bostonherald.com – 19th July 2019
By JED GOTTLIEB
Blondie came up in the insanely fertile, absurdly cool ’70s New York City rock scene. Alongside the Ramones, Talking Heads, New York Dolls and more, the Debbie Harry-fronted band invented the punk and new wave sound still dominant in modern rock (see everything from the Killers to Paramore to Carissa Johnson & the Cure-Alls). But Chris Stein — band guitarist, songwriter and co-founder — says they had no idea at the time that they were remaking the world.
“I don’t think we had any context for what we were doing, we had seen Bob Dylan and others come out of the Greenwich Village folk scene, but honestly we didn’t know where it was all going,” Stein said. “There was a big social element to it, just seeing friends in bands. We took a lot of what we were doing for granted.”
“I will say this, nobody thought we would be doing this in 40 or 50 years,” he added.
But Stein, Harry and the rest of Blondie are still doing it — the band plays a co-headlining bill with Elvis Costello at the Rockland Trust Bank Pavilion on Tuesday. Half a generation younger than bands like the Who and Rolling Stones, Stein still gets a thrill out of performing live even if he won’t be charging around on stage.
“I know this, Mick Jagger works out a lot more than I do,” he said with a little laugh. “I’ll be sitting down on this tour. Hey, if B.B. King did it, why can’t I?”
Stein says writing sessions for new Blondie material have already started and he expects to go into the studio to finish a few songs by the end of the year. Even without the Blondie work, Stein has remained busy with his other passion and vocation: photography.
Late last year, he released his latest book of photos, “Point of View: Me, New York City and the Punk Scene,” with shots that range from city street life to portraits of Harry, David Bowie, Iggy Pop and more.
“I guess I started with guitars first, but I was always messing around with cameras,” he said. “In the ’70s I was at SVA (New York’s School of Visual Arts), so my camera was always with me. Later, with Blondie, I always toured with a camera and I still do. Although, I will say, I do now shoot a lot on my phone.”
Looking back at the early New York scene, Stein can see the city he documented has changed radically. Most of the clubs and storefronts he photographed have been turned into luxury condos or restaurants with $40 charcuterie boards. But it isn’t all bad.
“You have a lot less of a chance of getting murdered when you go out,” he said with a straight face. “I’m serious, I have two young daughters (who are teenagers) and they can go out into the city. Sometimes, when we went out, we were taking our lives into our own hands.
Blondie and Elvis Costello & the Imposters, at the Rockland Trust Bank Pavilion, Tuesday. Tickets: $49 – $239; livenation.com.