BLADE - January 2007
Pages 1, 4, 54, 55, 56, 95.
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Racing Into 2007 With Blondie
BY THOMAS SOULE
PHOTO BY: AUSTIN YOUNG: WWW.AUSTINYOUNG.COM
One of the biggest events this New Year's Eve is the Orange County New Year's Eve event at the Orange County Fairgrounds. The entertainment at OCNYE will feature an eclectic mix of bands, and topping the list is Blondie. The Blade caught up with Debbie Harry of Blondie to talk about the upcoming appearance, what's in store in the New Year and who she'll be kissing at midnight on New Year's Eve.
Blondie was formed in 1974 by vocalist Harry and guitarist Chris Stein. The band played live gigs, including at New York City's fabled CBGB's. Blondie released its first album in 1976 and began opening for Iggy Pop and David Bowie. Numerous hits followed, and Harry began to act in movies - even appearing on television's The Muppet Show. Blondie's fifth album produced "The Tide is High," which claimed a No.1 spot on the hit lists in both the United States and the United Kingdom.
After much success, the band foundered when a rare and often fatal genetic disease struck founding member Stein. Each of the members went on to individual projects, but the friendship that had developed during years of making music together endured. After 16 years apart, they agreed to play a gig together and had so much fun that they decided to make some new music together, which led to the band's seventh album No Exit.
2006 marked the 30th anniversary of Blondie's first album and the induction of the band into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. To round out the year, Blondie will have three performances in the Los Angeles area.
"I'm looking forward to being out on the West Coast again," Harry said. "I haven't been there for a while." She said the band will play its usual show, with a mix of newer material and old favorites. "We're just going to do our Blondie thing," she said. "We haven't played in a while, so it should be a lot of fun for us."
In addition to these performance dates with Blondie, Harry says she's working on a solo album for 2007, which is taking much of her attention at the moment. Although Blondie has a few private shows on the schedule, no public shows are planned for a while after the New Year's Eve performance in Orange County.
In preparation for her next album, Harry says she has been listening to a lot of new music. "I've been listening to a lot of girls and what they've come out with recently, because of working on my own record," she said. "I wanted to see what was in the market. I'm probably going to do something that has marketable potential, but I do want to throw in a few little curves here and there. Today I had on Missy Elliot and Lady Sovereign - I was listening to rappers."
She says she likes the Scissor Sisters, who made a remix of the Blondie hit "Good Boys." "I think they're terrific - and they're really entertaining," Harry said. "They have a great band, great songs - the whole package."
Harry says she's happy to be ringing in the New Year performing. "I've always felt that that's a good way to go into the year: playing music and entertaining," she said. She doesn't make New Year's resolutions, opting for a more long-term approach instead. "I'm always sort of fussing with myself, so it's an ongoing process," Harry said. "I'm always trying to move ahead and be more creative or be more this or more that. We all have regrets, but I think dwelling on them is kind of a drag."
Harry certainly has taken this long-term approach with her music, as well. From reggae to punk to hip hop to pop, Blondie has explored a plethora of styles. I asked her if there were a style that was still on her wish list.
"You mean like thrash metal or something?" she replied. "I wouldn't be against it. I think some of those tracks are really exciting. For me, it depends on the song. It really doesn't matter what the style is. I like doing a lot of different styles. It just really depends on the song. Why be locked down?"
This is an attitude that she takes with life, too. In past interviews, Harry has acknowledged sleeping with both women and men, although she said she is more heterosexual than anything else. But whether one is gay or bisexual or straight isn't really the point, she said. It's not the sex of the person you love that matters; it's the person who matters.
"Love is the answer," Harry said. "If you find companionship, camaraderie, love and all of the wonderful things that that brings you in a person, then I think that sexuality in a traditional sense - propagating the species, as it were - is an older idea. Time marches on. Perhaps evolution is happening. Maybe our values have really grown and evolved as well as the nature of the human species. I'm happy that people are more open-minded."
In the long run, though, she says that it's most important to make peace within yourself. "It's always a good thing to be politically active and to go forward with a cause and make people aware of it," Harry said. "But time goes very slowly sometimes - things happen at their own speed. I guess you just have to be positive and try to avoid situations that you're going to be really put down by. Just try to live your life in a way that you're comfortable with."
As someone whose performing career has spanned more than three decades, Harry has a strategy for retaining vitality. "Hold on to the child within you," she said. "We all have different balances about that - how much we're willing to acknowledge that childish nature within us. Some people are better at it than others. For me, that's kind of important as a creative person. I think that children have a lot more freedom. They haven't been force fed stuff."
Harry also recommends having a few answers ready for impromptu questions. "'It seemed like a good idea at the time.' That's always a good answer," she said. "The other one is: There's no accounting for taste."
So this New Year's Eve, do yourself a favor and catch the last Blondie concert of 2006. "We're pumped to have a great evening and have some nice club dates," Harry said. "It'll be cool to be out there playing."
When midnight strikes, she'll be looking around for someone to kiss. With more than 15,000 people expected at the OCNYE event, that shouldn't be such a tall order. "Well, I guess I'll have plenty of options," Harry observed.
And you can say it seemed like a good idea at the time.
Blondie will perform on Friday, Dec. 29, at the Canyon Club in Agoura Hills and on Saturday, Dec. 30, at the Key Club in West Hollywood. For more information, visit www.blondie.net.
Orange County New Year's Eve
Get ready to groove into the New Year at "Orange County New Year's Eve 2007" with an impressive band lineup. In its first year, the event drew more than 15,000 people and this year is expected to be bigger and better.
This year's event will feature six stages, 30 bands and, of course, the crown jewel of the night, the Orange Ball Drop to ring in the New Year. Blondie will headline the main stage and take partygoers into '07. Also taking the main stage is the most notorious American cult band of the "folk rock" revolution, the Violent Femmes ("Blister in the Sun").
"Last year, OCNYE experienced tremendous interest for a first-time event," said media relations spokeswoman Diana Baylor. "This year, OCNYE will be bigger and better - and the quality of the show will measure up beyond last year's festivities."