On July 16, 1980, Duran Duran would play their first show together. They were scheduled to play at The Rum Runner, a local nightclub in Birmingham, England where the band would hold a regular residence, rehearse, work, and later pull in venue owners, The Berrow Brothers (Paul and Michael), to serve as their managers. It’s also where Duran Duran wrote their first song, “Sound of Thunder,” off their 1981 self-titled debut.
This night, the two-year-old band—started by schoolmates bassist John Taylor and keyboardist Nick Rhodes—ripped through a set including “Girls on Film,” “Night Boat,” and “Late Bar,” with the very first song of the evening being a splashy cover of Donna Summer’s 1977 single “I Feel Love,” written by Italian composer Giorgio Moroder, a longtime inspiration of the band in their early years. Drummer Roger Taylor, new singer Simon Le Bon, who landed the gig after auditioning plastered in pink leopard-skin pants, and then guitarist Andy Taylor were also part of the band’s earliest days.
Forty years later, Moroder, the electronic dance pioneer, often called the “father of disco,” would end up producing Duran Duran for the first time on their 15th album Future Past.
“He was one of the big heroes of ours in the early days, but we never got to work with him,” says Roger Taylor of Moroder, now 81. “He came with so much energy, so much vision, and he was quick. He knew exactly what he wanted to hear from us, and we actually listened to him.”
Moroder’s tenure on Future Past would run only one track, yet his contribution was a kismet stamp as the band began revisiting the more natural elements of their past sound, while addressing the bitter aftertaste of a year, subsisting in their present state, and carrying on into the future.
First convening in 2018 with producer Erol Alkan in Northern London, spending weeks jamming and building a backbone of songs, then moving to another studio to start tracking, Duran Duran was initially set to deliver a new album by summer 2020. When the onset of the pandemic forced everything to close, in retrospect, it turned into an unexpected and welcome reset for the band.
“We were at each other’s throats,” says John Taylor. “It was really tough. I wasn’t entirely sure that we were going to make it, but when you’ve got deadlines, and you’ve got gigs, and you’ve got a tour that’s supposed to start, you’ve got to deliver it. The pandemic just put this pause button on everything, closed up the studio, and everybody went home, and we didn’t speak to each other for about nine months.”