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Forever Blondie

Debbie Harry on Miley Cyrus: "I think she should have just tore all of her clothes off."

Debbie Harry talks about Miley Cyrus, making it new, and happy accidents

In her nearly four decades of work, Debbie Harry has seen it all. In the mid-1970s, Harry and Blondie were part of the legendary scene at CBGBs, which also featured such immortal acts as the Ramones, Patti Smith, Talking Heads, and Television. Blondie would have the most mainstream success of any of these bands, reaching the top of the charts with monster hits such as “Heart of Glass,” “The Tide Is High,” and “Rapture.”

After the release of 1982’s The Hunter—Blondie’s least successful album at that point—the band’s members went their separate ways for nearly two decades. When they returned with 1999’s No Exit, it was clear they hadn’t lost any of their original edge. Blondie has been a musical force to contend with since then, continuing to release new albums that can hold their own against the classics. This Friday, Blondie will be appearing at the Rapids theater in Niagara Falls, and Artvoice caught up with Debbie Harry before the show.

Artvoice: Did you watch any of the VMAs last week?

Debbie Harry: I caught some f it. I was sort of tuning in and out.

AV: Did you catch the Miley Cyrus performance that everyone’s been talking about?

Harry: I think she should have just tore all of her clothes off. And frankly, her performance was the only part of the show that was at all exciting.

AV: One of my favorite song titles of yours is “Boom Boom in the Zoom Zoom Room,” from 1999’s No Exit. Where did that title come from?

Harry: Actually, its a bit serendipitous that you would bring that song up. The man who told us the story that inspired that song recently passed away. His name was Ronnie Cutrone, and he was a painter for Andy Warhol.

AV: On 1979’s Eat to the Beat, there was song called “Accidents Never Happen.” That was the same year as Elvis Costello’s “Accidents Will Happen.” Was one song a response to the other?

Harry: Well, Jimi [Destri] wrote that song, so I couldn’t say for sure. But as far as I know, there’s no connection between the two.

AV: So then, ironically, it was a happy accident?

Harry: [Laughs.] Yes, I guess accidents do happen.

AV: On the episode of Behind the Music about Blondie, 2004’s The Curse of Blondie is referred to as one of the band’s weaker albums. Do you agree with that assessment?

Harry: Well, we like all of our new stuff, but I guess it’s inevitable that some albums are better than others. That album may not be a stellar collection, but there’s probably some good sleepers on it.

AV: And 2011’s Panic of Girls, and the stuff you’re working on now, are an improvement?

Harry: I would say so. I love this band. I think we’re playing really well. We have a really good time. I think our new album, Ghosts of Download, is equal to [1978’s] Parallel Lines.

AV: That’s a strong statement—Parallel Lines is widely considered to be your masterpiece.

DH: It’s unparallelled. [Laughs.] But I think this album is on the same level. We have a new song—hopefully you’ll get to hear it at some point—that’s sort of a beatnik ballad. I really like that one.

AV: Finally, I have to ask. You were a part of that amazing CBGBs scene. Are there bands or artists from that time who you think are really overlooked or underrated?

Harry: I would say Suicide. They got some attention, but never as much as they should have. Martin Rev and Alan Vega were really adventurous and brave.

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