No 1 Magazine - 15th November 1986
Interview by Paul Simper
SHE'S BACK - AND SHE'S
STILL HANGIN' ON THE TELEPHONE
A standing ovation for Deborah Harry, please. It's
five years since Blondie knocked the world head first
into a bottle of bleach; five years that have seen
Blondie split, Debbie's first solo backfire, Madonna
rise, boyfriend Chris Stein fall seriously ill (and
recover) and now... and now she's come back with a
stunner of a single ('French Kissin"), an album
fresh as 'Plastic Letters' ('Rockbird') and who can
remember her ever being away?
A true star on the other end of the telephone. . .
So have you missed being in the limelight, Debbie?
"I can't say I've really missed it but it's
nice to be back. The limelight can be very attractive
but sometimes you get sunburn.
"I guess we're building more slowly this time but
I'm not in charge of all that stuff - the publicity. I
don't approach it like a general. I'm not interested
in 'marshalling the troops'. I'll do my bit by talking
to you guys. . . other than that it's not my
Were you tempted to foresake the blonde?
"Oh, it's hard to give up the bottle! I was
warned against it! No, not really. . . it's fine. I
Were you surprised that your 'Feel The Spin' - one
of the biggest club import hits here - was never
properly released in Britain.
"It wasn't?! (yes she is!). That's odd. I
thought it would have done alright. Krush Groove (the
movie from which the song came) was like a trendy rap
picture and I'd have thought that would have gone down
well in Britain (it only came out on video).
"I made 'Feel The Spin' the summer before last
with John Jellybean and I was really pleased with it.
It got me back into the swing of things.
Did you ever think of turning your back on singing?
"No, I never thought I wouldn't do it again.
There were just a lot of changes I wanted to implement
- the managers and things. And Chris was ill.
"I didn't want to just jump right into Debbie
Harry. I did 'Rush Rush' with Giorgio Moroder for the
movie Scarface a couple of years back which was meant
to be like a big release but it didn't happen. The
movie was great - a bit gory - but they made a few
mistakes with the soundtrack I think. People have
overdone the soundtracks idea recently."
So you won't be doing Top Gun III?
(laughs) "No! Well. . . If I'm asked I'll do
it! The charts are like advertising now really. That
seems to be the right approach for people.
Do you see anyone else from Blondie now?
"I saw Nigel Harrison the other day. He's
working on a soundtrack (surprise!) for new Paul
Schrader movie (Schrader made American Gigolo with
Blondie's 'Call Me' theme) with Michael J.Fox.
"I haven't seen Clem (the drummer) but I know
he's been having a good time working with Eurythmics."
Do you still live in Manhattan?
"Yeah, it's still one of my favourite cities.
It's very exciting - you can get what you want. We've
got a lot of interesting friends here - but you have
to get used to living in it."
Are people starting to recognise you again?
"Oh they've always seen me in Manhattan.
They're quite used to it. New Yorkers like Londoners
can be pretty snobbish and blase' about it all. I
think they're happy I've made a record but I don't
really feel like I'm In The Public Eye."
When you first saw Madonna did you think 'here
comes the next one'?
"That's right. All you nasty girls."
Have you met her?
"No, I'd like to. It's funny I was reading an
article about her in Rolling Stone where she was
hanging out with Chrissie Hynde. It was weird to hear
they'd got together.
"Chrissie's great. I met her in London a few
years ago. She does things her way."
The new album sounds a lot like the earlier, rawer
Blondie records. Was that a reaction against the bland
sounds around right now?
"It's more of a rock record. I wanted
something with a lot of different feelings - both
vertical and horizontal. Right now the music scene
seems to be just going across - there's no ups and
Did you and Chris talk a lot about that first?
Not really. Chris is always very radical. He's very
automatic, so it just happened. I'd have been very
surprised if he didn't want to do something different.
With everything so boring in the charts at the
moment it seems set up perfectly for something like
punk to happen again. Would you like to be a part of
"I think it's a really exciting prospect. It's
about time something happened. It would be just right
if it started between now and the summer of '87."
The title 'French Kissin' In The USA' seems an
unlikely one. With all the AIDS hysteria you can't
imagine people rubbing elbows. . .
"It's probably one of the few safe things
Does that worry you?
"Yes, I think everyone should be hysterical.
It's very serious. But the answer isn't everybody
going around wiping the rims of glasses. What's needed
is more money being put into research. That's what
people should be serious about."
Have you been doing any more acting?
"I hope I'll be doing some more. I took a part
as a witch in the TV show Tales From The Darkside
which was a lot of fun. The story's called 'The Moth'.
And then I made the movie Forever Lulu. I'm only in it
for about ten minutes. I'm this missing person Lulu
which a lot of people have said is like Desperately
Seeking Susan. I don't know."
Have you seen Shanghai Surprise?
"No, I've seen clips. I think it looks
beautiful but it doesn't seem very realistic. I think
maybe they were both cast wrong. They look good
together but I guess they're too young to really pull
off a Hepburn/Tracy type thing.
"I think what would be much more exciting would
be if Madonna and Sean Penn made a movie with Alex
Cox. He's really great. I nearly ended up in the
western he's just made but unfortunately I had to be
in the studio."
Did the idea of playing a rock star like Prince did
ever attract you. You must have got loads of those
offers. . .
"Oh yeah I did with Blondie. The thing with
Prince was he was in control with Purple Rain while so
often you aren't. I never really had any ambition to
do that but I did ironically receive one very good
rock script from a writer for Rolling Stone. It was
Finally when will you be back in Britain?
"Soon, I hope. I haven't any plans to tour
yet. I haven't a band. But I'm not saying no. .