December 6, 1999
Blondie was one of the most successful bands to emerge from the late 70s punk/new wave movement. Only two years after their debut release in 1976 they hit the number one position in both the U.K. and the U.S. with the disco-influenced single "Heart of Glass." November 1980 saw the band back in the top spot with the spirited track "The Tide is High" from their fifth album Autoamerican. Solo projects ensued and the band broke up in 1982.
The original line-up drifted back together in 1998 for a European tour and the album No Exit. A new live release and the single "Maria" has Blondie back in the hearts of music lovers across the globe. Fans new and old joined twec.com to chat with Debbie Harry and Chris Stein of Blondie soon after the release of Blondie Live.
twec.com: Hello and welcome to tonight's chat with Blondie! Joining us first will be Debbie Harry! After Debbie, Chris will be joining us. Hello Debbie!
BLONDIE Deborah Harry: Hi, hello!
blondfanla: I really enjoyed the concerts this year, what are your plans/tour schedule for next year?
BLONDIE Deborah Harry: We're going to work on new material and we're going to start recording. We don't have any shows booked but how well the recording and writing goes will determine when we get back out to play.
beamnup: As I recall, you took a little heat when you first came on the scene, about your musical style. Did it bother you much, and if so, how did you deal with it?
BLONDIE Deborah Harry: Well, I guess anyone who offers up their concept for public consumption is opening themselves up for criticism. You have to be prepared for that, and you have to like what you do. You have to feel good about it, comfortable, and driven, and it doesn't really matter. There are plenty of people who tell you that they like it, so it all balances out somehow.
beetlebug: What is the best part of being a band again?
BLONDIE Deborah Harry: I guess for me, it's the music, really. I love working with Chris and I love doing shows and the whole Blondie - sort of ideology and identity is really a part of me. It feels very good to be able to do that again.
carmie: Did you watch yourselves on VH1 Behind The Music? What was that like?
BLONDIE Deborah Harry: We had an advance copy because our agreement with VH1 was that we would have approval of the program that they compiled. We saw it long before it aired, so it wasn't a surprise. We knew what was going to be on the show. We liked the show. Otherwise it wouldn't have gone to the public.
Robert: Why does the song "No Exit" sound like the theme from The Munsters?
BLONDIE Deborah Harry: Gee, I don't know! No one has ever said that to me before. You'd have to ask Jimmy. That's probably a reference to the keyboard intro. It's that big organ sound.
Manolis_Varnas: What inspired you to write the song "Maria?"
BLONDIE Deborah Harry: I didn't write the song "Maria." The song was written by Jimmy, the keyboard player. He wrote it about when he was in high school, in Catholic school, and there were no girls. He was always dreaming of the ideal girl.
Lo: Did you take Minky on tour with you?
BLONDIE Deborah Harry: We used to take Minky with us everywhere. But I think Minky is in semi-retirement now. When we reunited about two years ago we took him on some of the tours. But he's sort of gone into semi-retirement now.
Rich Dart: Debbie, do you plan on doing anymore work with the Jazz Passengers? I absolutely love the studio and live album!
BLONDIE Deborah Harry: Thank you! Yes, I have a song that I have co-written with Roy Nathanson, the leader of the Jazz Passengers. He has a solo album, though I forget the title, coming out sometime in the next 4-5 months. Yes, I think that I like working with them a lot. I don't really have anything planned for the future with them, but I suppose something will come up eventually.
Woodstock350: Are you going to tour the US anytime soon?
BLONDIE Deborah Harry: No, we're not.
dawn: Why didn't you release the dance version of "Nothing is Real but the Girl" as a single. The dance mix versions seem to work well for Cher!
BLONDIE Deborah Harry: Yes, well, I don't know why they did that the way they did it, truthfully. I didn't even know there was a dance mix version of "Nothing is Real."
Manolis_Varnas: Debbie, what do you think of the music back in the 80s compared to now? Do you think that decade was better musically?
BLONDIE Deborah Harry: No, I think that there's a certain amount of quality and then there's some filler. Nowadays there seems to be a lot more formula music. People fall into strict patterns and there's not so much experimentation. There is always some good music and bad music. It's inevitable.
carmie: Are you still interested in acting? I think you've done some great work. I especially enjoyed HEAVY and, of course, HAIRSPRAY.
BLONDIE Deborah Harry: Yes, I definitely want to do more acting. I don't have anything planned right now, but I've been reading a lot of scripts and I'm looking forward to, with a lot of anticipation, making another movie sometime - maybe in the near future.
matthew: Hi Blondie! I'm a 17 year-old fan from the UK and I went to all the concerts you did here in November - they were fantastic. I just wondered if you were pleased with the response and if you'll be back soon. All my love to Debbie!
