Duran Duran are one of the most successful bands in the history of pop music. Songs like “Girls On Film,” “Hungry Like the Wolf” and “Rio” made an indelible mark on ‘80s pop culture, and the group’s influence continues to be felt during the ongoing synth-pop revival. Drummer Roger Taylor played on some of the band’s most successful albums, and he’s had on on-again, off-again relationship with his bandmates. Taylor is also a DJ, and he’s graced the decks at clubs like Pacha in Ibiza. How did the drummer from one of the biggest bands find himself in the DJ booth? As you’ll read in this exclusive interview, we were wondering the same exact thing.
How did a drummer from one of the most famous bands of the modern era begin a second career as a DJ?
Roger Taylor: During my hiatus from Duran Duran in the ‘90s, I started producing dance music and then got asked to do an impromptu DJ set in London at The Met Bar, and it all kind of snowballed from that.
Prior to learning how to spin, what was your awareness of DJ culture? Did you ever go to clubs?
I’ve been going to clubs since I was a teenager and went through that amazing New York club scene of the ’80’s—Area, Danceteria, and the tail end of Studio 54—so I have always been very aware of DJs and dance culture.
During my hiatus from Duran Duran in the ‘90s, I started producing dance music and then got asked to do an impromptu DJ set in London at The Met Bar and it all kind of snowballed from that.
We had Tommy Lee from Mötley Crüe on the cover of Big Shot, and he told us that hearing Josh Wink’s “Higher State of Consciousness” at Ministry of Sound inspired him to start DJing. Did you have a similar epiphany, or was DJing something you always wanted to try?
I saw Sven Väth DJ at a club in the early ‘90s, and as a drummer I was totally into the way that he would bring in different parts of a drum kit into the mix….he would start off with a very minimal kick drum and by the time the hi-hat came in the dance floor would be rocking…that’s when I first witnessed the power of a great DJ.
You tour with Jake Fonique. How did you meet, and what’s your musical relationship like?
We met a while ago and were making dance music together. We often turn up to a gig with exactly the same tunes; we seem to have some sort of musical telepathy going on.
How does touring with a band and playing in front of sold-out stadiums compare to playing records at an intimate nightclub?
A totally different vibe, but if you are a drummer or a DJ it’s all about rocking the house and getting people moving to the kick drum.
Now that you have a lot of gigs under your belt, how do you rate your skills on the decks?
I’ve spent hours and hours perfecting my beat-matching skills and making sure the harmonics between the records are cool, so I think I’m doing okay. We also DJ’ed at Pacha in Ibiza last summer; we went down very well and Pacha is one of the great Meccas of dance music. Everyone [there] is very savvy about DJing and mixing, so I was very pleased with that.
Are there any songs that always find their way into your DJ sets?
No. Every song has to be right for the moment.
Would you ever play a song from Duran Duran Duran?
Of course, but only if it’s a really great remix.
Has Simon [Le Bon] and the boys been down to any of your gigs?
Yes. I was so nervous about them coming but they had such a great time and were totally supportive.
Roger Taylor and Jake Fonique play Cielo in New York City on March 5th.