ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON FEB. 21, 1986
By Steve Newton
I went to a Duran Duran concert once. Once! But I didn’t stay very long; the noise in the Pacific Coliseum was unbearable. And it wasn’t because the band was playing too loud. It was their fans who were making all the racket: several thousand young girls simultaneously shrieking at the tops of their lungs.
Unless you’ve seen the Beatles or Elvis in concert you have probably never heard anything like the explosion of sound that happened every single time the video screen showed a closeup of one of the band members–which was about once every ten seconds.
Surprisingly, the most jolting screams were not brought on by the slinky prancings of lead singer Simon LeBon, or the knowing winks of pretty-boy bassist John Taylor. It was the shy smile on keyboardist Nick Rhodes’ heavily made-up mug that caused the most nerve-wracking chorus of wails.
It must be hell for the guy.
Rhodes hasn’t had to face the high-pitched squeals for a while now. Duran Duran haven’t performed live in a year and a half, and its members have since formed two splinter groups, Power Station and Arcadia. Rhodes is in the latter band, along with fellow Duranies Simon LeBon and drummer Roger Taylor. Arcadia currently have an album out titled So Red the Rose that includes the hit video/single “Election Day”.
While promoting the record in Toronto recently, Nick Rhodes called and talked about the LP’s special guests, the reasons for forming Arcadia, and the future of Duran Duran.
If the Taylors hadn’t started their own project with Power Station, would Arcadia still have happened?
Yes, I think it would have done. Basically, it was towards the end of 1984 when we’d been working on View To a Kill as Duran Duran that we really all decided it was time for a change. Simon and I had wanted to work on something a little more esoteric for a while, and we promised that when we got the chance we’d go into the studio and write some songs.
John and Andy [Taylor] had a very firm idea of the sort of sound they wanted to create, which was more of a heavy rock/dance sound.
There are a lot of musical guests on So Red the Rose. What does Grace Jones do on it?
Oh she just does a special appearance on the song “Election Day”. It’s Grace doing the sort of talking in the middle section of it.
How did you get her in on it?
She was just in Paris. I’ve known Grace for a while, and so I said, “Why don’t you just come down to the studio to say hello.” So she popped in, and had this wonderful idea about this track, so she just went ahead and did it in her own unique way, as ever.
Grace has a sort of savage, wild mystique about her. Is she savage and wild?
Oh she’s pretty wild. She has an incredible sense of style unknown to anyone else on earth other than Grace.
Is David Gilmour a personal friend as well?
No, that’s a different story. We got in touch with him and asked whether he’d be interested in working on the album because we felt that we needed some sort of melodic, atmospheric guitarwork. And as he’s one our favourite musicians it worked out great.
Are you a Pink Floyd fan from way back?
No I’m not exactly a Pink Floyd fan actually. My favourite Pink Floyd things are actually songs like “See Emily Play” and “Arnold Layne”, which are incredibly early, with Syd Barrett on them, not David Gilmour. But I just think David Gilmour is an incredible guitarist.
Do you think that Arcadia’s music is much different from Duran Duran’s?
Yes, I think it’s very different from Duran Duran. You know, the last time Duran Duran recorded an album together was about two years ago now. Since then we recorded “The Wild Boys” and “A View to a Kill”, but I don’t think that recording individual singles gives you the same opportunity as recording an album together to show your creative whereabouts at any specific time.
So when we came to do the Arcadia album, I think mentally we’d moved on two years from the last Duran Duran album. And also the fact that there was only Simon and I writing in the first place–Roger joined us a little later. It created a very different sound.
Are Duran Duran still going strong?
On absolutely, yeah. We’re probably going to start recording a Duran Duran album around May–because we all have various commitments until then and then we should be touring towards the end of the year or beginning of ’87, depending on how long the album takes.
Will you be making it to Vancouver?
I hope so, yeah. We played Vancouver before, and we had a great reception there. We also had great fun there.
Do you remember what you did after the show here?
That would be telling.
To hear the full audio of my interview with Nick Rhodes from 1986 subscribe to my Patreon page, where you can eavesdrop on over 325 of my uncut, one-on-one conversations with:
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Andy Powell of Wishbone Ash, 2003
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Vernon Reid of Living Colour, 1988
Brad Delp of Boston, 1988
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Myles Goodwyn of April Wine, 2001
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