Duran Duran have finished work on their new album, Astronaut, tentatively scheduled for release in October on Epic. It marks the first time the band’s original lineup — singer Simon Le Bon, keyboardist Nick Rhodes, bassist John Taylor, guitarist Andy Taylor and drummer Roger Taylor — has worked together since 1985 for the “A View to a Kill” single.
“We were like, ‘We can still do this! After fifteen some years! How exciting!” Le Bon says. The reunited group recorded the new material in three different stages. They initially got back together in 2002, and spent some time writing new material in the south of France. After a brief reunion tour last year, the band headed off to England, splitting time between two studios. Most of the new material was recorded in the past few months with Linkin Park producer Don Gilmore, although R&B hitmaker Dallas Austen was brought in at the last minute to do some additional work.
“He just offers a different approach,” Le Bon says. “You won’t be able to notice who does what on the album.”
The new material already appears to be far more eclectic than previous Duran Duran releases. Even the talkative frontman has a hard time summing up its sound. “It’s like the Mamas and Papas meets Kraftwerk,” he says. Le Bon labels the new track “Taste of Summer” as simply “fantastic, beautiful, warm, hot and sexy,” which may not explain much as far as sound, but does bode well for fans turned off by the midtempo electro-pop of the group’s mid-Nineties output.
Other potential standout tracks are “Bedroom Toys,” a disco-funk throwback featuring Chic’s Nile Rodgers, and the title track. “Nobody believed in ‘Astronaut’ except us,” LeBon says, laughing. “It’s like ‘Girls on Film’ — it doesn’t sound like anything else out there, and it has a strange chorus. But Dallas finally got it and helped us make a great song.”
Duran Duran recently shot a video for the first single, “(Reach Up for the) Sunrise,” directed by the Polish Brothers (Twin Falls Idaho), though the band members provided most of the footage themselves. In the spirit of the group’s early exotic and action-packed videos, the clip shows John Taylor wandering the California desert, Le Bon racing a motorcycle through the countryside in Spain, Roger Taylor cruising in a car around England, Andy Taylor hanging out in an Ibiza club and Rhodes hovering in a spaceship over London.
Although LeBon is clearly excited about creating flashy videos with his old mates, he takes particular pride in the music. “It’s a real complete album,” he says. “It’ll be the kind of album where you can listen to the whole thing in one go, rather than going on tea breaks.”