BACK TO LIVE
Debbie Harry on climate change, the Hall Of Fame, surviving and… painting the bedroom.
Blondie haven’t played in the UK for a while, but midway through recording their twelfth studio album Debbie Harry and co. are back and are already a few dates into their tour.
This is Blondie’s first UK tour in five years. Are you excited to be back?
Yes, I’ve really missed you guys. It seems unreal to me that five years have passed.
It was supposed to have happened back in November, but of course got mothballed. How did you fill your lockdown?
Well, I did paint the bedroom.
And it took eighteen months?
[Laughs] Well, the way I do it, yeah. In fact I painted two rooms. I’m not a painter, and painting is exacting work. I guess I go kinda slowly.
Originally the tour’s special guests were Garbage. Shirley Manson inducted Blondie to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2006. There’s a lot of negativity surrounding the Hall Of Fame.
The Hall Of Fame is trying to do too much, engaging with too many artists. A good example of that is Dolly Parton pulling out from this year’s nominations. I didn’t see Dolly fitting into that category [of rock music], but I must say that Blondie has benefitted from being inducted. We are looked at with more legitimate eyes.
Garbage couldn’t make the rescheduled dates, so former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, who worked with Blondie on their most recent album, 2017’s Pollinator, now fills that spot.
Yeah. We did one of Johnny’s songs. My Monster, on that album, which was terrific. He’s a lovely and talented man.
An update of your autobiography, Face It, described by The Sunday Times as “the ultimate rock’n’roll memoir”, is coming out in paperback.
My god, I didn’t know The Sunday Times had said that. Mine wasn’t the usual rock’n’roll memoir; I tried to make it much more personal, so I’m glad that somebody liked it. As a matter of fact, Chris [Stein, guitarist and band co-founder] is working on his. I’m telling you, it’s going to be fantastic.
You and Chris were recent guests on Sing For Science, a podcast on the subject of climate change hosted by professor Michael Mann. Do you believe that the planet can still be saved?
I don’t know. Every day I read something new about us being on the edge of an irreversible state. Where there’s a will there’s a way, but everybody needs to be like-minded. It’s heartbreaking that they’re not.
Americans love their air-conditioning and gas-guzzling cars, and big business doesn’t want things decarbonised due to the effects on their profits, but this is life and death.
I don’t know that all Americans feel they need a big car, but you’re right. I feel that we are at some kind of tipping point, though everybody on the planet has benefitted from that marketplace mentality. Among the reasons I love living in New York City is having water all around me. It’s why I became involved in an anti-pollution project called Riverkeeper.org.
For Blondie’s twelfth album you’re working with Grammy-winning producer John Congleton. How far into the process are you?
So far we’ve had about a week of rehearsal, and we’ll put some more time into it after we finish the gigs, but it’s still at an early stage.
What in your career are you most proud of?
Survival, I guess. Not giving up. Through all of this, the core of the group has stayed together, and that’s not an easy thing to do. DL
Blondie’s UK tour ends on May 7.