Sain - Issue 63 - September 2003
Written By: Mark Tobin
The Return Of BLONDIE
Blondie have just finished their first full-scale tour of Australia since the
late seventies and release their eighth studio album, curiously titled The Curse
of Blondie, later this month.
"The curse of Blondie is sort of an ongoing refrain for us and when
anything bad, untoward or surprising happens we say 'ah, the curse of
Blondie,'" drawls lead singer Deborah Harry, in her tough, thick New Jersey
accent. "I always think of it as being funny and melodramatic and sort of
tongue in cheek".
Guitarist Chris Stein, who plays on the new album, opted to miss the first leg
of the tour and stay home with his actress wife Barbara Sicuranza and their new
daughter Akira. On the night before the first Brisbane show things became even
more difficult as Harry received the terrible news that her father had passed
away. The band continued in spite of these setbacks and received glowing reviews
for the shows that went well beyond a simple rehashing of their greatest hits.
"Doing the new material is refreshing for us. We've done all the other
material for so many years and most of the songs we've taken and tried to revamp
and make them interesting for ourselves," she said.
The band formed nearly thirty years ago and quickly became an integral part of
the punk/new wave scene in New York that included bands like Talking Heads, The
Ramones, and Television. To date, Blondie have sold in excess of forty million
albums and hits like "Rapture", "Heart of Glass" and
"Tide Is High" are still cited as landmarks in pop history. Harry's
good looks, casual indifference and unmistakable blonde hair soon made her a
global pop icon.
"I was originally called the Marilyn Monroe of rock and clearly that was an
influence. There was a song we used to do, "PLatinum Blonde", and it
was about all these great silver screen platinum blondes," she said.
"Their tremendous sexuality and combination of innocence and vulnerability
"What I've figured out is that if you just last long enough and maintain
some kind of decent appearance then you're okay, you're going to become an icon
and that's sort of what happened," she laughed. "I make light of it
and that's probably how I get through life".
The band broke up in 1982 after guitarist Chris Stein developed the rare skin
disorder Pemphigus Vulgaris. He was nursed by Harry, who was also his
girlfriend, and eventually made a full recovery. Although the couple separated a
few years ago the collaboration between the two continues.
"We've been in business together for a long time. We were successful, we
were unsuccessful, then we were successful again, plus I think each of us was
motivated before we met," she said.
"The combination of having success and being individually motivated really
made things stick".
The band are justifiably proud of the new album, which was co-produced by Craig
Leon and features core members Jimmy Destri and Clem Burke. Harry describes the
first single "Good Boys" as a "straight ahead sort of pop song
with a nice melody and cute lyric", although she makes it clear that the
new material signals a definite change in direction for the band.
"It's more sophisticated. It's about today. I don't think we were trying to
create a Blondie album, you know, that would live off our reputation from the
past. We wanted to make a record that was part of our thinking in life
"I think that we're probably all much more capable at what we do in all
aspects, so the songs are better and the performances are better".