Thursday, April 8, 2010

Interview with Durandy - 'Duran Duran As You've Never Seen Them Before'

As fate would have it, I live just a couple of miles away from the Duran Duran Archive, the largest collection of Duran Duran posters and memorabilia in the world. The collection is owned and curated by one of my dearest friends, Andy Golub, otherwise known as "Durandy." His commitment to preserving Duran history is unparalelled, but what truly sets Andy apart is his unwavering desire to share his love of the band as well as his treasures with fans around the globe. Today, Andy has something incredibly special to share with us: precious, hidden jewels of of Duran history.

In his own words Andy says, "In building my collection over the years, my favorite experiences have often involved the common joys shared by other fans: absorbing every detail in photo sessions that filled lovingly constructed scrapbooks and adorned thousands of bedroom walls; recalling the first band pictures that ignited an interest, and appreciating images that became part of countless lives. Photography has always helped to strengthen the connection between Duran and their fans.

While it is nice to see the band in familiar pictures, it is something else to re-discover a beloved photo session through the outtakes that were never meant to be seen.
I have waited a long time to share some of the most exciting artifacts in my collection – contact sheets from some of Duran’s most iconic photo sessions.

A selection of sheets from Michael Putland has been assembled in a slide show on my website. You will recognize Michael’s work, photographing the band in 1981. From a stroll through New York’s Central Park to studio sessions that appeared on some of the most collectible record sleeves, Michael captured Duran Duran as their career was just beginning to take shape. His images are among the photographs that prompted many people to become devoted fans in the first place."

Being fortunate enough to view these contact sheets up close, I can honestly say that looking at them was a deeply moving experience. Examining the unseen images, I felt like I was peering into a secret universe of candid emotion, with each successive frame speaking volumes about the interaction between band members during a highly-charged moment in their history. You can view a full, automated slide show of all of the contact sheets here. Also, please take the time to explore the full site at www.durandy.com, where you can see an excellent cross-section (albeit only about 20 percent) of the entire collection.

Andy has produced two gallery-style retrospective exhibitions in Seattle, loaned items from his collection to be showcased in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and had several posters featured in A&E's Biography Channel television feature about Duran Duran, as well as been profiled in the press and featured in the recently released Is There Something I Should Know - Fans on Film documentary.

The band themselves have been in awe of Andy's work for some time now. Nick Rhodes testifies, "Of all the collections of Duran Duran memorabilia I have ever encountered, I can safely say that Durandy's posters reign supreme. Like all great collectors, he is remarkably thorough, so through painstaking research and absolute dedication he has managed to acquire posters for concerts that I barely remember playing!" If you would like to hear John Taylor's thoughts on Durandy and his collection, click
here to listen to an interview which recently aired on a Seattle radio station. As the Putland sheets are unveiled for the first time, I've taken this opportunity to ask Andy a few questions about his enduring commitment to documenting Duran Duran and also to provide further insight on what the archival process and collection mean to him personally.

What exactly is the Archive?


The Archive is where I house and curate my collection of Duran Duran memorabilia. Although posters may be my signature collectible, I have actually filled shelves with an array of artifacts in every shape, size and style. Paper ephemera includes over 10,000 pages of articles and hundreds of books from around the world. Many unique items can also be found, from hot sauce and a hospital mask to binoculars and a battery. The archive is also a place where great things happen. Inhibitions are released, smiles are contagious, and concerns of daily life are left outside. It’s a time capsule, an oasis, and a pleasant distraction. I love to think my archive is where Duran’s history comes alive.


How long have you been collecting Duran Duran memorabilia?


I’ve been collecting for over 15 years. I like thinking that, prior to my awakening, the Duran gene was sitting dormant inside, just waiting patiently to be switched on.

What are some of the more rare or hard to find items in the archive?


The rarest items often hail from Duran’s formative years. Posters from when the band supported Hazel O’Connor, contact sheets from the earliest photographers, and prints from Paul Edmond count among items I’m particularly fond of. However, later chapters in the band’s career offer just as much thrill, such as a 3-D poster from 1985, a seven-foot flag intended to promote Notorious in a department store window, or contact sheets from some of the most familiar photo sessions in 1987.

Sometimes the criteria for rarity can simply be found in items that were never intended to be saved, such as promotional posters for corporate gigs or newspaper features that only ran for one day. Each passing year seems to reaffirm my drive to find and preserve memorabilia that would ordinarily be destined for destruction.


Which pieces are the most valuable to you personally?


It may sound cliché, but my first thought is of photos from my encounters with the band, which are irreplaceable. That’s a sentiment I probably share with countless other fans. However, I cherish any memorabilia that reveals something special about Duran’s professional or personal identity.

Contact sheets are a great example, as they were generally never intended to be viewed by the public. Duran Duran’s collective personality really comes through in the sheets, which offer a rare glimpse at the band’s professional persona in front of the camera, as well as the creative direction behind it.


What are your hopes for the future of the Archive?


Of course, I hope to keep working on expanding the collection. I am a completist at heart, so there will always be a desire to fill gaps in the band’s history, track down elusive poster prey, and check off my growing list of wants.


However, I would also love to find new ways of sharing the collection and revitalizing my website with fresh things to see. With two local exhibitions under my belt, I’ve always harbored a fantasy of taking my collection on the road with a traveling show. When I first launched my website years ago, I put up a form that registers interest in a Duran exhibition. The list of people who have expressed interest reads like a map of the world, and that kind of support is what keeps my flame burning. Huge thanks to everyone who has written.

