Sain - Issue 63 - September 2003

Australian Magazine

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 were unbeatable".

"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 today".

"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".


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