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A Minute With: Deborah Harry talking new Blondie

Sep 7, 2011, 4:56 a.m.
Blondie's Deborah Harry (L) and Chris Stein perform at the 8th Annual TV Land Awards in Los Angeles, California April 17, 2010. REUTERS/Gus Ruelas

By Sabrina Ford

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Here is some good advice: avoid standing behind Deborah Harry at airport security.

"I have a briefcase full of wires when I travel. I have to go through the X-ray machine and they're always looking at this massive tangle, like, 'what?'" laughs Harry, whose travel must-haves include an mp3 player, iPhone, iPad and e-Reader.

Keeping up with trends in culture and technology is one thing the 66-year-old Blondie singer and occasional tweeter said comes naturally. "It's just always been part of who I am," Harry told Reuters in a recent interview.

Still one electronic remnant of her old punk rock days can be found in her bag. "I still carry my very old-fashioned cassette player," she said.

Harry, among the earliest music video superstars, is currently on the road with original Blondie bandmates, guitarist Chris Stein and Drummer Clem Burke. The three have been creating new music since reuniting and bringing on new musicians to round out their sextet. "Panic of Girls," the group's first album in eight years, hits Amazon.com on September 13, and Harry took some time to talk to Reuters about it.

Q: What's the significance of the album's title?

A: "It's sort of like a flock of crows. It's an adjective or an analogy. It's a mad rush of fans or something. It just seemed interesting and novel and descriptive. It caught up with us. It was created as a rhyming scheme for a song that didn't go on the album and we thought it was just kind of cool."

Q: You're last record was 2003's "The Curse of Blondie." Why so long between projects?

A: "We've been working steadily all of these years, we've been doing a lot of touring. We were examining a way to put out an album independently for a number of years, since the industry has changed so much."

Q: How so?

A: "The record companies, they've gone down. They don't ship as many records, they don't sign as many artists. The traditional record business collapsed rather quickly."

Q: You're somewhat of a Hip-Hop icon because of your song "Rapture" (1981) in which you were rapping and the video, which featured a DJ, breakdancing and graffiti. Do you listen to any Hip-Hop these days?

A. "Sure! I listen to the radio. I hear what's being played. I like a lot of Jay-Z. I haven't heard from Ludacris in a while but I really like him. I'm not hooked on what any single artist does. It's piece by piece. I think most people are like that."

Q: "Mother," the lead single from Panic of Girls pays homage to a Manhattan club you hung out at in 1990s. Where do you go out now?

A: "I'm not locked into one place right now. I go out where my friends are DJing. If I like what they're playing, that's a good incentive to have a good time. I like to go to different venues to hear live music. Most recently I went out to a benefit at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. Buckcherry and the Toilet Bowls had a reunion. It was a really great night."

Q: Is clubbing how you find new music and influences?

A: "Yeah, definitely that, but I also listen to radio. I like to listen to what artists, people are talking about and I check out all those album release date lists online."

Q: What do you think about the way social media like Twitter has changed the way artists interact with fans?

A: "It's all very immediate and very helpful in a lot of ways. You can certainly get a lot of feedback. On the other hand, sometimes I think it's a lot of unimportant stuff."

(Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Paul Casciato)

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