Somewhere in darkest Paris, two men dressed all in black – Nick Rhodes and Simon Le Bon – are flitting about, waving candlesticks at a wall that’s full of eyes. Is this a - brrr! - nightmare? ‘Course not – it’s just a bloody video shoot.
It’s been years in the making, but “Election Day,” the first-ever single by world famous pop trio Arcadia, has finally seen the light of day. So Nick and Simon (sans Roger, who’s not really “into” these filmie larks) are busy doing the obligatory arty promo vid. Time, one thinks, for the obligatory probing Star Hits Q ‘n’ A.
Simon is interviewed sitting on a throne borrowed from the video set and Nick is spoken at over breakfast (freshly squeezed orange juice and curly bits of spam with a sort of cheesy crust on top_ the following day. Two separate interviews but exactly the same questions! Clever, eh? And here they are . . . Interviews by Dave Rimmer
What did you think of each other when you first met?
SIMON: I’d been told that he was a bit of a weirdo, so I was surprised by just how together he was. He did look weird, though: he had a pink glazed cotton jacket and purple trousers on. And blond hair – very, very, very blond hair. And he had make-up on – but it wasn’t as good as it is now.
NICK: The moment I saw him I decided that he had the right attitude – he just exuded attitude. And I thought, “That’s it! I just hope he can sing.” He had this really great lyric book with some really great things in it. And he looked more like a potential pop star than a drama student.
What quality do you most envy in one another
SIMON: I’m not really envious of Nick at all but I have great admiration for his personal imagination.
NICK: The endless energy he seems to have. He can fall asleep anywhere, which I can’t do; so in the middle of the afternoon, if he’s got an hour off, he falls asleep for a while. And then he wakes up recharged and vibrant and shining with a ring of confidence and a halo. Which is terribly infuriating when you’re just about to collapse because you’ve only had an hour’s sleep yourself.
What would you spend your last five dollars on?
SIMON: A cut-throat razor and a bottle of sleeping pills. No, I’m only joking. Actually, I think I’d put it in the bank and live off the interest, tee hee.
NICK: A box of Polaroid film, definitely. A rose. A copy of the Herald Tribune. And, um. . .one more thing. I’m sure I can afford one more think. A piece of paper and a pen. That’s about five dollars, isn’t it?
What is your favourite Power Station song?
SIMON: Ummmmm . . . Oh, I think “Some Like It Hot” because it was written by the guys themselves. I think it’s very original sounding and I like the tom-toms on it – that was Roger, by the way.
NICK: Um . . . ooh . . . ummmm . . . oh . . . ummm . . . the one with the marimba on it. What’s the one with the marimba on it called? It’s really slow. A really slow one with like a marimba on it is I think my favourite. I don’t remember the title of it, though.
Who do you really, really not like very much?
SIMON: Well, I could name a few people I’d like to see put in cold storage for a couple of thousand years. John Blake of The Sun (British equivalent to National Enquirer) . . . the Ayatollah Khomenei . . . people involved in the culture of drugs in South America who are causing whole villages to be wiped out and innocent people tortured just because of the crops that are grown there. I wish those people didn’t exist.
NICK: That green creature that’s on television. What’s his name? That green furry thing. No, not Kermit. Kermit’s great. No, um . . . Orville. Definitely Orville. (Orville? - Green Furry Ed.)
What is the worst piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
SIMON: It was from somebody who lived locally where I grew up who told me to give up singing because success didn’t happen to people like us.
NICK: “You know you’ll never make it unless you learn to play an instrument properly.” Who said that? Numerous people.
What did you think of mild-drinking old poster Pat Boone describing your Live Aid performance as “satanic”?
SIMON: Oh yes, he called us “satanic” because of the line “dance into the fire,” didn’t he? Well, I think it’s great. Up yours, Pat Boone. Yeah, we’re deadly satanic and guess who we’ve put a spell on, mate? Actually I don’t know whether there is such a thing as the Devil – people blame the Devil and I think t’s a big cop-out. It’s just their own conscience getting at them. People who are scared of the Devil are really just guilty people.
NICK: Who? Who’s Pat Boone? He said we were satanic? (Rolls about laughing for five minutes.) I think he should watch more Peter Cushing movies. I like it, I like it! I think it’s hysterical!
Can you mend a puncture in a bicycle tire?
SIMON: Certainly can. It was ages and ages and ages since I last did it but I can remember exactly what you do. You have to make sure there's no air left in the inner tube, get a tire lever, lever the tire off, then take off the inner tube . . . (continues in this fashion for several years.)
