There’s something clichéd about these kinds of substance issues, and John Taylor knows this. He knows, too, that the rehabilitation of old icons by the latest cool young things has become a bit predictable as well. “You mean like John Travolta in Pulp Fiction, perhaps? Whatever,” he says. “I’m still doing it—I’m still being paid to be a fucking musician. Not a lot of people can say that.”

Amazingly for someone who never wanted the good times to end, that accomplishment surprises the 47-year-old Taylor. “I was quoted as saying we had a plan—Hammersmith Odeon by 1981, Wembley by 1982, Madison Square Garden by 1983—and we missed it by one year: It took us until 1984 to get to Madison Square Garden. The problem was, we made it so quickly that I didn’t know where to go from there,” he says. “But it took me a long time to realize I was aiming low—what I really should have been aiming for was, ‘I want to be making good records when I’m in my forties.’”

Like his bandmates, John Taylor now lives in a manner befitting both his years and means. When not in L.A., he is to be found in the English countryside southwest of London, at South Wraxall Manor, a 15th-century estate in Wiltshire that he purchased in 2004. According to legend, it is the house where Sir Walter Raleigh first demonstrated the use of a product called tobacco. “It’s really a very beautiful, healing place,” he says. “As I get a little bit older in a very image-conscious industry, I find myself looking towards the eternal, looking for things that look good with age.”

The band has turned to other means of looking good with age: virtual reality. Avatars, you see, never age, and this band in need of a second life has recently caught on to Second Life. “We’re opening our own little universe,” Rhodes says. “The plan eventually is to do a concert, but in the meantime we’ve created a Duran Duran theme park, a store, a sushi bar, an underwater disco . . .” They even have a song on the new album, called “Zoom In,” that reveals the kind of enthusiasm for Second Life that they once devoted to making videos. But if it feels like a stretch, or at the very least a challenge, for these middle-aged pop stars to keep up with the MySpace generation, it is. “It certainly gets harder the older you get,” Rhodes says. “You’ve used a lot of your original ideas. You try to look at things with a different angle, but there are kids younger than you who already have a different angle, and they’re hungry.”

But don’t cry for the band just yet. They still have an army of fans waiting for them to return triumphant. Hence, the group’s official website provides a useful guide for Duranies on how best to get radio stations re-enthused over their beloved group. “If a DJ says something negative, let it pass,” the manual advises. “We know you’re proud to be a Duranie, but this doesn’t matter to the DJ; your request is more likely to be taken seriously if they think that you are just a general member of the public who has been bowled over by the band.”