Rob Roth
Interview Exclusive

Rob Roth became well known to Blondie fan's worldwide when the reunion album, No Exit was released. Since then, he's worked with them again for the new album, The Curse Of Blondie and single, Good Boys. I was lucky enough to get him to answer some questions for rip-her-to-shreds.com together with some images that he's been responsible for over the last few years.

Don't forget to pay a visit to Rob's website at http://www.clicknyc.com/

Q - I've been looking at some of the stuff you've done through the years since you left university, (design director on music videos, feature films, interactive television, CD-Roms, websites and video games for clients including Microsoft, Sony, AT&T to name a few) a very varied path and quite impressive. What do you enjoy doing most?

A - Hard to say. I guess video is my favorite medium because it moves. But
really eveything is related to me. Its all design whatever the medium.

Q - Rob, tell me a bit about how you became linked with Debbie Harry and Blondie?

A - I met Debbie through the whole Jackie 60/Click + Drag NYC nightlife extravaganza.


THEME: GIBSON GIRLS. MODEL: DEBORAH HARRY

Q - I've read that the design of the "No Exit" album cover and singles were in the theme of surveillance. Who came up with this idea?

A - I had been experimenting with surveillance for a while before the "No Exit" project was offered to me. It was a big part of my work with Click + Drag. But I thought it went really well with the title "No Exit" and the Jean-Paul Sartre play reference. If I was going to make a film of the Sartre play I would shoot it all on surveillance cameras. But as an added footnote and just for the record I did not do the "Maria" video. They got the idea to use surveillance cameras from my imagery but I was not thrilled with the end result.


  No Exit CD single cover
 


Maria CD single cover
 


No Exit CD album cover
 


No Exit artwork


No Exit artwork


A Page from the No Exit
 Tour Program
 


Live CD Cover
 


Live CD Artwork
 


No Exit Artwork

Q - For the people reading this that don't know about Click + Drag, could you tell them a bit about what this club is and what's happening there at the moment?

A - Click + Drag was a Saturday night Cyber/Fetish club I produced here NYC for 6 years. I created it with Chi Chi Valenti and Kitty Boots, who I had been collaborating with at Jackie 60. We have put the event on pause for the last couple of years because of our busy careers but I do miss it sometimes. In my opinion it was the best work I've done so far.


INVITE GALLERY: PHOTO BY ROB ROTH, STYLING BY KITTY BOOTS


Deborah Harry & The Nuclear Bomb Babies - 3.8.01

Q - What projects are you working on at the moment?

A - I'm still working on some "Curse of Blondie" elements and I'm finishing up my second music video for Theo (from the Lunachicks).


Blondie fire logo
 


Ring of fire image for The Curse


Good Boys logo
 

Q - You've performed at different venues around the world with Debbie Harry as the Fishsticks, what was that like and do you think this will happen again in the future?

A - Oh we have such a blast whenever and wherever we do that, it's just so silly and fun. My friend Garrett Domina is the other "stick" . We all have such a good time because we're friends and feel really comfortable around each other. It makes it much more fun for Debbie too when she isn't out there alone, it's made it sort of new again for her. I'm sure we will have some show coming up soon! (hopefully somewhere I can go swimming all day).

Q - I was in London the night you did the UK's biggest gay club G-A-Y with Debbie, did you know they had their biggest turn out of people that night?

A - That was one of my favorite shows actually. The energy in that room was amazing. The last Wigstock in NYC was like that too. People in London love her, its sort of outrageous. They treat her like Elvis or something. I love that!

Q - The costumes you wore were terrific and tearing them off like that gave a few men a bit of a thrill from what I heard behind me on the night. Either you or Garrett lost one of your sleeves in the crowd. Was it ever returned?

A - Funny enough it was returned. But we have new costumes now that I like much better. They were designed by Kitty Boots. She and I work so well together.

Q - I got a bit worried when that guy leapt on stage while you performed in London, how did that make you guys feel?

