It was almost 40 years ago when a couple of passers-by catcalled “Hey Blondie” to singer Deborah Harry, and the band Angel and the Snakes would never be the same again.
The year was 1975, and Harry and guitarist Chris Stein had joined forces on a band that offered a new take on the New Wave music scene. Harry was a dynamic presence on stage and her punk style became a favorite at the infamous CBGB in Manhattan.
“We devoted ourselves to what we were doing and didn’t expect to have a cushy lifestyle; we were bohemian and we just lived with it,” Harry said. “We never questioned doing anything else and just had a great time with it all.”
It wasn’t long before Blondie started finding success and Harry became a darling in the music world, fronting radio mainstays like “Call Me,” “Rapture” and “Heart of Glass.” By the time “The Tide Is High” was released in 1980, Blondie was one of the top acts in the world.
“I think anyone who joins a band envisions themselves as a superstar and it was the direction I wanted to go in, but never could I have foretold what would happen,” Harry said. “I always had this tremendous respect and admiration for jazz and blues musicians doing music their whole lives and I thought it was pretty incredible and very special.”
Two years later, created by a series of problems that could one day be a best-selling memoir, the band called it quits and Harry embarked on a solo career. However, the music of Blondie lived on as a new generation discovered the iconic songs in movies and on TV shows.
“I really couldn’t say what it is about these songs that have connected with so many, but maybe because they are easy to remember and fun and catchy,” she said. “You can never guarantee anything when you get a song to the public, but I am very grateful for everything.”
Blondie reunited in 1997, scored a big hit with “Maria” and still are going strong today.
Harry, Stein, longtime member Clem Burke and newer Blondie band members Leigh Foxx, Tommy Kessler and Matt Katz-Bohen will play the State Theatre on Monday.
“We try to cover so much territory because people like to hear their favorites and we do as much of that as we can and incorporate our new material to create a total picture of the evolution of Blondie,” Harry said. “I think it’s a great show and I’m having a great time touring. There’s still a lot of energy out there.”
Speaking of new material, Blondie recently released “Panic of Girls,” a well-received album that combines the style of the early years with the pop presence of today’s sound.
“I think it’s vital that we keep going in order to have that feeling of being alive,” Harry said. “We don’t just want to do a walk down memory lane. This is today. For me, it’s very, very important to remain creative.”
Harry understands that it’s not easy for a band known for hits released decades ago to hit again, but she would like nothing better than to preserve Blondie’s legacy with a new song playing regularly on the radio.
“People know us for the hits but I would like us to have a contemporary hit now,” she said. “Chris and I talk about this a lot. We would love to have a contemporary hit as that would be a nice way to put a lid on the career.”
Not that she’s planning on leaving the stage anytime soon. Although her mindset on being on stage is a little different than when she started, Harry said she still enjoys it tremendously and changes in the industry have made it a little easier.
“I have a lot more experience now and technology has really improved for a rock musician. The sound quality is better, the production is better and it’s a totally different world,” she said. “We used to fly blind as it was because you couldn’t always hear what was being played and we used our instinct. Now you can hear it all, so it’s a world of difference.”
As Blondie prepares for the State Theatre gig, the band is preparing some free downloads that people can take home with them to further enjoy what they hear.
“The one thing about us is that we still try to kick ass every night and it’s very important for us to keep working towards something and not just resting on our history,” Harry said. “Chris and I have always balanced each other out and we’re both pretty adventurous and flexible and that has helped us to survive.”