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An Afternoon With Arcadia
By Kevin Koffler

The Power Station was the first Duran Duran offshoot. Now, Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes, and Roger Taylor have gathered together with various other performers to form Arcadia, their own solo project. Join Nick and Simon as they discuss the formation of the new group, the future of Duran Duran and what they like to do on chilly fall evenings.

      New York, New York...Hundreds of fans are milling about outside The Power Station, a recording studio that's been the site of numerous superstar ventures. Todays project is no exception.
      Inside, Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes, and Roger Taylor are hard at work, too busy to notice the fans who have been waiting for hours to catch a glimpse of their favorite musicians. Between mixing tracks for So Red The Rose, Arcadia's debut album, the trio entertain friends, talk with journalists, and post for photo shoots.
      By late afternoon, the musicians are ready to relax and chat over tea. Here's what Nick and Simon have to say.

TB: How did you come up with the name Arcadia?
SIMON: The concept of Arcadia is a place of wisdom. It's where the spring came up from the ground. It's quite a romantic idea. It's been used as a password to artistic societies. It's got kind of an artistic connotation, and not only that, it sounded right.
NICK: We'd been struggling for a name for six months. We wanted to give it a name because it deserved a special category or something. We wanted something that sounded original to us, and not relative to anything else, not something people could say they saw on the back of a box of corn flakes. We wanted to find something that people would identify with us for this project. Arcadia fit.

TB: When and why did you decide to do this project?
SIMON: Originally, we decided just before Christmas last year. Nick and I had been promising each other an album for a long time. I was going to go off on holiday, and he phoned me up and said, "let's do it now, this is it; this is the chance to do it." With Power Station off working, it gave us a chance.
NICK: Simon and I had been talking about doing something for two or three years now. We were just waiting for the right opportunity. John and Andy said they wanted to do this heavy dance-rock thing (The Power Station), which is not the sort of thing Simon, Roger, and I would have entered into, so we just started writing songs.

TB: How did the project evolve?
NICK: We got ideas together, and then went into the studio in Paris, where we started writing. After a while, it became apparent we needed a drummer. We wanted a solid drummer, so we go Roger. We got all sorts of guest musicians involved, and all during that time, we were constantly upgrading the material. As it came into a finished sort of state we left Paris and came here to mix.

TB: How would you describe Arcadia's sound?
SIMON: "Election Day", which is the first single, is very sleazy. It's very sexy. There's some tracks like that, and there's some very open, airy sounding. There's this song called "El Diablo", which sounds like an indian or gypsy song. There are instrumentals. There's one very avant-garde song. It's a very different sounding piece, with minimal instrumentation, very carefully placed rhythms and harmonies. It's a song called "Missing"; it's a ghost story.
NICK: Some of the album has moved towards jazz, particularly a song called "Lady Ice", but it's not as obvious as Sting's album. We used a jazz bassist named Mark Egan, and he's got quite a powerful sound throughout the whole album.

TB: Is there a thread connecting the songs on the album?
NICK: So Red The Rose is really an album, not a series of pop songs that sort of sound good when you listen to each one. I think the album has sort of an atmosphere and vibe to it. It's like a storm. It goes down and gets really soft, and then builds up and crashes down again. It fits better together as an album than anything we've ever done. They're some of the best songs we've eer written.

TB: What is the biggest difference between Duran Duran and Arcadia?
SIMON: Space. The biggest difference is space. I think Duran always tended to be crowded and quite competitive in sound. We were always fighting for the top slot in the sound spectrum. Therefore, the guitar and the vocal are always very close, very tense. This is a lot more relaxed than Duran's music. Lyrically, it reflects a change I've gone through. I've just become a lot more confident in my own feelings and not afraid to be honest.

TB: What has been your biggest sacrifice for success?
SIMON: Privacy and freedom. It's weird for me to be swarmed by strangers. They think they're in love with me, but I'm used to it. After a while one does turn around and say "give me a break, I'm just the same as you."

TB: Nick, who is your favorite artist?
NICK: Kandinsky. I also like pop art a lot.

TB: Is there jealousy among you?
SIMON: If one of us gets a really nice pair of shoes, yes.

TB: Simon, what is your idea of a good time on a chilly fall eveining?
SIMON: If I'm in England, I love the leaves. There's a place near where I grew up where you could find great big banks of leaves. There's a smell you get in England, the smell of burning wood, and it's a beautiful smell. Wandering around from five o'clock, when it starts to get dark, to about seven or eight, then going down to the pub to have a couple of jars, and then finding something to eat, I suppose. Then I'd go home with me bird and do a bit of this and a bit of that.

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