Rolling Stone - 29th April 2004
The Music Q&A
Written by: Austin Scaggs
"I'm a little confused by Christina Aguilera."
The queen of New Wavers Blondie on her love of
hip-hop and why Pink's the best dressed rocker.
THE CURSE OF BLONDIE," THE band's second
studio album after a sixteen-year hiatus, is a roller
coaster of styles, from "Hello Joe," a
jangly tribute to Joey Ramone, to "Magic,"
based on a Japanese folk song, to "Good
Boys," in which frontwoman Debbie Harry
oscillates between a rap reminiscent of Blondie's 1981
hit "Rapture" and the pouty high notes she
delivered on the band's classic "Heart of
Glass." It was only after "Good Boys"
became a hot club track in Europe and Australia this
winter that the decision was made to release The Curse
in America. Thinking about the past, Harry says, makes
her "suddenly realize that I'm really old,"
but judging from her March 24th appearance on Late
Show With David Letterman, Harry, 58, is still a
commanding presence, with more sex appeal than most
rock chicks half her age.
RS: What's the first album you fell in love with?
DH: It was a compilation album called I Like Jazz:
Fats Waller, Paul Desmond and all this really, really
heavy jazz stuff from the fifties. I didn't have a lot
of money to buy records, and at that point you
couldn't really download, so I'd listen to a lot of
RS: Growing up, did you have a radio in your
DH: Yeah, a little radio where I could have my ear
right next to the speaker. In those days DJs could be
freaky - the late-late-night DJs were the ones. Funky,
soulful stuff, maybe a little bit of rock. What could
be better? I was always a radiohead.
RS: So it must have been nice to hear Blondie on
DH: Chris [Stein, Blondie guitarist] and I were
walking, and someone drove past and I heard some
music. "Oh, gee, that sounds good! That's
us!" Quite a moment. I think it was "Rip Her
To Shreds." I went to the dry cleaners two days
ago, and "Rapture" came on. It sounded OK.
RS: How much of a part do you think
"Rapture" played in the evolution of hip-hop
DH: Creatively it did one thing in particular: It
was the first rap song to have its own original music.
Commercially it made rap viable for the mainstream
charts. I don't think it was a tremendous influence. I
am nowhere close to being a rapper. I'm completely in
awe of great rappers.
RS: Like who?
DH: Missy Elliott and Lil' Kim, Ludacris and 50
Cent. All of the subtle, rhythmic things they do with
their phrasing is really outrageous.
RS: When you worked as a waitress at Max's Kansas
City, which musicians were you most excited to serve?
DH: Janis [Joplin] having her filet mignon that she
probably ate two bites of. Jefferson Airplane were
chatty; I brought them lamb chops. What's his name
from Traffic? Stevie Winwood. He was cute. Mmm. Put
him on the sex list of the time.
RS: Sure.... How did you come up with the name
DH: Chris lived on First and First in Manhattan,
and I was walking to his house to write songs. The
street noise was, "Hey, blondie! Hey, blondie!"
I'm like, "Jesus. . ." Because we were
trying to think of a band name and there it was, right
in front of me.
RS: Is there one word that you've been proud to use
in a song?
DH: Yes. I was so excited that in "Picture
This" I rhymed solid with wallet. I said,
"Wow. Things are happening now!" [laughs]
RS: Who's the best-dressed performer out there?
DH: Pink! She's a little boyish, but her costumes
are really exciting. I'm a little confused by
Christina Aguilera - there's no continuity as far as
her identity through her clothing.
RS: You were at Courtney Love's recent outrageous
show in New York. What'd you think?
DH: I thought she was fascinating and dynamic -
she's an incredible performer, and her madness is such
a great part of that. But the band, musically, was
really very... nothing.
RS: What was the craziest afterparty, back in the
DH: We had great loft parties that were pretty far
out. I remember one - I don't know if it was an after,
a before or an ongoing, but it really lasted a long
time. It was down the Bowery, right when Blondie was
picking up steam. Our landlord was this crazy maniac
queen. He really loved the Hells Angels, and he was
always in biker drag. The loft was above a liquor
store, so we had bums drinking Night Train. And it was
a block away from CBGB, so take it from there. When
the party was over, all our records were missing.