NICK: Absoloutely not.
Why did you dye your hair black?
SIMON: I was living on Rue de Rivoli in Paris which is full of American tourists and they are the worst, believe me. I’d walk into WHSmith’s in Paris – which is like a sanctuary for Englishmen. You can walk upstairs and have bacon and eggs and baked beans for breakfast. And I’d get followed in by 30 tourists. And it occurred to be that my most recognizable point was my blond hair, and when I dyed it black I didn’t get followed so much. Also, it kind of suited the mood of the Arcadia album, which is a kind of a dark, Mediterranean, Spanish, Russian, Irish feel.
NICK: So that people wouldn’t see when it was dirty. No, because I felt that it was about time for a color change. It was getting so boring. I’d had blond hair for so long. I used to change the color of it every few months. It was a real sort of religious routine. And it had been blond for so long I thought what was the most radical thing I could do with it? It seemed to be to make it the negative, which is this case was black.
What do you hate the most:
a) eating semolina pudding (yechhy bread-tapioca concoction); b) wtching Songs Of Praise (yechhy British religious program); c) vacuuming the stairs or d) being interviewd by The Sun?
SIMON: Well, I really hate semolina pudding. I really, really hate Songs of Praise. I mean, I love church music but they don’t do it right. It’s all Americanized. I don’t hate vacuuming the stairs, I just find it a bit of a bore. But d) is probably the ultimate, being interviewed by The Sun. They’ve tried for years unsuccessfully but for obvious reasons we really don’t want to talk to them. They’re actually very boring to talk to because they always ask the same old rubbish, like who am I going out with now and sex and drugs . . . but I hate semolina pudding worst of all.
NICK: Well, the only thing I ever do out of those is vacuum the stairs, which I quite enjoy. The rest of them are out of the question.
What’s your favourite midnight snack?
SIMON: Peanut butter and jam. I don’t like things really savory that late at night except for things like cold shepherd’s pie.
NICK: I eat the strangest things. I sometimes just eat bread. Just on it’s own. Dried bread. I don’t know why. I don’t often eat at that time of night, unless I’m eating a meal, which is really bad for you. Bits of things. Bits of fruit and bits of biscuit. It makes me feel better is I don’t eat the whole of things.
Do you believe that Man will ever colonize the stars?
SIMON: Not if he keeps on putting all his money into weaponry. And all his expertise.
NICK: I don’t know when, but I guess sooner or later we’re going to have to get the hell off this planet. It was so exciting when Man first landed on the moon, but since then it seems that people haven’t uncovered so much. I’m sure there’s a lot more going on than we know about. I think that stuff’s really interesting. I’ve always liked space travel.
If you were a fish, what kind would you be?
SIMON: Oh . . . dolphins aren’t fish, are they? But I’d love to be a dolphin. I would be a dolphin. That makes me sound like Paul King, doesn’t it? But they are brilliant, dolphins. At sea, I’ve been followed for a whole day by a school of about 30 of them. And they come up and see what you’re like. You can sing to them and you can slap the water and they come. And you can hear them talking to each other, they are definitely trying to communicate.
NICK: I don’t like water so I’d be one of those stuffed fish. No, I’d be a tropical fish – one of those that are really great colours. Those blue ones, those really great kind of blue ones that look like they’ve got paintings on them.
If you could contact one dead person in a séance, who would you choose?
SIMON: Oh boy . . . well, there’s people like Jesus Christ. That sounds almost sacrilegious. Saying that, but really . . . people who knew thing, like Buddha. I’d like to have a chat with that guy one day (laughs). But realistically, if anybody, I’d like to contact my cousin Andrew who died about three months ago. Just to say good-bye because I never had a chance to.
NICK: Jean Cocteau. Actually, there’s a lot of people, but I’d want to have a word with him, definitely. He’s just one of the most original people that ever lived. He tackled so many different art forms – painting and drawing, writing, sculpture, film – and reached such an amazing standard of experimentation and success with them. There’s a lot of people though, mostly from the ‘20s and ‘30s again. I’d like to have a word with Picasso. Any people like Stravinsky, Kandinsky, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Diaghilev, Hemmingway . . . there’s plenty of ‘em.
What have you got in your pockets?
SIMON: The address of a big, fat Italian man called (looks at piece of paper) Mr. Bussetto Giovanni.
NICK: I don’t have any trouser pockets today . . . like the Royal Family.