Simon Le Bon talks digital music, picking songs for setlists and the ongoing need to be on radio
The voice of Simon Le Bon shocked me from the start. "Hi, Steve." It was higher-pitched than I'd imagined it would be. But obviously he'd taken the time to learn my name (and newspaper's name) ahead of time. The boys of Duran Duran are nothing if not media savvy.
I had just 10 minutes to talk with Simon on the eve of Duran Duran's 2011 North American tour. I had written down 10 questions, thinking I'd have time for only five. In reality, I probably needed 12. One thing I've yet to really learn after interviewing maybe 50 celebrities from the '80s: They are always unpredictable. Some will chat your ears off. Others, it's like pulling teeth. You just cross your fingers and hope for something in between.
In this case, Simon's answers were either short and to the point, or long and thoughtful. Either I tickled his brain or I didn't. And that's fine. Simon has probably been interviewed tens of thousands of times in 30 years. Probably most of them for no more than 10 minutes at a time. My goal -- to hit him with something he'd never really heard before -- was a tough one, and I probably didn't accomplish it.
And here's the other problem: When you're in love with a band, it makes it all the more difficult to come up with intelligent questions when you actually get the chance. The first 30 questions that ran through my head were childish. They were the equivalent of asking U2's Bono, "Hey, why wave around a white flag?" So I focused on the new album, the upcoming anniversary of Rio and what he thinks about the digital age of music. If Simon has an opinion on the music biz, I wanted to know it. And his answer really surprised me.
But, when it's all said and done, hey ... I talked to Simon Le Bon. Go back and ask the 18-year-old version of myself if I ever foresaw that happening. Turns out that just asking ANY question was the real conquest.