Look-in - 24th January 1981
"I've been looking forward to working on the show for ages. I didn't suggest anything in particular that I wanted to do on the show - I left the choice of sketches and songs to the experts. After all, they know the show better than I ever could, even though I am a devoted fan. My only regret is that I don't have a scene with Miss Piggy. I thought it would be nice if we could fight over a feather boa or something but I'm told that she doesn't really like working with the lady guests. She saves herself for guests like Roger Moore - not that I blame her. She's a very astute lady!"
The words of Debbie Harry, whose long-awaited appearance on The Muppet Show is this Saturday at 5:30. She'll be singing with Doctor Teeth's Electric Mayhem Band, too, and that, unfortunately, looks like being the only chance of seeing her perform 'on stage' for quite some time. Still, there's the latest hit single, Rapture, to keep fans happy...
IN RAPTURES OVER BLONDIE!
"We're mostly taking it easy at home," Debbie explained recently, "while we decide about the future. We're not sure, at the moment, whether we'll ever actually tour again. It's not that we're breaking up or anything like that, but we just don't know if we want to go back on the road, or simply stay a recording band. Touring's a lot of fun but it's exhausting as well - we've done massive ones like taking in thirty-five American cities, from the deep South and Texas to California and New York, and after a trip like that you just collapse."
On a tour there are hidden snags, too - like selecting the right clothes, for example. It's not all glamorous.
"Generally, I believe in wearing what's best for my figure," Debbie smiled, "because that's the biggest turn-on and nobody's ever been hurt by admiring looks, but I have to try to be practical about it, too. I move a lot
on stage and have to wear stuff that makes it easier. For instance, it's awkward to put on very high heels or anything really tights round the waist. There was a time when I used to wear knee-pads a lot - they can go under jeans but I wore them over the top as a decorative thing. You can get some really cool-looking knee-pads these days. A lot of performers wear them, in fact, because otherwise you can end up with really battered knees. I finished one tour totally black and blue which was fine until I put on a dress. When our manager saw my knees he really flipped out."
If they are thinking of not touring again, is it because Debbie gets homesick?
"Well, not for the place itself, or the apartment, but I do miss seeing my friends. I didn't realise how much I valued them until I went away for the first long trip.
"On the other hand, I like to see the sights, the things in a city or a country that you've already heard something about. That, and the people - it's a really cool thing, going to a different country to work: you see so much more than you would just on holiday as a tourist.
"Of course, I've always had the advantage of having my boyfriend, Chris Stein (the band's guitarist), along. That made it a lot easier. We're business partners as well as being in love and when the work becomes a strain, or the travelling, we benefit a lot from having each other. I've often said to him, in fact, that I doubt if I could ever have done the touring at all if I was by myself. Naturally, there are times when it's good to be apart for a few hours, and we can always go shopping separately."
If the band does decide to stop touring CHRIS STEIN, at least, will keep pretty busy.
"I've been doing a lot of other things," he said. "I did the film score for Union City, Debbie's new film, and I've even got into record sleeves - I've done two for Robert Fripp."
But what about the others? Drummer CLEM BURKE can see the good side.
"I'm a romantic," he sighed, "always in love, but it's pretty difficult to keep properly in touch when you're on tour, even with phone calls and letters."
One of Clem's most serious early romances was broken up when the girl went away.
"I was sixteen at the time," he remembered, "and she was an artist which intrigued me a lot. The trouble was her parents - I couldn't handle them so I pretended they didn't exist; I'd be round their house and practically ignore them. They didn't go for that, though they put up with me for her sake, but in the end they sent her away to school and I couldn't afford to follow her. She was away for six months and we drifted apart - that's a long time, especially when you're sixteen."
Even though he loves it, guitarist FRANK INFANTE admits life on tours isn't always a bed of roses.
"We get tensions, naturally, and the best thing is to let it out. If you have a fight with somebody and hold a grudge it gets to be ridiculous. I'd rather yell and hit him with an apple. We stay good enough friends that after the last European tour three of us took a flat in London and stayed on for a while. It was great to be able to just go out and walk around Piccadilly, see other bands play, and all that stuff.