BLONDIE Deborah Harry: Thank you! No, we won't be back soon, but we will be back. I think the shows reached new all-time highs. We had been performing for a couple of years and the last bunch of shows in the UK were like the climax of all that touring. The look of the show and the sound of the band were at the high point.
Rothers: What are some of the songs on the Blondie Live album?
BLONDIE Deborah Harry: Well, I don't have the list in front of me but it's all the songs from the shows that we were doing. The most well known hits of ours: "Rapture," "Call Me," "Atomic," "One Way or Another," "Sex Offender," and all the songs from the No Exit album - "Screaming Skin," "No Exit," "Under the Gun" I think is on there, and "Night Winds Sent." I don't have the list in front of me.
adrielle3aolcom: What did you like or dislike about growing up in Jersey?
BLONDIE Deborah Harry: I thought it was pretty. You know, I like all the trees and everything. I didn't like the quiet kind of small-town atmosphere. I outgrew that. I wanted to be in the center of the action, I wanted to live in a big city. I'm lucky that I had a safe and quiet childhood and had the opportunity to move to the big city and go crazy.
Robert: Do you think the Internet will hurt the music industry?
BLONDIE Deborah Harry: No, I don't. I think that we're in this great age of communication and I think that eventually, all of our communication instruments and programs and devices will be into sort of one single formulation. I think that will make it a lot simpler for everybody, and I think that's the way it should be. All this technology and exchange of information is exciting. Hopefully it will bring the world to a better understanding of one another and we'll have world peace and we'll be able to preserve our ecology and do things that are great for all human beings.
wannabeyour1: What is one of the strangest things that has ever happened to you on tour?
BLONDIE Deborah Harry: Oh gee...I don't know. My mind goes blank. I don't know if there's anything that's particularly totally strange. I'm sorry, I can't think of anything right now.
carmie: I've been a fan since you were on The Muppet Show - Did you enjoy performing with that Big Blue thing? It seemed like a fun thing to do.
BLONDIE Deborah Harry: Yes, I think that was a great experience, working with the Muppets. I feel privileged that I had a chance to do that. It was a fascinating experience, working with all those puppeteers. When we shot the show, it was like working with a real person because the puppets were so lifelike.
dawn: I pieced together the phone number from the No Exit program and traced it to Billy's Topless on 6th Avenue! Why did you use this phone number?
BLONDIE Deborah Harry: I guess it was some kind of weird joke! The guys put that together - I guess they liked Billy's Topless.
Manolis_Varnas: Do you have any upcoming TV appearances?
BLONDIE Deborah Harry: Yes, I did Politically Incorrect last week, and the Craig Kilborn show. We taped Mad TV, and that's going to be on the week before Christmas. That came out really good. And we're going to do the Lettermen Show coming up, I think that's on December 14.
viking1962: What advice would you give to musicians just starting out?
BLONDIE Deborah Harry: It seems kind of a really complicated business. You have to practice really hard on your instrument and you have to really be obsessed with music and with working in the music business. I guess if you feel like you're not getting anywhere, if you're career oriented and success is your goal, if you don't find yourself getting anywhere in 5 or 6 years you might want to think again about what you're doing. But if you really are obsessed, you have to follow your dream, you know? It doesn't happen overnight. There are a few cases where it happens very quickly, but most of the time it takes quite a few years.
Wes: At your concert in South Beach on New Year's Eve, what song will you play close to midnight?
BLONDIE Deborah Harry: Actually, we go on after midnight, so that's the answer to that one. We have a few surprises, but I don't want to reveal them right now.
blondfanla: Hello Debbie, are you satisfied the way things turned out this year?
BLONDIE Deborah Harry: Yes, I am, very, very satisfied. I think we all worked really hard and well together, and just getting the band back together after a long period of time, I think we really pulled it off. I think our show looks really good. I like the video links that were designed by Rob Ross, he did our album cover as well. I think everything went together very nicely.
StormBringer: Will there be a Live video?
BLONDIE Deborah Harry: That I don't know. We have a digital video or show that we did of the Town Hall concert in New York that is going to be available. As far as a live video to go with the CD, I don't know. We haven't talked about that yet.
Sam K: What are the main differences between concert audiences now and twenty years ago?
BLONDIE Deborah Harry: There's not really any difference. I think the thing that changes an audience most is the venue you play - if you're in a small venue with no seats or a large concert hall. That's what really determines the kind of show that happens.
viking1962: What is one of your favorite bands?
BLONDIE Deborah Harry: I have a lot of favorites. I guess from the old days, two of my favorites were Devo and The Clash. I hate listing things that I like, because I like a lot of stuff and I always leave someone out.
wannabeyour1: Debbie, do you see yourself as a strong female role model for young women of the past two decades as you have been described?
