John Taylor dislikes acting his age. He knows he’s not 20 anymore, but the longtime bass player for Duran Duran, now 56, believes it’s not the years or the mileage, but rather the “hunger” to continue growing as a musician.
“The hunger has to be nourished,” Mr. Taylor told The Washington Times. “I knew [music] was running me already at 17. If something was going to be running me, it’d just as soon be music.”
Mr. Taylor and the rest of the English band will ring in 2017 Saturday night at The Theater at MGM National Harbor in Oxen Hill, Maryland. The band has spent the past year promoting their 14th album, “Paper Gods,” their highest-charting release in over two decades.
Mr. Taylor said it’s incumbent upon acts of his generation to continue to practice and grow, as well as to adapt to an incredibly different music industry from when the band started out decades ago.
“There’s a time in every artist’s life where you are the new zeitgeist. Nobody needs to tell you how things are run because you know it,” he said. “When we were 21, 22, we ran the way things were done. As you get older … people are trying to explain what Spotify is, and [we’re] just trying to understand how things are done differently.”
Mr. Taylor and his mates will play newer songs from “Paper Gods” as well as classic tunes that audiences crave, such as “Hungry Like the Wolf,” “The Reflex” and “Rio.” It’s important to give the fans the old songs, Mr. Taylor admits.
“We’re real people-pleasers. We don’t like anybody leaving disappointed,” he said.
As it is a New Year’s Eve gig, the band will also ensure that celebrations coincide with the stroke of midnight.
“It’s really cool to be playing New Year’s Eve. If you’re an entertainer, it’s kind of one of those evenings of the year where you don’t know what to do with yourself if you’re not working,” Mr. Taylor said, adding he’s excited to play the new casino’s theater. “It’s a good area. It draws on D.C. and Baltimore and the whole area.”
Mr. Taylor follows a ritual of meditation as a way to “come down” after the high of a live gig. Organization, he believes, is also key to maintain a clear head on the road.
“You should see the way we pack our suitcases. It’s like military specifications the way everything is packed,” he said. “Because when you’re on the road for any length of time, you are your suitcase. So if your suitcase is a shambles, you don’t feel good about yourself.”
Mr. Taylor has been privileged to meet many of his influences, such as The Rolling Stones and the surviving members of The Beatles.
“When you’ve put somebody on a pedestal, it’s quite difficult to take them off in a way,” he said of meeting his heroes. “I think it’s quite challenging to become friends with somebody like that. I think if you’re lucky, you can get an insight into how they ‘pick.’”
While acts like The Stones continue to fill stadiums well into their seventies, Mr. Taylor said such age-defying stage antics require a bit of illusion.
“I think as you get older, you kind of pride yourself on keeping your energy levels up, and it becomes more of a challenge as you get older,” he said. “We’re all trying to pretend like aging is nothing but a number. We’re all trying to maintain this illusion. Because we’re kind of illusionists on top of being entertainers.
“It’s good because it forces you to stay healthy.”
Very few musicians start out thinking they’ll be able to rock into middle age, and Mr. Taylor said that for anyone to make it, they must effectively have co-conspirators on their journey.
“If somebody had to ask me for advice, I would say, ‘Who’s your partner?’ whether that’s a producer or a manager or another musician or whatever. Nobody can do it alone.”
Bands are notorious for infighting and breaking up. Mr. Taylor said he and Duran Duran are no different, but all of that goes by the wayside the minute they go on stage.
“We find that the stage is the leveler,” he said. You look across the stage and you see this guy that you’ve just been arguing with over some … legal matter, and you go ‘Oh right, he’s the guy that I get to do this with.’”
While Mr. Taylor and the band have sold millions of records and will help christen the new MGM theater, he said that he still has goals even decades into his rock ‘n’ roll career.
“I want to be in the greatest band in the world,” he said with a big laugh. “You just want to be able to tear the roof off the place now and again. And that’s what we’re going to do New Year’s Eve.”
Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.