So far, the responses to formal proposals for Duran exhibits have been less than what I’m looking for; I have filed away two rejections from the Experience Music Project here in Seattle, one from the Seattle Art Museum, one from the Tate Museum (an ambitious attempt, I’ll admit), and several from museums which have hosted past exhibits similar to the one I’m proposing. Apparently, giving up is not in my repertoire.


What are some of the ways that people can enjoy the Archive and become a part of it?


I want to start my answer by extending a warm invitation to everyone. If you should find yourself traveling to my corner of the world (Bellevue, Washington), you are welcome to come on over for a tour of the archive. The wonderful friends who have made a special trip (and those who have insisted on repeated visits) have given me a terrific gift –the experience of seeing how my efforts make an impact on others. The value of the archive can really be measured on the faces of those who drop by for a visit.

I have also been very fortunate to have people offer up their own collections as a donation to the archive. Such generosity never ceases to take my breath away. I’m the first one to recognize that every fan’s collection, regardless of size or content, is invaluable – if for no other reason than having immense personal meaning. Acquiring someone else’s Duran treasures is something I never take lightly. Along with accepting any offered memorabilia, I also take on a vow to honor the history of the item being donated. An article or poster is never just a piece of paper to file away; every fan takes time and energy to acquire their collection piece by piece, with each item often attached to experiences and memories. That deserves respect and appreciation.


Has the Archive brought you closer to the Duran community?


I have been blessed with amazing support from the fan community. Friends I’ve known for years, fans I’ve met through my website and forum posts, and absolute strangers have all rocked my world with their kind words of encouragement.

I feel incredibly connected to my fellow fans, and M. Douglas’ Fans on Film documentary only made that bond seem even more powerful. Sharing a passion with so many people is truly special, feeling as if I belong to something bigger than myself. Within the sense of belonging is an acceptance and mutual respect that can be hard to find. I have felt especially connected when other fans point to specific posters in my collection and relate how their life was impacted by that show, or even by that chapter of the band’s career.

I particularly enjoy the occasional, small gatherings with close friends, viewing Duran videos, discussing the merits of the members, or simply catching up. Just reading about how other fans experience similar meet-ups gives me a warm, fuzzy sensation. This global fan community is an unspoken acknowledgment that Duran Duran have touched each of our lives somehow, and we all know what it feels like.

On a personal level, I never expected to see my archival efforts resonate with so many people. Knowing my collection is giving someone else a moment of joy is a remarkable thing. It fuels my determination to give this collection a life beyond archival storage and preservation. I love the experience of seeing Duran in a new light through previously unseen memorabilia – it can be intensely satisfying and goose bump-inducing. That’s the experience I want to give others.

What are some of your "holy grail items," things you have not yet been able to obtain?

Despite my best poster-hunting efforts, my 'Want List' keeps growing. It is good to know what I’m after, but the list can be painful to review. There are many posters out there that represent specific events or gigs, such as: Posters that were displayed behind the band during an October 4, 2004 appearance at the Saturn store in Berlin; or the poster for the next night’s concert at Berlin’s Columbiahalle.

When Duran played the Las Vegas House of Blues in 2001, there was a poster set up on an easel at the venue’s entrance. Another one that got away.
It’s actually a bit funny whenever Duran do a press conference or public appearance – most fans might be glued to the band members, but I’m busy scanning for posters behind the band. Occupational hazard, I suppose. Let’s not forget the beautiful posters displayed on the wall at the famous Coca-Cola corporate press conference from Sing Blue Silver, where John gets up to declare his Pepsi preference.

There was also the mint-condition Subway promo poster for the band’s first UK tour in 1981. This painful loss taught me that what I really need is a staff of people, perusing eBay’s international listings on a daily basis.
Sometimes it’s a matter of not knowing what lurks out there to be tracked down. For example, I’m always looking for any promo posters from John’s solo gigs, or from his shows with Terroristen. I’m just not sure how much promotion was ever done for his concerts. My instincts tell me I’ll never be able to acquire everything out there. Unfortunately, nobody bothered to tell my blind, dogged determination.

What compels you to do this, and what aspects of maintaining the archive bring you the most joy?


I’ve always felt that Duran’s career is one worth celebrating. I love seeing how the band has matured and evolved over the years, and the insights offered by the content in my archive bring a heightened understanding of Duran Duran’s legacy. I believe one can better appreciate where Duran Duran are today by knowing where they have been.

I am proud of what I have built and how my efforts have affected other people. As time passes and the band continues to make music, I feel the weight of the Archive’s relevance, and my responsibility to it.


While it’s exciting to acquire new rarities and watch my collection grow, the best part will always be sharing it all with other fans. Memorabilia was not created to be placed in a box and stored away in a facility… these treasures were made to be seen, experienced and enjoyed.


If you are interested in visiting or adding to the Archive, please contact Andy at contact@durandy.com.


7 comments:

  1. SWEET!! Both of you ROCK!! Speaking from experience, this is WELL worth the visit!!

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  2. Suzanne SchroederApril 8, 2010 at 5:02 PM

    I <3 Durandy!!! Truly one of the nicest guys I know. And the fact that he's a Durmanie tops it all off!

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  3. great interview kitty! i want to see the archive!!!!!

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  4. Durandy
    You are my inspiration...
    Thank You for helping me to leran and to open my eyes on many many things..
    My colleting - my joy
    Hope we shall meet soon
    It's a honnor to know You-hope we shall meet one day
    Mario/durancroatia

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  5. Wonderful interview. Thanks for sharing, Kitty and thanks to Durandy for always being so generous with the archive treasures!

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  6. You are lucky to live close and get to see this collection. I enjoyed reading this interview. I did go to his site once, now this makes me want to go back again. Found out about your blog on the fan site- can't afford to renew that membership in 3 months though.

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