ‘You’ll be able to go anyplace you need,’” reveals Taylor. “Whenever you’re expressing a music, as long as you will have the sensation of ‘I really like this and I’ve nailed it,’ you’ll be able to work out afterwards which songs work collectively. Robert was an absolute grasp of going in all places – you’ll be able to’t get two extra completely different cultures than Addicted To Love and Stress Drop.
“After Hartwig’s name, immediately I’d been given the liberty to do what the fuck I need once more. Nice! There’s an enormous collective consumption of various music all through my life, however I all the time get again to Bowie and The Beatles.”
Though he’s been a producer for Rod Stewart and Gun, Andy is drawn to bands: not simply Duran Duran, however persistently enjoying with Reef, too. Man’s A Wolf To A Man was written and produced with The Almighty singer Ricky Warwick and Swedish electronica artist Mattias Lindblom.
“The album was all made in a single room, with one or different of Ricky and Mattias,” notes Taylor. “I don’t suppose you want greater than two individuals to write down a music, regardless of the present pop world’s method of eight writers on every thing. My course of could be very band-oriented. I want having that different individual for checks and balances on songs. In any other case, I begin having bizarre conversations with myself: ‘What do you suppose, Andy?’ ‘Effectively, Andy, now that you simply ask…’
Initially accomplished earlier than the pandemic, Taylor used lockdown to reassess the album. The massive change was making certain that he sang all of it. Reef’s Gary Stringer had sung on many of the album initially. Andy’s spouse Tracey was key within the change, as he reveals: “My spouse was significantly the one saying: ‘Why aren’t you singing extra on the album?’ She doesn’t usually get entangled in that aspect of my work, in order that made me suppose: ‘Hmm…’
Tracey’s considerations over her husband getting to specific himself have been partly as a result of, as Andy states merely: “I used to be pondering this was going to be my final album. My most cancers analysis was solely heading a method.”
Whereas Taylor’s stage 4 prostate most cancers analysis was made public final November, he’s been residing with the sickness since 2018. He’s bleakly humorous describing how holding his situation non-public practically scuppered his reunion with Duran, revealing: “By the point we discovered Duran have been getting inducted into the Corridor Of Fame, we’d been discussing a few different tasks.
“The weekend our induction was introduced, it turned out Duran have been going to be in Ibiza. So in fact, they have been going: ‘Hey, let’s get collectively!’ However I used to be in London, having most cancers therapy and was unable to say something to anybody. The one time Duran have been in Ibiza is the one time I wasn’t. They will need to have thought: ‘Actually, Andy?’”
There are lots of causes Andy’s distance from Duran Duran since he left in 2006 through the Crimson Carpet Bloodbath periods has been so obscure. Mainly, it’s as a result of neither Andy nor the band see it as anybody else’s enterprise. As Taylor places it: “My rule is, if it’s not been mentioned within the press, I gained’t speak about it.”
However now that there’s an ease between all of the band once more, Taylor is pleased to substantiate it actually was a easy musical distinction that led to his departure. Andy states: “I couldn’t do the Timbaland album, as a result of it simply didn’t transfer me. I used to be saying to the others: ‘Why do we want this?’ There’s a lot expertise in that band, I by no means felt the necessity to convey different individuals in to write down with Duran. It bugged me.
“It wasn’t about getting my very own method. But when the power is in opposition to you, it’s troublesome. Whenever you’re older, band guidelines can turn out to be very troublesome. The band rule was: ‘The band comes first’ and I believed, ‘No.’
“The overall feeling was ‘You must include us over right here’ and I simply couldn’t. I don’t know what it’s with me which means I simply can’t do this. It felt like somebody shutting an elevator door on me that I couldn’t get previous. There needs to be a steadiness, and I couldn’t really feel it. I had the identical feeling as I had once I left throughout Infamous: ‘I’m going to overlook all this… once more.’”