A - I can't speak for Deb's but it made me feel fucking great! I love that! I also love that he did it during "Hanging on the Telephone" which was one of the more "punk" moments in the show. I wanted to slam into him and jump up and down on his face. I got very excited.

Q - While in London, you must have met quite a few of us British men, how do you rate us? hehehe

A - Ha!, I meet the most beautiful men in London. It's amazing how many good looking guys there are there. What's that all about?

Q - Any plans to re-visit the UK in the future?

A - I love coming to London, I usually get their at least once a year. A good friend of mine lives there. Last December I came over for my birthday and had WAY too much fun. I was exhausted. But what a blast! My friend Justin Bond was doing his show "Kiki and Herb" at the Soho Theater and we would all go out after the show every night. We had the most fabulous time running all over London. I love that "Duckie" night, we almost brought Debbie with us, but she had to leave the next day for NYC. I think she would have loved it though.

Q - I saw you in the Ab Fab Xmas Special and have simply adored Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley since I was a kid. Do they keep in touch at all?

Oh I adore them too, especially Jennifer. She is the greatest as far as I'm concerned. I love it when I meet "authentic" people. And she's one of them. So talented and brilliant! I exchange e-mails from time to time with the Ab Fab crew. I'm sure our paths will cross again one of these days. It's funny because it was always one of my favorite shows and I just laugh sometimes when I think of our little moment with it.


Ab Fab Group - Joanna, Rob, Debbie, Garrett, Jennifer

Q - Have you ever seen Joanna Lumley in the '70s TV series, The New Avengers? There's some classic comic lines in that!

A - I think I've seen it once. They didn't play it here in the states.

Q - The Blondie fans have been waiting with baited breath for quite a while now for "The Curse Of Blondie" to get released. We've seen the artwork for the single, "Good Boys", which is fantastic. Did you listen to the album before doing the photos and artwork?

A - This time around I had a little more insight to some of the music before starting the imagery. But as usual it was mostly done with the synergy that I seem to have with Blondie. With "The Curse of" I instinctually used red, oranges and actual fire, before I heard any of the music and it turns out that there were a lot of fire, magic and "hotter" lyrical references. Very strange how that kind of stuff works. But I had been toying with an idea I had for a few years after taking a photo of my friend Dax who is a fire performer at the Radical Faerie Gathering I attend every year. I captured what looked like a number 10 and I thought it would be amazing to make a logo out of fire. I was really influenced by Burning Man too which is a festival in the desert that Chris and his wife would frequent every year. Some of the most amazing fire performers in the world go there. That's when I finally decided to use actual fire for the "Blondie" and "Good Boys" logos. I really like the logos because I didn't alter anything except the placement of the letters, its all made out of fire. They are very unique looking. My friend Troy was in charge of all the fire twirling on that shoot. Now I have almost the entire alphabet in flame letters. That is also how I captured the "Fire Goddess/Dragon" looking image that is part of the package. Chris flipped out when he saw the shot. I was a little freaked out myself because I was just shooting some outtakes with no intention of what I was going to get. When the slides came back there was this perfect dragon head in one shot and a perfect tail in another. It was really bizarre. But of course Chris was all excited that I had captured some fire spirit.


The Curse Of Blondie
 


Image used in the CD
booklet for The Curse


Image used in the CD booklet for The Curse
 

 
Image used in the CD 
booklet for The Curse


Debbie


The Band

Q - What are your biggest sources of inspiration when it comes to design and photography?

A - Music, travel and people.

Q - There are some photos on your site of The Fishsticks and Debbie at Lisa Marie Presley's Birthday party. Did you all perform for her?

A - Yeah, we did a show for her birthday, it was really fun, sooooo L.A.!. She was great to meet, really down to earth and cool.


Lisa Marie Presley's Birthday party

Q - Thinking ahead career wise, what would you like to do in the future that you haven't already done?

A - Career wise I'm not sure, but I would love to go skydiving one day.


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