"Once you're in a band this big, you can never get away from it," says Duran Duran drummer Roger Taylor (second from right), with (from left) John Taylor, Nick Rhodes, Simon LeBon and Andy Taylor.
10/12/2004 at 02:00 PM EDT
The hair. The makeup. The girls on film. In the '80s, Duran Duran was the ultimate crush band for legions of teenage girls (and Princess Di), adored for its racy videos, synth-driven sound and relentless New Romantic foppery. Hearts broke when the group splintered in 1986 – but now it's time to bring back the eyeliner. The Fab Five, all fortysomething dads, regrouped to play sold-out concerts last year from London to L.A. to Tokyo, and just released the CD Astronaut. (And true to form, they took 3-½ hours for hair, makeup and styling before this photo shoot.) Singer Simon LeBon, 45, bassist John Taylor, 44, drummer Roger Taylor, 44, guitarist Andy Taylor, 43, and keyboardist Nick Rhodes, 42, talked to PEOPLE about reuniting, raising adolescent kids and regretting fashion faux pas.
Did you ever think you'd reunite?
Andy: When I was 20, I didn't imagine we'd be here in our 40s with this enthusiasm. And hair.
Roger: And teeth.
John: And enthusiasm for hair products.
So why did you get back together?
Simon: I was on tour with Nick and Warren (Cuccurullo, when Duran Duran was a trio in 2000), and it wasn't working. I told John how I felt. He said, "Don't you think it's time the original five got back together?"
Roger: Once you're in a band this big, you can never get away from it. Almost every day someone would say, "When's the band going to get back together?" So we thought, we might as well embrace that.
Simon: Nick was up for it, if it wasn't a reunion tour. Andy said, "I'm on a beach in Ibiza, but what the hell."
Andy: You get to a point where you want certain things back in your life.
John: Like fame and sold-out concerts.
Andy: It's a dirty job, but if we don't do it, who else could?
Nick: More than anything, we all felt that we had a lot more music to offer. So we literally got into a room together and shut ourselves off to everybody else and plugged in the instruments and played. And it was the sound of Duran Duran.
How does it feel to be back?
Andy: There's an unwritten understanding you have with certain people musically.
Simon: The five of us got back together (in 2001). For us, that was the real big hit. It was magical. We were all very happy that we felt the same way about each other.
Nick: We realized what incredible chemistry we have. Once we started playing, we were looking at each other thinking, "I wonder why it took this long."
Andy: Everyone still has the same (influences) and is more or less the same person, and that enabled us to fit together again.
John: Andy said something that stuck with me: "Nobody showed up with a sitar." It wasn't like, "This is where I'm at. I think we can make this work!" (They laugh.)
Simon: "My rabbi is here to write the lyrics... ."
What was the first song you played?
John: We didn't play any old songs. We made new music straight away.
Andy: (Jamming on old hits) would have been very disappointing. Retro tours have been the kiss of death to good bands like the Human League. We wanted to move forward creatively. And everyone still has the same (influences) and is more or less the same person, and that enabled us to fit together again.
Simon: We took one big game room in a big house in France and put in our instruments. I was in the pool (the next) morning, heard music coming from that room, and got out of the pool so quickly. I could hear stuff happening already.
Andy: That's why we got back together: To get the singer out of the swimming pool.
John: Some stuff we recorded there made it onto the album three years later.
Simon: "Nice," "Bedroom Toys," "Taste of Summer," and some of "What You Want."
What's touring like now?
Simon: We used to take (gigs) for granted, but the afterparty was of huge importance. You spent the night trying to get as high as you were onstage. It wore us out. Now the best part is when we get onstage.
Andy: We've got a longer show now. And an older set of knees.
How crazy were things the first time around?
Nick: With the chick-o-meter?
Andy: American girls were a little more open-minded.
Nick: I think it's safe to say that we all had a good time in America.
Roger and Andy, why did you walk away from the band in 1986?
Andy: We had made seven albums between us in four years! It was massive pressure.
Roger: I was burned out. So I lived the country life for a while. I kept horses and chickens.
Nick: Goats? Mules?
Roger: Not quite. Didn't quite get to goats. No.
John: Pigs? (They laugh.) Did you make your own bacon?
Nick: It's very Spinal Tap, this is.