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John Warwicker Q&A

May 1st, 2018

Here’s an excerpt from the great Q&A we recently featured on the fan community website with longtime Duran Duran contributor John Warwicker:

Under what circumstance did you meet the guys in Duran Duran?

After Camberwell (1977?) I decided that in the near future computers would become an everyday tool of design/art/culture so I decided to research this and ended up doing a Masters degree at Birmingham Polytechnic and wrote my own course – ‘Research into Electronic Interactive Media’. The Birmingham music scene was just taking off. I remember seeing UB40 at Digbeth Town Hall when there were more people on stage than there were in the audience! A friend of my girlfriend at the time knew John and got us together. John arrived at the cafe with Nick and that’s how my involvement with them started. We got on really well, shared a love of the same music, notably Kraftwerk, Roxy Music, Bowie and Eno and the contemory graphics of Peter Saville; we were all hungry ‘to make a mark, to make something new, of the now’. The band had an upcoming gig and needed a poster which I then designed, using a remodelled version of the logo that John had designed (if memory serves me well). Their management in those early years was a company called ‘Tri-Tec’ so rather naively I designed a triangular poster which the band plastered all over central Birmingham (Nick, I think, got arrested at one point!) and this poster which was noticed and was really successful.

When you met the band, they were just starting out. Did you have any idea they’d become SO famous?

In short ‘Yes’. And that’s before I heard the music. This was because there was a belief and ambition that emanated from both John and Nick which was compelling and was ‘true’ (in that self-fulfilling destiny way that only a few possess). From the first moment I met them I had no doubts. It was then extraordinary to witness their rapid ascent from seeing them play in front of 20 people (before Simon joined) to sustained global success in the space of just a few short years. Even though I wasn’t involved with them and rarely spoke to them in these early years I was so proud of their achievement. As soon as the first chords of Planet Earth were played on the radio, and soon after ‘Top of the Pops’, it was utterly obvious to everyone that this band was the ‘next big thing’.

The interesting thing was like BritPop with Oasis and Blur, and in the 60s with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones (for whom I later designed ’Steel Wheels’ album cover) there was Spandau Ballet and the New Romantics scene. So London vs somewhere else in the country became a generative creative axis within British pop culture. The other connection was that Spandau Ballet’s first album was produced by Richard Burgess, of Landscape.

What are your impressions of each of them?

There’s an intellectual restlessness and engagement about both John and Nick. Roger is thankfully quiet and stable, and Simon has an endearing presence.

How did you come to work with the band on the DURAN DURAN BUDOKAN project?

Since the Astronaut album Nick and I have been in regular contact, for the past 13 years I’ve lived in Melbourne, Australia – so actual physical meetings have been unfortunately rare but whenever I’m London we try and met up. With John being in the USA it’s been a long time, unfortunately, since we were both in the same room together.

So, Duran’s management got in touch and Nick got in touch shortly afterwards. One of the creative touchstones in our early conversations was the Japanese design legend, Tadanoori Yokoo. Both Nick and I often refer to and talk about aspects and creators of Japanese culture, such as the ‘Provoke’ group of photographers from the 60s and 70s, such as Diado Moriyama. So the band had asked Yokoo to design a poster for their Budokan gig and then asked me to design the sleeve using his poster. I can only hope I’ve done the band and Yokoo-san justice. Even though I didn’t directly speak to John this time I knew Nick was in conversation with him so I always felt his presence.

DDtriangularposters

Read more about John on his website, http://www.johnwarwicker.com.