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 job."

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 like it."

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 downs."

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 that?

"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 left!"

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 very correct."

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. . ."


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