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Blondie makes it magnificent at SFO

September 17, 2013, 12:00 am
Someone please give Debbie Harry and Chris Stein some bonnets and a covered wagon, because along with drummer Clem Burke they are the definition of pioneers. Close to four decades into Blondie, the team, along with a cast of other contributing musicians is celebrating their nine studio albums and 40 million records sold around the world with the No Principals Tour, which makes a stop in our fair town on Monday. SFR spoke with Stein about their milestone year, Flavor Flav and what advice he’d give to the One Directions of the world.

Talk to me about those early days in the band.
Well, it was very nice. We’re constantly being questioned about that period, you know? ‘Did you think in 40 years... blah blah blah,’ all that stuff. I think everyone was very much in the moment back then; I don’t think anyone was thinking about the future.

That sort of ruins my follow-up. Did you ever think you’d still be rocking, 38 years later?
I don’t think I gave it much thought then. It’s kind of amazing to have become part of this historic event. Who knows what we were thinking then.  

What are some of the most memorable on-the-road moments from No Principals?
All kinds of stuff. We just did the Riot Fest in Chicago, and that was great because we usually get bigger crowds in Europe than we do in America. It was gratifying to be playing in front of 15,000 people in America. Plus, I got to see Public Enemy, which was amazing.

Is Debbie a big Public Enemy fan?
I guess. Yeah, sure. I don’t know if we’d ever even seen them. I met Flav and Chuck once or twice, but we’d never seen them.    

What advice do you give younger acts coming down the pike?
Debbie always says, ‘You can never make a bigger fool of yourself,’ maybe that’s good advice—don’t hold back is the message there. For younger bands who are experiencing success, I always say: Enthusiasm is not enough; you have to practice and get your shit together.

How’s the band’s dynamic now, and how has it evolved over the years?
Well, now, I just feel like an old jazz musician when I’m up there. It’s a whole different ballgame now. It’s more relaxed and shows are just part of what we do—a day-to-day job thing.

You’ve performed at some great venues, and our opera house is nothing to sneeze at. Any special surprises lined up?
We’re doing a bunch of the new songs along with the old stuff—we try to keep current always, you know? We’re working on a new cover song, but I don’t know if we’ll have it ready, though.

Is there one particular Blondie song that you are over having to perform?
No, not really. The old songs stir up enthusiasm and form an emotional contact that connects with the crowd. It’s contagious.

Blondie and X
7 pm Monday, Sept. 23. $32-$86.
Santa Fe Opera
301 Opera Drive, 986-5900


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