NME - 12th November 2005
Page 37 - BLONDIE
YEAH YEAH YEAHS,
YOU'VE GOT THIS WOMAN TO THANK
WORDS: DAN MARTIN
Without Debbie Harry and her perfect punk group Blondie, music as we know it, from Green Day to Goldfrapp, wouldn't have happened. Exploding out of the '70s NYC punk scene, they went from spiky new wave ('Denis') to pioneering disco ('Heart Of Glass') and white rap ('Rapture') in the time it takes half of today's so-called punks to reach for the crack pipe. Before Blondie, Debbie Harry had already packed in more of a life than most, as a Playboy bunny and New York scenester junkie. The band are about to tour again and have a new 'Greatest Hits: Sight And Sound' package in the offering. NME caught up with Debbie in Monaco...
Do you still feel like a punk rocker?
DH: "I don't know if I ever did feel like a punk rocker. But I do feel the punk resilience, or the ability to stand up and say something, which has always been a good thing. I think punk now is equated with a certain style of music and generally we're more eclectic than that. We never pretended to be a straight punk band, anyway."
Does it still feel like the same gang of outlaws it was?
DH: "Definitely not, it's different now. Chris [Stein] has his family, Clem [Burke] lives on the west coast, Jimmy [Destri]'s not active in the band, so it's just the three of us really and the three new guys."
CBGBs [seminal NYC punk venue where Blondie first broke] just closed - was that a sad day for you?
DH: "Sad? No. Actually, we did try our best. Blondie went and played the benefit event, and before that they had a press conference where I did an acoustic performance. I always felt that if Hilly [Kristal, proprietor] really wanted to keep the thing going, he would have found a new address. He would have moved the damn place, it's no big deal to move."
Do you feel you blazed a trail for bands like The Strokes?
DH: "I suppose it brainwashed a few people. It just seems like a natural process to me because we were influenced by British pop of the '60s - it keeps going round and round."
Having invented both The Strokes and Madonna, which side are you the proudest of?
DH: "Gee, I don't know, I wasn't really separating them! I guess it is kind of schizophrenic!"
In your capacity as an icon, what advice would you give to Pete Doherty?
DH: "Oh right, him. Drugs are a terrible distraction. It's a complete racket. If the drugs were just there for you to take and not have to go through all the dangers of getting them, perhaps it would be a bit different, but it's not, it's a filthy fucking business, and you have to contend with that. And it ruins your health. It's a toxic thing. Drugs have really changed chemically. It's very rare to get good cocaine nowadays. Not that any of it is good, but I can't believe there's very much pure, good cocaine. I don't take it, and haven't done so in a long time, but by the way people are responding to it and reacting to it, there must be different things in it. It's so toxic, and it's so habit-forming."
Green Day are now the world's biggest punk band. Do you think rock'n'roll can overthrow governments?
DH: "Well it hasn't so far. It takes a huge amount of effort for that to happen but it certainly is a form of consciousness. I guess it's the voice of the people. Governments do take notice. I really admire Bono for all the things he's trying to do. George Bush? We'd be better off without him as president. That's all I'd say."
Who are Blondie's worthy successors?
DH: "There's a huge number of bands, but I couldn't possibly name them all. I don't have the memory and I always regret it because I leave somebody out that I wanted to say. You know what? It's sort of like being tested, it's like being at school and having to take a test. And I just go, 'No! Fuck you! I don't wanna take a test!'"
NME ESSENTIALS MAGAZINE
75 songs that defined rock'n'roll
ONE WAY OR ANOTHER - Blondie
Twisted, carnival-freakery, it was the darker side of Blondie's B-movie soundscape. Was near-victim Debbie perhaps channelling the spirit of serial killer Ted Bundy with her stalkerish lyrics?
WHAT WE SAID AT THE TIME:
"One of the few songs in which Harry proves she can sing with more variety than we've been led to believe."