Andy is mature and easy-going sufficient to recognise that what felt extremely essential 17 years in the past shouldn’t get in the way in which of the relationships he’d solid many years earlier than. “We’ve been by means of some loopy shit collectively,” he laughs. “I’ve thought quite a bit about what occurred once we have been children. All of it comes again, together with why I left.
“You re-evaluate it and realise that perpetuating arguments over petty issues is pointless, as a result of the one individual you’re actually falling out with is your self.
“A band is an entity, it’s not about one individual. Duran Duran is a residing entity. When you consider its journey, the dangerous bits are amplified too typically. When the mud settled, there was no animosity there. It was inventive, not private. We’re Pink Floyd in reverse.”
That inventive relationship has been restored on Duran Duran’s new album. Impressed by final yr’s Halloween-themed gig in Las Vegas, it sees the band cowl a number of suitably spooky songs together with Paint It Black, Ghost City and Cerrone’s Supernature, in addition to goth-tinged reworkings of Duran tunes resembling Secret Oktober, New Moon On Monday and Shadows On Your Facet.
“Simon is in nice voice on the album,” enthuses Taylor. “There’s a very nice cowl of Siouxsie And The Banshees’ Spellbound and our reworked Evening Boat is fucking implausible. It’s a enjoyable document.
“I simply cherished enjoying with them once more. We in all probability didn’t perceive it once we have been younger, however we all know what we’re about now. John’s bass enjoying is tight as fuck: him and Roger are one correct rhythm part. Having the unique rhythm part is an enormous factor for a band. To not criticise anybody else, however when me, John and Roger play collectively, there’s nothing fairly on a par with it. I’ve discovered that once more on the brand new document. It was: ‘Sure, that’s my place!’ so rapidly.”
Seeing Andy discuss so enthusiastically about Duran Duran, his blond manbun bouncing with glee, is great. An enigma who’s typically saved his counsel about being a part of the world’s greatest band within the 80s, Taylor explains of his angle: “I keep away from enjoying as much as my pink carpet alter-ego. I created that alter-ego and at one level it merged into my every day life. I created a monster, together with 4 different monsters. Duran was a hydra-headed monster, and I prefer to suppose I’m in restoration from the music enterprise.”
If Andy is level-headed now, that wasn’t all the time the case. He knew Duran Duran have been one thing particular from the second he got here from Newcastle to Birmingham to audition for them in 1980. “There wasn’t a lot precise music materials,” he smiles.
“They’d the refrain of Ladies On Movie and that was about it. However as soon as we began jamming stuff, an angle got here out. I’d been round each musician in Newcastle, however one thing completely different was occurring in Duran. Our solely gear was a shitty amp and a distortion field I may get some juice out of. However that juice, plus Nick and John’s make-up and bizarre sneakers, it was sufficient.
“I used to be by no means destined to work within the shipyards, as I wished to be Mick Ronson. I wished to be the man sporting make-up, and the vibe of The Rum Runner helped Birmingham really feel like one other planet. One other band, Vogue, would hang around at The Rum Runner with us. They have been actually cool, too, and I believed: ‘We don’t have this in Newcastle!’
“The silver nail in my coffin for turning into a glamorous pop star was Duran’s supervisor, Paul Berrow. He had a BMW, and in April 1980 proudly owning a BMW was like proudly owning an area shuttle. I realised: ‘That is the place I should be!’
“If all that wasn’t sufficient, there was the identify. I used to be a fan of Barbarella, so once I answered the audition advert and was informed ‘We’re known as Duran Duran’, I believed ‘Yeah, intelligent.’ Duran Duran is a reputation like Coca-Cola, it simply rolls off the tongue.
“Led Zeppelin is an enormous identify, Duran Duran is an arty and horny identify. Nick and John: one is Duran and the opposite is Duran, too. They have been Duran and Duran. The band was their child.”
