Flaunt - May 2004 - Pages 84-85-86
Written By: Jonathan Palmer
Photography: Daniela Federici
WHEN BLONDIE RETURNED TO MAKING MUSIC IN 1998, IT
MARKED THE FIRST TIME THE VENERABLE BAND HAD PLAYED
TOGETHER IN 16 YEARS. NO EXIT, AN ALBUM OF NEW
MATERIAL, SURFACED THE FOLLOWING YEAR, AND SUDDENLY,
THE BAND WAS AN ACTIVE ENTITY AGAIN, RECEIVING RADIO
AIRPLAY, PLAYING SOLD-OUT SHOWS AND SELLING RECORDS.
THIS SPRING, BLONDIE CONTINUES TO MAKE NEW FANS WHILE
KEEPING THE DIE-HARDS HAPPY WITH THEIR NEW RELEASE,
THE CURSE OF BLONDIE, AN ALBUM THAT RATES RIGHT UP
THERE WITH THE BAND'S BEST EFFORTS. ON THE EVE OF THE
ALBUM'S RELEASE, DEBORAH HARRY, THE BAND'S ICONIC LEAD
SINGER, DISCUSSED THE BAND'S LEGACY, FORESEEABLE
FUTURE, AND THE MUFFIN MAN.
Jonathan Palmer: I was grounded the night you came
to my town for the Eat to the Beat tour - I think I
was 14 - and I've never forgiven my parents. You guys
never came back to my hometown and it took me 20 years
to finally see you live. It made me a bigger fan,
which, in turn, made me a better person. So, I guess
what I'm trying to say in a rather roundabout way is,
Deborah Harry: Okay (laughs).
JP: I saw a great Adam and the Ants cover band last
week called Ant Music, and it got me thinking how rare
it is that Blondie is still going. Most other bands
from the '70s and '80s are distant memories or they
are sadly relegated to playing during a fireworks show
after a major league baseball game. Thirty years
later, you're still pretty much the same band. When
you reconvened to make music again, was there a
concern over how you'd fit in with the current music
DH: Yes and no. We'd gotten so many nice press
mentions from new bands, it seemed like it was really
the right time to do something. I don't want to be
this retro band, I don't want to go out and just do
oldies. It'd be boring. Our relationship has always
been passionate, always about pushing each other on.
JP: How has the band dynamic changed over 30 years
of working together?
DH: We all know who's who and what's what, what our
specific roles are. It's much clearer. If you have the
wisdom to accept who you are, then you might as well
accept who everyone else is and make the best of a
situation. Being bashed over the head a little bit
when you're younger gives you a kind of perspective or
freedom, or, I hate to say wisdom, but...
JP: You can claim that mantle at this point. You've
more than earned it.
JP: Come on, own it!
DH: I don't really want to (laughs).
JP: When you started up again, what was it like
doing those first shows with new material?
DH: It was pretty exciting. We had a really high
energy. And we got such a great response. The most
typical comment we got was, "I never got to see
you because I was too young, and I can't believe I'm
getting to see you!" I don't know if we satisfied
them or not!
JP: When the band first hit, there weren't many
women of prominence in rock music, and the media
singled you out as a role model for women. Did that
DH: I think it's a frightening, kind of horrible
responsibility. As far as being a role model in regard
to being in a band, I'm really satisfied with that.
I'm really proud of that. I worked hard to do it and I
continue to work really hard to do it. I do it because
I love it. And I finally feel like I'm getting good at
JP: There's been a succession of artists over the
past couple of decades that have clearly been
influenced by your music and your iconic persona. How
does that make you feel?
DH: I love it. Totally flattering and wonderful.
It's just being in the right place at the right time,
doing that thing that attracted them. I sort of feel
abstracted from it. I'm happy that people are feeling
turned on. I mean, my God, that's what we're supposed
to be doing. I certainly loved Janis Joplin, and Grace
Slick, and Dusty Springfield, and so many other women
who were doing music back [when I was getting
started]. They certainly had a strong influence on me.
JP: It must be pretty gratifying that the
"women in rock" tag is less of an issue
these days, that a band like No Doubt is recognized
for having a great lead singer, rather than having a
great female lead singer.
DH: It certainly is, because they really made an
issue of it with us, and it actually became an issue
because of that. There was sort of this split between
[the band] because I was getting all the attention.
JP: You've done a lot of strong film work. Are you
doing anything currently?
DH: I haven't got anything really booked right now.
I've been really fortunate. I've gotten some really
interesting and diverse character parts. I'd love to
do a meatier part. Usually the parts I do are very
short-lived in terms of shooting schedule. I'd love to
get involved with a film for more than two or three
days. The only film that I was really involved in like
that was Videodrome. I had a slight bit more in
Hairspray too. It's hard because I'm not competing all
the time as a film actress. I appreciate the fact that
anybody would even consider me, really. I'm perfectly
good at it. I enjoy the work, but I'm sort of a dark
JP: You have a very distinctive style. I would
think that there would be tons of film-makers who'd
want to build something specifically for you.
DH: Well, I hope so. I hope that at the end of this
touring season, I'm going to fall into something
JP: Now that you have a two-album streak going with
the revived Blondie, do you see yourself continuing to
make new music?
DH: I don't know why not. I think the industry has
changed and is sort of devastated by this computer
business. Downloading... I don't know what's going to
happen with that. But live music has always been a
real important part of what we do, having a real combo
thing going on. It's always been about being in a band
JP: Right. The delivery system might change from
albums to CDs to downloading, but as long as people
are still coming together and making music, we're
DH: I think it's human nature that people have to
have [music]. They say that man created music before
verbalization came about, which does make sense.
JP: Is there anything you're working on musically,
aside from the band?
DH: I did a duet with Perry Farrell for a kids'
album. Kind of hip life lessons. It's called A World
JP: It's pretty amazing to see children's music
become a big thing. People like Dan Zanes are really
popular with little kids.
DH: I did a duet with him too! We did
JP: If you can communicate something meaningful to
children through music, that is a pretty special
thing. The songs we learn as children stay with us our
DH: Oh my, God. You just took me back to Burl Ives
singing "The Muffin Man."
JP: "The Muffin Man"? Yes, I know him.
Know him well. Some say he is delicious. But nowhere
near as delicious as Blondie.