Duran Duran’s Roger Taylor Trades the Skins for the Decks
All the best rock stars are multi-dimensional. Ron Wood is a painter, Lenny Kravitz is an interior designer, Ozzy is a philosopher…and Duran Duran drummer Roger Taylor is a rather fashionable DJ. Of course, you remember him from such Simmons-drum-pad-driven classics as “Girls on Film” and “The Reflex”. But in the ’90s he took to the decks and never looked back, even scoring a UK top ten dance hit with “Love is Like Oxygen.” In between Duran Duran regroupings, he trots the globe, spending a lot of time, naturally, in Ibiza, and holding a regular residency and London’s Met Bar. With gigs this week at Chicago’s SpyBar (25th) and the Top of the Standard in New York (27th), we managed to sit him still for a chat.
How did you come to start DJing? Do you now consider it as a career?
I was going to so many clubs at one point in my life that I just literally stumbled into the booth one night and started spinning with a friend. I loved the feeling that I was somehow controlling the vibe in the room. I was also producing dance music at the time so it all felt kind of destined.
Does it seem perfectly natural to be a DJ? After all, like DJs, drummers are the people hidden away in the back doing the hard work of actually helping everyone get their groove on.
Yes, it felt very similar to being the drummer in a band. I seem to thrive as the guy at the back who’s actually very important but can also go somewhat unnoticed. I think I have a very juxtapositional personality.
What do you love most about DJing?
That moment when two records mesh beautifully together, both in beat and in harmony…usually an accident, and you think ‘how did that happen?’
What’s your favorite city to DJ?
New York, just because it’s my favorite city in the world.
What does your playlist look like? Are people expecting you to just play Roxy Music and Chic songs?
I started off very eclectic in style but as I moved up to bigger clubs I embraced a longtime love of house music. After all, if you’re booked to play to play to 2000 people in a nightclub in Rome on a Saturday night, you can’t get up and play ‘Wordy Rappinghood’. Some people still can’t get beyond the fact that it’s Roger from Duran behind the decks and can sometimes have certain expectations of what I will be playing…and are somewhat shocked when I start playing obscure French House music.
Duran Duran were a DJs dream, with a zeitgeist-defining remix of almost every single. As a DJ now, what current acts and tracks to you represent the epitome of cool?
I’ve always been a fan of Daft Punk and am really enjoying their collaboration with Nile Rodgers. I’m loving ‘Get Lucky’. I’ve also been impressed by the Deadmau5 phenomenon in recent years and those Swedish chaps Axwell, Ingosso, and Angello. I call them the ‘Abba’ of dance music. And Disclosure are doing a pretty amazing job of re-inventing house music in the year 2013, which is no mean feat in itself.
Duran Duran rose up through a blitz of trend consciousness. “Planet Earth” even name checks the New Romantic movement. Are you aware of music having kind of lapped itself? That you can play songs from the ’30s, ’50s, ’80s, and now without ever drawing the ire of trendoids? After all, you could probably play Ace of Base at Le Bain and no one would flinch.
You’re probably right about Ace Of Base, and yes music has certainly travelled around in a big circle. Artists like La Roux and the Killers owe more than a little to the early Duran sound.
What is your favorite club of all time? And your current favorite?
Are the other members of the band jealous of your new career? Are you the one holding up the next album?
I don’t sense any jealousy. Nick has numerous art and music projects on the go, John has recently become a best selling author and Simon is a busy and competitive sailor. But there definitely is a next album. It’s already in the works.
Duran Duran were obviously an exceedingly provocative entity—the puffy blouses, the glorious hair, the white-boys-copping-funk, the S&M videos. Do you think it’s possible for anything in the context of music to still be provocative?
Very difficult, as it does seem that everything provocative has been done. But people most likely thought the same thing once Elvis had been filmed below the waist.
What’s your favorite Duran album and favorite song?
Has to be the Rio album. It’s become a classic of its period. And ‘Save A Prayer’ will always hold huge emotional weight for me.
What is your idea of the perfect night out?
My favorite evening is actually a wild night in with my 20-month-old son, eating pizza and watching Peppa Pig and Thomas the Tank Engine.