"Being on the road's an adventure, it's a romantic thing, and, to be honest, I get bored when we're not - so I travel anyway, and go and watch other bands. I try to get in as a fan, though. If I started saying 'I'm from Blondie, let me in backstage' and all that rubbish I'd feel phoney and awkward. It's much better to be anonymous and sit out in the audience getting off on the music."
If they do stay at home more, bass-player NIGEL HARRISON will certainly be sorry.
"I love touring," he said, "I seem to be designed for hotel rooms and late nights. Definitely never had the idea of settling down. I've wanted to travel since I was a kid, and to be in a band. I can't imagine myself doing anything else. It's the twenty-four-hour-a-day life style - there's no point where you knock off and stop being a musician. Sometimes it's a little weird, mind - it takes time to become successful so in your mid-twenties, like me, you're living the life you wanted when you were sixteen.
"I love the travel, though. From Rome to Bangkok, from Japan to Australia - where I fell in love with 'jet-skis', things you kneel on and then zoom across the water with a motorbike engine driving you; it's all great. There's only one thing I really look forward to when we get back to New York - the cheesecake. It's the best in the world. That's the big moment in the day for me - going up to a place, by Central Park for cheesecake and coffee."
JIMMY DESTRI the keyboard player, has got happy touring memories of Bangkok, too.
"It's a weird place," he said. "They have a curfew but they lifted it on New Year's Eve the time we were there and the whole town went crazy. You felt like a soldier on leave, like in some old Humphrey Bogart movie.
"Bouncing around the world like a baseball makes for a lot of craziness but you tend to enjoy it after a while. It's been easier because we're pretty good friends. We don't argue too much about the important things, only about the little things - 'where's my tie?', 'you took my socks!' - stuff like that."
Even if Blondie don't tour again that doesn't mean, of course, that they won't be seen anymore. They've always gone in for showy video tapes to go with records and then there's that adult movie Debbie's in - Union City.
"It's already opened in America," she explained, "and I'm told it'll play London in March. Mind you, you might not recognise me, I'm in disguise. The blonde hair's hidden under a dark wig. I play the plain wife of a mad business man who's got an obsession about catching a milk thief, and that leads to trouble. It was actually filmed two years ago, and is set in Union City, New Jersey, back in 1953. I guess you'd call it a black comedy - something on the lines of a Hitchcock movie."
It sounds adventurous, but then Debbie's never been one to hide her light under a bushel.
"I've always been outspoken and determined," she admitted, "even from an early age I suppose I was a rebel. Not that I was over-confident, I always thought of myself as unattractive. I started getting interested in appearance early on, too. At about the age of twelve I began dying my hair - usually bleaching it white and then using all sorts of crazy colours on it."
Finally, Debbie, at a time when she's thinking about whether to tour or not, recalled what must have been her very first experience of music on the move.
"I was a baton twirler - you know, throwing up the stick in front of a marching band. I guess that's what I've really been doing ever since..."
25 COPIES OF 'AUTOAMERICAN' MUST BE WON!
If Blondie decide to give up touring you can be sure that we won't be without them for long. No touring means they'll have more time to make their own video films and more time to spend in the recording studio. And that means more fabulous Blondie sounds like those to be found on their latest album, Autoamerican, 25 copies of which we're giving away as prizes in this weeks competition. Among the twelve great tracks on this LP are the hit singles The Tide Is High and Rapture.
ALL YOU HAVE TO DO TO ENTER is read over the questions on the right and when you've found the answers, enter them in the spaces provided on the coupon. Then add your name, address and age, cut out the coupon, affix it firmly to a postcard only, and send it to: Look-in Blondie Competition, P.O. Box 141, London SE6 3HR. The senders of the first 25 all-correct entries pulled from the postbag after the closing date, Monday, 9th February, 1981, will each receive a copy of Autoamerican.
1. What is the title of Debbie's new film?
2. For whom has Chris Stein designed two record sleeves?
3. What does Nigel Harrison look forward to most when he returns to New York?
4. In which American state is Union City?
5. When is Debbie's film expected to open in London?