An Interview With Debbie Freaking Harry!

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Tue, Oct 4, 2011 at 5:00 AM

click to enlarge JENNY HANDS
  • Jenny Hands
Blondie's new Panic of Girls album is just out, and it's the band's first in eight years. The best thing about it? It sounds like Blondie!

Now that's cool, because it's a sound that never gets old. Their rich hash of punky trashy, surfy funky dance-y rockerini came straight out of the grime of downtown New York circa the late-'70s. It was smart 'n' sassy street shit that easily mutated into a celebration of clubby dance grooves (for those who thought they were too cool to indulge in such stuff). Inducted into the Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Fame in 2006, Blondie's core trio of singer Debbie Harry, drummer Clem Burke and guitarist Chris Stein have now partnered with a new bunch of young lions.

Get this: In the recent issue of Harper's Bazaar, Lady Gaga interviewed Harry, and spake thusly: "For me, you are the most legendary woman in rock." But then, a lotta women (men too) feel that way about Debbie Harry, a bona fide pop legend and enduringly influential figure in the annals of hip-hop, e-dance and punk rock and roll. One does wonder how she stays so young. I spoke with her over the phone from the band's Atlanta tour stop to find out.

How do you do it?

I don't know if I really try. I actually have my moments of thinking, "Oh gawd," but a lot of the time I don't really think about age. I think that that might be what makes people unhappy -- their lives, and regrets.

Is it still fun to perform?

Oh, totally. I think it's probably even more fun, and I feel like I'm improving, like I'm still learning things. That's very important for the brain, to keep refreshing and keep adding new information.

Thus the new album sounds very with-it and up-to-date, like what's really happening right now.

We're sort of like-minded people and we're not really anchored or rooted in the past. We're all interested in what's going on now, as well as having a real appreciation for the things we love. We just did a bunch of shows with Lissy Trullie, and she's very contemporary and just adorable, and it was a great time.

Yeah, it probably gets tiresome hearing the old farts wheezing about how things aren't like they used to be.

You know, so many people come up to me and say [in grumbly growly voice], "There's no good music today, it's all downhill!" But I don't feel that way at all. I think there's great music, great bands. It's amazing to me to see how bands evolve and how they take all their influences and come up with their own sound.

So how about our Lady Gaga, Debbie? Does she make the cut?

I think she's terrific. She's a real sensation, and she's truly talented. I guess we're mutual admirers.

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