Regardless of being the newcomer, Andy was simply capable of finding his place in Duran. “I had a 100-watt Marshall amp,” he chuckles. “A loud amplifier and I used to be in there. The Berrow brothers mentioned that, with out a guitarist, America could be out of attain. EMI mentioned it, too, that that they had extra religion in Duran than plenty of different synth acts as a result of we had a guitarist.
“In America, our contemporaries have been Prince, Michael Jackson and Van Halen. Two of the perfect guitarists on the planet, whereas Jackson sang with a number of the greats. The guitar was nonetheless large in America.”
The Energy Station allowed Andy and John to hone their rock aspect, a band much more profitable within the States than again residence within the UK, that includes Stylish’s Bernard Edwards and Tony Thompson in addition to Robert Palmer.
“I really like The Energy Station album,” says Taylor. “However once I hearken to it, there’s a bit disappointment. Tony, Bernard and Robert have been all younger once they died. I used to name it ‘The Curse Of The Energy Station’ – after which it occurred to me.
“However that album additionally brings residence what a good time it was. Duran Duran by no means deliberate any of it however once we obtained collectively it was like everybody had been ready their complete life for that second. As quickly as we hit the go button, we have been profitable in all places around the globe. To at the present time, we’ve obtained probably the most profitable Bond music. That’s psychological.
“When Some Like It Scorching got here out, that was No.2 whereas A View To A Kill was No.1. One factor I used to be wise about in my mid-twenties was to grasp: ‘Child, you ain’t ever going to surpass this.’”
As stellar as life was, the accepted knowledge round Duran Duran is that their aspect tasks helped splinter the band. Was The Energy Station’s tour of the US as debauched as everybody claims?
“I couldn’t presumably remark,” insists Andy, briefly clamming up. He causes: “Duran have all the time been a category act. They don’t attempt to promote themselves on the debauchery. I really like The Rolling Stones however, each time you consider them now, what involves thoughts first is the life-style. Duran have all the time aspired to have a contact of sophistication. Regardless of my shit sneakers, they’ve maintained that.
“What I’ll say about that Energy Station tour is that, after the business success with the album, Robert dropped out. It was solely meant to be a one-off album anyway so, with out Robert, what was the purpose? There was no level to that tour, other than ‘Let’s have amusing.’ I’ll say there’s solely bits of it that I can keep in mind.”
It was throughout The Energy Station that Taylor started to have doubts about life in Duran. He remembers a drunken interview with Robert in Japan – “They’d these sake machines on the road, and the interview was at 10am” – which was so chaotic that an EMI rep tore into the pair, accusing them of disrespecting their TV interviewer. Andy remembers: “The EMI man was saying: ‘Don’t you care about your profession?’ I informed him: ‘What profession? How do I get promoted?
“That was what I started to seek out irritating. I used to be in my mid-twenties and was pondering: ‘The place do I am going from right here?’
“However that’s the purpose the place the music business ought to have stepped in to assist.
“I’ll take each bullet I deserve for leaving the band. However why is it all the time the members of a band who’re at fault when it stops?
“In music, it’s solely ever the floor that will get reported. Duran have been falling aside. Roger wasn’t effectively. I used to be having doubts. All the business individuals who had dined out on Duran Duran from the very begin? When it was time for them to be honourable, to face up and assist us, they weren’t there.”
If the reportage round Duran will be irritating, Andy’s sickness has reaffirmed his perception within the energy of music itself. He’s by no means taken the inventive aspect as a right and says now: “Music offers me a vacation spot to goal for. This sickness takes so many different issues away, so the motivation of getting music giving me one thing of price in my life,
Andy is having pioneering most cancers therapy that he hopes will extend his life by a number of years. As he explains: “I’m really blessed to get this new therapy.
“There’s quite a bit to it but, however getting again on stage in the future is an enormous marker for me.
“I’ve obtained extra music to make – and I’m going nowhere till I get it performed.”