Duran Duran’s Andy Taylor Opens Up on Breaking Away from the ’Pop Box’ and Changing His Approach to Songwriting

Andy Taylor, guitar player and one of the main writers for new wave stars Duran Duran, explained how he had to break away from his usual “pop box” when writing his own solo material. Speaking to Kyle Meredith, Taylor opened up on how he had to approach his songwriting changed when he got back to doing his solo stuff. In fact, as he explains, it’s pretty “lonely” to write music by yourself (transcribed by Killer Guitar Rigs):

“Writing stuff on your own — which I’ve done a lot — is really lonely. I need people in the room. And then I just thought about, ‘Well, who are the really good friends who you’d never really worked with?”

Andy Taylor - Man’s A Wolf To A Man (Official Lyric Video)

Adding how it’s good to “have a kindred spirit” with you when writing music, he also said it’s really productive to have someone giving you any form of criticism:

“You’ve got to be in the room with a person that can say that to you, and you don’t go, ‘Just shut up, don’t talk to me’. No, you can’t!”

Explaining how “you’ve got to set the table when you make a record,” Taylor added:

“I had spent all my life setting it for other people. And this is the first time I really set the table for myself and said, ‘Right, okay, this is how we’re going to do it. I’m the executive chef.'”

“But I need a load of great cooks to come in and work with me, and great skill which produces songs — cooks and musicians, producers and the executive chef — that kind of thing, and if you take that analogy of laying the table, I’ve laid the table for Rod [Stewart] I’ve laid the table, for Robert [Palmer, vocalist of The Power Station], for Simon [LeBon, vocalist of Duran Duran], for Gary Stringer [vocalist of Reef].”

Of course, Andy worked with a lot of great musicians over the years, not just Duran Duran. He was a writer and producer for the likes of Rod Stewart, Robert Palmer, Gary Stinger, and even his bandmate Simon LeBon. Reflecting on this work, he added how he never really did these things for himself:

“I’ve laid the table for a lot of people, but I’ve never really done it for myself where it was like, ‘It’s your menu, you’re not copying anyone, you’re not following a formula, we’re not trying to be like the restaurant at the road’, and it just allowed me to speak in a more honest way and not think about the hook line as something that would be phonetically catchy.”

Andy Taylor - Don't Let Me Die Young

And then he also addressed the so-called “pop box” he was confined in for so many years. For his 2023 album “Man’s a Wolf to Man,” he wanted to do a completely different approach, which was pretty rough to pull off. Nonetheless, he managed to do it:

“And recovering from the ‘pop box’, because — when you’re brought up that way for many years — it is a very tight space to be in. But I’ve learned so much along the way from so many great people — the Niles and Bernards [Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, respectively the guitarist and bassist of Chic], and Rob Palmer was an amazing guy — that I’d sucked it all in and I’d never really used it on myself.”

“I’d used all my skills and everything on other people, but I’d never really said, ‘Go on, be like that guy on the wall prints. Give it all to yourself for once, be greedy! Have it all!’ And then when you slip into it, you’re not being greedy, you’re just being kind to yourself, you’re being good to yourself, you’re getting the best out of yourself, you’re allowing yourself to open up in a way that may have been blocked before.”

Andy Taylor - I Might Lie

“And as you get a bit older, you don’t really give a shit. [Laughs] You know, you can, like, ‘Well, so what?’ [Laughs] I still have this. I don’t care how much dough you make. If it’s a crap album, I don’t want to do it.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Taylor also addressed how Duran Duran was kind of expected to do what they did in the 2000s. He got back in the lineup for 2004’s “Astronaut.” And, as he recalls, if it weren’t for these expectations, they would be doing some classic old-school rock stuff in the style of Pink Floyd:

“But really, if that expectation of what you should be doing in the early 2000s hadn’t been around, and we had not been trying to be recreated, we probably would have made records more akin to Pink Floyd.”

To explain this further, he also added that the band was supposed to be doing stuff like “Night Boat” and “New Religion” from the band’s first two records:

“I thought we should have gone more down the ‘Night Boat’, ‘New Religion’ side of the band. We had learned a lot by then, and all of us were very competent at what we did by the time we were in our 40s.”

“But for some reason, we thought we did. And I think there are so many great Duran Duran albums that were never made because of chasing hits. Wow, how many hits do you need before you know you’ve had a lot of hits? [Laughs]”

Reachin' Out To You

Photos: Public domain (Duran Duran 1983)

  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at Ultimate-Guitar.com, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor and brands like Sam Ash.

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