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rockymountainnews - 30th November 2007
A mission to connect with fans
By Mark Brown, Rocky Mountain News
Friday, November 30, 2007
While most famous as the frontwoman of Blondie, Debbie Harry has made five solo albums as well, including the latest, Necessary Evil, a fun romp through sounds and styles.
Even though that disc took more than a decade, she has been busy with a re-formed Blondie (and cantankerous confrontations with former bandmates at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony). She's back on her own this time, with a renewed desire to connect with fans in small places. She recently spoke from her New York City home.
Rocky: How did 14 years go by between solo albums?
Harry: "Time flies, doesn't it? I really felt the urge and the need to be creative and to do some things the way that I was feeling, the way that I was thinking. I happened to coincidentally at the same time meet some terrific people that I had a great rapport with. It just sort of evolved. I originally just started out having fun and doing demos, having ideas here and there."
Rocky: Did you store ideas away?
Harry: "Some kind of wordplay or some idea, or I'll hear something that kicks me into another direction - just a variety of different things. I'll hear a beat that I really like and it'll suggest something to me. Once I get in the process of writing, it's sort of like a state of mind. Once I get there I just sort of stay there."
Rocky: What are the main differences between a Blondie album and solo? You still work with Chris Stein.
Harry: "I guess the only difference would be the musicianship. Blondie has never really been self-produced. Blondie is always an interpretation by a producer."
Rocky: Why is that?
Harry: "It's competitive in Blondie. I think (self-producing) would be kind of difficult. It has always been the position of the producer to make everyone feel that they were going to be equally represented. It's always been a little bit of a competitive thing going on within the members of the band."
Rocky: When you've made music as long as you have, the chemistry changes. It's creative, but it's also a business and financial endeavor. How do you keep the desire?
Harry: "Overall, the music has to do it for you. You have to be a performer. Not everybody really likes getting up onstage in front of people. A lot of musicians do it but don't necessarily really love it or need to do it. It's a combination of those things for me. I feel that performance for me is really, really vital. I think that's why I like to do acting every now and then - it's part of the performance skills that I like to keep activated."
Rocky: Were there lulls where you just didn't want to be there?
Harry: "There have been nights when I haven't felt exactly well. But with all of the experience I've had, I know that once I get on I completely forget about it. In the final analysis I have a good show. It's very rare that I have a bad time now. I've sort of had every experience that could happen - technical failures, electrical failures - that can completely destroy what you're doing. The last two shows I did in July with Blondie I completely lost my voice and couldn't sing other than to go (croaking noise) and sound like Barry White or something. What I did was I got the audience to sing the songs. With a Blondie show that's easy - everybody knows the songs. It was two of the most fun shows I've ever had. I was scared out of my wits."
Rocky: What can fans expect on this tour?
Harry: "I'm really, really happy that people feel so strongly about Blondie, but this is a Debbie Harry tour. I have five solo albums of material to do, material that I never get to do, and I'm really looking forward to it. I've got a great little combo. I was planning on doing a couple of acoustic versions of Blondie songs to satisfy promoters. But I was really hoping that the fans would be there to hear me do some new stuff and a few things they might recognize from my solo work."
Rocky: Your voice was always used to amazing effect in Blondie.
Harry: "Oh, thanks. I guess we'd have to give most of that credit to (producer) Mike Chapman. Couple that with the fact that everything was recorded analog. The analog sound is so much richer."
Rocky: Do you like making records?
Harry: "For me making an album back then was extremely tedious and boring. I'd be sitting around waiting for hours, for days, for my turn to come. . . . I liked the writing part and the singing part. All the editing and whatever else they were doing was just so tedious. I don't know that I'm a control freak, but I want to participate. Just sitting there watching other people do this stuff is just not interesting to me at all."
* When and where: 9 p.m. Saturday, Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax Ave.
* Cost: $39.50
* Information: 303-830-8497 or ticketmaster.com.
rockymountainnews - 30th November 2007