BLONDIE Deborah Harry: I guess it's kind of hard to be that objective. I never really tried to set myself up as a role model. I was just trying to struggle and do what I wanted to do, and I survived. I guess since I survived, if that's any kind of inspiration to young girls, I guess that's pretty good.
twec.com: Debbie has to leave us now. Are there any last words for your fans?
BLONDIE Deborah Harry: I just would like to wish everybody a great holiday season! Just get through it. Sometimes people get really depressed during the holidays - just remember that it doesn't last forever. I would also like to wish everybody a great New Year, and it should be pretty interesting!
twec.com: twec.com would like to welcome Chris to tonight's chat! Hello Chris.
BLONDIE Chris Stein: Greetings! I'm watching WWF and the whole big controversy with Vince McMahon. I put up a little dinky web site - you can get my URL on the Blondie web site. You can click on the Badtz Maru to get to my web site.
matthew: Chris, I think you're cool and I recently heard that you read Hannible. Have you read Red Dragon? It's a great book.
BLONDIE Chris Stein: Yes. I never read Black Sunday but I read the other two. Now I'm reading this new one by Michael Crichton called Timeline. It's really good. It's about time travel.
matthew: I love your web site, badtz maura, and just wondered if you can advise me on what type of guitar I should get? What's your favorite model - I thought the one with the horns on you had was cool - what happened to that?
BLONDIE Chris Stein: That one, this guy made me a guitar based on H.R. Geiger's art work. It's a little psychologically imposing for the live thing. If you pay $500, you get a good guitar. It's like that. Get a brand name guitar. You can't go wrong with those. As you play you can figure out what you need.
sam k: Hi Chris. I love that H.R. Geiger-style guitar. Is it your favorite? And who's your favorite wrestler?
BLONDIE Chris Stein: I do like Mankind, and I've liked Mankind for a while. We met Randy Savage recently, and I really like him. Nice guy. And I like Bret Hart. There's a really good Bret Hart documentary that's excellent. I got Goldberg's autograph. And my wife's brother-in-law works for ECW, so we're going to go to some of those matches. Debbie did a play on Broadway that closed on opening night that was about a female wrestler. Andy Kaufmann was the referee in that play, actually. Andy Kaufmann was way ahead of his time with the antics he carried on during the wrestling scene. He was a visionary.
dawn: Chris, I've noticed from your web site you like all things weird and wonderful. Do you believe the concept of the MATRIX could exist? Except they aren't plugged in with toasters!
BLONDIE Chris Stein: Yeah, possibly...you know, we're coming to a real jump in consciousness for the human race. Everything's involved with the exponential concept. Human consciousness is going like that right now. It's pretty interesting. Stuff is all coming down really fast now, and it's just going to come faster and faster. In that book I'm reading by Michael Crichton, he points out that 100 years ago people would have been really confused by things that are happening now. I think that things will be happening in 20 years that aren't happening now. And I think people are going to have a three-dimensional way of looking at things. I'm a really big fan of William Gibson - his new book is really interesting. It should be required reading. The MATRIX movie was kind of culled from some of his writings. I certainly see how the Internet could make for a high mind kind of things. When you have half a million people plugged in simultaneously, what's going to happen? You know? But I loved MATRIX. I thought it was great. I saw it a million times.
blondfanla: Chris, do you have any ideas for the direction or style of the next CD? When will you be back recording?
BLONDIE Chris Stein: No. Mostly now I listen to a lot of Iraqi, Eastern, Moroccan music mixed with techno and house. Figure it out. I don't listen to a lot of rock-and-roll.
juan solano: Chris, I am a fan since 1979, I have all of your LP's and current Collection hits on CD. I am from Mexico and I would like to know if you are planning to tour down here someday. Congratulations for your success.
BLONDIE Chris Stein: Well, thanks! We had discussed going below the border - we've just never gotten there. It's always been discussed, but I don't know. We were just on the road for a year and a half. We were at home about 11 weeks over the last 18 months. But we always discuss going to South America. Maybe someday we'll get down there.
sam k: So where will this change in human consciousness take music?
BLONDIE Chris Stein: It may integrate it and make it more of a physical thing. Club dancing is making music a little more external. People know what chakras are - they're power spots on the body. They respond differently to different audio frequencies. I think music will be more interfaced with the individual. It's going to be more of a physical thing. For that reason it may lose some of its formality like song structure and start to sound a little wilder.
Robert: What is your favorite web site?
BLONDIE Chris Stein: I have some stuff that I hooked up to mine. It's just nuts and it's so fucking addictive, you know? It's bizarre! If I hadn't had the computer when we were touring it saved a lot of my sanity when my wife wasn't around. I saw a baby panda website - that was kind of cool. You could see a baby panda live. So Stephanie McMahon married Triple H instead of the guy she was supposed to marry on wrestling! It's a big fiasco!
