WHAT GOES ON
VETERAN NEW YORK ROCKERS GET BACK TO BASICS WITH THE KILLERS’ PRODUCER, TRENCHANT LYRICS AND “CAREER-BEST” MATERIAL[Photo caption – Hats off to Harry: (from left) Stein, Katz-Bohen, Carbonara, Burke, Foxx and the divine Debbie.]
Producer: Jeff Saltzman
Songs: D-Day, What I Heard, Le Bleu A L’Ame
The Buzz: “This record is more straightforward and hard-edged than the last one – pop-rock with some electronica thrown in. There’s still some weird stuff on there. We think it will do some damage.” Chris Stein
Chris Stein is on the phone from his Woodstock residence, contemplating the fate of 25 new songs now completed for Blondie’s first new album since 2003’s The Curse Of Blondie. “I’ve been working on this fucking thing for over a year!” exclaims the guitarist. “We recorded a ton of stuff. I don’t know what’s going to happen with all the tracks. I guess we’ll put some on the internet. We shot some sessions with videos.
“Some of it’s really great,” he adds, “the best we’ve done. I hate to say that but it really might be. We were just further along with a lot of aspects of what we’re doing.”
Blondie currently features three originals – Stein, Debbie Harry and drummer Clem Burke – plus bassist Leigh Foxx, guitarist Paul Carbonara and keyboard-player Matt Katz-Bohen. Conspicuously absent is original member Jimmy Destri, who stopped touring with the group in 2004 and is now a drugs counsellor at a Manhattan clinic.
“He just won’t mend fences with Debbie and Clem,” explains Stein. It’s up to him to make the overture but he just won’t do it.”
The album was recorded at a Woodstock barn studio called Applehead (because it’s easier and cheaper than going to the city”), and produced by Jeff Saltzman, of Killers renown. “Jeff worked really hard,” enthuses the guitarist. “He’s our age and a big fan. His understanding of the band adds a whole new dimension.
“It’s less chaotic and crazy in the studio now,” Stein continues. “In fact, it was very musician-like this time. We just want to get on with stuff. There wasn’t fighting or anything going on.”
Stein also heaps praise on his long-time musical partner’s lyrical prowess. “Debbie’s lyrics are fucking terrific. She just keeps getting better; I’m always amazed at the stuff she’s coming up with. The words are about everything: time, love, romance, all the usual stuff.”
He is uncharacteristically tight-lipped on song titles but will reveal that, “Debbie has a song called D-Day and there’s two full-on Latino-style songs. There’s one sung totally in French called Le Bleu A L’Ame [Blues In The Soul], written by me and Gilles Riberolles, who was in Casino Music. We’ve also done some covers which we do live, and which fans might recognise. We started a version of [Suicide’s] Ghost Rider but never finished it.”
Blondie are the only American band able to boast UK Number 1 singles over three decades [’70s, ’80s and 1999’s Maria]. “We could still have four – we just missed a decade! All we have to do is have one more Number 1 and that’ll do it. We’re currently tied with the Bee Gees for three…”