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Leader Newspapers - 27th May 2008

Blondie’s Chris Stein talks with The Leader

By John Soltes

(May 29, 2008) — To celebrate the 30th anniversary of their highly successful and ever-influential album, “Parallel Lines,” the bandmates of the new wave rock band, Blondie, are gearing up for a new tour in the coming weeks.

Chris Stein, the band’s longtime guitarist, recently spoke with The Leader, saying that the 30th anniversary is really just an excuse to get the band, including original members Deborah Harry and Clem Burke, back together again.

“We have been going out pretty much each year,” Stein said recently in a phone interview, brushing off the historic nature of the anniversary. “It’s also the 25th anniversary of ‘Thriller,’ ” he added with a laugh.

Blondie’s hits include an array of radio standards and new wave anthems that have trickled their way down to the ears of the younger generation, as well as into the memory banks of those who remember when they first appeared on the charts.

“We get a lot of teenagers to the show,” Stein said of the band’s younger fan base. “They like our music.”

That music includes such iconic songs as “Call Me,” “The Tide is High,” “One Way or Another” and “Heart of Glass.”

Though the band could easily play their money-making hits with little variation from night to night, Stein said they like to change it up a bit to keep the audience guessing and the band sounding fresh.

“Some of the stuff we work up with the band has a different feeling, rather than just replicate the album,” Stein said. “People tend to go for it.”

But even more important than changing the arrangements or set list, Stein said it’s crucial to love the songs.

“I certainly have an emotional connection with the songs,” he said. “You have to love this stuff to stay fresh.”

Blondie started like several other musical acts, such as Patti Smith and the Talking Heads, playing the downtown Manhattan club, CBGB. With the recent closing of the infamous establishment and the untimely death of its owner, Hilly Kristal, Stein said he still gets nostalgic when he thinks back on the days when Blondie was just starting out.

“The whole city is so different, it’s kind of a shame how things are going,” he said of the building that used to house CBGB, which has recently been converted into a boutique clothing store.

What seemingly keeps the memories alive for Stein and Blondie, who were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame recently, are the audience members who still show up in great numbers.

“The more crazy the audience is, the more crazy we are,” he concluded.

Blondie will play several area shows in the coming weeks, including the Bergen Performing Arts Center at 30 North Van Brunt St. in Englewood on Friday, June 6. Tickets are priced from $29-$99.

Other shows: Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson (June 8), Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank (June 17) and New York’s Nokia Theatre Times Square (June 22).

Link: Leader Newspapers - 27th May 2008

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