Lo: What's your favorite word to use in everyday life?
BLONDIE Chris Stein: I just always looking for big words because of my egotistical, intellectual pretensions.
carmie: Hi Chris, what do you think about the idea of a portal that would transport you into John Malkovich's body for 15 minutes and drop you off on the side of the Jersey turnpike?
BLONDIE Chris Stein: I just came from that movie a couple of hours ago! I'm all for it. Maybe someday that will happen. I don't think that's any direct reference to William Gibson, but when he refers to the Sim Skim, that's his entertainment of the future where you plug into this adrogynous human camera who runs around, and you experience their reality. There's this movie called STRANGE DAYS with Juliette Lewis as a rock star, and that's swiped from the basic Gibson scenario. And it's also about New Year's Eve 2000. It wasn't a huge movie. The Gibson stuff is great - he has like 8 books out now. He's the H.G. Wells of our time. He wrote about stuff in the mid-80s that's just starting to come into reality now. His last few books Idoru, Virtual Light and All Tomorrows Parties are great. They're about the near future. And then he's got a different book that is like a rewrite of history - mechanical computers in Victorian times. It's interesting. And he wrote lyrics for us on one of Debbie's solo records.
matthew: Will you do Glastonbury 2000?
BLONDIE Chris Stein: Yeah, it will be nice. I don't know when that will be. The last one was really great. That's the big English festival - the English Woodstock. Woodstock was a disaster this year. I found it oddly appropriate in a lot of ways. I was at Woodstock, the original one. Debbie was there too. We didn't know each other. But what you don't get from the movie is that when Jimi Hendrix played, there was hardly anyone in the audience. Everyone was leaving at that time.
Wes: Are you and Debbie writing more new songs?
BLONDIE Chris Stein: I'm just starting to, yeah. I'm always coming up with stuff. On the last record I wasn't really listening to the radio. Now I'm paying more attention to the music scene. I'm not that attracted to modern rock and modern alternative rock so much.
Robert: Do you still believe in UFOs?
BLONDIE Chris Stein: I like them. I'm constantly changing my mind about what I think that stuff is. This summer, my wife Barbara and I saw something odd in Brooklyn - bright lights fading out with no apparent direction. Fuck, I don't know. I like the idea. I keep coming back to the idea that they're angels. Maybe they're time travelers. Maybe they are us. I don't know. It's something. It's there, whatever the hell it is. Hallucinations or urban myths, it is there.
dawn: Chris, why did you go and see FIGHT CLUB while you were in Dublin? I would have thought a pugilistic film would have been not quite your cup of tea!!
BLONDIE Chris Stein: FIGHT CLUB is just brilliant. I saw it in London. They had a couple of scenes cut down. You must not have seen the movie. It's a really great political statement. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I thought it was fucking great. I thought it was fantastic. I highly recommend it to everyone.
lili: Have you seen the Schwarzenegger movie END OF DAYS? Do you believe in the devil and god?
BLONDIE Chris Stein: I liked SIXTH SENSE, but FIGHT CLUB was really great. Again, the Devil and God are really there. In Yoga, there's something called the Acoscia Records. Everything that exists somewhere is there, on some astral plane. You can't not believe it, even if they only exist in people's thoughts. The Schwarzenegger movie just looks like more Hollywood crap, even though I like Arnold and all.
Manolis_Varnas: Chris, what was the last album that you bought and loved?
BLONDIE Chris Stein: I just bought a whole bunch of albums. I have the soundtrack from RUN LOLA RUN. I have Koda Heartbeat Drummers of Japan. The soundtrack from FIGHT CLUB. French music, traditional Iraqi music, stuff like that. People just give me rock records so I don't have to buy them anyway.
blondfanla: Software developers retains their copyrights, but musicians do not. Do you think the Internet should allow you to bypass the labels in the future?
BLONDIE Chris Stein: You know, that stuff is bewildering to me. It's kind of - I don't know - it's corny to say that music should be free but at the same time it's hard to measure. Debbie's always going on about art and commerce. Someday I think all the physical records will disappear and it will turn into this whole Internet system.
twec.com: twec.com would like to thank Chris and Debbie for stopping by tonight! Chris, is there anything you would like to say to your fans?
BLONDIE Chris Stein: I really appreciate hearing from everybody! I've been hearing from everybody through our site. I really appreciate the support! My site gets turned over as often as I can. You can link to my page from the Blondie web site - it's simple right now. It's information right now. Try not to murder each other over the holidays.
twec.com: Thank you Blondie! Thank you to all of the fans that stopped by tonight!