The keyboardist tells HuffPostUK how the idea to include the often triumphant but sometimes troubled actress on the band’s new album ‘Paper Gods’ came about they encountered her ten years ago, and enjoyed her “extraordinary energy”.
“We thought it would be fun to include her on the album,” explains Nick. “She’s an actress who’s done some music, lots of attitude, we thought we could give her a monologue on ‘Danceophobia’, like on Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’, except, it being Duran, we naturally decided to make her a sexy doctor.”
Please tell us she was as much of a diva as we hope? Nick laughs. “It was a little complicated,” he says diplomatically. “It took a while, I think Simon got in a car and went to collect her eventually. But she was great, and I think she’s rather fabulous, actually.”
If there’s anybody who knows how to stay creative despite the capricious whims of a bunch of talented egos, it must surely be the various individuals within the Duran camp, with Nick, Simon Le Bon, Taylors John and Roger still evidently enjoying each other’s company an astonishing 37 years after getting together in Birmingham.
For the harmony in their band which, after a few variations, still includes all the founding five members except Andy Taylor, Nick believes they all have learned patience and a bit of compassion.
“We’re more like brothers,” he says warmly. “We argue and fight, mostly about music, but there’s a very deep affection. We know what each other is all about.
“You have to compromise,” he adds, when considering how these strong personalities have stayed glued for so long. “I’m the one who’s always late, but someone’s got to be last.
“Simon can get into a mood for exactly 30 minutes, like a cat, but then it’s over. And can be sensitive… it’s basically like being married to three other people.”
The marriage of four sees another this week with ‘Paper Gods’, their 14th studio album, but lacking none of the energy of even their earliest stuff.
“We’ve never lost our excitement,” Nick agrees. “It’s just the way we are as individuals. We egg each other on. We still have the ambition to make a classic Duran Duran album, but be as contemporary as possible.”
Adding to the sound of now are collaborators Mark Ronson and longtime Duran friend Nile Rodgers – with so much prestige in the room, does anyone ever get nervous?
Nick laughs. “There’s usually just a huge excitement, because these people are hungry to work together, they’re not nervous.
“And nobody makes Lindsay Lohan nervous.”
A couple of the tracks are stand-outs already, on only my second listen, with Simon Le Bon adding his customary, lyrical, unique sound. Following HuffPostUK asking John Taylor a couple of years ago to explain what is the actual 'The Reflex – “it’s whatever you need it to be” he told us back then – here’s a chance to ask Nick, what are these Paper Gods of which they speak?
“Telling the truth in a clinical manner ruins it for me, I do like the ambiguity,” he starts, but then adds… “Money, newspaper headlines, false idols, the crumbling world of religion.”
Longtime Durannies will be pleased to know there’s also a ballad on the new album that arguably rivals the classic ‘Save A Prayer’ for its mournful sway. Nick’s pleased to hear that.
“You know when you get the sound of a classic ballad,” he explains of the recording process, “but it’s very, very hard to create. The emotions involved have to conflate with the musical force. These people who say these hit songs were made in minutes… I never believe them.
“For us, this is our best best ballad since ‘Ordinary World’, but it was the hardest of all the new songs to write.”
Duran are also going back on tour to support this new album, prompting memories of a couple of years ago, when Nick shocked his bandmates and fans by near-collapse. He has plans to avoid the same thing happening again.
“If you get sick on tour, there’s no chance to recover, and that’s what happened,” he says now. “You keep crazy hours, and keep trying just to make it through.
“I got a virus, and I could hardly stand up. But I love playing shows. I’m going to try to avoid cold climates in winter.”
As part of his health regime, I wonder if Nick will be dipping into his own much-touted elixir of health, a beauty-preserving serum he’s been helping to promote, at a crisp sum of £4,000 a pot. He laughs when the subject of his cracking the code of eternal youth comes up…
“Is that how much it is? Goodness. I wish I had cracked the code, though,” he chuckles.
“I got involved at the beginning. The inventor was so intelligent and compelling when it came to the technology, and I’d always been interested in brands. I liked the idea of being involved from the ground up.” He has another chuckle. “One day, they’ll crack it. I just hope I’m around.”
Duran Duran's 'Paper Gods' is out on Friday. Title track below...